Saturday, December 17, 2022

Iran, Final Thoughts

Prior to visiting Iran, I had read so much about the country and watched numerous documentaries, so I had an idea of what to expect. I will gladly say that my trip to Iran exceeded my expectations and honestly, this was one of my best trips ever! 

Iran is such a rich country, rich in natural resources, culture and history. Best of all, the people are some of the friendliest and warmest that I have ever encountered. Being a foreigner, I stood out in all the places that I visited, and I was welcomed so warmly everywhere I went. I can't count the number of times people stopped me just to chat, take photos with me or to say thank you for visiting the country. Heck!  even the flight attendant in my flight out of the country stopped by my seat to ask where I was from before proceeding to thank me for visiting Iran.

Visiting Iran and living in Iran are two different things of course and talking to locals gave me a good idea of how life is like for the citizens of the country, it is not easy. As a visitor, I would say Iran is a country that should be on anyone's bucket list. This country is so beautiful, and not once did I feel unsafe, the country is huge! we are talking almost three times the size of France, and very diverse geographically so there is something for everyone in terms of what interests them. I was blown away by the differences in all the cities I visited, and it was very interesting seeing what each city has to offer to visitors.

Politics is a big thing in Iran especially now with what is going on with the current protests, talking to locals about what is driving the protests one can't help but root for the people of this beautiful country. I will not go into politics in this blog but all I can say is, don't judge a country's people by what you watch in the news. Unfortunately during my visit I had no access to fast internet or social media due to what is going on in the country currently, so my blog entries were made after I had left the country. This unfortunately made it hard to convey the same emotions I had while in the country experiencing things in real time.

Would I visit the country again? DEFINITELY! I only scratched the surface with this trip and would love to explore more. I met a lot of locals whose livelihood depend on tourism and given the current state of the country, tourism has been affected which has hurt many people. That is why I encourage anyone thinking about visiting Iran, to do it. Of course do your research and keep abreast of what is going on in the news, before making your decision. While my trip never got affected by protests which were in designated areas and at designated times away from tourists sites, who knows how things will unfold so it's good to be in the know.

That's it folks! I had a wonderful time in Iran, met incredible people and created unforgettable memories. Till my next trip in March, adios! 

Shiraz, Iran

Shiraz is a city in south- central Iran that is considered the cultural capital of the country. It is well known for it's beautiful Persian gardens, poetry and is one of the top tourist cities in Iran. There is so much that can be said about Shiraz but I will keep it short by saying, it is a beautiful vibrant city that is not to be missed during a trip to Iran. 

This was the last city I visited before going back to Tehran and leaving the country, by the time I visited Shiraz I had seen so much beauty in all the cities I had visited prior and didn't think there would be anything else left to impress me, how wrong I was! I enjoyed the city thoroughly and without further ado, here are some of the highlights that I got to enjoy.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque - also known as the pink mosque due to the extensive use of rose colored tiles. It was built between 1876 and 1888, the reason why it stands out is the use of stain glass that's not commonly used in mosques. It's such a beautiful mosque and the details in the artwork is very impressive! women have to wear a chador (full body covering) in order to enter and as like in many other mosques, these chadors are provided at the door for free and returned upon exit.

Tomb of Hafez - this is a memorial structure erected in memory of the great 14th century Persian poet, Hafez. His poems are among the most translated in the present day and his poetry is regarded as the pinnacle of Persian literature by Iranians.

Tomb of Saadi - a memorial structure built in honor of another great Persian poet, Saadi. Before Hafez there was Saadi who lived a century before him (13th century). He was another great Persian poet and prose writer who is considered one of the greatest figures in Persian literature.

Eram Garden - a magnificent example of a Persian Garden that was used by local rulers and monacrhs before being gifted to the University of Shiraz in 1963, by the government. It is open to the public and worth checking out while in Shiraz, it is pretty huge and a good place to relax or walk around surrounded by nature.

That's it folks! I really did have a good time in Shiraz and the highlights I covered above are just a few of the many that I got to experience. 

