Journey to Persia
Iran is a country of dramatic contrasts. Its scenery ranges from snow-clad mountains to vast, inhospitable deserts punctuated by attractive oasis towns, and its cities and ancient sites reveal a deep and rich history. Some of the most exquisite examples of Middle Eastern design and architecture are to be found in Iran, including the magnificent ruins of Persepolis, the dazzling Islamic centres at Isfahan and Shiraz, and beautifully-crafted gardens set in desert wastes. The rich bazaars and the ancient tradition of hospitality never fail to impress in a country which sees few tourists.
- Day 1: Start Tehran; city tour.
In and around Tehran
- Day 2: Visit Kashan en route to the traditional village of Abyaneh.
In and around Abyaneh
- Day 3: Drive to Yazd making stops in Na'in and Mohamadiye en route.
In and around Yazd, Na'in
- Day 4: Visit Ateshkade Fire Temple, mausoleum, mosque and bazaars of Yazd.
A full day sightseeing in historic Yazd, the centre for Iran’s small Zoroastrian community. Visit one of the two Zoroastrian abandoned Towers of Silence (Dakhma). Dating back to the 18th Century, until some 70-odd years ago the bodies of the dead were carried and left here to decompose and be devoured by birds. The next Zoroastrian site is the Fire Temple which houses a flame which is said to have been burning for over 1,500 years. Amongst Yazd’s Islamic sites are the Friday Mosque (1324AD) which boasts the highest portal and minarets in Iran and the Mirchachmagh Maidan and Mosque. Other notable monuments, found in the old Fahadan area of Yazd, are the Saljuk shrine, dedicated to the Twelve Shi’ite Imams; and Ziaieyeh Theological School, also known as Znedan-e-Eskander (Alexander’s Prison). Yazd also has many beautiful old houses such as Dowlat-Abad Garden, an 18th Century feudal hexagonal house.
- Day 5: Stop in the troglodyte village of Meymanden route to Kerman.
In and around Kerman, Meymand
- Day 6: Day trip of Arg-e-Rayen citadel (a miniature version of Bam), Mahan and Kerman
In and around Mahan
- Day 7: Drive to Shiraz.
In and around Shiraz
- Day 8: Explore Shiraz, its mausoleums and monumental gardens.
Shiraz, the city of ‘roses and nightingales’ is the centre of Persian culture, known for its poets, gardens and, at one time, wine which was produced in the fertile valley the city is located in. We spend the day exploring Shiraz’s main sites. We visit the expansive Eram Garden; the tomb of Iran’s greatest lyric poet: Hafez, a popular spot for local lovers; the pink tiled 19th century Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque with its coloured glass windows; the Arg-e-Karim Khan (an 18th century citadel; the Madrassa Khan where we can interact with students and teachers; the Qajar-period Narenjestan Garden and House; the Vakil Bazaar; and the Holy Shrine of Shah-e-Cheragh (though only from the outside as it is not open to non-Muslims).
- Day 9: Visit the ancient ruins of Persepolis.
In and around Persepolis
- Day 10: Drive to Iran's architectural gem, Isfahan visiting Pasargadae en route.
In and around Isfahan
- Day 11: Two days to see the stunning capital of Shah Abbas; explore the squares, blue and turquoise-tiled colleges and mosques, with free time for shopping in the bazaar.
Isfahan nesf-e jahan, 'Isfahan is half the world', the magnificent capital of Shah Abbas I, architecturally, is one of the most important cities of the world. At its centre is the Maidan-e Imam (Imam Square), one of the finest city squares in the world containing the immense tiled Imam Mosque, Ali Ghapu's Palace and the mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah. The Bazaar Qaisarieh, or Imperial Bazaar, is a labyrinth of domed alleyways, filled with carpets, textiles, sweets and spices, metal work, tile-makers, jewellers and bright clothes which stretches from Imam Square all the way to the 10th century Friday Mosque in the north. It was among bazaars such as these that the revolution of 1978 took root. We will also visit Vank Cathedral within the Armenian sector, Jolfa, and may possibly have time to experience the phenomenon of the 'shaking minarets' of the Minar-e Jonban in the west. Isfahan is a rarity among Iranian cities in that a river, the Zayandeh, passes through it. This contributes to the pleasant climate of the city whilst its bridges, particularly the Si o Se Pol (the Bridge of Thirty-three Arches), and the Khaju Bridge, provide the perfect setting to spend the evening soaking up the atmosphere. We finish with a visit to the Qeisarieh Bazaar with hundreds of shops displaying the arts and handicrafts for which Isfahan is world famous. We spend two days uncovering the cities many wonders.
- Day 12: A day exploring Isfahan.
We spend another day exploring the stunning capital of Shah Abbas.
- Day 13: Drive to Tehran.
Drive to Tehran, en-route stop at the charming desert town of Natanz to visit the beautiful Islamic Complex of Mosque, Monastery and Tomb of Sheikh Abdol-Samad Isfahani, and have a tea-break under the shade of a 500-year old plain tree. (total drive time 6hrs plus visits)
- Day 14: Final day in Tehran to take in more sites and do last minute shopping.
Full day visits including the Golestan Palace Museum Complex, built by Fath-Ali Shah of the Qajar Dynasty and dating from the 18th to the early 20th century. Continue to the Shams-ol-Emareh (Sun) Palace and the Ethnographic Museum, with a walk around the garden to enjoy the beautiful tile-covered walls and buildings. In the afternoon visit the fabulous State’s Jewels Museum, housed in the vaults of the Central Bank of Iran displaying the most dazzling and priceless collection of jewels and gems in the world.
- Day 15: End in Tehran.
Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport in time for their flight. For land only passengers the trip ends after breakfast.