Inimitable Isfahan | Iran

It is only fitting my final post on Iran feature Isfahan. After all, Isfahan is widely considered to be the most beautiful Iranian City, with an abundance of outstanding architecture, art and gardens. As an old Iranian proverb states:”Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast” (Isfahan is half of the world).

Isfahan, Esfahan, Royal SquareAt the heart of Isfahan lies Naqsh-e Jahan Square,  a place that has beguiled residents and visitors alike since its construction in the early 17th century CE and another of Iran’s 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Measuring 160 metres (520 ft) wide by 560 metres (1,840 ft) long, it is Isfahan’s religious, commercial and social center.   Continue reading “Inimitable Isfahan | Iran”

When in Persepolis | Visit Naqsh-e Rustam

Only twelve kilometers from Persepolis, the ancient necropolis of Naqsh-e Rustam would be worth the trip even without that proximity.  There are carvings here that date to 1000 BCE in addition to the four tombs of Achaemenid Kings, including Darius the Great and Xerxes.  The tomb of Xerxes is not visible above, but is perpendicular to these three and just to the right. The tomb of Darius … Continue reading When in Persepolis | Visit Naqsh-e Rustam

A Day at Persepolis | Iran

Few places exceed my expectations as did Iran overall and Persepolis specifically. I never took Ancient History and don’t know mythology well. Even so, I fell under the spell of this remarkable place. Persepolis, known to Iranians as Takht-e Jamshid (throne of Jamshid – a mythic being who – in the middle ages – was thought to have built it)  was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire for a little over two centuries (ca. 550–330 BCE). Conceived by and with construction commenced under Darius the Great and destroyed by Alexander the Great (the historian Plutarch contended that it took 20,000 mules and 5,000 camels to remove the treasure), the city’s ruins are marvelous to behold. UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 1979. Persepolis is easy to reach from Shiraz and warrants an entire day to absorb its wonders.  Continue reading “A Day at Persepolis | Iran”

Isfahan’s Incredible Awe-Inspiring Ceilings

Choosing photos for any of the posts about Iran has been difficult. Selecting a relative few from the hundreds I took in Isfahan has been almost impossible.

LotfallahMosque_Faience_Isfahan
Exquisite Faïence at Sheik Lotfallah Mosque

This post focuses on just one aspect of this city’s beauty: her magnificent ceilings. The next post will explore Isfahan in depth but these photos speak for themselves! [NB: with the exception of the Jāmeh Mosque below, these buildings are all from the Safavid era – 17th century CE.] Continue reading “Isfahan’s Incredible Awe-Inspiring Ceilings”

Pretty in Pink | Shiraz, Iran

 

PinkMosque_Shiraz_Entrance

Excellent advice for traveling or life in general: it is best not to judge a book by its cover, or a building by its entrance.The famous Pink Mosque  or Masjed e Nasir ol Molk in Shiraz is a case in point.  The approach via an undistinguished street gives only a hint of the beauty that lies within. Continue reading “Pretty in Pink | Shiraz, Iran”

FoodieFriday | Saffron-tastic!

I had no idea that saffron would be one of the takeaways (literally and figuratively) from my trip to Iran.  According to Iranian legend, overconsumption can lead to death from laughter. There is no danger of that here in the States, where saffron is so expensive, many stores keep it under lock and key, if they carry it at all. Continue reading “FoodieFriday | Saffron-tastic!”

Cyrus the Great Slept Here (Pasargadae, Iran)

Miles from nowhere, the 6th century BCE complex of Pasargadae was built by  Cyrus the Great  who was the first ruler of the Achaemenid Empire. Renowned for its centralized administration, respect for its diverse population and human rights, at its peak, the empire extended from the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt to the present day Pakistani-Indian border. Pasargadae is one of 19 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Iran. The 160 hectare (400 acre) … Continue reading Cyrus the Great Slept Here (Pasargadae, Iran)

Stepping Back in Time – the Medieval Village of Taft, Iran

The medieval village of Taft is only a short drive from the center of Yazd and is home to a significant Zoroastrian community. Wandering the narrow streets is a pleasant way to spend a morning. Ripe pomegranates emanate  from the walled gardens of traditional homes. Open doorways provide a peek into the still largely agrarian society. The local women’s bright head scarves were a marked contrast … Continue reading Stepping Back in Time – the Medieval Village of Taft, Iran

Yay for Yazd | Iran

Anyone with the good fortune to visit Iran must include Yazd on the itinerary.  Located in southeast Iran between the Kavir and Lut deserts, the city was a major stop on the caravan routes (Marco Polo called it “a good and noble city”). Yazd’s location and aridity spared it from the Mongol invasion preserved its traditional architecture. This photo gives a little perspective of the enormity  of … Continue reading Yay for Yazd | Iran