Iran attracts visitors with its beautiful countryside surrounded by captivating mountains, but also by its undoubtedly interesting past. Culture and historical monuments are the main reasons to visit this overlooked country. Especially when you don’t have to fight your way through crowds of tourists. So here is our list of 6 best places to see in Iran.

Iran is historically inherited from Persia, as evidenced by the local language – Persian. It’s the ideal destination for the true adventurers, who love to explore the beauty of a country unspoiled by tourism. Unfortunately, this is slowly changing and more and more travelers are coming to this country. Everybody will surely be surprised by the warmth of the locals who make sure to welcome every visitor. Isolation and the historical development mean that the locals aren’t  yet so jaded. Yet the fact remains that Iran is increasingly opening up to the world and Western culture.

eva_profilBefore you go to Iran, you should be familiar with the local dress code. That applies to both women and men. If you are a woman, you will have to adapt to the local style of dressing, which is much stricter. It’s important to have your hair covered with a scarf and to wear only loose fitting clothes. In spite of the strict dress code, Iranian women like to beautify themselves. The shops are full of cosmetics, dresses, handbags, and shoes. There is a growing influence of the Western culture, which is also noticeable by the way the women are pushing their scarves further and further back on their heads.

It’s good to know when to visit this country. Perhaps the ideal weather is in the spring when the temperature is quite pleasant. Make sure you find out on what days is the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, or you’ll miss out on a lot of Iranian cuisines and that would be a shame.

1. Persepolis – Ancient Town

Persepolis was an important metropolis of the Persian Empire during the reign of the Achammen Dynasty. Historians believe it was built around 500 BC. The main element of the ancient city is the vast palace complex, which was built on an artificial terrace. Persepolis was destroyed in 330 BC by Alexander the Great. He wanted to avenge the destruction of Athens, and the city burned during the Greco-Persian wars.

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Persepolis is a very significant monument of the whole Iran

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Very impressive details have been preserved until nowadays

About 12 kilometers from Persepolis you’ll find Naqsh-e Rustam, an ancient necropolis – a burial ground. It is famous for its remarkable reliefs carved into the rock. In front of the rock stands a twelve-meter tower; even today, scientists are still not sure what its function was. Apparently, it may have served religious purposes. The entire complex is a UNESCO world heritage site and tourist shouldn’t  miss seeing this incredible place.

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The ancient tombs in the rocks create a mysterious atmosphere

2. Pink Mosque Nasir al Mulk  

This beautiful building is often nicknamed Pink Mosque for two reasons. The Nasir al Mulk mosque was built in the center of Iran’s Shiraz, where the conditions for growing roses are excellent so there really are many. Another reason is the pink mosaic tile, which is supposed to resemble the sunrise and sunset. Perhaps the most beautiful is the interior windows, which contain colorful stained glass. Each of them is decorated with the completely different motif. The most impressive are the windows on the east side. If you plan your visit properly and arrive here in the morning just after sunrise, you will be able to admire the beautiful splashes of colors and lights on the walls of the mosque.

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Colorful stained glass are the dominant feature of the Pink Mosque

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Best time for visitng the mosque is in the morning for the light

eva_profilWhat is truly worth mentioning are the Persian Gardens. The former inhabitants of Persia faced harsh conditions that include deserts and huge temperature fluctuations. Therefore, the gardens became a symbol of paradise, as they were the only greenery far away and they sharply contrast with the surrounding landscape. Most of them are surrounded by high walls and they are completely dependent on artificial irrigation. There is usually a water reservoir and ornamental plant beds require their geometric order in the middle of gardens. If you are in Shiraz, don’t  miss the Bagh-e Eram Garden, one of the largest and most beautiful in Iran.

3. Abyaneh – a historic village in the grip of the mountains

This reddish village is one of the most popular places in Iran. Historians believe it was founded more than 2,000 years ago. This unique place is, in fact, a living museum where time has stopped. Every visitor can admire the beauty of the ancient village, where people still live today. The houses are built with red clay with richly carved doors, which are decorated with two different knockers, one for women and the other for men. The picturesque village is surrounded by mountains that are usually covered by snow in winter and so the visitor can enjoy a magnificent view of the red village in the grip of white snow-covered mountains.

It hasn’t been clear yet how long the local people can live in these difficult conditions. Most young Iranians move to big cities where they can work and have an easier life. Yet this place is unique and remains a protected cultural heritage of Iran.

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View of a thousands years old village in the mountains

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A visit to the village is like a trip into the past

4. The Shah Royal Mosque

This beautiful blue mosque was built in 1612-1637 for the Shāh Abbās I of Persia. It is located in the city of Isfahan, which was at the capital of the country at that time. The entire mosque is a masterpiece of Persian architecture, and the building is designed to portray paradise, as the Quran describes it. The Shah Royal Mosque was built in one of the corners of the large Naqsh-e Jahan Square, which dominates Isfahan. This huge square had an important role in the past. It was used for military parades, public executions and is currently being used for various promenades. In each of its four corners stands a significant building. Both the Shah Mosque and the square are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites.

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The beautiful blue mosque shows paradise, as the Quran sees it

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Shah Mosque is the top of Persian architecture

5. Borj e Āzādi the Freedom Tower in Tehran

If you visit Iran, don’t forget to visit its capital – Tehran. The Concrete City, which lies in the middle of the mountains. Tehran is a major center of the whole of Iran and enjoys a great boom. A typical dominant of the whole city is the Borj e Āzādi, also nicknamed the Freedom Tower. It was built in 1971 on the anniversary of the Persian Empire 2,500 years ago. The tower symbolizes the gateway to modern Tehran and became a symbol of the city. The entire building has a height of 50 meters and the facade is made of white marble. Inside the monument, visitors can explore a museum that recalls the extensive history of Iran. Though Tehran cannot offer ancient sights like some other places, visiting it is a cultural experience. The city has plenty of museums, cultural centers and palace complexes.

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The modern structure sharply contrasts with the historic architecture

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The tower offers for visitors a tour of the museum

6. Amir Chakhmaq Complex – Three-Storey Mosque

Amir Chakhmaq Complex is very interesting and it stands on the square with the same name. It is known for its three-story building. Each floor is decorated with perfectly spaced alcoves of round shape. In the middle of the main building, there are two slender minarets standing upright. However, only the first floor of the Mosque is accessible. The building is the most beautiful during sunset when the alcoves are lit by the pink glow of the sun, creating breathtaking plays of color and light on the facade of the building. Evening visitors will be thrilled as well, as they will be able to admire the romantic square with magically lit fountain and the Amir Chakhmaq mosque in the background.

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The three-story mosque is a very original building

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The most beautiful view on the mosque is in the evening hours

We would like to give our most sincere thanks to Štefan Janeček, who provided us with the photographs of his trip to Iran. It was a great help.

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Iran Travel Guide| What to see in Iran | must-see places | Best thinks to see in Iran | Best of Iran
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