Top Ten Iranian Attractions

 Top Ten Iranian Attractions

       Iran is a country in Southwestern Asia. The name “Iran” has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia. The 18th largest country in the world in terms of area at 1,648,195 square km (636,372 sq mi), Iran has a population of around 78 million. It is a country of particular geostrategic significance owing to its location in the Middle East and central Eurasia. Iran is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Turkey. Tehran is the capital, the country’s largest city and the political, cultural, commercial and industrial center of the nation. Iran is a regional power, and holds an important position in international energy security and world economy as a result of its large reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The first dynasty in Iran formed during the Elamite kingdom in 2800 BC. The Iranian Medes unified Iran into an empire in 625 BC. They were succeeded by the Iranian Achaemenid Empire, the Hellenic Seleucid Empire and two subsequent Iranian empires, the Parthians and the Sassanids, before the Muslim conquest in 651 AD. Iranian post-Islamic dynasties and empires expanded the Persian language and culture throughout the Iranian plateau. Early Iranian dynasties which re-asserted Iranian independence included the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids and Buyids. The blossoming of Persian literature, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, mathematics and art became major elements of Muslim civilization. The emergence in 1501 of the Safavid dynasty, which promoted Twelver Shia Islam as the official religion of their empire, marked one of the most important turning points in Iranian and Muslim history. The Persian Constitutional Revolution established the nation’s first parliament in 1906, within a constitutional monarchy. Iran officially became an Islamic republic on April 1, 1979, following the Iranian Revolution.Iran is a founding member of the UN,NAM, OIC and OPEC. The political system of Iran, based on the 1979 constitution, comprises several intricately connected governing bodies. The highest state authority is the Supreme Leader.

  1. Shiraz

    Shiraz is the 6th most populous city in Iran and is the capital of Fars Province, the city’s 2009 population was 1,455,073. Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the Roodkhaneye Khoshk (Dry river) seasonal river. Shiraz has a moderate climate and has been a regional trade center for more than 1,000 years. The earliest reference to the city, as Tiraziš, is on Elamite clay tablets dated to 2000 BC. In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading center of the arts and letters, thanks to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. Shiraz was the capital of Persia during the Zand dynasty from 1750 until 1781, as well as briefly during the Saffarid period. Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature, wine and flowers. The word “shir” in Persian means “lion,” but it could also mean “milk.” It is also considered by many Iranians to be the city of gardens, due to the many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen in the city. Shiraz has had major Jewish and Christian communities. The crafts of Shiraz consist of inlaid mosaic work of triangular design; silver-ware; pile carpet-weaving and weaving of kilim, called gilim and jajim in the villages and among the tribes. In Shiraz industries such as cement production, sugar, fertilizers, textile products, wood products, metalwork and rugs dominate. Shirāz also has a major oil refinery and is also a major center for Iran’s electronic industries: 53% of Iran’s electronic investment has been centered in Shiraz. Shiraz is home to Iran’s first solar power plant. Recently the city’s first wind turbine has been installed above Babakoohi mountain near the city.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Middle Eastern CitiesTop Ten Mausoleums, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiraz,
  2. Persepolis

           Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC). Persepolis is situated 70 km northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid (Throne of Jamshid). The earliest remains of Persepolis date from around 515 BC. To the ancient Persians, the city was known as Pārsa, which means “The City of Persians.” Persepolis is a transliteration of the Greek Πέρσης πόλις (Persēs polis: “Persian city”).
    Links: Top 100 Ruins, Palaces, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persepolis,
  3. Bam and its Cultural Landscape

           Bam is a city in Kermān Province of Iran, the center of Bam County. The modern Iranian city of Bam surrounds the Bam citadel. There are various opinions about the date and reasons for the foundation of the citadel. Some believe that Bam city was founded during the Parthian Empire. Economically and commercially, Bam occupied a very important place in the region and was famed for its textiles and clothes. Ibn Hawqal (943–977), the Arab traveler and geographer, wrote of Bam in his book Surat-ul-‘ard (The Earth-figure): “Over there they weave excellent, beautiful and long-lasting cotton cloths which are sent to places all over the world. There they also make excellent clothes, each of which costs around 30 dinars; these are sold in Khorasan, Iraq and Egypt.” The ancient citadel of Arg-e Bam has a history dating back around 2,000 years ago, to the Parthian Empire (248 BC–224 AD), but most buildings were built during the Safavid dynasty. The city was largely abandoned due to an Afghan invasion in 1722. Subsequently, after the city had gradually been re-settled, it was abandoned a second time due to an attack by invaders from Shiraz. It was also used for a time as an army barracks. The modern city of Bam was established later than the old citadel. It has gradually developed as an agricultural and industrial centre, and until the 2003 earthquake was experiencing rapid growth. In particular, the city is known for its dates and citrus fruit, irrigated by a substantial network of qanats. The city also benefited from tourism, with an increasing number of people visiting the ancient citadel in recent years.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bam,_Iran,
  4. Tchogha Zanbil

