What to See in Iran

By | July 18, 2022

Traveling around the country is best to start from its capital – Tehran . This is one of the largest cities in the Middle East and the largest city in the country, its administrative, economic, industrial and cultural center. Tehran is located in the northern part of Iran on the southern slopes of the Elburz Mountains.

The mass migration to the small village of Tehran began after the Tatar-Mongols burned the nearby ancient capital of Persia, the city of Rey. The heyday of the city fell on the era of the Qajar dynasty. From 1795 to this day, Tehran has been the capital of Iran. The most interesting Old City of Tehran, which was restored at the end of the 19th century under the Qajar dynasty. Here are the Golestan Palace (“Palace of Roses”) of 1576, which was used as the residence of the Iranian shahs before the anti-monarchist revolution of 1979; the largest bazaar in the country, consisting of many galleries with shops; Shahid Mottahari Mosque of 1830; Imam Mosque (Masjid-Imam) (1809-1849); mosque Shah-Abdul-Azim; Sheikh Abdul Hussein Mosque; the Sepahsalar mosque and the palace complexes of Saadabad and Niavaran, built in the early 20th century.

According to Top-mba-universities, Tehran famous for its museums. The most popular museums in the city are the Bastan National Museum, which contains archaeological finds from the pre-Islamic period; the Abgineh Museum (Museum of Iranian Ceramics), which exhibits collections of ceramics and pottery; the Rassam Carpet Museum, which has a carpet weaving school, with collections of carpets from Tabriz, Kashan, Isfahan, Lorestan and Kerman (the oldest Persian carpet is kept here, whose age is 450 years); the Jewel Museum of the Central Bank of Iran, where collections of the Shah’s jewels can be seen; and the Reza Abassi Museum, which contains a rare collection of Iranian manuscripts and paintings. At the western entrance to Tehran rises the Azadi Tower (Freedom Tower), which since its inception (1971) has become an architectural symbol of Tehran, and on the southern outskirts of Tehran, where the capital of Persia, the city of Rey, was located in ancient times, the Tokrol tower of the 11th century has been preserved. Particularly worth highlighting are the parks of Tehran. All of them in the city are about 800. In the parks of Tehran you will see a variety of cultural institutions, attractions, children’s towns and reservoirs.

In the vicinity of Tehran, it is worth visiting the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini. It is located just south of Tehran at the Beheshte-Zahra cemetery. This is a sacred place for every Iranian, because the leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution is buried here. The complex of the mausoleum includes four minarets with a height of 91 m.

40 km northwest of Tehran is the second largest city in the province of Tehran – Karaj. Of interest here is the “pearl palace” Morvand of the 1960s, built by the sister of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, and the Emir-Kabir dam, surrounded by many lakes that are part of the recreational zone.

50 km northeast of Tehran is the highest point in the country – the extinct volcano Damavend (5610 m). Damavend is also the highest point in the Middle East and the highest volcano in all of Asia. The slopes of the volcano are perfect for mountaineering and hiking. On the slopes of the volcano there are numerous hot springs with healing properties, picturesque waterfalls, one of which is the Ice Falls, considered one of the rarest in the world, as well as forests with a rich wildlife. All local routes start from the small village of Damavend.

To the north of Tehran in the Elburz mountains there are several ski resorts: Tochal, Shemshak, Dizin, Ab-e Ali and Darbandsar. The ski season lasts here from the end of November to the end of April. Moreover, you can relax in mountain resorts in the summer.

160 km south Tehran is interested in one of the most important religious centers of Iranian Shiites – the city of Qom. There are dozens of ancient Shiite schools and the mausoleum of Hazrat Masumeh of the 17th century, where the sister of the descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, the eighth Shiite imam, Imam Reza, is buried. 6 km east of Qom is a place of pilgrimage for Shiites – Jamkaram mosque. There is a belief among Iranian Shiites that it is in Jamkaram that Imam Mahdi will appear, who must restore justice on earth. Kevir National Park lies

100 km east of Qom and 120 km south of Tehran.. It is located at the western borders of the Deshte-Kevir desert. From the west, a vast salt lake adjoins the park, which is filled with water only in the winter months. In the park on an area of 4000 sq. km stretch desert and steppe regions. Often the landscapes of the park are compared with African ones. Wild donkeys, rams, sheep and goats, leopards, gazelles, wild cats, hyenas, wolves, jackals, desert foxes, hares and porcupines live here. Also in the park you can see birds such as flamingos, geese, ducks, pheasants, cranes and eagles.

