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Sassanid Archaeological Landscape Becomes Iran’s 23rd UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO has inscribed Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Province on the list of World Heritage Sites.

 

Eight archaeological sites situated in three geographical parts in the southeast of Fars Province: Firuzabad, Bishapur and Sarvestan. These fortified structures, palaces, and city plans date back to the earliest and latest times of the Sassanian Empire, which stretched across the region from 224 to 658 CE.

Among these sites is the capital built by the founder of the dynasty, Ardashir Papakan, as well as a city and architectural structures of his successor, Shapur I.

The archaeologic landscape reflects the optimized utilization of natural topography and bears witness to the influence of Achaemenid and Parthian cultural traditions and of Roman art, which had a significant impact on the architecture and artistic styles of the Islamic era.

sarvestan palace

 

Ardashir’s relief at Firuzabad

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How Did Iran Get Its Name?

 

Persia or Iran? Many people these days know these two terms refer to the same place geographically and often use them interchangeably. Outside the country, Iran used to be referred to as Persia, but there’s a curious reason why it changed. Keep reading to discover the story of how Iran got its name.

The Persian Empire

For thousands of years, Iran was known as Persia. The Persian Empire refers to the series of imperial dynasties that spanned from the 6th century BC to the 20th century AD. It started with the Achaemenid Empire formed by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC and was followed by Sassanid, Safavid, Afsharid and finally, Qajar rulers. When the Persian Empire is referenced today, it’s the rule of the Achaemenid Empire that comes to mind. At its height, it ranged from the Balkans and Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley. 

Tomb of Cyrus the Great of the Persian Empire | Photo credit: toiran.com

When Persia became Iran

Iran was always known as ‘Persia’ to foreign governments and was once heavily influenced by Great Britain and Russia. In 1935, however, the Iranian government requested that all countries with which it had diplomatic relations call the country by its Persian name, Iran. It’s thought that it was the Iranian ambassador to Germany who suggested this change. At that time, Germany had good relations with countries of Aryan descent. To signal the changes that had come to Persia under the rule of Reza Shah, namely that Persia had freed itself from the grip of the British and Russians, it would be known as Iran. As a cognate of the word ‘Aryan’, this name change to Iran was also a nod to the population’s Aryan race and encompassed all ethnicities in the country, not just the Persians.

Social Media-Life-Shiraz-Houman Nobakht

Persepolis | Photo credit: toiran.com

As history and politics have changed, though, it’s quite interesting to note how the use of the terms ‘Iran’ and ‘Persia’ and ‘Iranian’ and ‘Persian’ have changed with it. Many Iranians, for instance, may opt to use one term over the other, depending on their political views or, more simply, where they live and who their audience is (for example, a more conservative person may call for the use of ‘Persia’). When this name change first took place, ‘Iran’ sounded quite foreign and many even failed to connect it to Persia. But as time went on and Iran made headlines, particularly after Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq nationalized the oil industry, it became more familiar.

In recent years, on the other hand, some Iranians have started to refer to themselves as ‘Persian’ or ‘from Persia’ in an effort to disassociate from the government during a heightened political climate and throw off their audience who may not connect Persia with Iran. Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani has even referenced this in his comedy routine in a bit that is arguably one of his most beloved because it speaks to Iranians all around the world.

 

Autor: Pontia Fallahi

https://www.instagram.com/mypersiancorner/

The 10 Best Museums in Tehran, Iran

Though many visitors try to spend as little time as possible in the crowded capital city, Tehran has a lot to offer. Nicknamed “the city of museums,” there is a plethora to choose from to understand Iran better from political, cultural, and historical viewpoints. Read on to discover the 10 best museums in Tehran.

Golestan Palace

Topping the list of the best museums is none other than Golestan Palace, the UNESCO-listed site that once served as the Qajar dynasty’s seat of government. The royal buildings require separate entrance tickets, though it’s worth seeing the lavish palace in its entirety. Not to be missed are the Takht-e Marmar (Marble Throne) sitting in an open, mirrored hall, the cozy Karim Khan Nook, and the striking Shams-ol Emareh, whose clock was presented to Nasser al-Din Shah by Queen Victoria. The painted tile walls enclosing the palace also make for excellent photo ops.

Golestan Palace Interior

The National Jewelry Treasury

The underground vault of the Central Bank of Iran shelters an opulent array of priceless gems, crowns, and other jewels worn by the monarchs of the Safavid, Qajar, and Pahlavi dynasties. Must-sees in the dizzying collection include the Peacock Throne (a gem-studded daybed) and the 182-carat uncut pink diamond Darya-ye-Nur (Sea of Light). Limited openings and tight security mean you should plan your visit in advance, leave all of your belongings at reception, and keep your hands to yourself, lest you sound the piercing alarms.

Crown Of Pahlavi

Holy Defense Museum

A war museum may not sound like much fun, but rest assured, the Holy Defense Museum is an eye-opening experience you won’t want to miss. This museum, which sits on a well-manicured, 21-hectare green space, provides a harrowing account of the eight-year war with Iraq, known as the “Holy Defense” in Persian. Inside, projections and audio recreate the horrors of war and the besieged city of Khorramshahr, while the surrounding grounds display rockets, tanks, and other artillery. It’s a priceless window into modern Iranian history and an understanding of its people.

