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A SURVIVAL GUIDE TO BEING VEGAN IN IRAN

IRAN IRANIAN CULTURE TEHRAN

A SURVIVAL GUIDE TO BEING VEGAN IN IRAN

Traveling to Iran as a vegan? It's not as hard as you might think! Discover everything you need to know from vegan Persian dishes, desserts, and snacks to where to shop and the best vegan restaurants in Tehran with this complete guide to being vegan in Iran.

Traveling to Iran as a vegan? You might think it’s near impossible in a land where kebabs are king. But I assure you, it’s not as bad as you think. And even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, the repeated kebab lunch/dinner will surely have you welcome something a bit lighter. So find out about veganism in Iran in general, which Persian dishes are vegan-friendly, and where you can shop and eat in Tehran with this survival guide to being vegan in Iran. 

But first, a brief word about my vegan journey

(And please feel free to skip this part.) I actually became vegan in Iran two years ago. Long story short, it all started because of a disease diagnosed in my family, and as I started researching it, I came across veganism over and over again. And the more I read about it, quite frankly, the more sense it made to me. I then read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer which completely flipped things around for me. Then I watched Cowspiracy, bawled my eyes out through Earthlings, and that was it.

I think I inherently always had it in me, though. As a kid, whenever my mom cooked ghormeh sabzi, I used to fish around for the kidney beans and never the meat. When she caught me, it was, “You didn’t take any meat!” And we’d negotiate over how many pieces I’d have to eat. Meanwhile in Iran, I used to gasp in disgust as my cousins fought over who got the bone to eat the marrow. How could I be related to these barbarians!? And the few sheep ghorbâni (sacrificial slaughtering) I unintentionally witnessed in Iran as a child were traumatizing to say the least. I’m not even going to get into that.

So anyway, not only did I become vegan, but shortly thereafter, I got my entire family to go vegan as well. It’s without a doubt my single proudest accomplishment to this day.

Is being vegan in Iran hard?

People tend to think that it’s hard to be vegan in Iran because it’s a heavily meat-based culture. It is, but I would argue that no more so than the US. Next time you watch TV, pay attention to the sheer volume of fast food/meat/chicken/pork/cheese commercials. Don’t tell me the US isn’t heavily meat-based, too. But what makes it harder in Iran is that there aren’t the same plentiful vegan products available in the grocery store as there are in the US.

But then one day I saw this post on Instagram that shocked me.

Iran is #12? I have no idea what the source or criteria were, but I could easily think of at least 20 reasons why it couldn’t be true. But it also made me realize that there actually are some pluses:

  • Iranians are huge on fresh, seasonal produce. Produce stands are abundant- like every block. And if it’s not a shop, it’s some guy selling his fruit at cheaper prices from the back of his truck or on the side of the street or highway. During our summer visits to Iran, we’d always eat a giant plate of fruit in the morning and afternoon as a snack. It was practically a ritual. And anyone with a Persian mom has experienced being handed a bowl of cut-up, ready-to-eat fruit. It’s a Persian mama thing.
  • Vegetables, herbs, and spices are also used plentifully in Persian cooking. Not to mention that Iranians eat raw herbs by the fist full.
  • “Street food” is healthy and seasonal– laboo (steamed beets) and bâghâlâ (fava beans) in the fall/winter, goje sabz(greengage), châghâle bâdum (spring almonds), and toot [siâh] (mulberries and blackberries) in the spring, balâl(grilled corn), and gerdu tâze (fresh walnuts soaked in salt water) in the summer. 
  • Âjeel- Iranians are big âjeel (dried fruits and nuts) eaters.

Vegans in Iran

There’s also the promising news that the word about veganism is spreading. Dr. Beski is one such person, a raw vegan and environmental activist from the Golestan province who advocates for a plant-based diet. And just a couple of months ago, several people asked if I had watched Dorehami (a popular late-night show) the night before. I hadn’t. They went on to tell me that the guest spoke all about veganism and the environmental impacts of a meat-based diet. While most of them still said they didn’t think they could do it, it got their attention and got them talking. That’s a huge first step if you ask me.

And that time I was in the voting line for 7 hours, one of the guys we were talking to bought everyone lunch. When he was passing out the sandwiches, one girl and I politely declined. Her dad chimed in, “Oh, she’s a strict vegan! You can’t get her to eat anything with meat.” My dad and I looked at each other, surprised. It tickled me that of all the people in this little 15 million-people town, we ended up next to each other.