Southwest of Tehran in the Zagros Mountains is the so-called “Golden Triangle”, where one of the most ancient cities of Iran – Hamadan, Kermanshah and Khorramabad are located. Hamadan – one of the oldest cities not only in Iran, but throughout the world. It is believed that it was founded in the 3rd millennium BC. In the 7th century BC. it became the capital of the vast Median kingdom and was called Ecbatana. Later, the city was chosen as the capital of the first Persian Achaemenid Empire. In Hamadan, it is worth visiting the tombs of the biblical characters Esther and Mordechai, the archaeological excavation area of the ancient city of Ekbatan, the mausoleum of the Persian scientist Avicenna and the mausoleum of the poet Baba-Taher.

In the vicinity of Hamadan there is a picturesque mountain Alvand, rock bas-reliefs Ganjname carved on its slope, dating back to the era of the Persian kings Darius I (6-5 centuries BC) and Xerxes I (5 century BC), Ali-Sadr cave with a length of 11200 m and the ruins of the Parthian temple of Anahita near the city of Kangavar.

The second city of the “Golden Triangle” – Kermanshah – is located 150 km west of Hamadan. At 7 km from the city, there is an interesting complex of reliefs carved in the rock Tage-Bostan, which consists of two rock grottoes and a rock relief and dates back to the era of the Sassanid dynasty (3-7 centuries AD). 30 km east of Kermanshah is one of the main historical sights of Iran – the Behistun inscription.. The inscription dates back to the era of the Achaemenid Empire and is a cuneiform text of 400 lines in three ancient languages: Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian. Its size is ten meters high and twenty-five meters wide. Also in the vicinity of Kermanshah, the Parau Plateau extends, on which the largest limestone cave in the world is located – Kuh-i-Parau.

The third city of the “Golden Triangle” is Khorramabad. The main attraction of the city is the Falacol-Aflak castle. The exact time of its construction is not known, but scientists believe that it was erected during the reign of the Sassanids (3-7 centuries AD). The base area of the castle is 5300 sq. m., and its height reaches 23 m.

South of the “Golden Triangle” and to the coast of the Persian Gulf, the fertile valley of the main water artery of the country, the Karun River, extends. The valley is occupied by the province of Khuzestan. In ancient times in the 3rd millennium BC. the state of Elam, which is described in the Bible, was located here. At the end of the 19th century, a group of European scientists during archaeological excavations discovered ceramics with drawings about 7,000 years old in the vicinity of the Iranian village of Shush. Then it was assumed that it was here that the capital of ancient Elam, the legendary city of Susa, was located. The assumption was confirmed in the course of further excavations. Today Shush is one of the main historical sights of Iran. You can get to Shush from the city of Ahvaz, which is located 870 km southwest of Tehran. In Shusha, the remains of urban buildings from the time of the Achaemenids, including the ruins of the palace of Darius I – Apadana, have been preserved. In addition to its archaeological significance, Shush is a sacred place for both Shiites and Persian Jews and Christians, because here is the alleged burial place of the prophet Daniel.

50 km southeast of the city of Shush is the ziggurat Choga Zembil. Ziggurat in ancient times served as a place of worship for the gods and was built in the form of a tower. Choga Zembil was dedicated to the god Inshushinak. This is the largest ziggurat on the planet and the only building that has survived from the ancient Elamite city of Ontashgal. It is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is believed that the ziggurat was built in 1250 BC.

