A short flight from Tehran is the city of Shiraz in the southwest part of Iran. Shiraz is one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia and was the capital during the Zandiyeh Dynasty from 1750 to 1781. It is often referred to as the city of gardens and is known for its poets and flowers. And yes, Shiraz is named after the wine that was historically produced around the city. Shiraz had a reputation for producing some of the finest wine in the Middle East by the 9th century. After the Islamic Revolution, no wine or any alcohol is officially produced in Iran, though there are still underground wineries producing small quantities in secret. And although alcohol consumption is forbidden, many Iranians still partake in the privacy of their homes where parties are thrown with DJs, drinks, and people wearing whatever they please. For our visit in Shiraz, we stayed at the relatively new Zandiyeh Hotel for the next 3 nights.
Our first visit was to Shah-e Cheragh which translates to Shrine of Light and is an important shrine of the Shia sect. We were able to enter the beautiful prayer halls adorned with mirrors and mosaics which in many other Arab countries non-muslims are not allowed entry. All the women were asked to wear a chador which is a long piece of fabric that is put over the head and held closed in the front. The prayer halls are so sparkly and splendid, I wonder how anyone can concentrate on the prayers. :)
Next stop was Hafez Tomb which was erected in memory of the celebrated Persian poet Hafez who was born in Shiraz in 1315. After a brief visit, we moved on to the Karim Khan Citadel which served as the living quarters of Karim Khan, founder of the Zandiyeh Dynasty. During the Qajar Dynasty, the citadel was used as the governor’s seat and then became a prison after its fall. We also visited Saadieh which is the location of the living place and tomb of Saadi who is another famous Persian poet.
The highlight for myself in Shiraz was definitely Nasir-al Mulk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque, because of the heavy use of rose-colored tiles in the interior. The mosque is best visited in the morning when the sunlight shines through the colorful stained glass giving one the feel of being inside a kaleidoscope.
Our last visit in Shiraz was Eram Garden. It is one of the most famous and beautiful historic gardens in Iran and is speculated to have been constructed during the Selijuk Dynasty (11th-14th centuries). The word “Eram” is the Persian word for “Iram” which in Arabic means heaven. Today it is an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Next post is on Persepolis and Naqshe Rostam. Stayed tuned!
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