A Travellerspoint blog

Iran

Persepolis!

Today we visited the site that we have all been looking forward to, Persepolis. Persepolis was a capital of the Persian Empire from about 515 B. C. To 330 B. C., when it was destroyed by Alexander the Great.

Upon arriving at Persepolis, one is met with a huge double staircase leading to the remains of the Gate of All Nations. The remains of this Gate includes 4 enormous statues of bulls with the heads of bearded men. Following this, one comes to the Hundred-Column Hall, a massive structure that included 10 x 10 rows of columns supporting a wooden roof. Capitals on the columns were carved in the form of various animals and these, in turn, supported the huge ceiling beams.

Next, we came to the grand staircase leading to the Apadana, or audience hall. This staircase is covered in carved reliefs showing representatives of the nations from across the empire in their traditional dress bearing tribute to the king.

After touring the site, we rented virtual reality goggles and toured it a second time. It was staggering to visualize the size of the complex in its original state, and in its original brilliant colours.

We next drove to Nashqt-e Rostam, site of 4 large rock-cut tombs of Persian kings.

Returning to Shiraz, we went for dinner at the home of a young Iranian couple, friends of our guide, Amin. The couple had prepared for us a meal of traditional Iranian dishes. They also shared with us details of their lives as a young married couple. They explained the lengthy process by which a young couple obtain approval of their families to marry. Given the very close nature of families in Iran, this process now makes imminent sense to us.

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Gate of all nations
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Gate of all nations
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Persepolis
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Persepolis
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Persepolis
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Persepolis
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Persepolis
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Persepolis
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Persepolis
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Persepolis
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Persepolis
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Nashqt-e Rostam
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Nashqt-e Rostam
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Nashqt-e Rostam
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Nashqt-e Rostam

Posted by Jimpat 00:25 Comments (0)

Iran

Rayen & Mahan

We headed further south for the day. Our first stop was the small town of Rayen, to visit its ancient adobe castle. This very well-preserved structure is at least 1000 years old. It was, essentially, a walled city, complete with a palace of the governor. Parts of the complex have been restored, and the combination of restored and unrestored makes for a really interesting viewing experience.

We then drove to the Shahzadeh Persian Garden. Situated on the edge of the desert, this lovely garden was built in the 1800s, and makes use of water sourced in the nearby mountains. The garden occupies 5 hectares, and consists of a series of cascades, surrounded by flowers and trees. A real oasis in the desert.

We enjoyed a lunch of a traditional Iranian stew called boz ghormeh, which ingredients include lamb, beans, curd and mint. In Mahan we visited a shrine to Shah Nematollah Vali. Parts of the complex date back to 1436. We visited the roof, where we had a great view of the dome. It was great fun to climb the two minarets adjoining the shrine, and the view from that height was very nice.

In the evening, we went for dinner, after which we wandered in the streets of Kerman. The streets have been very lively at night, once Ramadan ends at sunset. We stopped for ice cream - very cheap. Several people stopped us to chat, and welcomed us to Iran. Ultimately, we stopped into a barbershop for Jim to get a haircut. Fortunately, one of the young barbers spoke good English!

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Rayen Castle
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Rayen Castle
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Rayen Castle
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Rayen Castle
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Rayen Castle
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Shahzadeh Persian Garden
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Shahzadeh Persian Garden
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Shahzadeh Persian Garden
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Shah Nematollah Shrine
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Shah Nematollah Vali Shrine. The minarets in the background are the ones we climbed.
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Kerman

Posted by Jimpat 13:56 Comments (0)

Iran

To Shiraz

Today was our longest drive, from Kerman to Shiraz. The trip was 7 hours driving time. We went from the deserts of central Iran to the more populated and productive region of Western Iran. Along the way we passed through varied landscapes of deserts, mountain passes, and farmland. In some of the high regions we saw encampments of Qashqai, Iranian nomad groups.

We also passed by some large saltwater lakes, pink with algal blooms, from which industrial salt is harvested.

Shiraz is a pretty city of more than 2 million people, set at the foot of arid mountains. We stopped at Ali bin Hamza Shrine also known as the Mirror Mosque because shards of mirror and glass cover every inch of this beautiful Mosque.