In the northwestern part of Iran 150 km from the border with Azerbaijan is the city of Tabriz . Tabriz lies in a mountain valley at an altitude of 1340 m, 50 km north of the extinct Sahand volcano. According to legend, the biblical city of Eden was located on the site of Tabriz. The exact date of the founding of the city is not known. The first mention of these places dates back to the 4th century BC. From the 3rd century BC Tabriz is known as the capital of ancient Azerbaijan. In the 20th century, Tabriz became one of the strongholds of anti-monarchist uprisings. Despite its rich history, there are not many attractions in the city, most of them were destroyed by earthquakes. In Tabriz it is worth visiting the Blue Mosque of 1465, which is so named because of the use of blue and white mosaics in the decoration of the facade and interiors; Museum of the History of East Azerbaijan, where archaeological finds of Iranian Azerbaijan are presented; one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East, which dates back to the 15th century; Jame Mosque; the remains of the citadel of Arg-e Ali Shah of the 13th-14th centuries and the “mausoleum of poets”, where more than fifty famous Iranian poets, scientists and theologians are buried. In the southern part of Tabriz, on an area of 55 thousand square meters. m. stretched the park El Goli. The park was laid out at the end of the 18th century. During the reign of the Qajar dynasty, it was used as a summer vacation spot for members of the dynasty. Nowadays, El Goli Park is a favorite place for citizens to relax.

62 km southwest Tabriz is the village of Kandovan. It became famous for its architecture. The houses here are carved into the rocks. Some of them are over 700 years old. In the vicinity of Kandovan there are many mineral springs, on the basis of which rest houses are built. The local mineral waters are known as an excellent remedy for the treatment of kidney diseases. The city of Merage is located 130 km from Tabriz. Here are the remains of the famous observatory of the middle of the 13th century, from which the central tower and the library building have been preserved, as well as the Merage Museum, where about a thousand handwritten books dating back to the Mongol era are on display. East of Tabriz

, not far from the coast of the Caspian Sea, an extinct volcano rises – Sabalan (4811 m). This is the second highest point in the country. The Sabalan Volcano is a great place for mountaineering and hiking. There is a lake in the crater of the volcano, and on its slopes there are many thermal and mineral springs. At the foot of the Sabalan volcano is the village of Sarein, where entire spa complexes are equipped based on nine hot springs. The waters of local springs contain a significant amount of sulfur compounds and help with pain in the bones and joints. The temperature of the spring waters can reach +67 degrees.

Another attraction of the surroundings of Tabriz is the salt lake Urmia.. It is located 60 km west of Tabriz at the junction of the provinces of East and West Azerbaijan. It is the largest lake in Iran and the second largest salt lake in the world. Its area is 5000 sq. km, the maximum depth is 5 m. It is believed that it was in these places that Zarathustra, the founder of the religion of Zoroastrianism, was born. Due to its uniqueness, the lake and the surrounding areas became part of the national park of the same name. According to the chemical composition, the water of Lake Urmia is similar to the water of the Dead Sea. It is used in the treatment of dermatitis and rheumatism. There are many hospitals on the coast of the lake.

South of Lake Urmia, near the southern borders of the province of Western Azerbaijan, in the vicinity of the city of Takab, there is the most famous shrine of Zoroastrianism – the ruins of a fortified city where the legendary King Solomon sat – the Throne of Solomon. The city is located in the crater of a volcano and is centered around a lake, the depth of which reaches 120 m. The archaeological complex includes the remains of a Zoroastrian fire temple, the South and North Gates, the Coronation Hall, the Council Hall and the prison fortress. It is believed that during the reign of the Sassanid dynasty, each king, before ascending the throne, arrived at the local fire temple to pray.

A little to the east, the village of Soltanie is interesting., where in the 14th century AD. the residence of the Mongol Ilkhanid dynasty, which ruled Persia in the 13-14 centuries, was located. The main attraction of these places is the so-called “Soltaniye dome”, built in the 1313th century as the mausoleum of Ilkhan Ijeit. The Soltaniye dome is the largest of its kind in the world, it has a height of 53 m, a diameter of 25 m and a mass of 200 tons. The outer walls of the mausoleum are decorated with mosaics and paintings.

