10 tourist attractions in Iran you didn’t think existed
It’s not all radical governing and social restrictions
You rarely find positive outlooks in the media when it comes to Iran. Today, it’s mostly known for its controversial government, strict policy, and social restrictions. But there is another side to Iran that holds within it thousands of years of colourful culture and rich heritage.
\nTo bring that side to light, we look at 10 touristic attractions in Iran that many didn’t think existed.
1. Eram Garden and Qavam House: Spain’s Al Hambra gardens may be more famous than Iran’s, but according to the history of architecture, they were inspired by Persian gardens. One of Iran’s most popular gardens is Eram, or Baq e Eram. Located in Shiraz, the garden and its surrounding building, Qavam House, are thought to be built by the Qashqai Pars tribes in the thirteenth century. They have undergone several renovations by different empires and today stand as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Qavam House contains 32 rooms of which the walls are decorated with poems from the famed Iranian poet Hafez. 2. Golastan Palace: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Golestan Palace was built in Iran’s capital, Tehran, by the Qajar Dynasty. It is part of 17 building including other palaces, museums, and halls. It is especially known for its Marble throne, ordered by one of the Qajar Kings, and Diamond Hall, a room decorated in mirrors which resemble diamonds. The complex entails countless historical artefacts including a hall dedicated to rare gifts presented to the Qajar Kings and other Persian rulers. 3. Sa’d Abad Complex: Another royal complex-now turned museum, the Sa’d Abad is stretched across 104 hectares of mountainside parkland. It acted as a royal summer home during Iran’s last Shah’s period, the Pahlavi period. In total, it has 18 buildings showcasing everything from royal automobiles and miniature paintings. It’s most famous for its Mirror Hall, a room decorated almost entirely of mirrors. 4. Dizin Ski Resort: No, this is not Switzerland. It’s Iran – specifically, Dizin. But before I start talking about Iran’s largest ski resort, let me mention that the ski season in Dizin lasts longer than the one in most European ski resorts – from mid-November to May – because of its height. In fact, its highest ski lift is 11, 800 ft, one of the highest 40 in the world. Dizin is located in the Alborz mountain range near Tehran and entails cottages, hotels, villas, private residences, and restaurants. 5. National Jewellery Treasury: Also known as the Jewellery Museum, this attraction houses a collection of crowns, tiaras, swords and other bejewelled items encrusted in thousands of precious gems. The latter were collected by the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century in a bit to showcase the glory of the countries’ past, present, and future rulers. 6. Persepolis: Meaning “city of Persians” in Iranian, Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire which existed from 330 to 550 BC. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in Shiraz, Iran. Considering it’s one of the world’s longest withstanding monuments, it’s definitely a must see. 7. Naqsh-e Jahan Sqaure: Formely known as Shah Square, Naqsh-e Jahan is 964,000 square feet. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and entails the Shah Mosque and Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, Iran’s largest mosque - as well as Isfahan’s Grand Bazaar. The square is known mostly for Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, which was built by Shah Abbas, of the Safavid Empire, in 1590. Almost every part of the mosque is decorated in hand-made mosaics. 8. Tomb of Hafez: Khwaja Hafez e-Shirazi, known by his pen name, Hafez, was a Persian court poet whose works greatly influenced Persian literature. Though he died in 1390, his writings are still used as proverbs and sayings in modern day Iran. In 1452, Babur Ibn-Baysunkur, a Timurid Empire governor, ordered a dome-like structure near Hafez’ grave in his memory. The structure and Hafez’ grave are located in the Musalla Gardens, gardens which he featured in his poetry. 9. Grand Bazaar: Iran’s Grand Bazaar, a historical market in Tehran, is definitely a must-see for tourists. Split into several corridors over 10 kilometres, it contains everything from gold to spices to carpets. The latter being the most interesting as the country is known for its Persian carpets. Bazaar-like construction is said to have started in Iran from as far back as 4,000 BC. 10. Kish Island: You didn’t think Iran had resort islands, did you? But it does – and one of them is Kish. In 2010, it was named among 10 of the world’s most beautiful islands by The New York Times. Kish is known for its free trade zone status, sandy beaches, and tourist attractions like scuba diving, jet skiing, and dolphin parks.