UNESCO Heritage Site
ِDay 1- Arrival-Tehran
Welcome to Iran. UNESCO heritage sites are dispersed in different cities of Iran. for the first step, we have a stop in Tehran. Tehran, Iran’s capital, locating on the slopes of snowcapped Alborz mountains, is the nation’s dynamic beating heart and a combination of modernity and history. You will be met on arrival at Tehran International airport and transferred to your hotel. After taking short rest, head to the downtown Tehran and explore its different cultural layers. 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. 30 Tir street where the museum is located, is now one the recreational spots in the city. Though being teemed with cultural features, the street had lost its heydays hustle and bustle. However, it is lined with colorful and bright street food stands recently. it boomed once again. Our next stop is Abgineh museum, at the end of this historical street. It is full of pottery works and ceramics. The last place we visit on the first day of our tour is Golestan palace and museum (UNESCO Heritage Site). We can review Qajar history by walking through the Halls and Gallery and a stunning Garden inspired by the European architecture.
Board the plane early in the morning to 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 most of it is ruined by invading armies, what remains are unrivaled masterpieces of architecture. Entering the city airport, we are almost 30 minutes away to the city itself. Today we try to visit some highlight such as Amirnezam house (museum), an old Qaja house turned into museum and now host a bunch of objects, representing the stories perfectly. After lunch we grab the time and delve into the Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex (UNESCO Heritage Site) which is said to be the largest covered bazaar, lined with brick façade shops and arc-shaped ceiling throughout the aisles. Depending on timing, we can stroll in El Goli park and enjoy the nightly breeze of flowery garden.
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 Heritage Site) the oldest of which, St Thaddeus, dates back to the 7th century are examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions.
Day 4-Maku-Kandovan village
Spending a whole day in the desirable nature of the west of Iran and exploring its integrated history with Armenian culture, we head off to Kandovan village. The village and its exotic dwellings spread so tightly that it resembles the battle against winter weather and to withstand the coldness. This village, compared with the only similar village, Cappadocia in Turkey, is still habitat and houses like cones sit above a newer, lower village. Spending the night at the only rocky hotel, adapting the regions survival way of the village would be the most memorable one throughout the trip.
Day 5- Kandovan village-Takab-Zanjan
Today we head out on our road expedition into Takht-e Soleyman (UNESCO Heritage Site) complex. Sitting in a lonely bowl of mountains, these UNESCO-listed ruins are one of the most memorable sights of western Iran and while the state religion was Zoroastrianism, 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. Leave the ruins behind and hit the road to Zanjan. Sticking out, azure-colored Soltaniyeh Dome (UNESCO Heritage Site), catches your eyes once you enter the city. It has the oldest double-shell dome in Iran.
Bisotun bas relief (UNESCO Heritage Site) reminds everyone particularly Iranians of a great romance story between two famous lovers, picturing an unfinished love story based on the Iran’s great poet art work, Nezami. Spend the day exploring Kermanshah another UNESCO listed sight, Tagh-e Bostan (UNESCO Heritage Site) before settling down in Bisotun area. Tagh-e Bostan carving is the iconic attraction in a green area full of restaurants. There you can taste the best Dande Kebab, Kurd’s traditional food in lavish or common restaurants. The arcs are decorated by awe-inspiring ancient carvings and a pond which reflects and doubles the beauty of the place. Staying in Bisotun caravanserai overnight, locating on the foothill of Bisotun mount, completes the experience of our immersion in history.
Day 7- Bisotun-Dezful-Shushtar
Khuzestan province is quite big and full of amazing and ancient-old attractions. Cities like Ahvaz, Sosa and Shushtar are great examples of this legacy. After breakfast early in the morning, we drive to Shushtar. A small town with smart people. In order to conquer water shortage and survive in the battle with nature, they had to come up with a solution. Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System (UNESCO Heritage Site) were smart and efficient enough to be listed. At night water, falling down the domes, along with colorful lights, create an unforgettable scene.
Day 8- Shushtar-Sosa (shush)-Ahvaz
Continue exploring the 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 museum and follow historical objects. To imagine better how old and majestic the area used to be, we glide into the Apadana palace (UNESCO 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. Another UNESCO-listed monument, one of the rarest, ancient-age attractions, Choqa Zanbil Ziggurat (UNESCO Heritage Site) disclose many vague interpretations regarding the Medes empire. A marvelous building, standing alone and like the far heydays, ruling the vast plain embracing its majesty.
