The splendid house and gardens of the Naranjestan were built in 1881 for a wealthy Shiraz family. As well the exquisite tiles on the facade and the walls surrounding the gardens, the house is notable for the fine workmanship of the interiors and the stone frieze running around the base that depicts riflemen of the day as well as scenes from Persepolis.
The gardens are laid out in formal Persian style with orange groves (of course -Naranjestan means Orangery), flower beds and ornamental pools and runnels.
The house is now owned by Shiraz University but the main public rooms are open to visitors.
Seyed Amir Ahmad, brother of the Imam Reza, died and was buried in Shiraz in the 8th century, since when his shrine, known as the Shah-e Cheragh (the King of Light) has become a place of pilgrimage. The mausoleum has been rebuilt many times over the centuries and the current building, with its spectacularly beautiful dome, as well as the tomb and the interior mirror work, dates from the 19th century.
Non-Muslims may visit this shrine. Women must wear a chador here, but there is a little kiosk to supply them (clean and pressed) should you not have one.
It's particularly nice to go to the shrine in the early evening when the dome is softly lit from beneath as the light fades.
Shiraz's Vakil (Regent's) Bazaar is generally regarded as the finest bazaar building in Iran. The quality of the brick and tile work is exceptional. It is a maze of brick-vaulted twisting lanes with huge iron-studded wooden doors, full of all the goods of an eastern bazaar. Spices and dates, fabric and ceramics, delicately painted enamels and big copper pots. Many craftsmen still work in the bazaar workshops - metalsmiths and inlaid wood workers, and - of course - carpets and kilims are everywhere.
Fascinating as it is by day, at night the bazaar becomes an Aladdin's cave of colour and light.
The great ruin of Perspolis, symbol of Persian might and power, is an hour's drive from Shiraz. A taxi from the city is probably the best way to get there if you are not with a tour group. It may be possible to get a shared taxi, otherwise take a bus to the nearest town and then a taxi from there.
Whilst it is possible to visit the site in a single day, a return visit (if possible) will repay you greatly in what you will be able to absorb of the complextities of this vast site.
Plan your visit to arrive early in the morning, while it is still cool, and to return late into the afternoon for the best photographs. The site is closed for an hour in the middle of the day. If you avoid Fridays and holidays, you may well have the place virtually to yourself.
There is a restaurant at the site, near the museum.
7km north-west of Persepolis is Naqshe-e Rostam, Iran's "Valley of the Kings", where 4 huge royal tombs are cut in the cliff-face.
Bagh-e Eram, which means the Garden of Paradise, is a lovely place to stroll around in the early morning or late afternoon.
The paths are lined with cypress and orange trees and in between there are ponds bordered with flowers.
This is now a university botanical garden and all of the different species of plants and trees are labelled in English.
The great ruin of Persepolis gives the visitor a glimpse into the world of the ancient Persians that tells of incredible riches and power. Darius 1 began the building of the city - the ceremonial capital of his enormous empire - in the 5th century BC. It took him and his successors 150 years to complete the city, and just a few short days for Alexander the Great to destroy it by fire in 331BC.
What the visitor sees today is the merest remnants of the city - the stone pillars, stairways and doorways of the royal palaces and the buildings connected with the court and, situated at some distance at the foot of the mountain, the treasury. Even if the city had not been burnt, it is probable that little of it would remain today as wood and brick were the main building materials.
The city was raised on a huge platform, looking west to the sunset. The platform then had higher levels, with the royal palace being the highest and it is the monumental staircase with its bas-reliefs of the Nor-rooz (New Year) procession of the imperial guard escorting the king, his nobles and tribute bearers from all over the vast empire rising to the main palace that is the real glory of Persepolis.
Four huge rock-cut tombs, high up on the cliff face at Naqsh-e Rostam, mark the burial sites of four of the Persian Empire's kings of the 4th and 5th centuries BC. The oldest is that of Darius 1, who began the building of nearby Persepolis. The others are the tombs of Darius II, Xerxes and Ataxerxes.
The tombs are all in the form of a cross with a frieze showing the king on his throne surrounded by his court carved along the top. The scale is enormous.
Facing the tombs is a simple stone tower, the Ka'be Zarusht (Zoroaster's Sanctuary) Whilst there is no dispute about the age of this building, no-one really knows what its purpose was - an earlier royal tomb? a fire temple?