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Pasargadae & Persepolis

Pasargadae was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC), founder of the first Persian empire which was the largest empire in the world at the time. A prominent figure in history who was even admired by Alexander the Great and is still revered by Iranians in the present day. Prior to visiting Iran, I had watched numerous videos on the history of the country and was so fascinated by this great leader so of course I had to include visiting his tomb in my itinerary.

Cyrus' tomb is located in Pasargadae and is preserved as an archaeological site. 


Next stop after the tomb of Cyrus was another ancient archeological site which is the royal necropolis of the Achaemenid dynasty. At this site I got to see the tombs of 4 Achaemenid kings: Darius the Great, his son Xerxes I, Artaxerxes and Darius II. It just felt so surreal visiting the tombs of people that I have read about in history books. 


Last stop was Persepolis which was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid empire from the reign of Darius I (522-486 BC) who had moved the capital from Pasargadae. The city was located in a remote area hence keeping it safe from any outsiders until it was plundered by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. From the ruins one can only imagine how grandiose the city must have been, the details are very impressive as the best workers from all over were used to build it. There is record that all the workers were paid to build the city which did not use slave labor.

That's it folks! it was amazing experiencing these sites and learning the history behind them. Nothing beats witnessing places that you have only read about or watched documentaries on, sometimes I feel like pinching myself because I have truly seen and experienced amazing things in my life.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Yazd, Iran

The historical city of Yazd is located in the middle of Iran and is a perfect example of how it has adapted to its desert surroundings by the use of limited resources for survival. It is actually the first city in Iran to be listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is definitely worth a visit. I was in the city for a couple of days and here are some of the highlights that I got to enjoy:

Walking around the city and enjoying the sites of its adobe structures and desert architecture


See the vertical structure behind me with sticks sticking out? those are traditional wind catchers that act as air conditioning during the hot season. Of course, now most people use electric air conditioning but before modern times, these wind catchers acted as air conditioners. They work really well, and you can actually feel the cool breeze when you are inside a building that has a wind catcher. I was told that the sticks sticking out are used to climb up and fix the wind catcher if it needs repairs.

This is a traditional door with two knocks. Each knock elicits a different sound meant for the person inside to know if there is a man or a woman knocking. If it's a man knocking and there is a woman inside, they can cover up before opening the door. 

This a traditional qanat which an underground aqueduct used to transport water from a source water to the surface. According to sources, this system originated in Persia (Iran) in 3,000 BC. Fascinating indeed!


Zourkhaneh - An ancient Persian sport that was part of soldiers' training. It combines martial arts, calisthenics, strength training and musicians It's recognized by UNESCO as being the world's longest running sport. It fuses elements of Pre-Islamic Persian culture, Sufism and Shia Islam. The clubs being held by the men are not as light as they appear, each club weighs between 22 - 66 pounds.

Jameh Mosque of Yazd is the main congregational mosque of the city. According to sources, the original building dates back to the Sassanid period (224 - 651 AD)

Women must wear a full body covering (chador) before entering the mosque. Chadors are provided at the entrance and once you leave, you can take them off and place them in a designated bin from which I think they are re-used after being cleaned.

Zoroastrian Fire Temple - Zoroastrism is an ancient Persin religion that originated more than 4,000 years ago. It's one of the oldest religions that's still being practiced today, and it's the world's first monotheistic faith. This religion was practiced by 3 Persian dynasties until the Muslim conquest of Persia in the 7th century A.D.

The Muslim conquest made it hard for Zoroastrians to practice their religion, so some ended up migrating to India. In the present day, there is a small minority that practices this religion in Iran and India.

Zoroastrians believe that fire represents God's light and wisdom, this fire is always lit and never allowed to burn out.

Tower of Silence - This is where Zoroastrians disposed of their dead. Instead of burying the bodies, they would take them up this tower so that the sun would disintegrate them, and birds would eat the flesh off the bones. 

They did not bury their dead because they believe burying the dead pollutes nature so the body being in direct contact with the soil was seen as contaminating it. This practice has since been stopped and now they bury their dead in concrete so that the body doesn't touch the soil. It is actually an interesting religion, and I was fascinated learning about some of their beliefs.


That's it folks! Yazd is really a fascinating city to visit and it's impressive seeing how historical settlements in the city adapted well to their environment and used ingenuity for survival. On to the next adventure!