Day 9- Ahvaz-Shiraz
Today we have a long road trip among scenic landscapes of southwest Iran. On the way to Shiraz, we have a short stop at Bishapur, Sassanid most important capital. Shahpur cave, located 800 m above the ground is a remote but amazing attraction which is mostly unknown. Its mouse height is about 30 m and a huge statue of Shahpur welcomes you at the door. We can take rest and listen to the stories of a great city which has seen many kings and empires during the years of being capital. Getting refreshed, we continue visiting Sassanid bas relief at Tang-e Chogan.
Day 10- Shiraz
Shiraz is famous for many things. Once you enter the city, you can feel the friendliness and hospitality among locals. In Shiraz, city of secrets, 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, admire elaborate architectural relics and more over delve into the astonishing traditional bazaars. We visit Vakil complex which is named after the popular Zand-era king’s nickname Vakiloroaya. You can buy Iranian handicrafts as well as the city delicious sweets. Enjoy walking in Karimkhan Citadel whose bitter orange trees’ smell fills the whole city during spring. in order to discover why Persian Gardens are listed in UNESCO, we visit Eram Garden (UNESCO Heritage Site). It is one of the best examples of Persian gardens. Then we visit Nasirolmolk mosque. Although it is small but by far the most sought after place in Shiraz. Where you can see rise and fall of colorful rainbows during the day even when it’s not rainy. Depending on timing we can visit Hafez and Saadi tombs, two of Iranian great poets whose works are Persian literature masterpieces indeed. Regardless of age, Iranians frequently quote verses and sentences in their daily life even after centuries. Their tombs are both located in desirable gardens. Locals refer to Hafez’s poem book mostly to lighten their way in hard moments and difficulties and in traditional occasions such as Yalda.
Day 11- Shiraz-Persepolis-Pasargadae
Leave every historical places you have ever seen 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 Heritage Site) itself, Necropolis (Naghsh-e Rostam; it literally means “city of the dead” in the ancient Greek) as well as Naghsh-e Rajab. Despite being burned in a hostile fire, it still stands strong and majestic on a onepiece rock platform above the ground floor. To complete the story of ancient Achaemenes’s empire we drive to Pasargadae (UNESCO Heritage Site). Pasargadae, where Cyrus, the great tomb is located; a simple but majestic structure reminds us of the magical stories told about him.
Day 12- Pasargadae-Meymand Village-Kerman
Spending the night in a local house and mingling with locals, tasting delicious cuisine is the best way of getting familiar with the culture and people of a region. Iran is a vast country, as a result you may face various cultures and lifestyles. Around borders you can feel Iran’s neighbor’s cultural features intertwined with Iranians. Meymand village (UNESCO Heritage Site) is another outstanding example in this regard. Locals’ semi-nomadic lifestyle, make them well-prepared and strong enough for the biting winters. During the winter months they live lower down the valley in cave dwellings carved out of the soft rock, an unusual form of housing in a dry, desert environment. Wander around the village and have a friendly chat with locals who love to invite you to their house and eat on the same table with you. After paying our visit, head to Kerman.
Day 13- Kerman-Shahdad-Lut Desert-Kerman
Lut and its mysterious starry nights, being listed as the UNSCO natural heritage site recently, is the most amazing desert in Iran. Some extraordinary phenomena in Lut such as Shour river (salt crystals), mighty Yardangs and desert’s specific vegetation, Nebkas and Shafiabad Palm trees, weird houses which are called kootoos leave everyone speechless. For those who love to discover everything quite exciting, we recommend testing Safari here among Yardangs. Trek across Iran’s Lut desert (UNESCO Heritage Site) and discover an otherworldly landscape of star dunes, shifting sands and wind-hewn Yardangs. Stare at Ginger horizon near sunset and golden waves of sand dunes. Admire all these natural wonders and hit the road once again to Kerman.
