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Iran – Discovering the Traces of Old Persia in the Islamic Republic. Shiraz – Episode 9

Things to see in Shiraz: the leaning tower

I could keep on writing for ages about Isfahan, but I believe many of you would like for me to move further on. And that I will do… I cannot however avoid adding that through Isfahan it is worth going to the little mosque with the minarets that shake, to wander for some time through the Bazaar, inclusive to a shisha (hookah) with the locals or to discover small and coquet palaces, many originating from the Qajar period. But let’s jump towards the next destination, Shiraz.

Shiraz is another famous city of Iran. It is more southern than Isfahan and it is well known in Iran for the mausoleums of the local poets, while for the foreign travelers, it is known to be the favorite base to visit the Persian capital of Persepolis, while for the worldwide connoisseurs for the Shiraz wine, one of the types appreciated everywhere in the world… As you would expect, Iran is not a wine producer (it is a rumor that the villagers nearby Shiraz produce limited quantities in secret), but this is the birthplace of this type of wine that was made famous by the Australian producers!

From Isfahan to Shiraz it is about 8 hours by bus, there is no train, the other option being the plane. We have opted however to fly as well, so we took an Iran Air flight. Price ? A mere 25 dollars. The Iranian airlines have some great problems – they inherited the American passengers airplanes bought in the Shah’s time and because of the American embargo, it is very difficult to procure spare parts… this is why the maintenance is not at its best, but the inventive Iranian mechanics have to improvise repairs most of the time and as I have said before, there are many airplanes bought before 1978. The Shah’s megalomania led to Iran Air buying also 747 Jumbo Jet Boeings, that until the Airbus A380 apparition a few years ago, were the largest in the world. I have even seen about 5-6 Boeings 7747 on the runway of the Teheran airport, some operating even in that night towards destinations like India and Southeast Asia. Not all of them belong to Iran Air, I have actually seen one which is owned by the private company Mahan Air.

Our flight was smooth, we climbed above from the ground and by the will of Allah the All Merciful, our old plane did not break. Although the flight took about an hour, the services were impeccable and the hot food was good. So, we arrived on the airport from Shiraz where after a quick and fruitful negotiation, we found a taxi to take us into the town.

Because our hotel was downtown and although it was a little late, we did not miss the opportunity to take a stroll through the city. Shiraz has unfortunately the bad reputation of being the fast food capital from all Iran. On the main boulevard – the Zand boulevard, you can find one fast food after the other (kebab, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, grilled chicken – do observe the American – Italian – Iranian fusion ! :) ), the cinemas announcing Iranian action movies and the small supermarkets from where I bought Iranian champagne (that is grape juice with sparkling water, imported all the way from Spain !).

The second day in the morning, we took Shiraz by foot… The closest objective is the Argy she-Kharim fortress. Two words about Karim Khan. If Isfahan is what it is today because of Shah Abbas, Shiraz owes numerous of its buildings to Karim Khan, a shah from the very shortly lived Zand dynasty who moved the capital to Shiraz. The fortress is not very big but it is interesting because one of the towers from its extremities is bended… a tower of Pisa in the Iranian version…

In the interior, a pleasant garden (we are in the country of gardens !) and in the palace, an interesting photo exhibition from the 1900s. The coolest photo, that everybody was taking a photo of, was with a guy that kept on his large stretched hands other two guys! Otherwise, nice people and willing to take photos with the foreigners, cats through the garden and a cool offering fountain…Shiraz is the southernmost point that we reach and this is felt – if in Teheran there you feel the spring fresh coolness, in Shiraz we are in the middle of the summer!

We also visit the mosque built by nobody else but Karim Khan and we enter the Bazaar. We are in Iran and we simply cannot leave without purchasing a Persian rug. I am not a big fan of rugs, but it is simply impossible… we are in Persia. Usually the Iranian bazaars are extremely relaxed and the salesmen do not run desperately after you, like for in Egypt or Tunisia. Here you can stroll around quietly and only when you want something, you are the first one to initiate the discussion. So we can quietly sip a lemonade in the middle of bazaar or to observe that there are everywhere statues with Zoroastrian symbols of Darius’ and Xerxes’ old empire, the one destroyed by Alexander the Great…Persepolis is two steps away!