Holy Defense Museum

Sa’ad Abad Museum Complex

This luxurious summer residence of the former monarchs sits in a tranquil 100-hectare area in the foothills of Darband in northern Tehran. The 18 buildings require separate entrance tickets, which are available for purchase at the gate. The 54-room White Palace from Mohammad Reza Shah’s reign is a must-visit. The spiral staircase in the back leading to the National Art Museum, a selection gathered by Farah Diba, is also worth a stop. The extravagant Green Palace, named after the marble exterior, is noteworthy, as is the Royal Costume Museum, which houses an eclectic collection of traditional tribal dress and European haute couture.

 

Iranian Artists’ Forum

A favorite hangout among the art crowd and safe haven for stray cats, the Iranian Artists’ Forum offers a peek into the contemporary art scene of Tehran. This free gallery exhibits a variety of works from local artists that rotate on a monthly basis. Cafés, a vegetarian restaurant, and an arts and crafts shop with unique gifts dot the other buildings. If you speak Persian or are generally interested in the country’s theater scene, check out one of the plays that are regularly on offer.

 

30 Tir Street

Though technically a street, you could consider 30 Tir an open-air museum. For starters, there’s a church, Zoroastrian fire temple, mosque, and synagogue sitting together harmoniously on this cobblestone street. The fire temple has hours posted, and while the others are usually not open to the public, you could always try your luck. Also along this street in a Qajar-era building is the Glassware and Ceramic Museum, with its beautifully curated objects, some as tiny as a fingernail, to explain the history of Iran’s various regions. The National Museum of Iran, on the southern end of the street, walks visitors through Iran’s history through its pottery, stone figures, and other excavated treasures. When you’re done exploring, you can treat yourself to a hearty bite from the food trucks and kiosks just outside the museum.

 

Niavaran Cultural Historic Complex

The six museums that make up this cultural-historic complex lie within the confines of a five-hectare, landscaped garden. Niavaran Palace was the main residence of the Shah and his family during the last decade of their rule. The magnificent carpets and stylish gowns and uniforms of past monarchs are particularly noteworthy. Elsewhere, the former crown prince’s childhood seems to be frozen in time at the Ahmad Shah Pavilion, his living quarters, and the Qajar-era Saheb Gharanieh Pavilion features grand halls and cozy, colorful nooks.

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

TMoCA contains one of the most valuable collections of Western art outside Europe and North America. These paintings and sculptures, accumulated largely before the Revolution of 1979, feature the likes of Monet, Pollack, and Rothko, alongside a selection of contemporary Iranian artists such as Sohrab Sepehri and Parviz Tanavoli. Sculptures by Giacometti and Magritte are in the surrounding garden grounds. The imposing concrete building itself, designed by architect Kamran Diba, is admirable for its modern take on the traditional Persian badgir, wind tower.

Qasr Museum Garden

Persian for “castle,” the Qasr Museum was originally built as a Qajar-era palace by architect Nikolai Markov, who combined elements of Persian and European architecture. It was later converted into two prisons (criminal and political) before permanently closing years later and reopening in 2012 as a museum. Former inmates lead guided tours and provide firsthand accounts of atrocities they endured while behind bars, making the experience of visiting this beautiful prison all the more haunting.

Qasr Museum Garden

Reza Abbasi Museum

Named after the great Iranian artist of the Safavid era, the Reza Abbasi Museum comprises three galleries that highlight pre-Islamic and Islamic art and calligraphy and painting, all arranged chronologically. Paintings and miniatures by Abbasi himself are on display alongside pottery, vessels, and metal objects and jewelry from ancient times, which make for some of the most exciting items in this well-kept museum.

Gold Rhyton in the form of a Ram’s Head

 

 

Author: Pontia Fallahi

https://www.instagram.com/mypersiancorner/

 

How to Spend 48 Hours in Shiraz

Shiraz is the birthplace of the ancient Persian civilization. Blessed with a moderate climate and easy-going people, it’s also the city of poets, literature, and Persian gardens. Travel back to the Persian Empire and get a dose of some serious poetry as we explore how to spend 48 hours in Shiraz.

Iran map – Shiraz

Day 1

With so many historical and cultural sites in Shiraz, there’s a lot to pack into 48 hours. Spend the first day outside the city, steeped in history, as you explore the remains of the ancient Persian Empire. Because today will be spent in the sun in a dry landscape, make sure to pack sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, and of course plenty of water and snacks.

The capital of Persia during the Achaemenid era (circa 550–330 BCE), Pasargadae is where you’ll find the Tomb of Cyrus, King of Persia, as well as the remains of the citadel of Tall-e Takht, palaces, and prison of Solomon. Despite its isolation and rather inhospitable surroundings, Pasargadae is a rewarding and imperative stop on the journey to ancient Persia.

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About 50 kilometers south of Pasargadae is the monumental Persepolis, capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Upon entering the majestic Gate of All Nations, tap into your imagination to be transported back in time, when delegations from foreign countries brought gifts to the king. The magnificent reliefs on the staircases and in the palaces depict everything from half-man/half-bull figures and griffins to Persian soldiers and lotus flowers.

Persepolis, Fars Province

Continue your journey into the past at Naqsh-e Rostam, a necropolis of four massive tombs for the Achaemenid kings, including Darius the Great, carved into the cliffside. The Cube of Zoroaster, thought to have been a fire temple, sits in front of this tomb. Other reliefs in this area include triumphs of the Sassanid era monarchs, including the most famous one portraying the victory of Shapur I over Roman emperors. Naqsh-e Rajab, located only a few minutes away, has other similar reliefs.

