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Highlights of IranIran

Often ignorantly depicted as a dangerous nation of radicals, chauvinistic dogma and unsavoury politics, the true Iran is a country rich in culture, glorious architecture, history and warm hospitality.

This tour starts in the capital, Tehran. While subjected to destruction at the hands of medieval invasions from Arab, Turk and Mongol Empires, its magnificent architecture representing Qajar culture still remains intact, making it a must-see.

Visit the vast UNESCO World Heritage-listed Golestan Palace complex and the impressive Grand Bazaar, which is split into several corridors covering 10 kilometres and sells everything from souvenirs, clothing and jewellery to carpets and kebabs.

After the sensory overload of Tehran, the tour takes a chill pill and heads for several days to the car-free, historic 10th-century mountain village of Masuleh. With its unique honey-coloured buildings carved into the mountains and interconnected courtyards and roofs that serve as pedestrian areas similar to streets, Masuleh is the perfect destination to prepare for a day’s hike through the forest. You’ll finish up camping beside the majestic Shah Moalem Mountain.

The following days’ walks take in Masal and Kashan, where a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sheikh Safi mausoleum and shrine complex is a highlight. Also on the agenda is a stroll around the great Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahan and Fin Garden.

The last remaining days are suitably allocated to Shiraz. A stop en route to Pasargadae, the first Achaemenid capital and home to the tomb of Cyrus the Great, will be rewarding for both history nerds and neophytes. Cyrus the Great, founded the Achaemenid Empire and Persia by uniting the two original Iranian tribes, the Medes and the Persians. He was laid to rest here in 530 BCE.

Shiraz is the capital of the Fars Province and one of the oldest cities in Iran. Yes, it was once a producer of the famous grape of the same name, although most vines were destroyed during the 1979 Revolution. It’s also known as a city of poets, literature and flowers. Take some time to stroll though its ethereal gardens, like Eram Gardens, with its romantic myrtles and towering cypress trees, including one that is 3000 years old.

Most of all, Shiraz is the cradle of Persian culture. Visit  the tombs of the great medieval poets Hafez and Saadi. To round things off, take an afternoon stroll through the hustle and bustle of the city’s covered Vakil Bazaar and sample Shiraz’s vast array of crafts, including inlaid mosaic work, silversmithing, and the weaving of carpets and kilims.

Group tours from AU$7930.

Private tours from AU$8268 (minimum of two people).

Prices are based on 2019 departures and tour cannot be run during the Iranian New Year holiday called Nowruz or from mid-October to mid-March because of the weather.

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Tags: Achaemenid Empire, Cyrus the Great, Esfahan, Golestan Palace, Grand Bazaar, iran, Kashan, Masal, persia, Qatar culture, Shiraz, Shiraz iran, tehran, unique holidays iran

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