Day 14- Kerman-Mahan-Zein o Din-Mehriz-Yazd
Early in the morning we visit Kerman highlights. Ganjalikhan complex, it’s old and traditional bath’s elaborate paintings and artworks, vast yard in the middle and surrounding shops reminds us of its heydays and the hustle of the Bazaar. We drive to Mahan to visit an oasis in the middle of desert. A fantastic example of Iranian gardens and a true treasure in a deserted part of the city, Shazdeh Garden (UNESCO Heritage Site). Still green and fresh, we can make the strongly standing building at the end of a long pond streaming along the trees. Water fall down continuously when the ground level changes and create short waterfalls along the way to the gates of the garden. Drive to another culturally rich part of Iran. Yazd and its old neighborhood, labyrinth tight streets, allies connected by low arches and backed clay houses is among the most beautiful places to visit in Iran. Although locating in the desert area, people invented ways to struggle with nature unfriendliness. UNESCO recorded their inventions as world heritage site. On the way to Yazd we pay a short visit to an old castle which used to be Iran’s oldest bank and go on a visit to Iran rare circular caravansary, Zein o din.
Day 15- 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 Heritage Site) is lying down calmly for ages in the middle of the city. Along these decaying maze of narrow alleys, inside Ziaeyeh school (Alexander prison) and old houses turned into tea houses people still whisper old stories. If you get chance and walk into one of these houses, you can distinguish the distinctive architecture of the place and secrets which were once part of the daily life of the owners. Amirchakhmaq complex, Zoroastrian fire temple, tallest wind tower in Dowlatabad Garden (UNESCO Heritage Site) and a true architectural masterpiece, Jameh mosque, catches your eyes from the moment you enter the city.
Day 16- Yazd-Meybod-Kuhpayeh
Owing to the years of being in the center of attention, Iran is teemed with a bunch of things to visit. Consequently, we have a short stop in different places en route. A tiny town on the way to Isfahan full of historical monuments tell how active this part of Iran used to be. Pigeon tower (an old post office), Narin castle, Jameh Mosque of Meybod, Ceramic shops where you can find the best pottery works made by locals who learn to make it from early childhood. We head to a different place to spend the night. Well-restored caravanserai in Kuhpayeh, a city close to Isfahan, is our host tonight. High walls, spiral baked-clay stairs to the rooftop where you can see the horizon easily since it is not very tall city. Sleeping in chamber-like rooms where once people used to spend the night after a long trip, transfer you back in time. Lie down and gaze at starry sky from rooftop is an amazing opportunity you may never get again.
Day 17- Kuhpayeh-Isfahan
Put all the wonders aside, 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. To get the most out of our day in Isfahan, we first visit Naqsh-e Jahan (Meidan Emam) square (UNESCO Heritage Site) where once polo players boasted about their horse riding abilities in matches to entertain the ruler, Shah Abbasi. Once you enter the square, you can’t hold but admiring all the effort they made to leave an impressive legacy after their fall. Breathtaking mosques, Shah (Imam) and sheikh lotf-ol-lah, Ali Qapu palace and entrance to a vast bazaar, form four sides of the square. Locals call Isfahan half the world and who ever visits the shining capital of Persia, believe 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. Another outstanding masterpiece in the city is Jameh Mosque (UNESCO Heritage Site). Its yard and azure-tiled arches make you shot photos in order to recall the beauty even after leaving the city. To end our fantastic excursion in culture-ridden streets of Isfahan we head to Chehel sotun Palace (UNESCO Heritage Site) where 20 pillars double by reflection in the pond in front.
Day 18- 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 and bear an ancient architectural style. Women mostly wear red knee-length skirt and white floral long scarf. Usually, in spring you can take a leisurely walk among the narrow and sloped lanes and pass the village’s only Jame Mosque with a big decorated wooden door and greet with old women in sitting a group of two or three in the region’s custom. You can’t see them anywhere but here in this small village. After almost 30 minutes driving we enter Kashan. This small town tells amazing stories while awe-inspiring detailed stucco of town’s influential families’ houses reveals millions of secrets. Tabatabaeis and Borujerdis houses are bearing most of these stories. They built the later one 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 outside, is our next stop. Fin Garden (UNESCO Heritage Site) and its famous historical bath in which one of Iran’s greatest prime ministers has been murdered, has buried stories for years.
Day 19- Kashan-Tehran
Once again Tehran host us. This time north of Iran’s capital and way more modern face of it changes your beliefs basically. Due to years of stability, advanced highways, bridges and tunnels, numerous parks and modern monuments has changed the cities face little by little. Sadabad and Niavaran palaces (2 museums each) represent the most recent royal legacies, Qajar and Pahlavi. Delve into Tajrish Bazaar, locals favorite, is the end of our trip.
Day 20- Tehran- International Airport
Transfer to the airport and fly back home.