Naqsh-e Rostam, Fars Province, 

 

Naqsh-e Rajab, Fars Province,  

 

Day 2

Morning

Now that you’ve had your Persian history lesson, it’s time to soak up some Persian culture. Everyone enjoys the beauty of the sunrise, but there are few better places to take your breath away so early than Nasir ol-Molk Mosque, nicknamed the Pink Mosque. Sunlight shines through the stained-glass windows and reflects off the Persian rugs, transforming the mosque into a walk-in kaleidoscope. Each nook is more photogenic than the last. You’ll love not only capturing this masterpiece but also becoming part of it.

Nasir ol-Molk Mosque,

Once you’ve managed to pull yourself out of this exquisite mosque, walk northwest along Lotf Ali Khan Zand Street to the Vakil Bazaar, where you can meander through the maze of alleyways. You’ll be dazzled by the rug and jewelry shops, and the scent of spices will lure you closer to the stalls. Explore the understated yet delightfully symmetrical Vakil Mosque with its colorful mosaics against neutral backdrops. Finally, visit Hammam-e Vakil, an 18th-century bathhouse with vaulted chambers, twisted columns, and painted scenes from Persian mythology.

At this point, a lunch break at the bazaar’s Saray-e Mehr is in order. Try the chicken kabobs or famous dizi, a traditional stew of lamb, potatoes, and legumes cooked in a clay pot. Wash it all down with a hot glass of tea as you relax and take inventory of your bazaar purchases in this charming, traditional restaurant.

Vakil Bazaar, Saraye Moshir, Shiraz

Vakil Mosque, Shiraz, 

Vakil Bath, Shiraz, 

 

Afternoon

Get your motor running again at Arg-e Karim Khan, an 18th-century citadel built by and named after the founder of the Zand Dynasty. With a lovely courtyard filled with citrus trees and a central pool, it’s hard to imagine that the four surrounding towers of this fortress once served as prisons. Don’t miss the tilework showing scenes from Ferdowsi’s epic poem, Shahnameh.

From here, head to one of the sites comprising UNESCO’s collective listing of ‘Persian Gardens,’ the aptly named Eram Garden (Persian for paradise). Surrounding a spectacular three-story pavilion with colorful mosaics, this botanical garden is replete with towering cypress and palm trees as well as red roses and streaming water.

Karim Khan Citadel, Shiraz, 

 

Eram Garden, Eram Blvd, Shiraz, 

Evening

End your stay in Shiraz with an evening of two of Iran’s most beloved poets, Hafez and Sa’adi. Great lovers of poetry, Iranians from all walks of life can recite verses from these poets from memory. The Tomb of Hafez sits in a beautiful garden and is full of tourists and locals who come to pay their respects. Grab a fal-e Hafez and contemplate the play of words to see what fortunes the great poet has in store for you.

 

The Tomb of Sa’adi, featured on the 100,000 Iranian rial note, is less crowded in the evening, allowing for a more personal experience. His simple yet profound lyrics offer proof of his legacy, and his most famous works, Golestan and Bustan, emphasize unity in mankind. It makes sense that his poem Bani Adam, Children of Adam, is inscribed at the entrance of the United Nations in New York.

Tomb of Hafez, Hafezieh St, Shiraz

Social Media-Life-Shiraz-Amir Sina Rezaei

Tomb of Sa’adi, Boostan Blvd, Shiraz

 

Author: Pontia Fallahi

https://www.instagram.com/mypersiancorner/

 

“Shiraz is one of the most beautiful cities of Iran and this was only a portion of all it has to offer. If you are planning to explore more of Shiraz just let our team of experts know and they will give you the best itinerary according to your request. After all, Shiraz is toiran.com’s favorite city in Iran… ”

 

Visit Mausoleum of Saadi, The Persian Poet, in Shiraz

The mausoleum of Saadi, known also as the tomb of Sa’dy or Sadiyeh, is one of the major tourist attractions of Shiraz. A huge number of Iranians and non-Iranians pay a visit to this burial place and show their respect to Saadi and interest in his works, prose, and poems. This Iranian poet is a globally known scholar whose words have touched many hearts across the world and wakened up many minds to take new steps in their lives to reach higher levels of humanity. The ambiance of this location is much more attractive than its architecture although it has got interesting character by itself.

Saadi Tomb | Photo credit: toiran.com

A Few Words about Saadi

Saadi lived in the 13th century, but he’s a man for all centuries. The rich depth of his writings and ideas with social and moral values have gone beyond time. His words have been quoted by Persian speaking people inside Iran and outside alike. Even Western sources have quoted him and continue to do so. He ’s widely recognized as one of the great masters of classical Persian literature. Some even title him second only after Ferdowsi whose position for saving the Persian Language is unparalleled and no one could even do what he did.

The reputation of Saa’i in Persian literature is because of his eloquence in using the language. After 8 centuries, his works are still easy to understand and his ideas are still admirable for the speakers of the language. His style of Farsicizing borrowed words from Arabic in Persian made it a lot easier to use those words in everyday use and understand them although Arabic was not a language of the same origin as Persian.

Saadi was a man of learning. Spending infancy and childhood without a father and going through youth in poverty and hardship never stopped him from pursuing learning. Therefore, he left his birthplace in Baghdad where Nezamieh university was the center of knowledge and many studied there in the Islamic world. Among various subjects that he studied there, he proved to be excellent in Arabic literature, Islamic sciences, history, governance, law and Islamic theology.

Saaadi was a man of traveling. Mongols invasion and unstable situation in Iran led him a lifetime of living abroad in various countries like Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Sindh (Today’s Pakistan), India, Central Asia, Hijaz (Today’s Saudi Arabia), etc. Eventually, after 30 years, he returned to his birthplace as an elderly man and was welcomed and highly respected.

