Day 2 and Guide Number 2 - Majid, who was to be with me for the next 6 days.
After breakfast, I checked out of Hotel Mashad, and we set off through Tehrans 'rush hour' traffic, heading for Qazvin, Masouleh and Rasht, before reaching Bandar-e- Anzali, where we were to stay for the next 2 nights.
Qazvin is well worth visiting, to see the stunning tilework of the Friday (Jameh) Mosque, the 3 gates of Rah Kushk, Ali Qapu and Tehran, Chehel Sotun Palace, and my favourite, the OTT Imamzadeh-ye-Hossein. (Please visit my Qazvin pages for more info and photos)
Qazvins other attractions include its bazaar and caravanserai, cisterns and Hammams, churches, mosques, shrines and historical houses.
The city dates back to the 3rd century BC, when Shapur 1, the Sassanid King ruled. It developed due to its fertile soil, making it a centre of agriculture. Fruit- particularly seedless grapes, nuts, wheat, cotton are its main crops. Sheep provide wool for the clothing and carpet industry, as well as their meat for food production. Many flour, wool and cotton mills, textile producers, clothing factories and electrical goods factories are established in Qazvin city and its Province.
Qazvins other 'claim to fame' is its non- PC 'joke' that the men of this city are all predatory homosexuals. I'd read this in my guide book, and in other travel articles, where guides or visitors from outside Qazvin had mimed limp wrist , or bending down movements to emphasise their point!
Majid just said that it's a joke in Iran, that the men here seemed to prefer the men to the women.
The men of other cities don't escape lightly - Those from Rasht - our next destination, were seen as 'sexually liberal and constant cuckolds!! So perhaps THAT'S the reason why Majid drove through without stopping!
Majid had suggested that it might be better to alter the planned itinarary. Instead of going to Masuleh today, we'd drive to Bandar-e- Anzali, then go tomorrow, when we'd have more time. I was quite happy with this idea.
We left Qazvin behind, after lunch at the Iran Hotel (Chelo Kabab (mince meat), salad, yogurt, Fanta and cay) in a north westerly direction heading towards Rudbar
Persepolis was a huge complex of palacies and tombs that was only build after 150 years since it started. It was the centre of the Persian Empire and the house of ancient Achaemenid Empire. This was a very victorious Empire and you can see many sculptures and engravings that still today resist to show us the rich hitory of this place.
You can notice many palacies that have many columns still standing after lots of restauration.
Persepolis was burn down by Alexander the Great in 331BC some historians say in retaliation of Xerxes burning Athens.
You have in the area, at least 2 huge tombs, the Tomb of Darius and the tombs of Xerxes which consist in this big monument carved on the hill facade with at least 20 metres high.
Persepolis is a must to visit while coming to Iran. Altough you'll find lots of tourists, even lots of Iranian tourists, you still have to consider spending a couple of hours or a whole half day in this complex.
The ticket cost 1700 Iranian Rials.
In the picture I show the Big Ancient Gate of Persepolis.
Prices of transportation to Persepolis from Marv Dersh:
taxi Marv Dersh-->Persepolis=3000Rials (they will ask you for 10000/20000, but you have to know how to deal this. Locals pay 1500/2000 so 3000 will be a good deal for them.
Although Tehran has much of modern historical interest, in the oldest (and poorest) area of the city, South of Jomhuri - ye- Eslami Avenue are some of Tehrans best museums and the Golestan Palace complex.
I enjoyed visiting this old Qajar Palace and garden, even though not all of its buildings were open. I was particularly impressed by the tiled pictures outside the Shams - al Emarat, the Photography museum, with its fascinating Black and White photos depicting life in Tehran in the early 1900s, and the Marble throne ( Please see my Tehran page for more tips and photos of the Golestan Palace)
I'm afraid that I didn't get chance to see more of Tehrans museums, or the bazaar - Hopefully one day I will!
Below are some of the places that I hope to visit next time!
Tehrans Bazaarstretches over an area of 10 kilometres, with a maze of streets and Alleys. This 'city within a city' contains not just hundreds of shops, but also mosques, banks, guesthouses, offices and a fire station!
Carpets, copperware, spices, gold and paper have been traded here over the centuries. This is also the place for buying 'fake designer' clothing and accessories.
