Destination Cities in Iran
Tehran is the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is the political and economic center of the country. With a population of more than 12,000,000 people Tehran is a relatively young city by Iranian historical standards. Shah Agha Mohammed Khan declared it the capital of Persia in 1795 and soon after expanded as the center of Qajar Persia. The architectural style of the Qajar Dynasty still forms the center of old Tehran. The Golestan Palace located in the heart of the old city is a monument to the glories of the Qajar Dynasty. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Tehran experienced a rapid growth of architectural design and today has some of the world's most striking postmodern architecture. Tehran is a city of modern hotels, fashionable restaurants, and beautiful city parks and hosts some of the best museums in the country. A visit to Tehran is essential for the traveler to gain a wide perspective on what's happening in Iran and merits at least a couple of days stay.
The city of Isfahan with a population of about 1,630,000 people is the center of the Persian Renaissance of the Safavid Dynasty (1502-1736). It is the jewel of medieval Persia and one of the finest cities in the Islamic world. With its famous blue tiled mosques, expansive bazaar and beautifully designed bridges across the Zayandeh River being in Isfahan takes one back to the time of a Thousand And One Nights. Isfahan is full of historical and religious monuments that will keep the traveler busy for several days. Imam Square is the center of Isfahan and is the second largest square on earth. It hosts perhaps the most majestic collection of buildings in the Islamic world. Isfahan is a city where one wants to walk and savor the mystical power of the historical masterpiece that in the 17th century was called Isfahan - Nesf-e-Jahan or Isfahan - Half the World.
Shiraz is the heart of Persian culture and civilization. With a population of about 1,750,000 people Shiraz is known as the city of poets, gardens and nightingales. It is in Shiraz where two of Iran's greatest Sufi poets, Hafez and Sa'adi, are buried. Their mausoleums have become pilgrimage sites for Iranians from all over the country. Just outside of Shiraz is the most spectacular ancient Persian archaeological site-Persepolis. Persepolis was the spiritual capital of the Achaemenian Empire until Alexander the Great destroyed it in 330 BC. It was in Persepolis where the Persian king invited his subjects from throughout the empire to celebrate the Persian New Year on March 21. Persepolis is one of the most beautifully preserved ancient archaeological sites in the world. Shiraz is a city of blue tiled mosques, beautiful public gardens and the famous Vakil Bazar.
Yazd, with a population of just over 500,000 inhabitants is the quintessential Silk Road city. It is a favorite for many travelers to Iran who come to the city following in the footsteps of Marco Polo who stopped here on his way to China. Yazd is a desert town right on the edge of the Dasht-e-Kavir and is said to be one of the oldest living cities on earth. Walking through the old town with its desert architecture and wind towers that act as natural air conditioners evokes the simplicity and grace of the Medieval Islamic world. Yazd is also the center of the largest Zoroastrian community in Iran. A visit to the Zoroastrian Fire Temple in the city center and the Towers of Silence located on hilltops outside the town create a peaceful reminder of the religion that was once the official religion of Persia before the coming of Islam. It is also from Yazd where it is possible to join camel treks across the desert while staying in desert villages overnight to gaze at the stars.