Day 1- Arrival-Tabriz
Welcome to diverse Iran’s former capital, Tabriz. Owing to different periods of being capital, Tabriz has great stories to tell. The most recent one though dates back to Qajar era. Tabriz and its different spirituality, language and traditions make a perfect introduction to diverse Iran. Although invading armies ruined most of it, what remains are unrivaled masterpieces of architecture. Entering the city airport, we are almost 30 minutes away from the city itself. After taking a short rest we visit biggest and oldest Church in Tabriz, Saint Mary Church. Then we head to St. Sarkis Church. A rocky structure with brick domes. In the afternoon we can visit other highlights. Amirnezam house (museum), an old Qajar house turned into museum and now host a bunch of objects, representing the Qajar history perfectly. After lunch we grab the time and delve into the Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex (Bazaar of Tabriz )(UNESCO world Heritage Site) which is among the world’s largest covered bazaars, lined with brick-facade shops and arc-shaped ceiling throughout the aisles. Depending on timing, we can stroll in Elgoli park and enjoy the nightly breeze of flowery garden.
Day 2- Tabriz-Jolfa
Beautiful northern roads end in other UNESCO-listed monuments. Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, are located in north western part of Iran, near Iran-Armenia border. It consists of three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith: St Thaddeus, St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor (UNESCO world Heritage Site) the oldest of which, St Thaddeus, dates back to the 7th century. They are examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions. Today we first visit St Stepanos then we spend the night in mountainous villas close to the nature which is quite rare in whole Iran.
Day 3- Jolfa-Maku-Urmia
Spending a whole day in the desirable nature of the western diverse Iran and exploring its integrated history with Armenian culture, we head to the oldest church among three. Its not only the oldest but is by far the most striking one. St Thaddeus aka black church is virtually the most important church in Iran. As a result it was extensively restored in Qajar period. Chapel of Dzordzor is the last one among the triple UNESCO-listed churches in the area we are going to visit. We drive to Urmia, Tabriz neighbor province. The famous bridge on lake Urmia cut through the way between two cities noticeably on which we can easily have a look on the distinctive Urmia lake.
Day 4- Urmia-Tehran
In the morning we visit St. Mary Church, which is an ancient Assyrian church located in the city of Urmia, West Azerbaijan Province. It is considered by some historians to be the second oldest church in Christendom after the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the West Bank. Despite our limited time and depending on timing we pay a short visit to the lake Urmia, a well-known salty lake. This spectacular lake has tackled with water shortage problems during recent years. Soon after visiting the lake we board the plane and head to Tehran. our trip to north west of Iran was short but review of two out of many various religions in Iran gives us relatively good insight of how people could live together peacefully regardless of their beliefs and religions. In the end of the day, transfer to the hotel and take rest.
Day 5- Tehran
Tehran, Iran’s current capital, locating on the slopes of snow capped Alborz mountains, is the nation’s dynamic beating heart and a combination of modernity and history. After taking a short rest, head to the downtown Tehran and explore its different cultural layers. Obviously, Tehran has more churches but are more modern. Greece Orthodox Church and Jordan church are two important ones we are going to visit. Next, we visit Iran national museum, aging more than 70 years. It is not only the largest museum of History and Archaeology of the country, but ranks as one of the few most prestigious museums of the world in regard to grand volume, diversity and quality of its huge monuments. In spite of being located in the heart of Tehran’s old district and as a result lined with museums and culturally remarkable landscape, it wasn’t until recently that 30 Tir street became one of locals’ favorite hangout spots. People line before every shop patiently to get their order ready. The last place we visit on the first day of our visit in Tehran, is Golestan palace and museum (UNESCO world Heritage Site). We can review Qajar period history perfectly by walking through the Halls and Gallery and a stunning Garden, inspired by the European architecture.
Day 6- Tehran-Hamedan
Climb aboard the car and after almost 3 hours we enter Hamedan. An old civilization in west part of diverse Iran, a land brimmed with ancient historical and cultural features. Hamedan was once home of Medes empire and their legacy is still around and considered to be one of the most precious monument in Hamedan. For example Ecbatana’s remnants are now open to public visit. To complete our interpretation of this influential dynasty, we visit findings carefully collected and preserved in a museum beside the sight itself. In addition, Stephen Gregory Church is glorying side by side of this valuable remaining of human history. Finally, we visit the tomb of two Jewish respectful figures, buried in the old district of Hamedan. Tomb of Esther and Mordechai is host to many Jews who love to remind themselves of their great story.