           Chogha Zanbil is an ancient Elamite complex in the Khuzestan province of Iran. It is one of the few existent ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia. It is approximately 42 km South Southwest of Dezfoul, 30 km West of Susa and 80 km North of Ahvaz.
    Links: Top Ten Ziggurats, Top Ten Battle Axeshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tchogha_Zanbil,
  5. Naghsh-i Jahan Square

           Naghsh-e Jahan Square, known as Imam Square, was constructed bewteen 1598 and 1629, and is situated at the center of Isfahan city, Iran. It is 160 m wide by 508 m long (an area of 89,600 square m). The square is surrounded by buildings from the Safavid era. The Shah Mosque is situated on the south side of this square. On the west side is the Ali Qapu Palace. Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is situated on the eastern side of this square and the northern side opens into the Isfahan Grand Bazaar. Today, Namaaz-e Jom’eh (the Muslim Friday prayer) is held in the Shah Mosque. The square is depicted on the reverse of the Iranian 20,000 rials banknote.
    Links: Top Ten Squares, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naghsh-i_Jahan_Square,
  6. Soltaniyeh

           Soltaniyeh or Sulatniayh situated in the Zanjan Province of Iran, some 240 km to the north-west from Tehran, used to be the capital of Ilkhanid rulers of Persia in the 14th century. Its name translates as “the Imperial.” William Dalrymple notes that Öljaitü intended Soltaniyeh to be “the largest and most magnificent city in the world” but that it “died with him” and is now “a deserted, crumbling spread of ruins.”
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soltaniyeh,
  7. Pasargadae

           Pasargadae, the capital of Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC) and also his last resting place, was a city in ancient Persia, and is today an archaeological site and one of Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the Elamite cuneiform of the Persepolis fortification tablets, the name was rendered Batrakataš. One scholar has suggested that the name in current usage derives from a Greek transliteration of the Old Persian name of a local tribe.
    Links: Top Ten Tombs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasargadae,
  8. Bisotun

           The Behistun Inscription, meaning “the place of gods,” is a multi-lingual inscription located on Mount Behistun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran. Authored by Darius the Great sometime between his coronation as king of the Persian Empire in the summer of 522 BC and his death in autumn of 486 BC, the inscription begins with a brief autobiography of Darius, including his ancestry and lineage. Later in the inscription, Darius provides a lengthy sequence of events following the deaths of Cyrus the Great and Cambyses II in which he fought 19 battles in a period of one year (ending in December of 521 BC) to put down multiple rebellions throughout the Persian Empire. The inscription states in detail that the rebellions, which had resulted from the deaths of Cyrus the Great and his son Cambyses II, were orchestrated by several impostors and their co-conspirators in various cities throughout the empire, each of whom falsely proclaimed kinghood during the upheaval following Cyrus’s death. Darius the Great proclaimed himself victorious in all battles during the period of upheaval, attributing his success to the “grace of Ahura Mazda.” The inscription includes three versions of the same text, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian (a later form of Akkadian). In effect, then, the inscription is to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script. The inscription is approximately 15 meters high by 25 meters wide and 100 meters up a limestone cliff from an ancient road connecting the capitals of Babylonia and Media (Babylon and Ecbatana, respectively). The Old Persian text contains 414 lines in five columns; the Elamite text includes 593 lines in eight columns, and the Babylonian text is in 112 lines. The inscription was illustrated by a life-sized bas-relief of Darius I, the Great, holding a bow as a sign of kingship, with his left foot on the chest of a figure lying on his back before him. The supine figure is reputed to be the pretender Gaumata. Darius is attended to the left by two servants, and ten one-meter figures stand to the right, with hands tied and rope around their necks, representing conquered peoples. Faravahar floats above, giving his blessing to the king. One figure appears to have been added after the others were completed, as was Darius’s beard, which is a separate block of stone attached with iron pins and lead.
    Links: Top Ten Reliefs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisotun,
  9. Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil

           Sheikh Safi al-Din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble is the tomb of Sheikh Safi-ad-din Ardabili located in Ardabil, Iran. The Mausoleum of Sheikh Safi, in Ardabil, was first built by his son Sheikh Sadr al-Dīn Mūsā, after Sheikh Safi’s death in 1334. It was built between the beginning of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century. The mausoleum consists of many sections that have served a variety of functions over the past centuries, including a library, a mosque, a school, mausolea, a cistern, a hospital, kitchens, a bakery, and some offices. It incorporates a route to reach the shrine of the sheikh divided into seven segments, which mirror the seven stages of Sufi mysticism. Various parts of the mausoleum are separated by eight gates, which represent the eight attitudes of Sufism. Several parts were gradually added to the main structure during the Safavid dynasty. A number of Safavid sheikhs and harems and victims of the Safavids’ battles, including the Battle of Chaldiran, have been buried at the site.
    Links: Top Ten Tombshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh_Safi%27s_Tomb,
  10. Armenian Monastic Ensembles (St Thaddeus, St Stepanos and Chapel of Dzordzor)

    Description:
    Links: Monasteries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thaddeus_Cathedral, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stepanos_Monastery,
  11. Bonus: Azadi Towers

           The Azadi Tower, previously known as the Shahyād Āryāmehr, is the symbol of Tehran, the capital of Iran, and marks the entrance to the city.
    Links: Top Ten Sun Dialshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azadi_Tower,
  12. Bonus: The Persian Garden

           The tradition and style in the garden design of Persian gardens has influenced the design of gardens from Andalusia to India and beyond. The gardens of the Alhambra show the influence of Persian Garden philosophy and style in a Moorish Palace scale from the era of Al-Andalus in Spain. The Taj Mahal is one of the largest Persian Garden interpretations in the world, from the era of the Mughal Empire in India.
    Links: Top Ten Gardenshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Garden,
  13. Bonus: Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex

           The Bazaar of Tabriz is one of the oldest bazaars of the Middle East and the largest covered bazaar in the world. Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity and its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centers on the Silk Road. Located in the center of the city of Tabriz, Iran, this spectacular structure consists of several sub-bazaars, such as Amir Bazaar (for gold and jewelry), Mozzafarieh (a carpet bazaar), a shoe bazaar, and many other ones for various goods. The most prosperous time of Tabriz and its bazaar was in 13th century when the town became the capital city of the Safavid kingdom. The city lost its status as a capital in the 16th century, but its bazaar has remained important as a commercial and economic center. Although, numerous modern shops and malls have been established nowadays, the bazaar of Tabriz has remained the economic heart of both the city and northwestern of Iran. It is worthy of mention that Tabriz bazaar has been being an important political place, and one can point out its importance in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the last century and Islamic Revolution in the contemporary time. The bazaar is used for some important religious ceremonies. The most famous one is Day of Ashura during which merchants cease trading for about 10 days and religious ceremonies are held inside the bazaar. Like other bazaars in Middle East, there are several mosques constructed behind the bazaar, the most notable of them being Jome’ Mosque.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabriz_Bazaar,
  14. Bonus: Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System

           Shûshtar is an ancient fortress city in the Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran. It is approximately 92 km away from Ahvaz, the centre of the province. It had an estimated population of 89,255 in 2005. Much of its past agricultural productivity derives from the Roman-built irrigation system which centered on the Band-e Kaisar, the first dam bridge in Iran. The Mayor of Shushtar is Ahmad Asefi.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shushtar,
  15. Bonus: Takht-e Soleyman

           Takht-e Soleyman Massif is a subrange of central Alborz Mountains. In the area, about 160 distinct peaks higher than 4,000 m are distinguishable, with the highest, most famous, and most technical one: Alam Kuh, 4,850 m. The area can be captured inside a rectangle of 30 km width and 40 km length. The massif is limited to Taleqan valley from south, Kelardasht green plane from east, Abbas Abad rain forest and thick vegetated hills/slopes at north, and Shahsavar rain forests and Se Hezar valley at west. The original and pre Islamic name is Takht-e Jamshid. The Takht-e-Soleiman region was unknown until 1933. Douglas Busk, a British mountaineer, discovered and surveyed the area. Later on, Busk along with Professor Bobek made a detailed survey of this area. In 1936 the north-west ridge (called Germans flank) of Alam Kooh was climbed for the first time by German mountaineers, which was considered a great achievement among European climbers.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takht-e_Suleyman_Massif,
  16. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran,