Edition 28 June 2018, by Nanda Jagusiak-Monteiro
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With the Pardisan Travel Company, I made an amazing trip last April to visit the historical and beautiful highlights of Iran. The trip was tailor made and I was pleased to stay most of the time in “Caravanserai” Boutique hotels (restored buildings from the Silk Route), with a typical Iranian ambiance from the former days. We had our own guide and driver. The guide took us to beautiful, delicious restaurants all in typical Iranian ambiance and some with live music. The tour lasted 12 days. It was an unforgettable voyage. Below a short summary of the highlights I visited.
Golestan Palace (UNESCO World Heritage).
In the 19th century, the Qajar dynasty built their royal residence, the Golestan palace complex, in the middle of a shady garden. Naser od-Din Shah, who during his trip through Europe in 1873, became fascinated by European architecture. The intact Mirror Hall is inspired by the magnificent Mirror Gallery of the Versailles Castle, the magnificent Talar-e Aineh room (1875) with its refined decorative design, is one of the most beautiful palace halls in the Emarat-e Salar. Furthermore, worthwhile visiting, the Takht-e Marmar or the Marble Throne Porch (1747-1779); the Talar-e Salam (Audience Hall) where many royal weddings took place and also the coronation of Mohammed Reza Shah in 1967.
Royal Jewels Museum, Muze-ye Javaherat.
Here you will find priceless jewels, including one of the greatest diamonds in the world, the Darya-e-Noor (182 carat), as well as the famous Peacock Throne, used for coronations, ordered by Fath Ali Shah in 1789 with 26.733 gems. It was all quite spectacular.
Saadabad Palace complex
Consisting of 18 palaces, 17 are now a museum, in a large park of 110 ha. A visit was brought to the White Palace, the summer palace of the Shah and used as his residential and ceremonial palace. We could admire the beautiful tapestry of high quality. We also went to the Jahan Nama Museum with work of international artists, like Picasso, Miro, Tapies and Warhol, all from the private collection of Farah Diba, last queen of Iran during the Pahlavi dynasty. We concluded our visit with a tour through the Niavaran Palace where the Shah Mohammed Reza and his family lived from 1968 till 1979. Bazar-e Bozorg, the Bazaar is divided in different sections, with tapestries, clothing, herbs, tin- , copper- , gold- , and silversmith, etc. From the 19th century a lot of trade took place and till today, it is very well visited and you will have a direct access to the Masjed-e Imam Khomeini mosque, decorated with colorful tiles of the Qajar dynasty.
In order to spend our time in the most effective way, we took a flight from Tehran to Shiraz.
Karim Khan Citadel
A royal castle from the 18th century. Around the courtyard with water basins are the rooms of the royals of the former Zand dynasty. The ceilings are nicely decorated. The bathhouse is very well preserved and has beautiful columns. The Saadi mausoleum. Saadi is a well-known poet from the 13th century. The mausoleum is a pilgrimage destination for many Iranians. The Eram garden, with a very beautiful rose garden and two cypresses that are 900 years old. The 19th century Qajar Palace in this garden is built by Nasir al-Molk, with very nice tiling. Nasir al-Molk mosque, named after the Qajar leader in the 19th century. The walls of the courtyard are decorated with tiles with floral motifs and a landscape with churches or other European buildings on the walls.
One of the important highlights, was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Darius I started this enormous project (522-486 BC) and the palace city was extended by Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Artaxerxes II. Alexander the Great destroyed it in 330 BC by setting fire in the city, apparently as a revenge for destroying the Akropolis by Xerxes I. The main highlights are the Nations Gateway, Audience- and Hadish Palace, One Hundred Column Palace and the Tripylon Palace, all decorated with well-preserved carvings.. Since 1979 Persepolis belongs to the UNESCO world heritage.