In the northeastern part of Iran, 900 km from Tehran, is the holy city of the Shiites – Mashhad . In 818, in a small settlement, which was located on the site of a modern city, the eighth Shiite imam, Imam Reza, died. The Imam was poisoned by the son of the famous caliph Harun al-Rashi. This place was later named Mashhad Al-Riza, which translates as “the place of the martyrdom of Reza.” Imam Reza’s tomb did not immediately become a major Shia pilgrimage site. Only during the reign of the Safavids, when Shiism became the state religion, the shrine of Mashhad acquired its significance. Millions of tourists and pilgrims come to Mashhad every year, and in June, when the day of the death of Imam Reza is celebrated, the city is completely overwhelmed with pilgrims. The burial complex of Imam Reza is located in the city center. He is truly impressive. In the center of the vast square is a mosque with the tomb of Imam Reza, and around it are many buildings: the tombs of other revered imams, a museum, a library, schools of theology, a cemetery, the Govarshad Mosque of the early 15th century and a rest house for pilgrims. The construction of the complex began at the end of the 9th century. However, in 993 it was destroyed. In 1009, its restoration began. Over the following centuries, the complex was rebuilt several times. In addition to the main Shiite shrine in Mashhad, it is worth visiting the mausoleum of Nadir Shah and the oriental bazaars.

20 km northwest of Mashhad in the ancient city of Tus the grave of the great Persian poet of the 10-11th centuries Adulkasim Firdousi has been preserved, and in the nearby city of Nishapur, there is the mausoleum of Omar Khayyam.

In the central part of the country it is worth visiting one of the most famous cities of Iran – Isfahan . According to legend, the city existed on this site as early as the 3rd millennium BC. e. and was part of the state of Elam. In the 11th century AD. Isfahan became the capital of the Seljuk Empire. The heyday of the city fell on the reign of Shah Abbas I (16-17 centuries), when Isfahan was chosen as the capital of the Safavid Empire. At that time it was one of the largest cities in the world, which the locals called Nasif-e-Jahan, which means “half of the world.” Under Abbas I In Isfahan, luxurious palaces, mosques, squares, bridges and parks were built. Many monuments of Islamic architecture of the 11th-19th centuries have survived in Isfahan to this day: the Imam Mosque of 1638, the Sheikh-Lutfalla Mosque of 1619, the Ali-Kapu Palace, the Royal Bazaar of the 17th century, the Chehel-Sotun Palace of 1647, the swinging minarets of Menar-e- Junban from the 14th century and ancient bridges built over the Zayande River.

From Isfahan you can go further south to one of the most ancient cities in the world still inhabited – Yazd. The first mention of it refers to the times of the Median kingdom. Yazd is located in the very center of the country at the western borders of the Iranian deserts on the slopes of the Kuhrud ridge. The city is known as the center of the religion of Zoroastrianism, which dominated Persia before the advent of Islam. In addition, Yazd was an important trading center on the ancient route from India to Central Asia. Despite its fame, Yazd, unlike other major cities of Iran, escaped attacks from numerous militant invaders and therefore retained its architecture and originality. At the end of the 20th century, UNESCO recognized Yazd as the city with the second oldest urban development in the world. The architecture of Yazd is truly unique. Due to the proximity of the desert and the rather hot climate, the local houses are built of clay. To cool them in Yazd, passive ventilation systems were used – badgirs (high wind towers with huge windows). You will not find such buildings anywhere else in the world. The dryness of the local climate also led to the creation of entire underground complexes for collecting water several tens of kilometers long, which have survived to this day. The fact that Yazd is one of the world centers of Zoroastrianism is reminiscent of buildings characteristic of this religion – the “tower of fire” Atashkade, on which, from 470 AD. fire is burning, and the “towers of silence” located on a hill on the outskirts of Yazd. The “towers of fire” were used as a place of worship for the gods, and the “towers of silence” were used to perform the rite of burial of the dead. Similar towers can only be seen in India.

South of Yazd, the city of Kerman is interesting. It is believed to have been founded in the early 3rd century AD. e. Ardeshir I – the ancestor of the Sassanid dynasty. Since ancient times , Kerman has been famous for its pistachios, carpets, silk and weapons. Since the 18th century, the city has become a major trading center. Kerman was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1794 and was rebuilt in the 19th century. The main attractions of Kerman are the Friday Mosque of the 14th century, the Vakil bazaar of the 19th century, the Ganj-Ali-Khan bath complex of the 16-17th centuries, where the anthropology museum is located, the Ibrahim-Khan baths, the Gonbad-e Jabaliye tower and the Moshtaki mausoleum of the early 19th century with the tombs of three famous Sufis.