And recently when I passed on a piece of cake, my student asked if I was on a diet. When I told him I was vegan, he told me his yoga instructor was also vegan and often talked to them about the benefits. He even organized a 4-day desert tour where they would be eating only vegan food. “About 60% of the class dropped out of the tour after hearing that,” he laughed.

Why am I telling you all of this? Just to say that Iran is not as vegan-unfriendly as you may think. The hardest part is telling people. But isn’t that the hardest part anywhere in the world you go?

Iranian vegetarian/vegan dishes

So what can you eat while visiting? Here are some vegan Persian dishes along with some tips and recommendations on where to shop and eat in Tehran.

Appetizers and main dishes

âsh-e reshte: a thick soup with beans and noodles. It’s often topped with kashk (a milk product), so ask for bedoone kashk (without kashk).

zeytun parvardeh: olives mixed with pomegranate paste, crushed walnuts, and garlic

bâghâli polo: rice with lima beans usually served with meat, so ask for bedoone goosht (without meat) or bâghâli polo khâli (plain bâghâli rice)- or say both for extra emphasis.

adas polo: lentil rice usually with cinnamon, raisins, chopped dates, and walnuts.

adasi: lentil soup, commonly served for breakfast

loubiâ: pinto bean soup

salad shirazi: chopped tomato, cucumber, and onion salad

falafel: self explanatory

sambose: samosas (make sure they are veggie as meat-filled ones are also available)

bâghâlâ ghâtogh: a dish from the north of Iran made with fava beans, dill, and usually topped with an egg. The name of this dish is a true tongue twister, so if you dare even pronounce it to order it, you can take the egg off or ask for it without (bedoone tokhme morgh).

mirzâ ghâsemi: smoked eggplant, tomato, and garlic with egg. Another dish from the north, this one also has egg. Some places I’ve been to have been able to serve it without egg while other make it pre-mixed. You have to ask, which may get tricky. In that case, don’t order it.

kashk-e bâdemjân: sautéed eggplant with kashk. Same as above, some places can make it without kashkwhile others mix it all in together.

Desserts

fresh juices: With all the delicious fruits available, there are also lots of freshly squeezed juices. Aside from the usual orange, apple, celery, etc., try tâlebi (melon), havij (carrot), my favorite hendune (watermelon), anâr (pomegranate), zereshk (barberry), albâloo (sour cherry)- careful with those last three, though, as they could really make your blood pressure drop faster than you can say Jack Robinson. Or try a mix of different fruits.

sharbat: In the summer, try drinks like khâkshir (literally, “dirt milk”. I’ve seen it translated as teff, mugwort seed, London rocket, and more recently, flixweed. I have no idea what the right one is.) or try tokhme sharbati (a chia seed-rosewater drink). There are endless other types of araghijât (herbal distillate mixes).

faloodeh: semi-frozen rice noodles in syrup and topped with lemon juice and sometimes albâloo syrup. I take mine with lots of lemon juice.

Traveling to Iran as a vegan? It's not as hard as you might think! Discover everything you need to know from vegan Persian dishes, desserts, and snacks to where to shop and the best vegan restaurants in Tehran with this complete guide to being vegan in Iran.

Faloodeh shirazi

sholeh zard: saffron rice pudding dusted with cinnamon and topped with almond slivers. This dessert is typically made during religious ceremonies and widely sold during the month of Ramadan. It’s often made in large batches and given away as nazri (a charitable offering).

pashmak: candy floss (literally, “little wool”). Buy it from any confectionary or try the real deal at Haj Khalifa in Yazd.

lavâshak: fruit leather. Ok maybe this isn’t technically a dessert, but it’s still delicious. Darband in Tehran is a particularly good place to try lavâshak or dried sour cherries/plums/apricots, etc. Tell the vendor if you prefer sour (torsh) or sweet and sour (malas), and he’ll give you something appropriate to try. Around Kashan, they sold lavâshak in what resembled rolls of fabric, and you ordered by the meter!

Traveling to Iran as a vegan? It's not as hard as you might think! Discover everything you need to know from vegan Persian dishes, desserts, and snacks to where to shop and the best vegan restaurants in Tehran with this complete guide to being vegan in Iran.