He was titled “Sheikh” because of his knowledge and found followers who pursued his values and words.

Saadi’s Literary Works

Within two years after his return to Shiraz, Saadi wrote his two most famous books: Bustan, also known as Bostan (The Orchard) in 1257 and Golestan, known as Gulistan (The Rose Garden) in 1258. Bostan is entirely in verse introduces moral virtues and Gulistan is mainly in prose containing stories and personal anecdotes.

His works in forms of Lyrics and Odes are also well-known by the enthusiasts of Persia literature. He has created some works in Arabic as well.

I’d like to quote one of his most famous works. There are several translations of his works, but I’d rather use the one by M. Aryanpoor as below:

Human beings are members of a whole,
In the creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you’ve no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain!

 

The Construction & Architecture of the Mausoleum of Saadi

Saadi was buried in a village outside Shiraz which is now part of the city although it’s at the outskirt in a relatively poor neighborhood. Under Karimkhan-e Zand, the 18th-century ruler of Shiraz, the present Saadi’s mausoleum was built to further honor him. It’s in form of a multi-sided building with a cupola on top. From outside it may look like a square structure due to its flat facade decorated with Shirazi tiles depicting tree of life in various colors. Inside, you can see the 8 corners of the building and large lamp hanging from the ceiling. His grave is beautifully carved in Persian.

Later this building was connected to another tomb of a Shirazi poet, Shurideh Shirazi by a colonnaded portico. Under Reza Shah, the father of the last Shah of Iran and founder of Pahlavi dynasty,  the mausoleum was restored and annexed by some newer parts. Andre Godard, the French architect had been assigned the task of restoring several historical monuments in Iran and so forth.

The Mausoleum of Saadi is located inside a garden where beautiful flowers and several cypress trees are planted to make the setting even more beautiful. A fish pond in an underground reached by some steps leads visitors to some water channels that have been in use since the time of Saadi at this place. Today there are some fish crossing channels and coming to the center where people can see them.

Recently, as more and more people come to this place to visit Saadi’s Mausoleum and show their respect to the poet, the garden has been enlarged and can accommodate three times more visitors in it.

 

Author: 

The Creator of “The Conference of the Birds”

God is beyond all human knowledge
Only He can open the way
not human wisdom

 

The great 13th-century Sufi poet Farid al-Din Attar is renowned as an author of superb short lyrics written in the Persian language. He was born in Nishapur, in what is today north-east Iran.

He had a complex personality, a brilliant storyteller and poet in both lyric and epic forms, and a creative and original Sufi thinker. His ideas range over the whole spectrum of Persian mysticism and religious philosophy, and his writing paved the way for the triumphs of Rumi and Hafez.

As a younger man, Attar went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and traveled extensively, seeking wisdom in Egypt, Damascus, India, and other areas, before finally returning to his home city of Nishapur.

The name Attar means herbalist or druggist, which was his profession. (The profession can also carry implications of being an alchemist.) It is said that he saw as many as 500 patients a day in his shop, prescribing herbal remedies which he prepared himself, and he wrote his poetry while attending to his patients.

About thirty works by Attar survive, but his masterpiece is the Mantic al-Tayr (The Conference of the Birds). In this collection, he describes a group of birds (individual human souls) under the leadership of a hoopoe (spiritual master) who determine to search for the legendary Simurgh bird (God). The birds must confront their own individual limitations and fears while journeying through seven valleys before they ultimately find the Simurgh and complete their quest. The 30 birds who ultimately complete the quest discover that they themselves are the Simurgh they sought, playing on a pun in Persian (si and murgh can translate as 30 birds) while giving us an esoteric teaching on the presence of the Divine within us.

Attar’s poetry inspired Rumi and many other Sufi poets. It is said that Rumi actually met Attar when Attar was an old man and Rumi was a boy, though some scholars dispute this possibility.

Some of his works:

* Deevaan

* Asraar-Naameh

* Maqaamaat-e Toyour

* Moseebat-Naameh

* Elaahi-Naameh

* Jawaaher-Naameh

* Sharh ol-Qalb

* Tazkerat ol-Owliyaa

Farid ud-Din Attar was apparently tried at one point for heresy and exiled from Nishapur, but he eventually returned to his home city and that is where he died.

A traditional story is told about Attar’s death. He was taken prisoner by a Mongol during the invasion of Nishapur. Someone soon came and tried to ransom Attar with a thousand pieces of silver. Attar advised the Mongol not to sell him for that price. The Mongol, thinking to gain an even greater sum of money, refused the silver. Later, another person came, this time offering only a sack of straw to free Attar. Attar then told the Mongol to sell him for that was all he was worth. Outraged at being made a fool, the Mongol cut off Attar’s head.

Whether or not this is literally true isn’t the point. This story is used to teach the mystical insight that the personal self isn’t of much real worth. What is valuable is the Beloved’s presence within us — and that presence isn’t threatened by the death of the body.

 

 

 

 

10 Things You Need to Know About the Iranian New Year

When mother nature is waking up from her winter slumber, she brings with it rebirth and renewal. That’s why Iranians celebrate the new year, Nowruz (literally, ‘new day’), with the arrival of spring, a real possibility of a new life. Read on to find out 10 things you should know about the most important holiday in Iran

Nowrooz

“Tehran in Spring” Photo by Shahin Kamali

It happens on the vernal equinox

Instead of counting down to midnight, Iranians countdown to the exact moment of the vernal equinox, which varies every year. This year, Iranians will ring in the year 1397 on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at 19:45:28 Tehran time.

