Iran, Another Look
Day 1- Arrival(Tehran)-Ahvaz-Shushtar
Fly to Ahvaz at the beginning of our trip. Ancient and magnificent, Khuzestan is our first stop in our 15 – day trip. A vast province in the south western part of Iran which shares border with Iraq. The distance between attractions scattered throughout Khuzestan , same as their age, are a bit long. Today after landing in Ahvaz airport, we head to Hotel. Taking a short rest, we start our excursion. Karun river, the longest river in Iran and the only navigable river, with lots of old and brand new bridges to connect side parts of the city to each other, is the most prominent attraction in Ahvaz. Spending some time beside Karun, we drive to Shushtar. A small town with influential historic invention by smart people. In order to conquer water shortage and survive in the battle with nature, they had to come up with a solution. Therefor they invented Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System (UNESCO world Heritage Site); it was smart and efficient enough to be listed. At night, water, falling down the domes, along with colorful lights, create an unforgettable scene. We take a tour to understand this innovation.
Day 2-Shushtar-Choqa Zanbil-Shush-Khoramabad
One of the rarest ancient-age attractions, Choqa Zanbil Ziggurat (UNESCO world Heritage Site) , disclose many vague interprets regarding the Medes empire. A marvelous building, standing alone and like its far heydays, ruling the vast plain embracing its majesty. Soon after in order to complete our adventure, we head to Sosa, a flourishing city, used to be the region hub in the old ages. Continue exploring the small town of Shush and visit Danial Nabi tomb. The prophet Daniel is one of four Major Prophets in Hebrew Scripture, similarly, 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 who 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 once used to be the capital of the great empires. We drive to khoramabad to enjoy its fantastic weather during night.
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 4- Hamedan
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. They carved it 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.
Day 5- Hamedan-Bisotun-Kermanshah
Bisotun bas relief (UNESCO world Heritage Site) reminds everyone, particularly Iranians, of a great romance story between two devoted lovers, picturing an unfinished love story based on the Iran’s great poet art work Shirin and Farhad by Nezami. Spend the day exploring Kermanshah another UNESCO listed sight, Taq-e Bostan (UNESCO world Heritage Site) before settling down in Bisotun area. Taq-e Bostan carving is the iconic attraction in a green area full of restaurants. The arcs are decorated by awe-inspiring ancient carvings and a pond which reflects and doubles the beauty of the place. There you can taste the best Dande Kebab, Kurd’s traditional food in lavish or common restaurants. At the end of our excursion, we stay in Bisotun caravanserai overnight, locating on the foothill of Bisotun mount, completes the experience of being immersed in history.
Day 6- Kermanshah-Sanandaj
Those who has been in Iran before, can easily catch the variety of attractions which are mostly the result of immensity, geographical position and rich history off Iran. Today we visit Iran’s Kurdish traditions and custom. Drive to Sanandaj where we can visit too many Safavid and Qajar buildings. Old Bazar, dates back to Safavid era is still alive and active where both locals and tourists can pursue their goals. The architecture is said to be inspired from Isfahan most famous square, Naqsh-e Jahan. After wandering in Bazar we head to Jame mosque. A beautiful structure which yards and pillars are decorated by two third of Qoran verses. Our next stop is anthropology museum (Kurd House), one of the oldest buildings in the city. West of Iran Nature is a must-see. Old mountains, despite being beautifully eroded during years, are the most outstanding feature of western Iran. Sanandaj has a share of this beauty as well. Abidar Regional Park and its largest cinema in open area is a summer regular hangout among locals.
Day 7- Sanandaj-Takab
Today we head out on our road expedition into Takht-e Soleyman (UNESCO world Heritage Site) complex. Sitting in a lonely bowl of mountains, these UNESCO-listed ruins are one of the most memorable sights of western Iran. While the state religion was Zoroastrianism, and Takht-e Soleyman (then called Azergoshnasb) was its spiritual center. A short 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
Day 8- Takab-Tabriz
Owing to different periods of being capital, Tabriz has great stories to tell. The most recent one, dates back to Qajar era. Tabriz and its different spirituality, language and traditions make a perfect introduction to Iran. Although invading armies ruined most of it, what remains are unrivalled masterpieces of architecture. Today we try to visit some highlights such as Amirnezam house (museum), an old Qajar house turned into museum and now host a bunch of objects, representing the stories perfectly.
Day 9- Tabriz
Traditional bazaars are the best places to meet locals and their tradition. Tabriz Bazar is a perfect example. We grab the time and delve into the Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex (UNESCO world Heritage Site) which is said to be the largest covered bazaar, lined with brick-facade shops and arc-shaped ceiling throughout the aisles. In order to visit 25 years of intricate tiling and turquoise mosaics work, we take a look at blue mosque (Kabood mosque). The mosque used to be called the Islam World’s Turquoise. Despite being damaged badly when an earthquake stroke in 1973, and although afterwards slow restorations, we can still see the beauty and majesty of the building. Depending on timing, we can stroll in El Goli park and enjoy the nightly breeze of flowery garden.
Day 10- Tabriz-Ardabil
We drive to Ardabil. Here we discover the untouched nature and scenic roads which connects north west of Iran to the north province. First we head to Meshginshahr to walk on the longest suspension bridge and spend the night in advanced Durna Camp near mount Sabalan where we can see hikers getting back to the camp in separate groups to take rest and relax their muscles in thermal springs of the camp. They share the story of their ascend to the peak.
Day 11- Ardabil-Khalkhal-Asalem-Gisum-Anzali
In the morning before we leave northwest of Iran towards coastal cities lined along the Caspian sea, we take a look at UNESCO heritage sight, Sheikh Safi al-Din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble. It is an outstanding example of 16th century religious complex and of Persian Safavid architecture. In short, Safi-al-Din was the founder of the Safavid dynasty which left wonderful monuments in cities like Qazvin and prominently Isfahan. The roads we are going to drive to Rasht are like piece of heaven on earth. Green, lush, misty, labyrinth and in some parts embraced by seasonal flowers. Enjoy the most beautiful as well as picturesque Khalkhal to Asalem road trip, claimed by majority of travelers the best in Iran. Finally we arrive Gisum Beach. After aWatching the sunset by the Caspian lake, largest lake on earth, completes our adventure. Hit the road again and head to Anzali.
Day 12- Anzali-Masuleh
Like European cities, northern cities of Iran are green and close to each other with virtually same architecture and culture. Consequently we won’t experience long road trip. Today after taking enough rest, Sail around the Anzali Lagoon. White and pink water lilies cover the surface and you can touch them easily while sailing. Meanwhile going pass by the northern cities on the way to Masuleh village we can visit the coastline moving forward with us. Cities stick to each other so tight that some streets begin and end in two different cities. In the afternoon we arrive in Masuleh. This village is around at least a thousand year. It’s one of the most important villages in Iran. Rural houses are locating on a mountainside so steep that roof of the one lower is pathway of the upper. Explore the village on foot and go pass the houses decorated by colorful Geraniums.
Due to proximity to Iran’s capital, Qazvin is most of the dominated by Tehran’s importance. We discover its beauties and spend the night in a lovely traditional hotel. Caravanserai of Sa’d al-Saltaneh is the most sought after attraction in the city. A Qajar caravanserai restored and skillfully turned into a bazar. Depending on timing we visit Evan lake, a blue diamond in the middle of mountains.
Day 14- Qazvin-Tehran
Tehran, Iran’s 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 15 -Tehran-IKA
Drive to Tehran International Airport and fly back home.