Lavashak in Darband

halvâ arde: tahini-based halva with pistachios. Again, maybe not technically a dessert, but it is really satisfying if you’re craving something sweet (and a good breakfast option).

Where to shop in Tehran

Tavazo

For your nut, seed, and dried fruit needs, try the famous Tavazo. With several branches throughout Tehran, it’s built a reputation as being the best to offer the freshest nuts and dried fruits. It’s also a great place to stock up on souvenirs for people back home. 

Traveling to Iran as a vegan? It's not as hard as you might think! Discover everything you need to know from vegan Persian dishes, desserts, and snacks to where to shop and the best vegan restaurants in Tehran with this complete guide to being vegan in Iran.

Ajeel- mixed dried fruits and nuts

Various attâri

Attâri are little shops all around every city that specialize in all your herbal remedies, herbs, spices, oils, teas, aragh (herbal distillates), and basically anything else natural (including soap and shampoo).

Oil/peanut butter shops

There’s also an increasing number of shops that sell various oils like flaxseed, pistachio, hazelnut, castor, sweet almond, bitter almond, coconut, sesame, etc. They also grind kare bâdum zamini (peanut butter) and arde (tahini) right there in front of you- no sugar added. These shops are all over Tehran, but probably the most accessible one is in the Tajrish Bazaar.

Nân-e Sahar

Iran has great bread like barbari and sangak, but if you’re looking for more European style, dark, whole grain loaves, try Nân-e Sahar which has a few shops around Tehran. The supermarket in Palladium mall also has a nice bakery.

Tajrish Bazaar

Tajrish Bazaar is known for having any produce you can’t find anywhere else in Tehran. Other than that, it’s full of shops selling nuts and fruits, oil and peanut butter, olives and other pickled vegetables, and attâri.

Traveling to Iran as a vegan? It's not as hard as you might think! Discover everything you need to know from vegan Persian dishes, desserts, and snacks to where to shop and the best vegan restaurants in Tehran with this complete guide to being vegan in Iran.

Chaghale badum and strawberries at Tajrish Bazaar

Bamika

There are a few Bamika markets around town with produce and ready-made food (mostly vegetarian, but some vegan stuff too).

Govinda

Govinda is similar to Bamika (more vegetarian-friendly), but smaller and has a cafe.

At the grocery store

If you’re shopping at the grocery store, you can pick up dried soy (soyâ in Persian). Many Iranians use it as an alternative to ground beef when cooking mâkâroni (Persian-style spaghetti). Soy milk is the only non-dairy milk available. There are plenty of legumes and grains, oatmeal, quinoa, and panir tofu (tofu cheese). You can find imported Japanese tofu, otherwise, panir tofu has more of the taste and consistency of feta cheese. Oddly enough, if it’s not at the grocery store, I sometimes find it at the butcher’s (or protein shop). The frozen section also offers semi-cooked falafel and chopped herbs ready for cooking.

Produce markets

Let’s just say you won’t be disappointed by the produce in Iran. I’ve actually become really spoiled by it because I now realize how bland fruits and vegetables taste in the States. 

Vegan restaurants in Tehran

Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree is my favorite vegan restaurant in Tehran. Not only is the food great, but it’s a peaceful place on the second floor that overlooks bustling Shariati Street. They have a special vegan Iranian dish every day, as well as other types of cuisine. Ask for the vegan mâst-o khiâr (soy yogurt with cucumbers and mint) or panir tofu on pizza if you’re vegan. They speak English, so you shouldn’t have any problem. For dessert, try their vegan chocolate cake- it’s delicious!

Update: I went to Banyan Tree on June 21 and was disappointed to find out it was gone and had been replaced by a hookah lounge 10 days earlier. I’m keeping this here in hopes of discovering they’ve simply relocated.

Ananda

The food is good at Ananda, but I personally find the atmosphere more pleasing. They offer vegan takes on Iranian dishes and other things like pizza, pasta, and sushi. Everything is labeled vegan, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-lacto, etc. which makes things easier. And the staff is super polite. If you eat here, you can visit Bamika and Govinda right around the corner.

Traveling to Iran as a vegan? It's not as hard as you might think! Discover everything you need to know from vegan Persian dishes, desserts, and snacks to where to shop and the best vegan restaurants in Tehran with this complete guide to being vegan in Iran.

