It’s long passed since my trip to Shiraz but I thought since I have a pretty decent record of the places I went and the things I did, it wouldn’t do any harm to write a belated post on it. After all this is my favorite city in Iran so far! Shiraz is the 5th biggest city of Iran with a population of almost 2 million! It’s still considered a big city but after experiencing the hectic and rapid life of Tehran, Shiraz seems like a village in the countryside. At least to me.
The city is famous for a fair amount of things in the world. First for it’s long history and important role in the Persian empire with Persepolis as it’s capital. Second, for it’s wine! …Yes, wine! Shiraz used to be Iran’s wine capital and known for producing the finest wine in the Middle East. However you won’t be getting that anymore!
Shiraz is the land of Poets. …and No! poetry is not a thing of the past when it comes to Iranians. You will find that the average life of an Iranian is deeply connected with poetry and they show a great amount of respect toward their poets. Turns out, some of the world’s famous Iranian poets like Hafez and Sa’di were from Shiraz and by visiting their tombs you’d realize how dear they are to the Iranian heart.The people of Shiraz are known amongst Iranians as taking life on a slow mode and their love for picnics, which normally take place in their private family gardens. People usually close their shops and business by lunch time and don’t come back until around 3 or later. Now that’s not because it takes them so long to eat, but rather because of afternoon naps being a religion in Shiraz!
Shiraz has a lot to see. We spent a good four days there but there was still way too many places we didn’t get to visit. So here’s a little highlight of our trip.
This place is without a doubt the main highlight of Shiraz for any visitor. Although it’s about 70km outside of the city which means it’s a day trip itself, still it’s totally worth every minute. There is a unique sense of glory here, one that I only got to feel again in Rome. A feeling of power, dominance, inconstancy and certainly the passage of time. Persepolis is a UNESCO world heritage, constructed and glorified during the time of Darius I and later invaded by Alexander the great. It was set on fire after the invasion which is believed by many historians to have been a revenge for the burning of Acropolis of Athens during the Persian invasion of Greece.
For a full guide of Persepolis check out my blogpost: The ultimate guide to visiting Persepolis
Pasargadae was the capital of Cyrus the great and his last resting place. The most famous remaining monument of this place is the Tomb of Cyrus himself.
Naqsh-e Rostam is another of my favorite places to visit in Shiraz. There’s again a great sense of glory and somehow a resemblense to The Treasury in Petra, Jordan. The most important monuments are the tombs of 4 Achaemenid kings including Darius the Great, carved out of the rock face. There is an entrance on each carving which opens to a small chamber where the king’s body lays in a sarcophagus. The tombs were later looted following the conquest of Alexander the Great.
Tomb of Hafez
Hafez is one of the most beloved figures among Iranians. Most of his poetry is themed toward love and faith. “Hafez reading” is a thing in Iran which is regularly practiced by anyone from young teenagers to older generation. His poems are also frequently used in Persian traditional music and calligraphy. If you don’t know who he is, or never read his pieces make sure you look him up before heading to this place. It definitely makes the experience remarkably different.
Tomb of Sa’di
Sa’di is another major Persian poet of the medieval period. He is quoted for his deep moral thoughts throughout the world. He was a well educated man who happened to wander around the world for decades due to the Mongol invasion. He writes exquisitely about his experiences, observance and the people he meets during his journey which happen to be mostly survivors of the war. His pieces reflect first-hand experiences of ordinary Iranians who suffered displacement and agony throughout the turbulent Mongol invasion.
The 3rd most sacred shrine in Iran is a feast for the senses. Unfortunately photography is not allowed but come here after the evening prayers and the atmosphere is just divine! There’s a collection of mirror works, tile works and basically a huge museum of Iranian architectural decorations.
Wearing a chador is compulsory but they are provided at the entrance if you don’t have one.
The Shrine of Ali Ebn-e Hamze
A smaller and cozier equivalent of Shah Cheragh.
The Pink Mosque (Nasir al-Molk Mosque)
The most photographed piece of Iranian architecture that is adorned with colourful tiles and stained glass windows. Visit the winter hall in the morning and you’ll witness the theatrics of sun rays streaming through stained glass windows and dancing over elegant Persian carpets.
Persian Garden has been frequently quoted in Persian literature and poetry as the earthly paradise. It’s traditional style has influenced the design of gardens throughout the world, from gardens of Alhambra in Andalusia to their biggest interpretation in Taj Mahal of Agra. Eram Garden is a dazzling show of all the Persian garden elements and definitely a moment of delight whenever you’re in need of some peacefulness.
Nerenjestan Museum/Qavam house
The wealthy Iranians had always had a specific fondness when it came to building their homes. All across Iran you can find beautiful houses with stunning architecture and lavishing ornamentation which used to belong to wealthy families and are currently public museums.
Arg of Karim Khan
This citadel was built during the Zand dinasty as the king’s living quarters. Later it was turned into the governors seat during the Qajar period and after their fall, it was converted to a prison. There’s a beautiful museum inside depicting some of the special events that took place in this fortress. As you can see throughout my pictures already, water is an inseparable element of any Persian garden and there is no better place to experience the Persian paradise then here, in Shiraz, known amongst Iranians the city of gardens.
Public bathhouses existed in the Iranian culture prior to Islam but were later given much more importance due to their significant role in Islamic principals, where ritual purity was attained through washing one’s body and was a requirement of religious life. Many of these baths are still to be found scattered throughout the country. Vakil Bathhouse is a perfected example which was praised with the most advanced architecture techniques of its time.
Another astonishing display of Iranian architecture. The Vakil msoque boasts dazzling tile-work and the huge prayers hall with its numerous columns make it such an exceptional piece of artwork compared to other mosques in Iran.
Garand bazaars with beautiful architectures exist in almost every Iranian major city. They are normally the best places to buy souvenirs and handicrafts of all kind. Vakil bazaar has got to be one of my favourites, specially if you’re looking for carpets, antiques or spices!
Want to know what to buy in Iran? Check out my blogpost: Iranian souvenirs: A guide to shopping in Iran
Afif Abad Garden
This Garden includes a former royal mansion, an ancient weapon museum and of course a gorgeous Persian garden. It’s also known to be one of the oldest gardens of Shiraz.