On the rocks are monumental relief figures to see on the king graves from the early Sassanid era. The reliefs represent victories and coronations of the Sassanid kings. Furthermore we brought a visit to the Koran gate, and the Mausoleum of Hafez, a poet from Shiraz (1324-1390). On our way to Yazd, we passed in Pasargadae the tomb monument of Cyrus the Great, who died in 530 BC, then we visited Abarkuh, with the so called Cypress tree of Zoroaster, 4000 years old. This tree might be planted by Zoroaster or by a son of Noah.
Old Bazaar Complex has a beautiful architecture, some ceilings decorated with tiles. You can find some workshops for grinding henna, making a kind of confectionary with sesame and a workshop for dying woolen or cotton yarns. Friday mosque or Mashed e Jame from the 14th century with two minarets, 48m high, the highest of Iran. With ceramics, beautiful floral motives in the colors blue, black, white and yellow. Bagh-e Dowlat Abad Garden designed in 1712 – a beautiful Persian garden designed in 1712 (Zand era). There is a hexagonal reception pavilion with colored glass and lead windows. The 33m high wind tower in the adobe brings coolness. Gorgeous pond between summer and winding pavilion is fed by a qanat (canal) and surrounded by cypresses, pomegranate and cherry trees. This garden, together with 8 other gardens, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Furthermore, Towers of Silence or Dakhma-ye Zartoshti, On the top of the hills, the traditional funeral rites of the Zoroastrians took place and they were brought to a halt 50 years ago; Zoroastrians fire temple or Atashgah e Bahram from 1932. Inside the temple, the sacred fire is burning behind glass, which was brought to this temple in 1940 and has been burning for more than 1500 years.
Chehel Sutun (40 column) Palace
The construction began by the order of Shah Abbas I. The pavilion gives a vivid picture of the refined life at the court of the Safavids. Four large wall paintings show historical events from the Safavid and Qajar period in the audience room. The palace is integrated in a beautiful park, 67,000 m (UNESCO World Heritage Site), a beautiful example of the Persian architecture. The 20 slender cedar wooden columns with paintings reflect in the water basin in front of the building, hence the name 40 pillars.
Naqsh-e Jahan Imam Square
The square is the second biggest square in the world 507 m long and 158 m wide in the center of Isfahan. Around the square you will find the most important historical buildings: – Masjed-e Imam Mosque by the order of Shah Abbas I in 1020, a real masterpiece regarding its architecture, tile works, stone engraving, the dome size and its lofty minarets. Perfect combination of the colour use of blue and yellow, the calligraphy and the architectural front. A wall with animal paintings, the only one in Iran. The facades of the mosque are covered with blue, green and yellow glazed mosaics and tiles decorated with arabesques, floral motifs and calligraphic friezes; Masjed- e Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque with a magnificent decorated dome with blue-black floral motifs and white arabesques on yellow-beige background. This mosque is considered a highlight of Persian architecture; Ali Qapu Palace, this palace was used by Shah Abbas I to receive his foreign guests. Very special was the music room on the top floor with a nice decorated ceiling and the walls consist of motifs cut out of plaster (empty jars) that provided better acoustics. Around the square is the Qeisariyeh Bazaar. This Royal Bazaar was built in 1619 by the Safavid architects. On the main portal you will see mural paintings of the victory of Shah Abbas on the Uzbeks. The bazaar consists of 5 km of alleys. Personally, for me this is the most beautiful square I have ever seen; Masjed-e Jame – Friday Mosque is one of the oldest mosques. The construction was started in the 8th century and continued the construction until the 18th century in different Islamic styles. It has been registered as UNCESCO World heritage since 2012; Kelisa-ye Vank or Vank Cathedral, an Armenian church from the 17th century, a combination of Islamic-Persian and Christian-European elements. Many frescos of scenes from the Old and the New Testament. Also a place of pilgrimage for the Armenians.
Furthermore we visited KASHAN, famous for the merchant house Khaneye Borujerdi, a private house of a Qajar family, opulently decorated, and also the merchant house of Khane-ye Tabatabaei and one of the most famous, traditional gardens Bag-e Fin garden which was commissioned by Shah Abbas I, since 2011 on the UNESCO World heritage list. Rest me to say that this most interesting trip was very well organized by Pardisan Travel Company.
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