National Museum of Iran -includes some artifacts excavated at Persepolis. I was hoping to visit to see the 'Salt Man' - a miner preserved in salt from the 3rd or 4th Century!!
National Jewels Museum - Tehrans most visited museum - probably! Guided tour included in ticket price. The Darya-ye-Nur or Sea of Light is its big attraction - A 182 carat pink diamond - the largest uncut diamond in the world!
Aban Museum - former stable building of the Shah. Life size bronze statues by renowned sculptor, Seyed Ali Akbar -e-San'ati
Malek National Museum and Library - 19th Century Paintings by Kamal -oL- Molk, furnishings, miniatures and coins
Glass and Ceramics Museum - Qajar era building, Apparently this is one of the best museums in Iran.
Museum of The Islamic Period - 2 floors of Islamic arts - Carpets, calligraphy, painted miniatures, textiles, wood and stone carvings etc
Carpet Museum - Near Park-e-Laleh and the Museum of Contemporary Art (See my Tehran page). Over 100 carpets from Iran dating from the 16th to 21st Centuries.
Bandar eBas Southern city cost with the Persian Gulf is a very humid city and has not many interesting things to see in terms of historical places but for sure that comunicating with locals and try to visit some areas around of the city will make a very pleasant place. All along the coast of The Gulf are little ancient settlemts from the 16th century made by european sailors.
This city is 1484 km far from Tehran.
This is one of the most beautiful mosques I've ever seen. Its called the indian mosque due to the importance of this city in the Indian Impire extensian made by several european settlers like the Portuguese, English and Dutch.
We were now in Gilan province, Manjil was our next stop and I was ready to stretch my legs.
Even before arriving here, I could see one of the things that Manjil is famed for - its wind turbines. I'm not sure how many there were - quite a few though! As we got out of the car, I could hear the huge blades whirring. I know there is quite a lot of opposition to 'Wind Farms' in the UK, but I personally find the movement and sound to be quite relaxing, I don't think the turbines are unattractive either.
Manjil is known as Irans Windy City - Its position is at a cleft in the Alborz Mountain range, where wind is funnelled through Manjil to the plains of Qazvin Province
Manjil sits besides the Sefirud (Sefi Rood = White River) Lake and dam.
It appeared to be a small sleepy village when we visited on a Tuesday afternoon, but judgeing by the plastic statues, fun seating and wide pavements, I should imagine that on Fridays and public holidays, the town is visited by families coming here to sit beside the water and picnic, or walk along the lakeside.
There was a notice board near the lake (in Farsi). Majid explained it was warning people not to swim in the lake.
Majid also mentioned that there had been an earthquake here in 1990 -
It wasn't until I was writing this tip, and trying to find out more about Manjil, that I realised how catastrophic this had been.
The earthquake was at 2100 hours on the 21st June, it measured 7.3 - 7.7 and was known as the Iran earthquake of 1990, or the Manjil - Rudbar Earthquake.
It had devastating effects on an area over 100 km from its epicentre near Rasht.
40,000 people died, mainly as a result of their mud houses collapsing (over 100,000 adobe houses collapsed or suffered major damage - resulting in 500,000 people made homeless)and 60,000 were injured.
Manjil, Rudbar and Lushan were the cities affected - as well as 700 villages, with over 7 million US dollars cost of damage.
I'm quite ashamed that I have no recollection of reading in the newsapers or seeing this on the news. Also, that a place I'd dismissed as a 'sleepy village' was as a result of the tragedy, where most buildings were destroyed, and its people were killed, or were forced to move away as they had nowhere to live
I'm not sure how many of Manjils population perished, but I read of one man who lost 27 members of his family. The few shops were the brave start of a new town.
I had been puzzled as to why such a scenic area with its lake and mountains hadn't developed as a town, as usually settlements start where there is water - now I know.
Shiraz is the city of poets and gardens. Two of the most famous Persian poets, Hafez and Saadi, have their tombs here in pleasant gardens. There are many more gardens, beautiful and calm places to stroll around in.
During the Zand dynasty, AD 1747 - 79, Shiraz was the capital of Iran and at that time many of the fine buildings in Shiraz were built. Shiraz have an atmospheric bazaar and many nice mosques.