It’s not just Iranians who celebrate

Iran actually shares this holiday with ten other countries. A national holiday in Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, it’s also an unofficial holiday observed in a few other countries.

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Nowruz in uzbekistan

The UN officially recognizes it

The UN General Assembly proclaimed March 21 International Nowruz Day in 2010. In 2016, it was added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

This holiday comes from Zoroastrianism

Nowruz dates back some 3,000 years to Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest monotheistic religions and religion of ancient Persians before the Islamic conquest of the 7th century.

It’s like several western holidays wrapped into one

Painted eggs like Easter, gift-exchanging like Christmas, Haji Firooz like Santa Claus and knocking on doors asking for treats like Halloween (without the costumes!).

Tehran-Overview-Tajrish-shk1

“Shopping for Haftsin” Photo by Shahin Kamali

There are plenty of pre-Nowruz traditions and festivities

The first sighting of Haji Firouz, the jovial character with a face of soot and red clothes singing and playing his tambourine, is usually a good indicator that the holiday season has begun. As the over-arching theme of Nowruz is renewal and fresh beginnings, in the weeks leading up to it, Iranians begin khuneh tekuni, literally shaking the house, or spring cleaning. It’s not uncommon to see rugs taking a beating, then washed, and hung outside the house. Sabze, sprouts, are grown from wheat and lentils for the Haft Seen Table, a display with seven symbolic plant-based items that begin with the Persian letter ’s’. And the final prelude happens on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz, known as Châhârshanbe Suri. The home has been cleaned and now Iranians purify themselves by jumping over bonfires, symbolic of giving the fire their sick pallor and taking its warm energy.

You must have a traditional new year meal

And a traditional Nowruz meal calls for the staples sabzi polo bâ mâhi, a fragrant herb pilaf with whitefish, and kuku sabzi, a frittata made with various herbs such as coriander, dill, parsley, fenugreek, tarragon, and others.

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Sabzi Polo Mahi (سبزی پلو با ماهی) by Diana Sahraei

See your family, then see them again

Or deed o bâzdeed, as they say in Persian. During this two-week holiday, younger members of the family pay their respects to the elderly first, and then the elder members return their visit a few days later. Children usually cash in at this time as they receive pocketfuls of eidi, money, from each visit.

Wear new clothes

What better excuse to go shopping than Nowruz dictates you do so? Everything down to your underwear should be brand new.

Prevent bad luck by going out on the 13th day

The thirteenth and final day of Nowruz, Sizdah Bedar, is a day when Iranians must spend the day outdoors lest they have bad luck in the new year. Parks overflow with locals cooking and eating the traditional âsh soup.  The Haft Seen Table sprouts, which have by then absorbed the negative energy of each household, are tossed into flowing water, but not before single girls have tied a knot in them in hopes of finding their soulmate by the following year.

Wish your loved ones a Happy New Year in Persian with one of these phrases; eid-e shomâ mobârak or sâl-e no mobârak!

By: Pontia Fallahi

https://www.instagram.com/mypersiancorner/

My “Persia wonderland tour with TOIRAN”……

A very kind letter from our dear Susana who stayed with us in Iran for 2 weeks and trusted toiran.com’s hospitality and services with heart.
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My “Persia wonderland tour with TOIRAN”……

I visited Iran for the 4th time and I never thought I could enjoy it even more. It was, in fact, a fairy tale because I can`t wake up from this dream and I feel as if I was still wandering in those beautiful places, surrounded by those smiling faces.

As usual, I did a long research till I found TOIRAN website and I am so happy that I chose this tour operator because they really corresponded to my requests in the most professional way, which I appreciate allot.

The website is very well designed, full of important information and one of the best for travellers that prefer customized tours.

Dear Hamoon you always answered my emails, supported me, clarified my doubts, you were flexible and understanding and above all, you gave me the freedom to adjust the itinerary according to our needs and everything, every detail was promptly assisted.  Furthermore, you gave us one of the best tour guides that we have ever had and this is something precious that enriched our knowledge and made us feel safe and enjoy every single moment.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for turning our holidays such a beautiful experience. I will always choose your services in Iran and will definitely spread my word to those that show interest to visit your beloved country because you are really reliable.

May you succeed and achieve all your goals in life.

Warm regards from Susana and Carla

Susana Pereira ( from Portugal)

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World Tourism Day 2017: Here’s a checklist of the most popular destinations across Iran

tourism day

Iran is an ancient land with a unique geographical location along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 CE), which made the country a frequented destination.

Cities embellished with mosques, school and caravanserais adorned with the finest of decorations along this ancient route facilitated the trade of cultures, helped to forge political and economic ties between Persia, China, India, Europe and Arabia and allowed for the trade of cultures, religions, syncretic philosophies and various technologies among these civilizations.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Isfahan-Overview-Shk 15

Naqsh-e Jahan Square | Isfahan

Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the second largest square in the world after Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, is a masterpiece of Islamic and Iranian architecture, which sits at the heart of Isfahan city in an area of 89,600 square meters.

This royal square, which literally means ‘Exemplar of the World,’ was designed by the polymath Sheikh Baha’i (1547- 1621) upon the order of the founder of the Safavid Dynasty, Shah Abbas I (1571-1629).

The square is surrounded by Isfahan Bazaar or Qeisarieh in the north, Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque in the east, Imam Mosque in the south and Ali Qapu Palace in the west.

The first of the four monuments dominating Naqsh-e Jahan Square is Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque which was built as the private mosque of the royal family and court over a period of 18 years. Unlike other mosques in Iran, Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque has no courtyard or minarets.