The Tomb of the Poet Hafez, also known as Aramgah-e Hafez, stands in a beautiful garden, full of orange trees and flowers. The tomb itself is under a cupola at the centre of the garden and his tombstone is inscribed with two verses of his poetry.
Hafez was born in Shiraz in 1324 and died there in 1391. In his twenties he worked in a bakery and whilst delivering bread saw a beautiful girl with whom he instantly fell in love. Her name was Shakh-e Nabat, and much of his love poetry is devoted to her.
He is renowned as the greatest Persian lyric poet. His real name was Shamseddin Mohammed. Hafez is a name given to someone who has memorised the whole koran by heart, which he did when he was a child.
There is a small shop next to the tomb, where you can buy English translations of
The Saray is a khan at the end of the Vakil Bazaar. It only built in 1871 as a centre for the merchants of the bazaar and replicates the brickwork of the older buildings around it. Now it serves as an annexe to the bazaar and mostly displays and sells handicrafts. The cool, tree-shaded garden with its large pool is an attractive place to stop a while and enjoy a glass of tea.
One of the greatest and most loved Iranian poets is Hafez. He was born in Shiraz, lived his life in the town, and died here in 1389. His mausoleum is a small open octagonal pavilion with a beautiful tiled dome. Under the pavilion is a marble tombstone engraved with verses by the poet. The tomb is situated in a small pleasant garden.
I visited with my friends around sunset and so does many other people. It is nice to stroll around in the garden at this time, or visit the teahouse. There is also a bookshop.
The garden is open 8am - 9.30pm. The entrance fee is IR 3000 (July 2006).
Saadi is another great Iranian poet from Shiraz. He died in 1291 at the age of 100 years. The marble tomb has got inscriptions of verses by Saadi, and so have the walls around. Before Saadi died he asked to have the following inscriptions on his tomb: From the tomb of Saadi, son of Shiraz - The perfume of love escapes - Thou shalt smell it still one thousand years after his death.
The park around the tomb is pleasant with a fishpond and a underground teahouse.
Saadi tomb is situated several kilometres from the city centre. I visited together with my friends who have a car, but you can also go there with bus No 2 from the city centre.
Entranse fee is IR 3000 (July 2006).
Hafez (1324-1391), who was born and died in Shiraz, is regarded as Iran's greatest lyrical poet and, like Sa'adi, his tomb and the gardens surrounding it are much visited by Iranians and tourists alike.
The poet's tombstone, which lies sheltered by a tiled cupola, dates from the time of Karim Khan though the cupola itself was rebuilt in 1936. The interior of the cupola is decorated with a particularly fine mosaic of tiles.
A volume of Hafez's Ghazals is kept near the tomb for those who wish to take an omen by choosing a page at random.
Madrassa-e Khan is the theological school in Iran where you are most likely to meet a mullah.
The theological school was founded in 1615. The building and the garden in the courtyard are quite beautiful. The trainee mullahs live in very simple, one-roomed apartments and may study the koran for 10 or 20 years before they feel they are ready to impart their knowledge at a mosque.
The Masjed-e -Vakil (the Vakil mosque) is a mosque encased in a garden - the tiles that cover the building are a stunning mix of flowers and foliage in a style that is uniquely Shirazi. Bands of blue and white Kufic script and barley-sugar twist borders of yellow and blue combine with intricately moulded and tiled pillars to create a unique blend of colour and charm.
The building itself has two beautiful, soaring iwans facing each other across the courtyard, the shape of which is echoed in the alcoves around the court. The large winter prayer hall is supported by a forest of fluted columns.
Sa'adi (1209-1291) is one of Iran's most beloved poets. A great traveller - he travelled in the Middle East, India and North Africa and was, for a while, prisoner of the Crusaders -he died in Shiraz where his shrine has been a place of pilgrimage now for centuries.
The tomb we see today was only built in the 1950s, replacing a much older building. It is a modern interpretation of the traditional Iranian tall-columned portico, pink marble in this instance. The poet lies in a simple marble tomb under the turquoise dome in a light-filled room that glows with beautiful tiled panels.
There are lovely gardens surrounding the tomb and a colonnaded walk that leads to a sunken court.