35 km southeast of Kerman the city of Mahan is located, where the mausoleum of the famous Iranian poet of the 14th-15th centuries, the dervish and the founder of the Nematullah order, which still exists today, is located – Nematullah Vali Shah.

On the southwestern outskirts of the Deshte Lut desert, 195 km from Kerman, the city of Bam is located. The beginning of the city was laid by the vast fortress of Arg-e-Bam, which was built in pre-Islamic times on the slopes of a mountain at an altitude of 1000 m. Unfortunately, 90% of the buildings of the citadel were lost as a result of an earthquake in 2003. However, Arg-e-Bam is still considered one of the largest clay structures in the world. Initially, the area of the fortress was about 180,000 square meters. m. It was divided into 4 zones and was surrounded by 38 observation towers. The walls of the fortress reached a height of 7 m, and their length was 1815 m.

South-west of Bam is another fortress city – Rayen. The local fortress is smaller than Arg-e-Bam, and covers an area of ​​​​20,000 square meters. m. It was built during the reign of the Sassanids.

In the southwestern part of Iran, on the territory of the ancient province of Fars, where the main cities of the Achaemenid empire were located about 2500 years ago, is the city of Shiraz . The first mention of Shiraz was found on stone tablets dating back to the 2nd millennium BC. In the 13th century A.D. Shiraz became the main cultural center of Persia, the most famous Persian poets and scientists lived and worked here. In the second half of the 18th century, during the reign of the Zend dynasty, Shiraz became the capital of the state. Shiraz is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world and one of the main cultural centers of Iran. Shiraz is also known as the “Persian capital of poetry” and the “city of gardens”. In Shiraz there are the mausoleums of the most popular Persian poets Saadi (13th century), Kwadzhu Kermani (13-14th centuries) and Hafiz (14th century), numerous ancient gardens with rich mansions, the most famous of which is the Bak-e Eram garden (“Garden of Eden”) 19 centuries, and such places of Shiite pilgrimage as the Shah-Sherag mausoleum of the 14th century, where the brothers of Imam Reza – Amir Ahmad and Mir Mohammed, the Taqi-Haft-Tanan mausoleum and the mausoleum of Shah Shoja are buried. In addition, the ancient Koran gate of the 10th century AD, the Arg-e-Karim-Khan fortress of the mid-18th century and the mosques of Attik Jame of the 9th century, Vakil of 1773 and Nasir-ol-Molk of 1888 have been preserved in the city. The environs of Shiraz with many archaeological sites deserve special attention. 60 km northeast of Shiraz are the ruins of the ancient city of Persepolis.. Its name is translated from Greek as “the capital of Persia”. The city was founded by Cyrus the Great in the middle of the 6th century BC, and under Darius I in 520 BC. e. it was chosen as the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. To date, the palaces of Darius I – Apadana and Tahara, the ceremonial halls of Tripylon and the Hall of a Hundred Columns, the foundations of an extensive treasury and living quarters, and the palace of Artaxerxes III – Hadish have been preserved from ancient Persepolis.

12 km northwest of Persepolis are the royal tombs of Nakshe-Rustem carved into the rocks. where Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Darius II are buried. In the vicinity of the tombs, you can see rock inscriptions, the oldest of which date back to the 1st millennium BC. Also in Nakshe-Rustam is a square building “Zarathustra’s Cube”. Some historians believe that it served as a Zoroastrian “tower of fire”, and some believe that the remains of King Cyrus the Great lie under the building. Not far from here are the rock reliefs of Nakshe-Rajab, dating back to the Sassanid era.

70 km northeast of Persepolis is the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire and one of the largest centers of Zoroastrianism – Pasargada. The construction of the city began in 546 BC. under King Cyrus the Great. The archaeological zone covers an area of 1.6 sq. km. Here you can see the alleged tomb of King Cyrus the Great, the ruins of royal palaces and the remains of the Toll-e-Takht fortress.

