Iran – sand dunes, incredible islands, symmetrical architecture and the look back into the Persian Empire.

Iran Persepolis Malvina Dunder

Top places to visit ✔️
Interesting facts✔️

Trip to Iran is a great adventure, mostly because of the image of this country we know from media,   and the feeling of unknown. You cannot just take a credit card because there are sanctions and it is not possible to use it, so you have to prepare yourself in advance. Soon after landing you are welcomed by the most friendly and open people who try to make up for the opinion.

On the Persian Gulf there is a small island that looks like a wonder of the world. The culture is a bit different than on the mainland, f. eks. woman wear unique traditional masks. On the island you can take some trips or rent a car and travel to see amazing nature.
Must see places: Valley of stars and Chahkouh Valley.

Hormuz (Hormoz)
Another jewel of Persian Gulf, literally! It is covered with crystals of salt, and other minerals. Nature has painted the island with rainbow colors, and lavished with glitter.
Every place in the world is different and unique, yet Hormuz is just mind blowing.
Some beaches are black with sparkling glitter, the water is red and turquoise further form the shore. Some are covered with red sand and decorated with colourful, symmetrical paintings by the locals, made with soil as well

I’d love to stay there longer but it’s not conformable to visit the island in warm season. As a woman you need to be all covered (long pants and sleeves) and there can be over 43 Celsius. There are weeks in summer when everything is closed due to extremely high temperature outside. 

When I talk about the extremely high temperatures in Iran I really mean it. On the mainland there’s the hottest spot on the planet – the Lut desert (Dasht-e Loot) where the temperature overall is 70.7 Celsius degrees recorded by a satellite.

There’s also a city Bandar-e Mahshahr that “registered a heat index of 74 degrees in July 2015. The hottest recorded temperature there is 51 degrees.”, and went viral with pictures showing that the city is melting (all the plastic objects were flat and melted), and a man frying an egg on the stone stairs.

When I was walking in the valleys on the islands, and in the southern cities, I felt like the air was dry and burning, which I never experienced before. Now, I have no idea how I survived in full clothing and an obligatory scarf on my head. I guess it must be because of this drive to explore the world😅

Shiraz – I’m sure you know this name and saw it many times while shopping in the wine alley because it is one of the most famous kinds of wine in the world, ironically originated in a country where alcohol is strictly forbidden…

Shiraz is a big city with a nice square and fortification where you can have saffron ice-cream and chitchat with locals. There are many gardens like Eram, and the tomb of Hafez.

There are at least three mosques worth visiting:
Nasir al-Mulk Mosque also called the pink mosque completed in 1888. Every morning it is illuminated by the sun making a spectacular show of colours, thanks to the whole wall of Persian Stained Glass. 

Shah Cheragh is the most important place of pilgrimage (from around 14th century) where you have to walk with a tour guide and cannot enter some shrines as a non-muslim person. 

Visiting a mosque could be interesting because of the architecture. Some of them are decorated with billions of hand made symmetrical pieces of glass, others with blue tiles. This mirror and tiles work is really impressive. Also for me, it was a new experience, and at first I felt a bit strange and stresses that I will step on my “hijab” and it will fall down;-) As a women you have to take an extra cover, there are places to rent it before entering, and you may ask for help if you don’t know how to use it. 

In Shah Cheragh I could not enter the mirror mosque but I could see a similar architecture in other place and had a really interesting experience there. It called Imamzadeh-ye Ali Ebn-e Hamze Mosque.

At first I went to rent an extra cover, and then went inside the mosque to the part for women. I thought that only gates are separated for men and women, and I will meet my boyfriend inside, but it was all divided. I feel awkward at first because as I entered, all the women inside looked at me and started whispering. I felt really strange and wanted to run away. And then some very old woman on a wheel-chair called me and I came closer, said “hello”in Farsi language (Persian language). We had a small talk in Farsi (very “small” as I knew only few basic phrases), all the looks were on us, and she said something I couldn’t understand, took my hand and kissed it. I couldn’t believe what just happened, but she was very warm and after that the atmosphere changed totally. I was officially welcomed and could admire the amazing architecture.

While after that I had another “situation” 😅 I went inside the mosque for men only, by mistake…

And when I had all the crazy running thoughts in my head of shocking news from media about stoning people and so on, my boyfriend pale looking at me and trying to evacuate me asap… I noticed that no one cares. For real, men didn’t care at all! One men came to us, introduced himself as a volunteer of the shrine and offered to give us a tour, and said that it’s ok for me to be here for a while. 

This is what I love about the (real) men, no problems, no complications, no drama 😆 And the tour was very interesting!

Shiraz is also a gateway to Persepolis (the ruins of ancient city from 6th-century-B.C), Necropolis and Pasargadae the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great and it is believed that there’s his tomb. Although Persepolis is the biggest tourists attraction in Iran, I wanted to see Necropolis -Naqsh-e Rostam the most. There are tombs of the Achaemenid dynasty (c. 550–330 BC) of Darius II, Artaxerxes I, Darius I, Xerxes I, carved in rock, no one can enter as they are quite high and there’s no stairs, but it all look unique.

