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Travel to Shiraz; Piece of Paradise

A Glimpse of Shiraz History

Iran is the land of mysteries. From east to west, north to south there are locations to be explored, unknown sights to be discovered and adventures to be experienced. There is a chance for all types of tourists to fulfill their interests and enjoy their time being in Iran; nature lovers to pilgrims and history lovers to handicraft fans. However, when it comes to culture, there is one place that comes to mind instantly; the city of love and literature, Shiraz.

The ancient city of Shiraz, known as the heartland of Persian culture, is one of the most important destinations of Iran. If not visited, you can count the trip incomplete. The history of this city goes long back in time, as it was the capital of Iran during the Zand dynasty when it regained its former prosperity after a period of suffering.

Why Travel to Shiraz?

Throughout the years, Shiraz has become synonymous with poetry and literature, due to being the home to the graves of two world-known Persian poets, Hafez and Sa’di, both significant sites to Iranians. There are historical monuments such as Persepolis and Pasargadae which display the history of the city. The extraordinarily architected religious site of Nasir al-Molk Mosque, decorated with the play of colors and light mesmerizes anyone who pays a visit. Also, it is highly recommended not to miss the fabulous Persian Gardens in the city.

Quran Gate

In the old days, Shiraz used to have six gates but only one has survived. At the northeastern entrance of the city, stands a gate called Quran Gate, which is among the oldest gates in Iran. This roots in Muslims’ belief; they pass under the Quran in order to be blessed and be protected from unpleasant events. So when passed underneath the Quran Gate, they have the blessing of the holy book to begin their trip.

Quran Gate, Shiraz
Quran Gate, Shiraz – by Otto Maderdonner

It was first built in the Buyid dynasty and it was restored during the Zand dynasty since a lot of damage had been sustained. Like most of the Iranian gates, Quran Gate is arc-shaped and has two similar columns on each side decorated by some verses of Quran in different calligraphy styles. The rectangular room on the top was added by the order of Karim Khan Zand, in which two hand-written copies of Quran were kept. However, the two Qurans were taken to the Pars Museum in Shiraz, remaining there to this day.

Tomb of Hafez

Shiraz owes its reputation to a great extent to its native poet, Hafez, who lived most of his life in his own town. He is considered the undeniable master of Ghazal, whose poems were inspired by his fellow-citizen poet, Sa’di. The mausoleum, located in a garden known after him as the Hafezieh, is a small open pavilion inside which is a tombstone carved with the poet’s verses.

The vast popularity and the appeal of Hafez among all Persian-speakers make his tomb a cherished place. Iranians believe that his masterpiece, Divan Hafez, is able to tell fortune and there is an opportunity provided for the visitors to experience this at his tomb.

Tomb of Hafez (Hafezieh), Shiraz
Tomb of Hafez (Hafezieh), Shiraz – by Ali Taghipour

Tomb of Sa’di

The other extraordinary Shirazi poet, Sa’di, lies in the city of Shiraz as well. The mausoleum and its hospitable surrounding gardens are suitable for a man who rhymed extensively about gardens and roses in his lifetime. The tombstone is housed within this tranquil place in an open-sided stone colonnade, inscribed with his own poets supporting a turquoise dome.

Sa’di wrote his two most known works in Shiraz, the Bustan, and the Golestan, both narrating moral tales either in verse or in a mixture of prose and verse.

Tomb of Sa'di (Sa'dieh), Shiraz
Tomb of Sa’di, Shiraz – by Alireza derogar

Nasir al-Molk Mosque

The ancient mosques in Iran are among the touristic sites due to their flawless architecture. But if only one had to be chosen, it is undoubtedly Nasir-ol Molk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque or the Rainbow Mosque. At first sight, it looks like any other mosque; although, at the sunrise, its particularity is revealed.

The spectacular tiling of the mosque, the employment of pink as the main color, and the use of colorful glasses which change the sunlight into colored strings, all lead to the uniqueness of the mosque. If you are to visit Shiraz, don’t miss this piece of art at no cost!

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz

Persepolis

Even now that little signs of the magnificence of the monument has remained, Persepolis still embodies the glory of the Persian Empire. It was here that the Achaemenid rulers ran their empire and celebrated their national ceremonies such as Nowruz before Alexander III of Macedon burnt the whole structure down in the process of conquering the world.

Most of the stone has turned into grey over the millennia, as a result of dustiness. However, there are waxed remains from Persepolis in the National Museum in Tehran. Persepolis is a symbol of pride and civilization among Iranians.

Persepolis, Gate of Nations
Persepolis, Gate of Nations – by Matt Werner

Vakil Complex

Karim Khan Zand, the founder of the Zand Dynasty, had a major role in the development of Shiraz. His legacy, the Vakil, or Zandiyeh complex, including the Citadel of Karim Khan, a bath, a mosque, and a bazaar, is located in the center of the city in order to give access to all the city residents.

The Citadel was initially used as the residential place of the royal family and it was also the military center during the Zand Dynasty. Later, in the Pahlavi Dynasty, it was turned into a prison.

Vakil Bazaar is a roofed bazaar that regulates its temperature in different seasons, commissioned by Karim Khan as part of his plan to make Shiraz a  great trading center. Currently, a wide range of shops is available at the bazaar selling different kinds of spices, carpets, and handicrafts.

Eram Garden

Persian Gardens and their architecture are well-known all around the world and they can be found in many cities of Iran. The one located in Shiraz is Eram Garden which is a complex containing an eye-catching garden as well as the colorful Qajar palace in the middle of it, with a pool in front. Famous for its tall cypress trees, the delightful Eram Garden welcomes the visitors with its stunning sceneries.

The best time to travel to Shiraz is spring because it highlights the beauty of the city more than ever, avenues embellished with the colorful blossoms and the air filled with their scent. Getting to know a nation’s finest culture, history, and art, is a gift to those who visit Shiraz. All this along with the hospitable people of Shiraz. Paradise or not?


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