Day 7- Hamedan-Khoramabad
Not only being history-ridden but its natural wonders bring Hamedan above all other destinations in diverse Iran. In the morning we continue exploring the exceptional nature of Ganjnameh on the foothills of Alvand. Surrounded by gardens, a maze like road take you to Achaemenes Inscription. The remnants are written in 3 dominant ancient languages. Old trees and a humble waterfall at the end of this cobble stone way make you feel walking. Getting back to the city center, in the very middle, where the city’s social life heart is beating, Avicenna’s Tomb stands out. An outstanding architecture, designed by distinguished Iranian architecture. All the numbers and shapes used in the plan are inspired by Avicenna’s own achievements. Babataher Tomb is our next stop before leaving Hamedan. Like a huge green gate to the city area, his tomb welcomes you with his love poems. He is Iran’s great poet. In the evening hit the road and drive to Khoramabad.
Day 8- Khoramabad-Shush-Ahvaz
After breakfast, we drive to small town of Shush and visit Danial Nabi tomb. The prophet Daniel is one of four Major Prophets in Hebrew Scripture and very respectful man among Iranians. Sosa used to be Elamite empire capital as well as Achaemenid winter capital. We have a great list of things to do and visit today. So we prepare to enter the world of ancient. First walk through aisles of Sosa (Susa) museum and follow historical objects. To imagine better how old and majestic the area used to be, we glide into the Apadana palace (UNESCO world Heritage Site). Wandering around the giant fallen pillars each of which tells the story of a great nation and the effort they take to built them. Our next stop is French palace, built by French people, dominates the whole city. From top of the castle we can visit the whole city which used to be the capital of the great empires. Khuzestan province is quite big and full of amazing and ancient-old attractions. Cities like Ahvaz and Sosa are great examples of this legacy.
Day 9- Ahvaz-Shiraz
Today we fly to Shiraz. One of the best cities throughout diverse Iran. The city is famous for many things. Once you enter the city, hospitality and friendliness of totally strangers make you feel at home. In Shiraz, city of flowers, nightingales and poets, you won’t have trouble finding things to do. Whether you are a history buff or into culture and nature, you won’t be disappointed. You can wander its streets, stroll in gardens, delve into the astonishing traditional bazaars and admire elaborate architectural relics. First, we visit Vakil complex which is named after the popular Zand-era king’s nickname Vakiloroaya. Then enjoy walking in Arg of Karim Khan whose bitter orange trees’ smell fills the whole city during spring. To know why Persian Gardens are listed in UNESCO we visit Eram Garden (UNESCO world Heritage Site) one of the best examples of Persian gardens. Then we visit Nasir-ol-molk Mosque, small but by far the most sought after place in Shiraz. Uncommon in mosques, the stained glass windows of the mosque illuminate its Persian carpets with a kaleidoscope of patterned flecks of light. Depending on timing we can visit Hafez and Saadi tombs, two of Iranian great poets.
Day 10- Shiraz-Persepolis-Abarkuh
Leave every historical place you have seen ever in Iran behind and head to the greatest ancient remnants. A 2500-year-old complex of palaces which once used to be the most glorious capital of the world’s most sophisticated nation. The complex consists of the Persepolis (UNESCO world Heritage Site) itself, Necropolis (Naqsh-e Rostam) It literally means “city of the dead” in the ancient Greek, Naqsh-e Rajab. Leave the historical remnants behind, we head to Abarkuh and spend the night in its stunning traditional hotel. There we can kill two birds with one stone; in one hand we sleep in an stunning hotel, on the other hand we test a very different night in an old house.
Day 11- Abarkuh-Yazd
The city may seem quite old at the first glance but after hanging some time out, you will discover it pretty live. Locals with their distinguishable accent are proud of their ancestors who has solved the water shortage problem by inventing Qanats. Dating back around 3,000 years, the Qanat is an ingenious and sustainable solution to Iran’s dearth of easily accessible water. People pump water from deep down the ground to the surface and then pipe it to farms and whole city. This chain of Qanats, listed as UNESCO heritage, continue to eastern cities. The old neighborhood, Historic city of Yazd (UNESCO world Heritage Site) is lying down calmly for ages in the middle of the city. Along these decaying maze of narrow alleys you can listen to untold stories and visit Ziaeyeh school (Alexander’s prison) and old houses turned into tea houses. Amirchakhmaq complex, Zoroastrian fire temple, tallest wind tower in Dowlatabad Garden and a true architectural masterpiece, Jameh mosque, catches your eyes from the moment you enter the city. We still have a long way to visit diverse Iran.
Day 12- Yazd-Isfahan
Put all the wonders aside, hands down, nowhere in Iran can even get close to Isfahan. Four hundred years ago, Isfahan was larger than London and more cosmopolitan than Paris. Elegant bridges crossed its modest river, lavishly outfitted polo players dashed across the world’s largest square and hundreds of domes and minarets punctuated the skyline. In order to get the most out of our day in Isfahan, we first visit Naqsh-e Jahan (Meidan Emam) square (UNESCO world Heritage Site) where once polo players boasted about their horse riding abilities in matches to entertain the ruler, Shah Abbasi. Breathtaking mosques, Shah (Imam) Mosque and sheikh lotf-ol-lah, Ali Qapu palace and entrance to a vast bazaar embrace the square. Locals frequently call Isfahan half the world and who ever also visited the shining capital of Persia, believes in this rhythmic proverb. The city’s most famous bridge, Si-o Seh Pol (Bridge of 33 Arches) is nearly 1,000 feet long and 45 feet wide. Another as eye catching as Si-o Seh pol, Khaju bridge and delightful coffee shops are a common gathering place in the evenings. Although Isfahan has got bunch of places to visit, these bridges when the river flows, gets packed with locals.
Day 13- Isfahan
With all the memories in mind, we continue exploring Isfahan. Another outstanding masterpiece of Isfahan is Jameh Mosque (UNESCO world Heritage Site). Its yard and azure-tiled arches make you stop and take photos to remind you of the beauty even after leaving the city. To end our fantastic excursion in culture-ridden streets of Isfahan we head to Chehel sotoun Palace (UNESCO world Heritage Site) where 20 pillars double by reflection in the pond in front. In the afternoon we also stroll leisurely through Jolfa district. The most important Christianity residential in diverse Iran lined with shops and restaurants and fabulous churches. It’s almost the only remaining main Christian area in diverse Iran. Being part of the city center now, similarly important Jolfa district still retains its distinctive nature. Vank cathedral and two other churches are full of believers from in and outside of Isfahan. Besides the visit, tourists can pay respect to brilliant figures, buried in the place.
Day 14- Isfahan- Abyaneh-Kashan
After breakfast, head to an exotic village, a red village on the way to Kashan. Some of the best things to do in Kashan are, ironically, not in Kashan. Locating 70 kilometer southeast of Kashan, Abyaneh is like a red diamond in the middle of desert context. Red clay houses bear an ancient architectural style. Women traditionally wear red knee-length skirts and white long floral scarfs. Usually in spring you can take a leisurely walk among the narrow and sloped lanes, pass the village’s only Jame Mosque with a big decorated wooden door and greet with old women sitting in a group of two or three. Like other traditions of the village, you can’t see them anywhere but here in this small village and in diverse Iran. After almost an hour road trip we enter Kashan. Kashan is near Isfahan, however, as important as Isfahan in terms history. This small city tells amazing stories and awe-inspiring detailed stucco of town’s influential families houses reveal millions of secrets. Tabatabaei and Borujerdi Houses are bearing most of these stories. The later one is said to be built for the sake of a passionate love, where you can still feel its sweetness. Another Iranian garden with high walls and higher cedars, quite visible from behind wall, is our next stop. Finally we head to Fin Garden (UNESCO world Heritage Site) and its famous historical bath in which one of Iran’s greatest prime ministers has been murdered, buried stories for years.
Day 15- Kashan- Tehran International Airport
Today we leave diverse Iran, transfer to the airport and fly back home.