Despite its simple architecture, the finest materials were used in the construction of the mosque and prominent artists like calligrapher Ali Reza Abbasi were commissioned to create its complex interior and exterior decorations.  This mosque has a famous underdone which has inspired the creation of beautiful Persian carpets and Iranian squares.

Imam (Shah) Mosque, also known as Jame Abbasi Mosque or Royal Mosque, was built to replace the Jame Mosque of Isfahan as the venue for the Friday Prayers. The dome of this mosque was designed by Sheikh Baha’i so that travellers on the Silk Road could see it glittering like a turquoise gem from miles away.

Ali Qapu (Imperial Gate) Palace is actually a six-story pavilion, which was the entrance to the Safavid royal quarters. Shah Abbas I spent most of his time in this palace, entertained visitors and foreign emissaries there and used the upper galleries to watch polo games, military parades and to host lavish banquets.

Isfahan Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the Middle East. This two-kilometre vaulted street connects the main entrance known as Qeisarieh with the city’s Jame Mosque. Above the portal of Qeisarieh Bazaar is a tribune that once accommodated musicians giving public concerts.

The magnificent multi-purpose Naqsh-e Jahan Square, which served as a marketplace, polo field, place for social meetings, concert grounds and a festival park, is depicted on the back of the Iranian 20,000 Rial banknote.

Golestan Palace

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Golestan Palace | Tehran

Golestan Palace or the Rose Garden Palace is a masterpiece of Qajar era (1785–1925) crafts and architecture and the place where traditional Persian arts meet European architecture. The palace was originally known as the Arg of Tehran and was built during the reign of the founder of the Safavid dynasty, Shah Abbas I (1571-1629). It found importance after Agha Mohammad Khan (1742-1797), the first of the Qajar Kings, chose Tehran as his capital and resided in this place.

The palace complex was expanded during the reign of Fath-Ali Shah (1772-1834). During the reign of Nasser-al Din Shah (1831-1896), who ruled for 49 years and was the first Iranian king to visit Europe three times, additions inspired by European architecture were added to the palace.

The palace has some of the finest examples of Persian mirror work, stucco and stained glass decorations and consists of 17 palaces, museums, and halls, which were mostly built over the two centuries of Qajar rule.

Bam and its Cultural Landscape

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Bam | Kerman

Bam is located 180 kilometres southeast of the city of Kerman and is considered to be the second largest city in Kerman Province. Bam is the only Iranian city to be registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bam has arid climate and due to its proximity to deserts experiences extreme climate variations as a result of which the city sometimes has the hottest summers and coldest winters in the country.

The city was located along the Silk Road and was an important military and trade centre in the Sassanid era (226-651 CE).  The last ruler of the Zand Dynasty Lotf Ali Khan (1769-1794) fled to this city where he was ultimately captured by Agha Mohammad Khan (1742-1797), the first of the Qajar dynasty (1785-1925).

The current city of Bam is built around the Bam Citadel or Arg-e Bam, which is also the city’s main attraction. This fortress city dates back to the Achaemenid era (550-330 BC) and was inhabited for over 20 centuries before being abandoned in the late 19th century when its inhabitants moved to the current city of Bam.

The citadel was built to withstand long sieges and was impenetrable when its gates were closed. It was also the largest adobe structure in the world but 80 percent of it was destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 2003. Since then efforts have been underway to restore this ancient citadel.

Iran is one of the main producers of dates in the world and produces over 400 different types of dates, 15 of which are known in international markets. One of these 15 date varieties is the Mazafati, a soft black date, which is exclusively produced in Bam.

Pasargadae

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Pasargad | Shiraz

The ruins of Pasargadae, the first dynastical capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC), lie northeast of Persepolis, in Fars Province. Pasargadae was the capital and holds the tomb of Cyrus the Great (576-530 BC), who is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards the nations he conquered and for drawing up the first Charter of Human Rights known to man.

It is said that Cyrus chose the location of his capital as it was near the battlefield in which he defeated Astyages (reign 585-550 BCE), the last Median ruler.

What remains of the palace of Cyrus the Great contains a pillar with a unique ‘winged figure’ relief which is believed to be a representation of Cyrus. The figure is seen in Elamite robes, wearing an Egyptian crown and with Assyrian wings—all subject nations of the Achaemenids.

On a hill on the northern limit of Pasargadae stands a fortified terrace platform made of limestone known as Tall-e Takht. As customary of Achaemenid architecture, the anathyrosis method (the ancient technique used to dress the joints without the use of mortar) was used to join the stone blocks used in the construction of this structure. While the palaces of Pasargadae were abandoned over time, Tall-e Takht continued to be used as a fort in later times.

The tomb of Cyrus, which is one of the most prominent structures of Pasargadae, has a design similar to Mesopotamian ziggurats. The limestone structure has six steps leading to the sepulchre where it is believed that the body of the Achaemenid king was placed on a golden bed. It is said that during the Attack of Alexander (356-323 BC), Cyrus’ Tomb was raided and its riches were plundered.

According to Greek accounts, when the raiders entered the tomb they found an inscription which read “O man, whoever thou art, from wheresoever thou cometh, for I know you shall come, I am Cyrus, who founded the empire of the Persians. Grudge me not, therefore, this little earth that covers my body.”

Until 100 years ago it was believed that the tomb of Cyrus belonged to Prophet Solomon’s mother.  The tomb was a pilgrimage place and a mosque was built around it, which was in use until the 14th century.  The remains of the mosque were cleared from the site in the 1970s when the tomb of Cyrus was restored.

Sheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine

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Sheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine | Ardebil

Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili’s Ribat and Shrine is a 16th-century religious complex that became the prototype for Ribats built by Sufis in later years. The complex includes a library, a mosque, a school, an Ab-Anbar (water reservoir), a hospital, kitchens, a bakery, and offices as well as the tombs of several Safavid Sufi masters, Safavid royals and their wives and some of the fallen soldiers in the 1514 Battle of Chaldoran at the time of the Ottoman–Persian Wars.

Sheikh Safi al-Din (1252–1334) was the founder of the Safaviyya Sufi order and the eponym of the Safavid dynasty (1501–1736). His mausoleum was originally built by his son Sheikh Sadr al-Din Musa in 1334. One of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili’s decedents Shah Abbas I (1571-1629) renovated parts of the shrine and expanded it.  He employed Safavid calligraphers and artisans to create the exquisite ornamentation of this structure.

The result was some of the finest examples of Mo’arraq tilework, Muqarnas or ornamented vaulting, Monabbat or wood carving and inlaid work, stucco reliefs featuring the works of Safavid calligraphers, illuminated tiles, Persian miniature paintings, stone carvings and gold and silver embellishments, which amaze visitors to this day.

Soltaniyeh Dome

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Soltaniyeh Dome | Zanjan

Built on the order of the eighth Ilkhanid ruler Oljeitu, also known as Muhammad Khodabandeh (1280 – 1316), Soltaniyeh was the third Ilkhanid capital after Maragheh and Tabriz. Soltaniyeh was the place Ilkhanid rulers went hunting and to relax. Muhammad Khodabandeh is said to have built the Soltaniyeh Dome to become the first Shia Imam Ali (PBUH)’s (599-661) new shrine. After encountering fierce opposition from the Scholars of Najaf who were furious at the Ilkhanid ruler for wanting to move Imam Ali’s remains, Muhammad Khodabandeh abandoned his plan and Soltaniyeh Dome eventually became his own mausoleum.

Soltaniyeh Dome is the third tallest dome in the world after Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Italy and Hagia Sophia in Turkey. The dome of Soltaniyeh is 25.5 meters in diameter at its base and 48.5 meters tall. After a lengthy process, the tilework of this dome was successfully renovated in 2008.

Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System

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Historical Hydraulic System | Shushtar

The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System dates back to the 3rd century CE and includes parts that are datable to the 5th century BC. The hydraulic system, which has been described as an advanced industrial complex that existed long before the 18th century Industrial Revolution in Europe, consists of a network of weir bridges, dams, water channels, watermills, rivers, and moats as well as a castle which was the centre controlling the system’s operation.

The oldest parts of the system date back to the Achaemenid era (550-330 BC) and include a manmade river known as Gargar Channel and Salasel Castle, which is the operation brain of the entire Hydraulic System. Salasel Castle not only controlled the operation flow of the water system but was also part of the defences of Shushtar city. In later periods, the castle was expanded to include a bakery, stables, barracks, guardrooms, a bath, a kitchen area, and several courtyards and became the residence of the Governor of Khuzestan Province.

Persepolis

Persepolis   |   Shiraz

Persepolis | Shiraz

Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire, was once known as the richest city under the sun. Persepolis was built by the Achaemenid King Darius I (550-486 BC) and his successors.  The compound includes military quarters, the treasury, reception halls and living quarters for Achaemenid kings.

While many of the historical and natural wonders of the country have been photographed, documented and shared with the rest of the world, there are still many others which have not been properly promoted and are worthy of much more tourist attention. To get familiar with these unique sites follow our blog for future posts.

What Does Persian Handicrafts Offer?

Iran is home to one of the richest art heritages and handicrafts in world history and distinguished in many disciplines, including architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking and stone masonry. The high plateau of Iran has seen the development of many cultures, all of which have added distinctive features to the many styles of Persian art and architecture. Although earlier civilizations are known, the first archaeological finds of artistic importance are the superb ceramics from Susa and Persepolis (c.3500 B.C.)

Tourists visiting Iran from different countries, find a variety of Iranian handicraft goods, which are interesting and pleasant to them in the traditional bazaars of Iran, especially in larger cities. Yet the kind of goods offered in the traditional bazaars at the present time does not introduce the real collection of Iranian handicrafts. Some of these products are either obsolete or like hand-woven silk cloths are very rare. Silk cloth is produced only in one or two special workshops so that the amount of production is only sufficient for museums and international exhibitions. Nevertheless it can be said that, Iranian handicrafts reach out to interested people and here we intend to review the manner in which contemporary artists produce some of these goods.

Saraye - Moshir, Shiraz

Saraye – Moshir, Shiraz

Here is a brief list of Iranian art and handicraft:

  • Calico (Ghalamkar)
  • Engraving (Ghalamzani)
  • Gerehchini
  • Inlaid work
  • Making National Musical Instruments of Iran (Tar & Setar)
  • Miniature (Negargari; the Iranian drowning)
  • Persian Carpet
  • Writing and calligraphy
  • Tile work

 

 Calico (Ghalamkar)

Ghalamkar (Persian Tapestry Tablecloth) fabric is a type of Textile printing, patterned Iranian Fabric. The fabric is printed using patterned wooden stamps made of pear wood which has better flexibility and density for carving and long-standing utility. A tapestry may be stamped depending on its density and size, between hundreds and tens of thousands of times. For instance, 2 meters by 1.4 meters should be stamped about 580 times up to 4000 times in an elegant work.