Shiraz is situated in a valley at an elevation of 1491 metres above sea level and it is the capital of Fars province. It has a population of 1 200 000. Around in Fars province there are many interesting historical sites to visit, like Persepolis, Pasargadae, Qal’eh Doktar and many more.
I was lucky to meet Ayshe from Shiraz, and her husband, when I was on Kish Island. When I came to Shiraz I called her and she was kind to take me around and show me the city. She is a great friend!
Leaving Manjil, we continued on towards Bandar-e-Anzali. I was reading my LP guide to Majid, about Manjil, and places of interest on the way to Anzali. One of these was the Imamzadeh Hashem.
Before we reached this shrine, I saw a sight that surprised me - a rice paddy, with a row of women working - now firstly, for some reason I hadn't connected Iran with rice growing -
Honestly, the amount of boiled rice I'd already consumed in 2 days should have been a bit of a clue! and secondly, for a brief minute, I was doubting where I was - China? Vietnam? Cambodia?
Majid explained that the rice grown in Iran wasn't enough, so they had to import from other countries.
We continued on our way, along the Qazvin -Rasht Highway (passing Rodbar, which we'd return to later), stopping off at the shrine of Hashem. To reach this we had to cross a bridge over the busy main road and pass some stalls. (pic 2) Majid disappeared into one shop, and returned with the owner, who then proceeded to examine some plastic bags, which I soon found out contained a delicacy known as lavashak - Fruit that has been pulped, then laid in thin layers to dry. Majid had selected a mixed fruit flavour. This was the first of many Lavashak fixes!
Fortified, we climbed the steps leading towards the shrine. We passed a small cemetery, which I saw had a few martyrs graves.(pic 5).
Majid left me to explore the shrine(pic 3) by myself, while he waited outside (with the lavashak!) I had a quick peep into the shrine (which I can't really remember much about) . I was quite impressed with the building itself though, particularly the columns with marble 'donut like' bases (pic 4
We headed back to the car, chewing lavashak!
This is a very nice Island right in the middle of the Persian Gulf and The Oman Gulf. This Island can be reached by a 45 minute taxi/boat ride that will be an adventure from the start. This little boats take up to 10 people into the water with sharks...hum...
One of the attractions in this Island is the Sand/rock constructions in the west part of the Island and in the City of Qeshm you can see the ancient Portuguese castle from 1514.
My travel here was a bit with suffering as the temperatures in beggining AUgust were very high, and 8:30am i already was with 45º celcius and 80% of humidity.
From one side of the island you can see the green water and in the other side you have blue water, in one side you have sharks and in the other dolphins, cold and warm water. Very interesting. I swam in the water and didnt want to go further into the sea shore cos i didnt want to get bitten by sharks. Also apart from sharks there are other type of animals that can irritate your skin and bite you feet, inside the water. The normal water temperature in the Summer is from 35º to 44º. Like boiling water.
Approaching Bandar-e-Anzali, (formerly known as Enzeli) I could see black flags displayed. Majid explained they were for Fatima- to commemorate the anniversary of her death - Fatima is the daughter of the prophet Mohammed- the mourning period is for 40 days, so I was to see a lot of black flags during my trip.
Bandar-e-Anzali looked quite a busy town. Bandar means port, so this was the port of Anzali.
We arrived at The Iran Hotel, and I was pleased to find I had a room with a balcony overlooking the water. I was looking forward to spending time exploring the town and its surrounds
Anzali was mainly developed by Russians, who dominated trading in the Caspian, in 1800. Towards the end of the 19th century, the harbour was developed for The Caspian and Mercury Mail-Steamship Company! It is the only major port of the southern coastline. it is also the only Iranian Caspian town with a promenade
There are few buildings left from this era.
Caviar processing is one of Anzalis industries - though I didn't see any caviar - its all for export. It is also recognised as a resort town, with visitors from around Iran and further afield
After a quick shower, I met Majid. It was too early to eat, so we went for a walk along the promenade. He stopped to check out prices with a fisherman, who was untangling small fish from a net, for tomorrows boat trip to the nearby lagoon. The fisherman had asked Majid where I was from - his brother lived in Manchester. As we left he shouted 'Good-bye' I had been trying to learn some Farsi during the car journey, and replied Khoda Hafez - Great! so now I could say Hello, Goodbye, Yes, No, Please, Thank You - Hmmm, not going to get too far with that.
