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Travels in Iran – Shiraz

Travels in Iran – Shiraz

To get to Iran I flew to Shiraz via Doha with Qatar airlines. Whilst queuing in the aisle to get off the plane I had my first experience of Iranian hospitality. An Iranian couple welcomed me to Iran and began chatting to me. The woman then gave me their telephone number and told me to ring her if I had any problems and they would help.

Shiraz, Iran

Going through Immigration

I must say I was a little apprehensive of going through immigration. I thought that I may get a bit of a grilling being British and had my headscarf covering all my hair and tied very tightly so it didn’t fall off. I needn’t have worried. Immigration and customs only took 10 minutes and what I got was a smile and a welcome to Iran.

My Hotel

It was the early hours of the morning so time for some sleep. Breakfast definitely rejuvenated me. I’m staying in a lovely traditional hotel. It was lovely to eat outside with a feast of delicious treats, eggs, potato and onions, fresh fruit, honey, home made jams, cheese, salad, pancakes, pastries. There were also date biscuits that reminded me of fig rolls from when I was a kid.

my hotel in Shiraz, Iran

Nasir – ol – molk Mosque

Shiraz is an interesting city in itself but it also the gateway to Persepolis. The first visit this morning was to the Nasir – ol – molk Mosque. It is best to get here early, to avoid the crowds but also to see the morning sunlight streaming through the stained glass reflecting a rainbow of colours onto the floor and walls.

Nasir - ol - molk mosque


The mosque is also renown for it’s beautiful tile work.


Iran used to be called Persia and is the second oldest civilisation on earth. Next stop was somewhere I’d dreamed of visiting since I was a child, Persepolis. Persepolis was the capital of the Persian empire and its name means ‘City of Persians’. It was begun by King Cyrus the Great in the 6th century. It’s incredible to think that original ruins still exist from that time. They sit about 70kms outside of Shiraz.

Persepolis is also renown for its amazing bas reliefs. Some show dignitaries from many different countries bringing offerings. It must have been an incredible time. The 1st charter of human rights was also written here. Called the ‘Cyrus Cylinder’ it expressed tolerance for all religions, races and languages. It can be seen in the British Museum.

It is also possible to climb up to the tomb on top of the hill. From here you can get a birdseye view of the city stretching out below and appreciate it’s vastness.

About 12 km outside of Persepolis and also worth a visit is Naqsh – e – Rostam. Here are 4 tombs of Achaemenid kings are carved out of the rock face.

My Impressions of Shiraz

My impressions of Shiraz and Iran today were of how extremely friendly it was and very laid back. I had so many people wanting to shake my hand today and say ‘welcome to Shiraz’.

Shahcheragh Shrine

Tonight we visited the Shahcheragh Shrine, an impressive building with a lot of bling. To enter I had to cover up in something which resembled a continental quilt. Unfortunately mine was a tad too big so I had to hold it up so I didn’t keep tripping over it. There are separate entrances for men and women both to the building and to the prayer room. The men’s entrance to the prayer room was a magnificent door of gold and silver, the women’s entrance was a plastic sheet. Although we were allowed in one part of the men’s section, I did feel a little intrusive as people were praying. It is an important time in the religious calendar here. There is a period of mourning commemorating the death of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed 1,300 years ago culminating on the date of his death. Lots of black clothing is worn, black flags fly outside the mosques and people share food.

We had a guide to show us round, a very ardent young women.

The night was topped off by more fabulous food and washed down with an infusion that allegedly helps insomnia, I’ve had about 4 hours sleep over the last 2 days so it was worth a go. A local deaf group were putting on a performance, they danced with their hands and it was very beautiful. It’s been a fabulous day and a warm welcome to Iran.

Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz

Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz was built in 11th century and is said to be the most beautiful bazaar in Iran. It is a delight to the senses, full of colour and fragrant smells. It is a fabulous, inexpensive places to shop. It is full of herbs and spices, sweets, brightly coloured fabrics, carpets and copper ware. There are also many traditional coffee shops and restaurants should you need a break from shopping.

At the entrance to the Bazaar lies the gold quarter.

Also worth a visit is the Arg – e -Karim Khan, a citadel which now houses a museum and is surrounded by a public park.

Visiting a Beauty Salon

I returned to Shiraz for one last afternoon and evening before my flight in the early hours of tomorrow morning. This afternoon we visited a beauty salon. I know that after the revolution beauty salons were surreptitiously opened in basements of houses and imagined we’d be going to one of those. However, this one was in a luxury hotel.

In the salons it is permissible to remove scarf’s and manteaus. This salon could have been anywhere. As i said before, plastic surgery is becoming big business in Iran and there was plenty of evidence on show here. Lots of nose jobs, boob and bottom jobs, plumped up lips and huge eyebrows. I had a manicure and pedicure, it wasn’t particular good but it was nice to be pampered. The prices were surprising, Iran is very cheap for Westerners, but prices on the salon were on a par with Western prices. There was some extremely revealing and overly tight clothing on display. For obvious reasons we couldn’t photograph this.

I was chatting to a 23,year old woman. Her parents live in Glasgow where they run an Iranian take-away. She lives in Shiraz with her 30 year old sister.

They also do make up for weddings which takes around an hour to apply.

Dining with a Local Family

My last night in Iran was to be spent dining with a local family. They were a beautiful family with a lovely, elegant house.

As is often the case in Iran the couple with lived the husband’s parents. They all greeted us warmly. As always there was so much amazing food, rice on a bed of potatoes with onions and spices, stew with turkey,split peas and spices, beautiful dips and salads, potatoes with onion,turmeric and curry powder, lentil soup, freshly made bread and stunning deserts. All washed down with chia and rose water, fresh pomegranate juice and a yoghurt drink. Everybody helped.

After dinner we had traditional music played on an old Iranian stringed instrument called a Tar. Followed by beautiful poetry giving matras on life. What a wonderful way to spend my last night in Iran, food, music and poetry.

I stayed at the Forough Boutique Hotel: [email protected]

My Final Thoughts on Shiraz

Shiraz is an interesting city to visit. Iran was warm, welcoming and wonderful and I had an incredible time.


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