115 km south of Shiraz are interesting ruins of the ancient city of Bishapur, which he founded in 266 AD. the king of the Sassanids – Shapur I. In the vicinity of the city there is a cave of Shapur with a huge statue of the king.

It is also worth visiting the ruins of the city of Firuzabad of the early 3rd century AD, which was built on the site of the city of Gura destroyed by Alexander the Great. The remains of the palace of Ardashir I and the Zoroastrian temple of fire have been preserved here.

Off the southern coast of Iran, a few kilometers from the port city of Bandar Abbas, in the Strait of Hormuz, is the island of Qeshm. The area of the island is 1491 sq. km, its length reaches 115 km, and its width varies from 10 to 35 km. People have lived on the island since pre-Islamic times. It had a favorable geographical position at the entrance to the Persian Gulf and was an important trading center, which attracted many conquerors: Elamites, Umayyads, Abassids, Portuguese and British. Since 1989, the island has been a free trade zone. There are about 50 towns and villages on the island. Basically, tourists go to Qeshm Island to look at its salt caves and visit the protected mangrove forests. In the western part of the island there are salt deposits. These places are popular among tourists, as there are numerous caves, the vaults of which are covered with salt deposits. They were formed due to the fact that streams of salt-saturated water flow down the slopes of the caves. Three Nahashi with a length of 6200 m. Inside you can see winding galleries, underground salt rivers and bizarre stalactites.

A little to the east, off the northern coast, the Tang-e Chahu gorge is interesting, on the walls of which, as a result of wind erosion, protrusions similar to people’s faces formed. In the northern part of the Qeshm Island, a biosphere reserve extends, protecting the protected area of the Kharra mangrove forests. “Kharra” is the common name for all the mangrove forests of the southern coast of Iran.. They mainly consist of white and gray mangrove trees. Harra Forest, located on the island of Qeshm, in winter becomes a habitat for many migratory birds: flamingos, pelicans, herons and others. In addition, green turtles and poisonous sea snakes are found in the local reserve. Not far from the reserve is the village of Laft, where houses with wind towers “badgirs” have been preserved (similar buildings can be seen in the ancient Iranian city of Yazd), the remains of ancient water tanks, a Portuguese castle and an ancient cemetery. Also on the island of Qeshm, you can visit the protected beaches of the southern part of the island of Qeshm near the village of Shibderaz, where turtles lay their eggs and where coral reefs are exposed at low tide, and located in the eastern part of the island Star Valley with mysterious reliefs (locals believe that they were formed as a result of the fall of a star) and rock caves Harboz, in one of which you can see a carved bas-relief depicting Noah’s Ark.

To the west of the Qeshm island, 17 km from the mainland of Iran in the Persian Gulf, is the most popular resort in the country and one of the most popular resorts in the Middle East – the coral island of Kish . Resort complexes began to appear here in 1960, and after the Islamic Revolution, Kish Island was declared a free trade zone, which began to attract many tourists here, because in connection with this, numerous hotels began to be built here., shopping and entertainment centers. The best time to go to Kish Island is from November to March, when the heat subsides and comfortable weather sets in. White sand beaches stretch along the entire coast of the island. In total, there are more than fifty hotels on the island, dozens of shopping centers and several sports complexes. More than 50 km of cycle paths encircle the island. Kish Island is a great place for water sports: water skiing, windsurfing, diving, yachting and many others. In addition to the beaches and the underwater world, Kish Island can offer its guests several interesting places: in the northern part of the island there are the ruins of the ancient city of Harire, dating back to the era of the Sassanid dynasty, the construction of the underground city of Kariz is going on at a rapid pace, where in the future it is planned to open shops, souvenir shops, museums and restaurants, the remains of ancient rainwater catchments, a huge Greek ship off the west coast, an extensive Aquarium and Dolphin Park, consisting of a dolphinarium, a butterfly park, a patch of tropical rainforest, an exotic bird park, an orchid garden and a cactus park.

What to See in Iran