Travel Programme 4:
Complete Iran + Bakhtiari country
Shiraz – Persepolis – Pasargadae – Yazd – Nain – Kashan – Qom – Hamadan – Bisotoon – Kermanshah – Khorramabad – Susa – Chogha Zanbil – Izeh – Ispahan.
15 days / 14 nights
day by day
Arrival at Shiraz via transit flight. Accommodation and transfer to a hotel in the city center such as Hotel Seteregan/Zendieh.
Today will be focused on the prestigious sites of the Persian antiquity. The morning visit starts with Persepolis (UNESCO), the great symbolic capital of the Achaemenid empire, founded by Darius the Great but the construction continued with his successors for two centuries, until the arrival of Alexander and its tragic ending. The great palaces of Apadana and One Hundred columns, the rock reliefs of the delegations, and the royal tombs are the opening pages of the ancient dynasty who ruled Iran between ca. 550 BC and 330 BC.
Just nearby, we will visit four Sassanid rock reliefs in Naqsh-e Rajab and the great necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam, carved into the mountainside, where the four Achaemenid royal tombs are look out onto a jaw dropping view. Approaching the site, the Sassanid rock reliefs narrate the stories of the victory and pride of the last pre-Islamic dynasty of Persia.
We’ll be back in the afternoon in Shiraz, the city of poetry and roses, beautiful women and just rulers. When visiting the tomb of Sa’di, the great poet of 13th century, and the tomb of Hafez, the poet of 14th century, we’ll spend a pleasant afternoon in the gardens of Shiraz where many Iranians come to pay tribute to their great poets.
We’ll stay today in Shiraz, visiting a notable and very original 19th century mosque, Nasir al-molk mosque, famous for its stained-glass windows, the beautiful Qavam Qajar house, known as Naranjestan-e Qavam and the only remaining vestige of a Safavid period building (17th century) in Shiraz, the theological school of the Khan. We’ll then walk through Vakil Bazaar, full of the smells of spices and the colors of nomads’ traditional clothes, passing through the still- active urban caravanserais of Moshir and of the elephant, before arriving to Vakil mosque built in 1760 by Karim Khan, the founder of the short-lived Zand dynasty. His tomb is located just nearby, in a highly decorated pavilion built in the middle of a garden, not far from his citadel (Arg-e Karim Khan Zand).
The visit will end with a religious visit to the holy shrine of the lord of the light, Shah Cheragh, which is the burial place of the brother of the 8th Shia Iman, who died in Shiraz in the 9th century AD. It will be the perfect place to talk about Shia Islam and its surprising cult of the saints.
We’ll leave Shiraz behind just like the ancient caravans, and find ourselves on one of the sections of the legendary silk road before reaching the first Achaemenid capital, Pasargadae (UNESCO), which is famous as the location of the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian empire.
On the road towards Yazd, Abarkuh is like an oasis on the edge of the desert where we can witness human creativity in adapting to a harsh climatic situation.
We will continue on the road toward Yazd where there are many old oases which have been turned into small towns, such as Mehriz and its ancient citadel.
Finally, we will finish the day at the border of the desert, in a small, well-restored Caravanserai, Zeinoddin Caravanserai, in which we will spend the night.
After watching the desert sunrise and having an Iranian breakfast we will drive 74 km toward Yazd to visit the city of wind catchers and Zoroastrians.
This day will be a good opportunity to get in touch with the Ancient Iranian religion, Zoroastrianism, and its current community, thanks to a visit to the small village of Cham and its isolated Tower of Silence. Back in Yazd, the main Zoroastrian center in Iran, we’ll visit its Fire Temple where, depending on the circumstances we may have a talk with a Zoroastrian Mobed / priest. Just before lunch, we’ll also have the opportunity to visit a lovely 18th century AD garden with the highest brick wind catcher in the world, the Dowlatabad Garden.
Yazd’s main attraction is its historical urban layout, one of the best preserved in Iran. We’ll get lost in the Old city, walking through narrow streets and its beautiful 14th / 15th century Friday Mosque decorated with gorgeous colorful glazed tiles.
We’ll end this very full day on the main square of Yazd and its Amir Chakhmaq complex.
One night in Yazd, Hotel Dad/Laleh/Safayeh.
The trip will continue toward Isfahan province. First we will arrive in Nain, a city with a rich monumental heritage including one of the oldest mosques in Iran and its splendid Minaret surrounded by a number of religious complexes dedicated to the martyr, Hussein, the grandson of the Muslims’ prophet. We will discover them all in a pleasant walk through the narrow allies of the city.
After lunch we continue on the road toward Ardistan where we can admire the great mosque of the city with its innovative architecture as one of the first mosques with two floors. Continuing the route toward Natanz, we will find there the Sheikh Sufi tomb attached to a 14th century mosque, and not far from a 6th century, pre-Islamic, fire temple.
We will finish the day in a mountainous village, Abyaneh, with its typical architecture and its residents who have still preserved their old customs.
One night in Hotel Abyaneh or Viyona.
We start the morning by visiting the village of Abyaneh, walking through its alleys and meeting the locals of the village.
Then we’ll go to Kashan the city of rose water and traditional Iranian mansions. The visit will take the whole day and starts with the 16th century Persian Garden of Fin (UNESCO) and continues to Tabatabai and Boroujerdi mansions and their love story.
We will continue the visit with one of the atypical mosques and theological schools of 19th century known as Madrase Aqa Bozorg and will take a walk to the beautiful Bazaar of Kashan.
One night in Kashan.
Departure toward the northwest of the country. Passing through Qom, the religious centre of Shiite clergy of Iran, we will have the opportunity to visit the second most important shrine of Shi’ism pilgrimage and its historical architecture and marvellous decoration. We will organise a friendly discussion with a Shiite clergyman in his office as well (This program depends on the schedule of the Ayyatollah and it is not guaranteed).
Later at Saveh, the city of pomegranates, we will stop by for lunch and visiting the 11th century prestigious mosque of the city.
After lunch we will continue on the road toward Hamadan where we will spend the night.
The morning visit will be spent in the magnificent city of Hamedan. We start with a morning walk in the city center where you can photograph the daily life of people, on our way we will see the Revolution square of Hamedan which is located exactly at the center of the city and its surrounding buildings which remind us of 1920’s architecture. On our way we will stop by the Esther and Mordechai tomb, one of the highly respected pilgrimage centers of the Jewish faith. After the morning visit we will have a short visit to the funeral tower of Alavian, decorated with rich stucco work.
Hamedan is also well known as the old capital of the Median Empire. Although this Median Capital has never been found, the site of Tepe Hengmatameh includes a small museum about the history of the region and above all you can see there the archaeological trenches were some Parthian period building could be found.
We leave Hamadan and take the road toward Kermanshah. On the way, we will visit Bisotoun (UNESCO) and the famous rock relief of Darius the Great.
Arriving in Kermanshah which is the home to many magnificent monuments and sites, we will first pay a visit to Tekiyeh Moaven Al Molk from the 19th century, a beautiful testimony to the political, religious and nationalist movements of that period. Finally, we will finish our day with a visit to the magnificent Sassanid site of Taq-e Bostan and the admirable rock reliefs of Sassanid kings,
one night stay in Hotel Parsian Kermanshah.
Departing toward Khorramabad and going down toward the Mesopotamian plain. On our way we will stop by in Khorramabad for lunch and to visit the impressive castle of Falak ol-aflak. Reaching the lowlands, we will then visit the archeological site of Susa (UNESCO), excavated by French archeologists in the late 19th century, explaining the richness of the Oriental section in Louvre museum. Susa is probably the most important archeological Iranian site containing a long history from the 4th millennium B.C up to the present time.
One night stay in Susa (simple hotel).
The day will be dedicated to the ancient sites of the Susian plain. Not so far from Susa, we will find the impressive Ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil (UNESCO), constructed by king Untash-Napirisha in 1300 B.C and dedicated to gods Inshushinak and Napirisha. This is also the most well-preserved Ziggurat in the world.
A few kilometres distant from the Ziggurat, are located the 3500 year old site of Haft Tappeh (Kabnak) and the ancient Shushtar hydraulic systems from Sassanid era . Continuing on the road through the land of palm trees and oil, we will arrive finally in Masjed Soleiman, where we will visit the oil museum and the site of its first exploitation in Iran.
Night in Masjid Soleiman (rudimentary hotel).
We leave the plain behind, and head toward the mountains, moving along a way that nomads have used for centuries. First we will have a visit in Izeh, which is well-known for the six Elamite rock-reliefs on the northeastern side of the city and four other Elamite rock-reliefs on its southern side.
Then we’ll go to Shahr-e Kord in order to visit the small archaeological museum and the castle of Chaleshotor from Qajar period. We will continue toward Ispahan where we will spend three nights in the hotel Ali Qapu/Safir/Piroozy.
Isfahan was chosen as the capital of Iran in 1598 by Shah Abbas I. After this decision he started a great urbanism project for the city planning many palaces, gardens, mosques and royal monuments. The European traders witnessed in the 17th century the prosperity of Isfahan and called it the HALF OF THE WORLD, a city which competed with Paris, Rome and London at that time.
We will start the visit with the Armenian neighborhood, No Jolfa, and get familiar with the story of their immigration to Isfahan as part of the Safavid king’s plan to promote the city. After the lunch, the visit will continue in Jay, the ancient Jewish quarter which is now embracing one of the most unique mosques of the Islamic world, the Isfahan Friday Mosque (UNESCO), a monument with more than a 1000 years of history and architectural evolution.
Right beside the mosque is the ancient centre of the city, surrounded by traders’ boutiques and a Safavid period holy shrine, the Harun Willayat mausoleum located just nearby Ali Mosque.
Today will be focused on Safavid Isfahan with the Naqsh-e Jahan square (UNESCO), the mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah, the Royal Mosque, the Ali Qapu and Chehel Sotun palaces. We’ll enjoy some free time to end the day; which, if you wish, you can use for a pleasant stroll through the fascinating, historical Qeysariyeh bazaar, famous as an important handicraft center in Iran.
Transfer to Isfahan airport.