|pottery Elamite period bull|
We are in
|Cuneiform script from Persepolis 5th century BC|
We have travelled through 7000 years of civilization during our amazing trip to
Iran over 12
days, and I could happily do this all over again. The country is beautiful, the
people so friendly and welcoming to the many tourists visiting. We met on our
own journey other tour parties from Britain,
Germany, Australia and Canada
as well as seeing some lone backpackers up in Abyaneh. And we could scarcely
scratch the surface of the treasures the country holds in the time available to
We have seen a 5000 BC archaeological site where remains of humans, their houses and their pottery have been unearthed.
We visited remnants of the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE) at the extraordinary ruins of
and at the necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam.
We visited the hauntingly beautiful ancient Zoroastrian Sassanid (224 - 658 CE)
of Abyaneh high in the mountains
between Esfahan and Kashan and the Zoroastrian
Towers of Silence at Yazd,
and enjoyed the wealth of the Safavid court (1501-1736) reflected in the beauty
|Bronze statue Parthian nobleman|
Shiraz we saw a charming example of Zand
(1750-1794) architecture in the 1767 citadel, Arg-e Karim Khan Zand, perhaps
the best surviving example of 18th century fortification in the country. We
visited Kashan, which dates from the 12th century, a town which survived the
Mongol (c 1220-1340) campaigns but is also home to splendid merchants' houses
from the Qajar Dynasty (1757-1924).
|National Museum Tehran|
We have been brought right up the present day in
where tomorrow we will visit the shrine to Ayatollah Khomeini founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic which marked the end of the Shah's
Pahlavi dynasty (1926-1979). He died in 1989.
Much of this history, from the hunter gatherers of the Lower Paleolithic period to the end of the Sassanian period is brought together in the National Museum of Iran which was our first stop this morning. Here there are priceless exhibits and an excellent English brochure – make sure you pick this up as you go in.
On our journey through the city we pass the
roundabout – a mural on the wall alongside shows Palestinians throwing stones
at the Israelis - a significant example of Iranian graffiti. There is plenty of graffiti in the city, official and otherwise, and some very decorative.
|marble throne for Shah by Esfahani craftsmen carved|
|typical Qajar tiling at Golestan|
The population of Tehran is 9 million, with 18 million total counting all the sprawling suburbs. To the North is a mountain range to which the city dwellers love to escape where possible.
highest peak is here at 5678 metres. Tehran
itself is at 1200 metres altitude. There is a state run university here which
is highly regarded with much competition to be admitted. I see a lovely
pavement sculpture of a girl posting a letter.
We have a great land train experience – unscheduled I think – and fun! But the land train has a serious purpose - locals use it all the time to travel up and down the long pedestrianised shopping street.
The GolestanPalace (
of Flowers) complex, with its ornate
rooms and marble throne, was the seat of power of the Qajar dynasty, became the
official residence of the Royal family and is the oldest historic monument in Tehran. It would once
have been enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of the historic citadel in the
|street scene Tehran|
|pomegranates for sale Tehran bazaar|
It is now surrounded by the typical city buildings and roads of the 21st century. Both Reza Khan and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi were crowned here.
The official website supplies some photos and much more information, albeit with a less than perfect translation.
Afterwards we have a long walk to pick up the bus – an amazing feat for our driver to even find us in the midst of total traffic madness! It’s now 1.30 and we have had a very long morning without refreshment – too long actually and many of us are wilting!
|land train Tehran|
So we are driven to
|sculpture at Laleh Park Tehran|
holds many of the
Qajar monarchs’ jewels, safely stored in a bank vault, access to which involves
several security checks and some long waits. But it is all worth it. Again the
official web page supplies the photos National Jewellery
We have a very long wait here to let the crowds subside and then we seem to go through three different security processes – including xray machines, and frisking, before we are allowed through. We then have an official guide to take us around the circuit – our own guide Ali is not allowed to do this. It is all very precisely organised. The jewels are priceless, some vulgar, some exquisite. But it is an interesting experience.
|the Palestine Roundabout Tehran|
I guess everyone visiting
Tehran has to experience
the seemingly impossible task of crossing a road! It’s certainly not for the
faint hearted, or to be attempted alone. As a group ably guided by Ali we make
it in one piece! We pick up our bus on the other side of the carriageway, with
|typical cabbage decorated roundabout|
Shanderman Restaurant for supper was superb – excellent veggie meal and meat eaters rated theirs highly too – very good salad, buffet and soup with choice of meats and tea with biscuit, coffee or ice cream to finish with a group set meal. 8/10. On our return to the hotel we give
Adrian a book on Persepolis with our thanks
for his excellent leadership throughout the tour. Sad that we have to go