In the evening we visited the Tomb of Hafez. Hafez was a poet who lived in the 14th century. His poems remain very popular today. His Tomb is set in a nice garden, and it is a very popular spot in the evening, as the sun is setting.

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Salt Lake
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Another day, another chador!
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Ali bin Hamza Shrine
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Ali bin Hamza Shrine
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Ali bin Hamza Shrine

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At the Tomb of Hafez
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Tomb of Hafez
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Tomb of Hafez
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Tomb of Hafez

Posted by Jimpat 07:47 Comments (0)

Iran

To Kerman

After breakfast at the Caravanserai, we continued our journey southward through the Iranian desert.

We stopped at Anar to visit a shrine. Here, the women had to wear a chador to enter. Many of the shrines we have visited, including this one, are elaborately decorated with mirrored tile, which makes the interior dazzle.

We reached Kerman in mid-afternoon, and headed out to visit the bazaar. Kerman is the largest city in southeast Iran. The bazaar complex dates to the late 1500s. We visited a Hammam, now converted to a museum. Then we spent the balance of the afternoon wandering through the alleys of the bazaar. We are finding the Iranian people exceptionally friendly and welcoming - we are frequently stopped, asked where we are from, and welcomed to Iran.

In the evening we had a large, multi-course dinner at our hotel.

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Outside our caravanserai
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Outside our caravanserai
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Anar Shrine
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The ladies in our group in chadors
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Pat and Jayne in chadors
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Anar Shrine

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Inside Anar Shrine
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Hamman
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At the bazaar
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At the bazaar
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At the bazaar
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At the bazaar
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At the bazaar

Posted by Jimpat 10:20 Comments (0)

Iran

Yazd - Day 2

Our day began with a visit to a beautiful Persian garden, the Dowlatabad Abad Garden. This garden was constructed in about 1750, and boasts a fine example of a wind tower in its pavilion. A wind tower captures desert breezes and transmits them to the interior of a building, creating a wonderful interior tempature despite scorching outdoor temperatures.

Once again our able guide has managed to find us a place that serves cappuccinos, which we are able to enjoy in the garden, notwithstanding that it is Ramadan.

We visited a small museum that taught us about Iranian “qanats”, ancient underground water channels that provide water to desert towns and gardens. The qanats are dug by hand from aquifers in the mountains, and transport water, often dozens of miles.

We spent the rest of the morning exploring the narrow, winding streets of old Yazd. Much of the city is constructed of mud brick, covered over with plaster of mud and straw, so that the whole city is the colour of the surrounding desert.

At lunch, we went to a local restaurant, where we enjoyed an Iranian dish called “Dizi”. This dish, made with lamb, chickpeas, white beans, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, turmeric and lime, is cooked for a long time in a clay pot. Then the contents are mashed and served with rice. Delicious!

In the afternoon we continued our journey southward. We stopped at Saryazd Fortress. This large mud brick fortress was constructed in the 7th century, and was used to store valuables and foodstuffs against marauders. We then continued on until we reached the Zein-o-Din Caravanserai, where we would spend the night. This Caravanserai was one of 999 that were constructed in the 16th century along the Silk Road, to accommodate traders and travelers. This one has been restored and functions as a modern inn.

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Dowlatabad Abad Garden
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Wind Tower
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Ceiling in wind tower
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Mick, Jayne and Pat waiting for our cappuccinos
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Mick, Jayne, Pat, Amin our guide, and Jim

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Our yummy lunch of Dizi soup

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A woman serving our Dizi soup
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Jim mashing some of the cooked ingredients that go in the Dizi soup

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Saryazd Fortress
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Saryazd Fortress
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Saryazd Fortress
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Saryazd Fortress
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Saryazd Fortress
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Saryazd Fortress
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Saryazd Fortress
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Outside the Caravanserai
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Dining area in the Caravanserai
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Courtyard in the Caravanserai
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Sleeping area in the Caravanserai

Posted by Jimpat 05:38 Comments (0)

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