A visit to Shiraz is not complete if you don't visit Persepolis, or - in modern Farsi - Takht-e Jamshid. It takes about 60-90 minutes to drive out there and the ruins of the former ceremonial capital of the Achaemenians Empire are truly stunning. The palaces and bas reliefs are amazing, though some of them have been restored in a dubious way - but this is more for the purists.
A visit to Persepolis can normally be combined with a visit to two lesser archaeological sites, which are just as interesting as Persepolis itself: Naghsh-e-Rajab and Nagsh-e-Rostam, which are both only a few minutes drive away.
Another possibility is to extend your visit to the Achaemenian city of Pasargadae, which I heard is even more interesting than Persepolis. However it is still about 90 drives from Persepolis, which will make for a very long day.
The best way to visit these sites is to rent a taxi for the day, to have all the flexibility that you need... After all taxis are very cheap in Iran. You can also join guided day tours, which are cheaper; but if you are travelling with 2 or 3 people, the price difference will be insignificant.
The grape vines of Shiraz have been exported all over the world to start winemaking industries in places as diverse as South Africa and California. The Shiraz or Syrah variety of grape is famous throughout the world.
The only problem is that in Shiraz itself, since the Islamic Revolution, the great winemaking vineyards of the Shiraz valley have been abandoned.
Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire (Achaemenid Empire). It is a complex of palaces built on a stone terrace, 14 metres above the surrounding plain. Work with Persepolis begun around 518 BC, when Darius I was king, and it was added to during the next 150 years.
Especially during the New Year celebrations (Noruz) delegates from all over the empire came to Persepolis to pay homage to the kings. As Persepolis was more for ceremonial use the kings did not stay here all year round, but spent much time in their palaces in other cities.
The glory of Persepolis came to an end when it was occupied by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. Alexander plundered the city of all its treasures and he burned it down (it is not known if that was an accident or not).
Persepolis is an Unesco World Heritage Site and it really deserves it. It is one of the best surviving masterpieces of the Ancient Near East. For centuries the city was covered with sand and not until 1930 largely excavated. The quality of the many stone reliefs, almost 2500 years, old are magnificent
Persepolis is situated 53 km north east of Shiraz.
Qal’eh-e Doktar (also spelled Ghal’eh Dokhtar) is situated on top of a hill near the Shiraz - Firuz Abad road, about 6 km before Firuz Abad. Qal’eh-e Doktar means Maiden’s Palace and the castle was probably dedicated to the Goddess Anahita. It was built by the Sassanian king Ardeshir I in AD 209.
From the main road there are steps and a path leading up to the palace. Once there was a chairlift as some rusty remains can be seen. When I visited in July it was very hot and absolutely essential to drink a lot of water to climb up. But it worth the effort, to see the palace and the view from the top.
Arriving to the palace you enter through a tall gateway in a rectangular tower, and from there a staircase leads up to a hall above. The palace was built in three storeys. Now it looks like what remains can fall down any minute. There was scaffoldings at some places but no work seemed to go on at the moment (maybe just because the season was too hot).
When we walked down the stairs in one of the towers my guide pointed to the roof and there it was full of sleeping bats. Not a place where I would like to be when they are awake.
Naqsh-e Rajab is a small site 3 km north of Persepolis, and it is near to Naqsh-e Rostam as well. Here you will find four early Sassanian bas-reliefs, which are important cultural remains. In the reliefs are motifs from the lives of Ardeshir Baabakaan (who was the founder of Sassanian Dynasty) and Shapur I (a great Sassanian king). One relief shows the coronation of Ardeshir Baabakaan when he receives the ring of kingship from the God Ahuramazda. Inscriptions beside the relief says “The zorastrian faith had died out I, the king of kings, re-established it”. Another relief shows how Shapur I, on horse, receives the ring of kingship.
Entrance fee when I visited was IR 2000 (July 2006).
The site is open till 7pm in summer (5pm in winter).
At the Madrassa-e Khan, you will have the opportunity to meet a mullah. Many of them have been in a cubicle, studying the koran for as much as 15 or 20 years, and are desperate for company.
They are, basically, really nice guys and will really appreciate it if you take a photograph of them and mail them a copy which they can send back home to their familes.
With all those hills and mountains there are lots of places where u can have a view of the city. One is Jomhuri St. But my favorite is Shiraz university. It is up on a hill with the city all around it. Just go in and take the students' bus. It takes u up there. And if u can walk more and go up the stairs to the library, then u can get a better view.
(Photo by Pezhman Ziaian, Shirazi photographer. He has some really nice photoes of Shiraz. I have some of them on my page here ;))
Herb is very popular in Iran. They blend with other stuffs to make natural medicine good for health.