Ghalam Kar, Isfahan

Ghalamkar

 

Metal Engraving (Ghalamzani)

Engraving (Ghalam Zani) is the art of carving superb designs on various metals such as copper, brass, silver and gold. Isfahan is the main center for engraving. The artistic work of this course made by the artists are the glorious and undeniable indication of Previous metal work of Iran and Isfahan. Persian Metalwork Engraving is perhaps the most continuous and best-documented artistic medium from Iran in the Islamic period. Each hand engraved item may take up to one week to be finished depending on its size.

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Ghalamzani

 

Gerehchini

Gerehchini is an art to create beauty with wood and glass. This art beautifys surfaces with use of geometrical figures, colored glasses, wooden pieces of Mo-arragh art, inlaid mirrors shaped with glass cutters which in the end will create a symmetrical and balanced structure.

 

Enamel (Meenakari) Handicrafts

Meenakari is the art of coloring and ornamenting the surface of metals by fusing over it brilliant colors that are decorated in an intricate design. Enamel working and decorating metals with colorful and baked coats is one of the distinguished courses of art in Isfahan. Mina is defined as some sort of glass-like colored coat which can be stabilized by heat on different metals particularly copper. Persian Enamel handicrafts can be used as wall hanging plates, home decor and candy dishes.

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minakari

 

Turquoise Inlaying on Copper (Firoozeh Koobi)

Turquoise Inlaying on containers includes a copper object on parts of the surface of which small pieces of turquoise are set in mosaic fashion thus giving the object a special glamour. The production of Turquoise Inlaying includes two general stages: Goldsmith includes the making and preparation of the object intended for Turquoise Inlaying using one of the metals indicated above.  Then Turquoise Inlaying where the artist buys waste turquoise chips & use them in making each Turquoise Inlaying object in proportion to the surface area.

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Firoozeh Koobi

 

Wood Inlaying (Khatam Kari)

Khatam Kari consists in the production of incrustation patterns (generally star-shaped), with thin sticks of wood (ebony, teak, ziziphus, orange, rose), brass (for golden parts), camel bones (white parts). Ivory, gold or silver can also be used for collection objects. Sticks are assembled in triangular beams, themselves assembled and glued in a strict order to create a cylinder, 70 cm in diameter, whose cross-section is the main motif: a six-branch star included in a hexagon and then plated and glued on the object to be decorated, before lacquer finishing.

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Khatam kari

Hand Painting Miniature (Miniator)

Persian Miniature is a small handmade oil painting on paper or more importantly on a piece of camel bone. The techniques are broadly comparable to the Western and Byzantine traditions of miniatures in illuminated manuscripts. The bright and pure coloring of the Persian miniature is one of its most striking features. The workshop tradition and division of labor within both an individual miniature complicates the attribution of paintings. Some are inscribed with the name of the artist, sometimes as part of the picture itself.

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Miniature

Persian Carpet

Persian Carpet, the art of carpet weaving in Iran dates backs to 2,500 years and is rooted in the culture and customs of its people and their instinctive feelings. Weavers mix elegant patterns with a myriad of colors. The Iranian carpet is similar to the Persian garden: full of floras, birds and beasts. The colors are usually extracted from wild flowers, and are rich in colors such as burgundy, navy blue and accents of ivory. The proto-fabric is often washed in tea to soften the texture, giving it a unique quality. Depending on where the rug is made, patterns and designs vary. Some rugs such as Gabbeh, and Kilim have variations in their textures and number of knots as well. Out of about 2 million Iranians involved in the trade, 1.2 million are weavers who produce the largest amount of hand-woven carpets in the world.

Pattern

 

Writing and calligraphy

Persian calligraphy has several styles. The style initiated by Darvish was emulated by his contemporaries–Mirza Hassan Isfahani, Mirza Kouchek Isfahani and Mohammad Ali Shirazi. After his death, the Shekasteh style fell into stagnation until it was revived in the 1970s. Says writer Will Durant: “Ancient Iranians, with an alphabet of 36 letters, used skins and pen to write instead of earthen tablets.” – 

Such was the creativity spent on the art of writing. The significance of the art of calligraphy in works of pottery, metalwork and historical buildings is such that they are considered deficient without the calligraphic adorning. Illuminations, especially in the Qur’an and works such as Shahnameh, Divan-e Hafez, Golestan and Boustan, are recognized as highly invaluable because of their delicate calligraphy alone. Vast quantities of these are scattered and preserved in museums and private collections worldwide such as the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg and Washington’s Freer Gallery of Art among many others. 

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Tile Work

Tile work is a unique feature of the blue mosques of Isfahan. In the old days, Kashan (kash + an literally means “land of tiles”) and Tabriz were famous centers of Iranian mosaic and tile industry in the past. Since centuries, Iranian art has developed particular patterns to decorate Iranian crafts. These motifs can be: – Inspired by ancestral nomad tribes (such as geometrical motifs used in kilims or gabbehs). – Islam influenced, with an advanced geometrical research. – Oriental based, also found in India or Pakistan. 

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Iran’s National Museum consisting of the Archaeological Museum, along with the magnificent collection of the Islamic Museum offers a breathtaking collection of Persian art dating back to some 7 thousand years ago!! The Abguineh museum offers a wonderful exhibition of delicate glass and ceramics housed in an elegant early 20th century building. The Carpet Museum  also justifies the worldwide fame of Persian carpet weaving with its display of beautiful new and old carpets created in the workshops of Kerman, Qom, Tabriz, Isfahan and Kashan, etc.At the same time Persian miniatures and calligraphy – two more artistic traditions in which the Iranians excel – can be seen at the Reza Abbasi Museum. The named museums are just a small selection from the fabulous collections to be visited in Tehran.

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