Outdoor seating at Ananda

Zamin

Zamin means “earth” in Persian, and as far as I know, it’s the only 100% vegan restaurant in Tehran and has a very extensive menu- from Iranian food to pizza, pasta, hamburgers, sushi, etc. Everything “meat” is soy-based here. It’s also got a small shop up front where you can buy some vegan groceries.

Traveling to Iran as a vegan? It's not as hard as you might think! Discover everything you need to know from vegan Persian dishes, desserts, and snacks to where to shop and the best vegan restaurants in Tehran with this complete guide to being vegan in Iran.

Soy burger at Zamin

Pure Vegetarian Cuisine

Pure is located in A.S.P. Towers, and as the name suggests, it’s vegetarian with vegan options. 

Traveling to Iran as a vegan? It's not as hard as you might think! Discover everything you need to know from vegan Persian dishes, desserts, and snacks to where to shop and the best vegan restaurants in Tehran with this complete guide to being vegan in Iran

Pure Vegetarian Restaurant

Dijon Restaurant

Located in Shahr-e Ketab Fereshteh (Book City) on Shariati Street, Dijon is neither vegan nor vegetarian, but it does offer options, like kale and quinoa salads (not to mention the lovely atmosphere). The owner picks his veggies fresh from his organic farm just outside Tehran, and even makes videos on Instagramwhere he talks about the day’s harvest.

Iranian Artists’ Forum

The vegetarian restaurant in the Iranian Artists’ Forum can be nice if you’re in that part of town.

Kebab joints

And if you’re really in a pinch and there are nothing but kebab joints or jigaraki, order grilled mushrooms and tomatoes with rice or bread. I never thought about this until I took my class to a play. We arrived early, so we went to a jigaraki. I was planning on just watching them and twiddling my thumbs, maybe gnawing on some bread. But then one of them ordered me a skewer of grilled mushrooms and tomatoes. So, you know, always an option.

Useful Persian phrases

Man giâh khoram: I’m vegetarian.

Man veygânam: I’m vegan. Remember to pronounce it more like vey-gân. There was a famous Iranian singer named Vigen (pronounced just like “vegan”), so if you pronounce it the English way, I promise you someone will crack some sort of joke (which gets real old, real quick).

bedoone kashk/morgh/goosht/mâhi/panir: without kashk/chicken/meat/fish/cheese

Still got some questions? Feel free to ask!

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Traveling to Iran as a vegan? It's not as hard as you might think! Discover everything you need to know from vegan Persian dishes, desserts, and snacks to where to shop and the best vegan restaurants in Tehran with this complete guide to being vegan in Iran.

Author: Pontia Fallahi

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

 

Welcome to Iran

Welcome to what could be the friendliest country on earth. Iran is the jewel in Islam’s crown, combining glorious architecture with a warm-hearted welcome.

In the Footsteps of Empire

If you’re drawn to places where echoes of ancient civilizations resonate down through the ages, Iran could be your thing. Some of history’s biggest names – Cyrus and Darius, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan – all left their mark here and the cities they conquered or over which they ruled are among the finest in a region rich with such storied ruins. Walking around the awesome power and beauty of Persepolis, experiencing the remote power of Susa (Shush), and taking in the wonderfully immense Elamite ziggurat at Choqa Zanbil will carry you all the way back to the glory days of Ancient Persia.

The Beauty of Islam

Iran is a treasure house for some of the most beautiful architecture on the planet. Seemingly at every turn, Islam’s historical commitment to aesthetic beauty and exquisite architecture reigns supreme. The sublime, turquoise-tiled domes and minarets of Esfahan’s Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Square gets so many appreciative gasps of wonder, and rightly so, but there are utterly magnificent rivals elsewhere, in Yazd and Shiraz among others. And it’s not just the mosques – the palaces (especially in Tehran), gardens (everywhere, but Kashan really shines) and artfully conceived bridges and other public buildings all lend grace and beauty to cities across the country.

Redefining Hospitality

Iran’s greatest attraction could just be its people. The Iranians, a nation made up of numerous ethnic groups and influenced over thousands of years by Greek, Arab, Turkic and Mongol occupiers, are endlessly welcoming. Offers to sit down for tea will be an everyday occurrence, and if you spend any time at all with Iranians, you’ll often find yourself invited to share a meal in someone’s home. Say yes whenever you can, and through it experience first-hand, Iranian culture, ancient, sophisticated and warm. It’s these experiences that will live longest in the memory.

Source: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/iran

 

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.

, 

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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