We continued walking along the promenade, past teahouses, and small groups of locals, sitting chatting, eating ice creams, or putting the world to right! Quite a few people shouted 'Hello' to me, or asked where I was from. At the end of the promenade, we climbed upto a wall, lined with men fishing. Some had buckets with a few small fishes that they'd caught.
After a while enjoying the sun setting, we headed back. I was getting hungry, so we went in search of our evening meal - Kebab and rice?
Esfahan nesf-é jahan or Esfahan is half of the world was usually said back 16th century to relate word to its magnificiency. In fact for me, while traveling in this country enjoyed it very much due to its relaxed ambience that I could find has much in the rushy streets of other cities I visited. Iremember I walked very much all around the city and enjoyed it very much.
A must in the city is the Emam Square, one of the largest town squares in the world and a place where you will have to drink tea in one of the square tea houses and enjoy the amazing view of theis wonderful square considered by some the most beautiful in the whole world. This is the square I have on the picture above.
Other nice attraction in the city is the medieval bridge and other nice parks.
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).
There are many beautiful parks in Shiraz and one of the most famous ones is Eram Park.
Bagh-e Eram means Garden of Paradise. It is a large beautiful garden, a Botanical Garden, in the northwest part of Shiraz. It is famous for its tall cypresses that are standing in long lines. You can easily walk around here a couple of hours looking at all the different species of plants.
By a pool in the middle of Eram Garden there is a 19th century Qajar palace, Kakh-e Eram. It is a fine example of Qajari Architecture, but can only be admired from the outside, as it is not open for visitors. The house is assigned to the Faculty of Law of the University of Shiraz.
I guess the entrance fee for foreigners is much higher to Eram Park than to the others. My friends didn’t want to tell me the price but I could see they got surprised.
In summers the park closes at 7 pm.
Leaving the rice paddies behind, we continued on our journey, towards Masuleh. From the car I'd spotted a small river running alongside the road. We pulled up, and could see a few houses across the river. We had a short walk, looking at the buildings, which were coated with mud.
They appeared to have been constructed from tree trunks, laid horizontally, with mud and straw packed in between the trunks, then the outer wall was coated with mud. (pics 1, 2 and 3)
Around the buildings, a few chickens and baby chicks were seen to be scratching for food.
At the side of the river, were quite a few colourful bee hives (pic 5). Although we didn't see anyone here, there was the smell of charcoal burning, and cooking smells drifting in the air.
Near to the roadside was a shop, (pic 4) we thought it was closed, but after a few minutes, a woman appeared and opened the door. We bought chilled cans of lemon beer (out of date, but ok!) from her.
While I was standing outside the shop, a teenage girl had appeared with a toddler dressed in a red romper suit, and a red pom pom hat, who she walked backwards and forwards, without acknowledging our presence. I had the feeling she was a bit afraid of us.
We drank our non alcoholic beers, and returned to the car to continue to Masuleh.
Prior to my trip VTer Bashir-1 had sent me photos of Masuleh from his visit, so I was pleased to see this was on my itinarary- I was looking forward to visiting this place.
Shiraz standed in my trip, between Bandar Abbas and the Persian Gulf and Esfahan. As I had to stop here to go to Persepolis Ancient city, I discover it to have very nice things that would make my staying very nice.
Its big main Bazaar is a must and I actually spend lots of money in some big panel made of cloth hand made ones and some scarfs.
Shiraz was one of the important cities in the medieval Islamic world for Iran and was actually the Iranian capital during the Zand dynasty between 1747 and 1779.
Nowadays it head of state city ambiance was lost but still some castles can be seen and big avenues can be enjoyes I think. I remember walking a lot in this city also.
Alborz, also written as Alburz or Elburz is a mountain range in northern Iran stretching from the borders of Armenia in the northwest to the southern end of the Caspian Sea, and ending in the east at the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.
In Russian transcription we call it Elburz and we often confuse it with the Elbrus which is a volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia. Their names are very similar but the name of Elbrus is many times popular in Russia than the name of Elburz. Only people who learnt geography well in their childhood and people who ever were in Iran know the difference.
The Elburz mountain range forms a barrier between the south Caspian and the Qazvin-Tehran plateau. It is 60-130 km wide and I was lucky to see this beautiful mountains with my own eyes out of airplane windows.
More Regions in Iran