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Iran – Discovering the Traces of Old Persia in the Islamic Republic. Episode 11 – Shiraz of the poets and of gardens.

Things to see in Shiraz: The mausoleum of Hafez

In the Muslim religion, one of the 5 major pillars of faith is called Salah – or the pray …in it, the Islamic faithful one confesses that he doesn’t have any other God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet. Well, in a very Islamic country, like the Islamic Republic of Iran there are more gods and I don’t mean the 12 Shiites Imams … I mean the poets Hafez, Rumi, Sa’di or Omar Khayyam… Don’t you believe that they are alive, they lived and created more than 800 years ago, but since then, they are worshiped like true saints and in any house in Iran their books have to be next to the Koran – at least that of Hafez. Any Iranian is capable of reciting entire poems out of their works.

For a lot of the Iranians, Shiraz is the place where Hafez and Sa’di rest … they are both buried in sumptuous gardens and hundreds, sometimes thousands of fans visit them daily. It was a “must do” for us to go as well.

The last day in Shiraz was a day of gardens. We passed from garden to garden like the butterflies. The biggest and most spectacular garden out of all is the Bagh – e Eram (“Garden of Paradise”). This is the place where young Iranians come to canoodle among the trees – shield while the rest of the people discover what places will reach after their death in case they’ll live by will of Allah …

Among the visitors the cutest were the children – dressed in Western graduate clothes, like the high school kids from the American movies, they were taking pictures of themselves, quietly under some trees … They were so well behaved and caught in the event that they didn’t even notice there were strangers in the garden – otherwise they would have rushed over to say hello and ask for pictures…

At the end of the garden, I found a very nice palace in the colorful Shiraz style… unfortunately this one cannot be visited. The paradise, like the palace, is a property of the Shiraz University and only the honor professors have access here. As in Imam Square of Isfahan, we could find the amateur painters… a big hobby in Iran.

On the way, we met a Lebanese guy that shared the same hotel… He came also to see Iran, but didn’t want his bosses to know that he is in Iran… I don’t know why …lot of people in the Emirates don’t like the Iranians because they are Shiites…The guy seems pretty placid and bored, not wanting any conversation…After talking about one or the other, we got to the subjects that are typical for the Orient – where he is from, what family does he have, etc… I found out that he is a Muslim (in Lebanon there are a lot of Christians). Just by the way, I ask if he is a Shiite or a Sunnite… in that moment the man exploded – from the pale and bored guy, he metamorphosed in a complete over-excited orator … he was Shiite …that is why he was visiting Iran!!!

I hardly managed to disconnect him … he rushed to tell me about the fight of the Shiites, about the martyrdom of the 12 Imams, about their faith and the fact that they are right. And finally he slapped the best confession – “All the Muslims in the world, even if they declare themselves Sunnites, deep in their hearts they are Shiites, but afraid to recognize it”… To remember and use later on…

After the flower paradise, we reached the poets paradise…And not at anybody, but at Hafez! Hafez lived between 1315 and 1390 and is famous especially for his ghazals about love, wine (oops, this isn’t very Islamic, but instead pretty inspirational for Hafez), about honest faith and the hypocrisy of religious leaders (hm, concerning this, Hafez is pretty up to date!).

His marble grave was built by obviously, Karim Khan and it is located under a pavilion in a superb garden… I was there twice – once during daytime when it was pretty empty and once at sunset when the place was full of people. The immense majority was people of a certain intellectual level, they were wearing their “Sunday clothes”…The atmosphere was accordingly …through the garden, there were speakers where you could hear Hafez’s lyrics… At the grave, lots of “faithful men” with Hafez’s books were reciting poetry… It is said that if you find yourself at the grave of Hafez and you open his book of poetry and you read the poem on that certain page, it is possible to find out your future.

Some girls took off their shoes and stayed on their knees next to he grave…like in the mosque, but the grave of Hafez is much more important than a mosque for many Iranians…Meanwhile, my girl friend started talking to some Iranian women… “is he your boyfriend?” they asked while I was filming and taking pictures all around…”Yes”. “Oh, you only have one boyfriend? We have more”… What cool girls in an Islamic country…Boyfriends are those who answer an SMS…Obviously the greatest frustration is that they cannot meet their boyfriends and go have fun…

Later on, Adriana is again assaulted by a group of girls that came on a trip with their class…You cannot even realize the frustration on the faces of those not understanding English who could not speak to us, while the English speakers were truly glowing!

The second grave visited is the one of the poet Sa’di. He is neither of a more recent date, on the contrary he lived about 100 years before Hafez, around the 1200’s. His poems are about flowers and gardens, so it couldn’t have been otherwise than having his mausoleum in a garden with very many flowers. Sa’di was used by Obama as well in his message on the occasion of the Iranian New Year – NowRuz in 2009.

After taking tens of pictures around the garden and entering the marbled grave, we entered the chilly underground café from the garden … Here we crossed paths with an interesting group – an Iranian with two Russians…While talking, we found out that the two are businessmen in one of the numerous autonomic republics of the Russian Federation where in April there were still many degrees below zero, and one of them is a Shiite Imam… Only interesting characters around here – Shiite Imam of a Russian nationality visiting Iran…

The next day, we have to leave for Yazd, the city of caravanserais on the Silk Road. We have a long road ahead of us, of about 5 hours by bus through the desert…And the day when we have to leave Iran is unfortunately getting closer very fast …. Yazd will be the final stop in Iran, then Teheran and the flight home …

Pictures of Shiraz:

 Things to see in Shiraz: The entering in the Garden of Paradise (Eram)

Enteringthe Garden of Paradise (Eram)

Things to see in Shiraz: Through the garden of Paradise

Through the garden of Paradise

Things to see in Shiraz: The palace of paradise

Things to see in Shiraz: Eram palace

Things to see in Shiraz: young Iranian school children

Children taking pictures

School girl

Women painters in Shiraz

Women painters

Things to see in Shiraz: At the mausoleum of Hafez

At the mausoleum of Hafez

Shiraz: Just a boy friend?

Just a boy friend?

Things to see in Shiraz: The grave of Hafez

The tomb of Hafez

Things to see in Shiraz: The grave of Hafez

Where one recites

Things to see in Shiraz: The grave of Hafez

Or pauses at

Things to see in Shiraz: pilgrims at Hafez tomb

In ones best outfit

Photos of Shiraz

Photos of Shiraz

Encounters in Shiraz

Whoever knows English, wins!

Things to see in Shiraz: The Mausoleum of Sa’di

The Mausoleum of Sa’di

Things to see in Shiraz: Saadi mausoleum

Photos of Shiraz: At Saadi mausoleum

Things to see in Shiraz: S’adi’s tomb

S’adi’s Grave

Things to see in Shiraz: drink some tea

Things to see in Shiraz: The underground tea house

The underground tea house

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