Persepolis dates back to 515 BC and was a capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The name means “the city of Persians” and was destroyed by Alexander the Great. In these ruins of the city there are many artefacts, and reliefs representing Zoroastrianism the original religion of Persia.

There is a beautiful Persian style guest house “Taha traditional hostel” in Shiraz:

Varzaneh is a small town and the amazing desert, salt lake, and surroundings. It’s the first desert I visited and tried sand boarding. I’m not the best but it was fun to try! 

Neegar traditional guest house offers great trips in the area to the desert, salt lake, the old caravan station, to watch flamings, and so on. The owner is also an expert in herbs and shared with us his knowledge about it one evening on the rooftop. It was a warm and starry night that brings nice memories. I’ve learned that quince is queen of fruits and cumin is very beneficial for the body, but I recommend visiting this place and finding out more by yourself 🙂

Esfahan or Isfahan is a famous historical city with Persian architecture, impressive square called Naqsh-e Jahan from 16th century with a long pool in the center, surrounded by the majestic palace Ali Qapu, Sheikh Lotfollah mosque, Jameh Mosque and many more stunning buildings, also the Grand Bazaar, where you can buy the famous Persian carpets, saffron, dry fruits and fresh walnuts (delicious!), pistachios and dates paste, hand-painted plates, beautiful tea pots, sugar crystals,  jewellery protecting from “the evil eye”, fabrics and much more fascinating stuff 😉

There are also historical bridges, like Khaju on the dried river. 

Teheran is huge capital of Iran (with a population of around 8.7 million in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area) so the traffic may slow down the sightseeing. The most iconic are Milad and Azadi towers. 

There’s many places to visit in Teheran, but one is the jewel of Iran, literally. It’s The National Jewelry Museum that holds many of the Qajar monarchs’ jewels, the biggest pink diamond in the world, crowns and dazzling stuff the world’s most precious collection of jewellery treasures.

There are things about Iran that I didn’t know until I visited this country, and maybe you don’t know it as well.

Interesting facts about Iran:

Iran has a rich heritage. The Persian empire was founded around 6 century BC and was one of the largest empires in the world’s history also a global hub of culture, religion, science, art and technology. Persian scientists contributed to the current understanding of nature, medicine, mathematics, philosophy, architecture, astrology and many more. They used water management system, fridges, batteries, wind power machines long before many other cultures. The most famous scientists are Kharazmi, Razi, Avicenna.

Probably you’ve heard that women have to cover their hair, follow many rules, so you may imagine living there as some horror for woman but in a regular family, they are treated with respect and have their voice. Outside homes it is different and there’s a special police checking if women wear “proper” clothes.

Iranian woman have to cover their hair, and you can see on the streets that many of them make a bun and updo the scarf on it, so basically you can see the whole head, but there’s a scarf hanging so this is how they deal with this rule 😉

Taroff is a big part of Iranian culture, which is an etiquette. Sometimes you may even feel like in a royal palace 😉 Taroff is a consideration for others people’s needs, which is a great thing but sometimes lead to lack of balance and assertiveness, like you are doing something you don’t want but it is polite thing to do, or you are standing in the doors with another person and you are both saying “after you”, “no, thank you, after you”…or someone is offering you a chocolate and you politely say “no, thank you”, and this person keeps repeating until you can’t take it any longer and eat this delicious piece of chocolate 😉

Do you know that original Persian religion is Zoroastrianism? It is one of the oldest registered monotheistic religions from around 15 century BC (!) continued to this day. Islam was imposed after Arabic invasion in 7th century AD.

Most of the Iranian people are very sad about the political situation and would love to live in a peaceful, liberal country.

Traveling across the country I felt safe, welcomed and all the locals I met on my way, were very very friendly.

Persia is known for advanced architecture, which is also very symmetric and looks interesting.

Internet in Iran has been limited for many years, and Social Media are banned, yet politicians Twit on a daily basis. 

In Iran every women have to cover hair and wear long, loose clothes.
In the ’70s, before the revolution, there was no requirements like this and we can still see picture on the Internet with women wearing a bikini at the beach. 

There are gates for men and women in many public places like airports, and it could be hard to get used to it, and you might find yourself many time standing with your boyfriend in the line and you are excused to take the other line 😉

Persian New Year is at the begging of spring and the year is also different. 

Iran is the cradle of saffron, known as the red gold, the most expensive spice in the world. So precious that it even triggered the war (1374 in central Europe).
It’s better than the one you can buy in Europe. 
Saffron are ‘threads’, plucked from crocus flowers and dried.
In Iran I’ve learned to pour the saffron in the water before food preparation, and also to make saffron tea with smashed pieces of saffron making a golden color of water with lime or lemon. You can add crystals of sugar. 

Espand, Esphand, aspand, spand, wild rue, or the scientific name Peganum harmala is meant to be smudged in the room to cleanse it from the negative energies, and the evil eye. This tradition dates back to the Zoroastrianism times.

Malvina Dunder with love to planet Earth. Travel adventures & conscoius living. Blog podróżniczy, świadome życie, z miłości do planety Ziemi
Books e-books, Malvina Dunder, książki, ebook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s