I will not detail you the soap opera-like odyssey of buying the rug… it took about two days, we went, we returned, we further studied the market and in the end, we bought the one that we wanted. Instead, I have a more interesting story from the friends we have been with. One of them wanted to buy a pretty expensive rug of about 2000 Euros (although Iran is cheap, do not believe that the rugs are cheap! They are much cheaper in Syria if you are interested). Due to the embargo, the foreign credit cards do not work and he did not have that amount of cash with him… The rug merchants all over Iran acknowledged this problem so that the only places in Iran where you can use your credit card are the rug shops. The sale takes place through Dubai, by telephone and the Iranian recovers his money through his contact in Dubai. Unfortunately, the credit card was not working,Dubai did not confirm it is ok, so in the end the merchant said – “I know the Romanians are honest people, take the rug, go in Romania and then send me the money through somebody living there”… The business in the Middle East is based a lot on mutual trust!

Another place that left me mesmerized was the Nosir ol-Molk Mosque… It is a relatively new mosque (of about 100 and something years), but spectacular. If the exterior is beautiful, interesting, being worth every penny for the hundreds of photos taken here every day, well, the interior is the one that really smashes you… the whole interior is covered with glass reflecting the green colors from the interior – it is a glow as rare as I was able to see and that no camera with millions of mega pixels or super ultra HD can immortalize…! Because it is a shrine (that means that here is buried a martyr of faith or relative of the Prophet), the women can only enter dressed in the chador. If you do not have a chador, no problem at all, at the entrance you will receive one without any problem!

Later on, we have visited another noble house, but as we were just returned from Nosir ol-Molk, we were not able to appreciate to the maximum the rooms covered in glass… In exchange we did appreciate the garden, pleasant and very cool!

In the evening, we went and made a deal with the guys from Pars Agency. Pars is one of the best known agencies from Iran, highly appreciated by all the tourist forums like Lonely Planet Thorn Tree or Trip Advisor and so the next day we would visit with them the beautiful cities and tombs of the Shahs from more than 2000 years ago… My girls friend actually was offered a job – they need an English speaking lady as a guide… in what concerns Persepolis…you learn quickly, that is not the problem !

Pictures of Shiraz:

 Things to see in Shiraz: the leaning tower

The tower of Pisa? No, the one from Shiraz!

Things to see in Shiraz: The citadel

Inside the citadel

Things to see in Shiraz: force guy

Well yes, this is force!

Obama books in Iran

Audacity of hope… the Iranian version

Shiraz: local fast food

A sort of McDonald’s

Iranian adventure movies

Iranian cinema

Things to see in Shiraz: Khan Karim mosque

In the Khan Karim mosque

Things to see in Shiraz: Khan Karim mosque

Shiraz: on the way to the bazaar

Towards the bazaar

Things to buy in Shiraz: Persian Souvenirs

Souvenirs

Luggages on the head

Do not try this at home :)

Things to see in Shiraz: The Nosir ol Molk Mosque

The Nosir – ol Molk Mosque

How to wear a chador

Adriana dressed in chador

Things to see in Shiraz:: The Nosir  ol Molk Mosque

Unbelievable! The interior of the mosque!

Things to see in Shiraz: The Nosir ol Molk Mosque

Shiraz: The Nosir

Shiraz: The Nosir

Things to see in Shiraz: Bagh-e Naranjestan

Bagh-e Naranjestan

Shiraz: Nosir

Bagh-e Naranjestan

Bagh-e Naranjestan

In the old times, the women did not wear anything else on their head

Incredible ceiling of Shiraz

The ceiling

Things to see in Shiraz: Bagh-e Naranjestan

Here kitty, kitty, kitty

Shiraz: the bazaar

In the bazaar

Shiraz: Persian carpets

Rugs for sale in Shiraz

A rug for everybody

Până acum există "2 comentarii" la acest articol:

  1. these are awesome photos and impressively inspiring. What was that they used for the interiors of the mosque? Jade? that is regale.

    How I wished I can go to Iran to do travel blogging too :)

    • Imperator says:

      No, it is not jade, it is glass ! With the help of different lights, it creates an amazing atmosphere. I have some friends going there for New Year !

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