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Jame Mosque
Yazd
When in most mosques in Iran, make sure you look up! Many have incredible works of art, in the form of beautifully patterned tiles, in the ceiling of the domes above the prayer area.



Eram Garden
Shiraz
Bagh-e-Eram (meaning Eram Garden) is the most famous of the Persian Gardens in Shiraz. Back in time it was home to the local chiefs, now it is maintained and owned by Shiraz University.

Shisha
Shiraz
Tea comes before everything in Iran, but in a good second place comes the shisha, the bubbly water pipe. It can be enjoyed in most tea-houses and restaurants.

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Best Iran Travel
Extensive site
Iran Cultural Heritage Organization
Official site
Iran Tourism and Touring Organization
Official site

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South: Time Travel

Southern Iran is home to some of the world's oldest cities, whether abandonded (like Persepolis) or still living (like Yazd). Listening to Iranians tell their numerous legends and stories of times lost in the past one really starts to appreciate the pride they have in their history. If you don't have too much time, two must-see highlights of any trip to southern Iran are Shiraz and Yazd. Both are examples of how time can stand still, and at the same time move very quickly.

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Iran: Afif Abad Garden in Shiraz Shiraz: Afif Abad Garden

Shiraz is famous for its gardens and nights, both possible due to the comfortable climate. Some of the gardens include the Hafezieh (containing the tomb of poet Hafez), Eram Garden and Afif Abad Garden (also known as Golshan Garden). The latter, once a residence for the king when visiting Shiraz, has now been reduced to a military museum. Though, the magic has not gone. Try to go there after dark also, the pool gives an enchanting reflection of the Ghajar style building.

Yazd: Old Town

Yazd is a special city in more than just one way. It's one of the oldest living cities of the world. In addition, due to its desert surroundings, it has developed a unique architecture. A very recognizable feature of Yazd architecture is the badgir (meaning windtower), a construction on top of buildings designed as a natural ventilation system. Another great technology used for thousands of years in Yazd are the qanats. They are underground canals, bringing water from reservoirs. Some of the qanats can be up to 15 km. long.

Persepolis: Carvings

Persepolis (Takht-e-Jamshid in Persian), meaning city of Persians, dates back more than 2500 years, built to be the center of the Achaemenian Empire. It was one of the greatest structures on earth, until Alexander the Great conquered and looted it in 330 B.C.

Shiraz: Bazaar

Shiraz is associated with nightingales, poetry and roses. Hafez and Saadi, two of the most famous Persian poets, were born in Shiraz, and both have tombs in the city where Iranians come to pay their respect. Just an hour away from the city by car is the magnificent 2500 year old capital of Persepolis, a historical highlight of Iran. Finally, with its One Thousand and One Nights feel to it, no visit to Shiraz is complete without at least a few hours for just wandering around the bazaar.

Facets of Iran

Some sights of south Iran (left to right):
-Arg-e Karim Khani (meaning Citadel of Karim Khan) in Shiraz, occupying a full city block.
-Afghan man in Yazd There are almost 2 million Afghan refugees in Iran.
-Ayatollah Khomeini on a carpet in the Mirror Palace Museum in Yazd.



Throne of Jamshid
Persepolis
To get a good picture of the former glory of Persepolos, remember to bring a map (and some imagination). Alexander the Great looted the place so good that it wasn't rediscovered until the 1930s. Persepolis is best reached by taxi from Shiraz (45 minutes).

Facts
Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Īrān

Capital
Tehran
Largest city
Tehran
Population
68,688,000 (2006)
Area
1,648,000 km²
Official language(s)
Persian
Government
Islamic Republic

Highlights
Shiraz
Persepolis (Takht-e-Jamshid), Arg-e Karim Khani (Citadel of Karim Khan), Hafez Tomb, Eram Garden, Afif Abad Garden, Vakil Bazaar, Qor'an Gate
Yazd
Old Town, Masjid-e Jame, Amir Chaghmagh Mosque, Atashkade, Mirror Palace Museum, Tower of Silence

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Copyright: Jan Egil Kirkebø (2006-11) - Email: janki at online dot no