Shiraz is the sixth most populous city of Iran and the capital of Fars Province. Being one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia, Shiraz is home to splendid gardens, tombs of famous poets’, exquisite mosques and ancient sophisticated ruins.
“How beautiful is Shiraz’s unparalleled state. God save it from harm and the hands of fate.” – Hafez
Shiraz was my first city to explore in Iran. After a 13-hours night bus from Tehran, I reached Shiraz at around 9am and gratefully my CS host, Yoones, was already there waiting for me!? Here’s another experience I had with Iranian’s kind hospitality: Yoones was supposed to go home after his shift ended at 6am. Instead he waited for me, sent me to the hotel where he worked and back home which is another 1-hour drive.?
I checked in to Niayesh Hotel for USD15 per night for private room with attached bathroom. After speaking to a few travellers, this is considered one of the best and reasonably cheap hotel around in the city. (There are a list of hotels which Iranian Embassy expects you to be checked-in before they decide whether to issue you the visa, they actually aren’t as strict as how it’s stated on the website)? Niayesh Hotel also offers daily tours to Persepolis and other famous attractions in Shiraz.
Tomb of Hafez
Iranians have a saying that every home must have two things: the Qur’an and the collection of the works of Hafez. Almost every Iranian can quote his work and people read fortunes by opening Hafez to a random page. After sunset, with the tomb floodlit and sung poems broadcasting, there’s a great atmosphere of being transported back to the magic of ancient Persia.? Admission fee is 200,000Rls (~USD6) for tourists. (This is the standard fees for all attractions throughout Iran)
Here used to have two manuscripts of Qur’an which weighted 51kg placed on top of the gate. It is believed that if you leave the city through Qur’an Gate for a trip, you will return home safely. The books are currently kept in Pars Museum.
The Ruins of Persepolis
“The palace of the King of Kings, burned by Alexander the Great”
Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, Persepolis is among the world’s greatest archaeological sites. Literally known as “The City of the Persians”, it was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, ranks among the archaeological sites which have no equivalent and which bear unique witness to a most ancient civilization. Situated 60km Northeast of Shiraz, it took me a 2-hours car ride to reach there.
Persepolis was the main highlight of my stay in Shiraz. Yoones offered to drive me there on his off day, so I only need to pay 200,000Rls for the entrance fee instead of booking the tour from the hotel. The site is so huge (125,000 square meter) that it took us about 3 hours to explore despite the scorching hot weather ? I was immensely smitten by the site as Yoones tried his best to explain the history and the meaning of the dicpictions found on the ruins in English. I would highly recommend this place to go if you are in Shiraz. The troublesome part is that the security will stop you from bringing in your bag if it’s big enough to keep a small rock ? Your bag can be kept in a room which will be unattended by the staff.
Necropolis is a 20-minutes drive from Persepolis, which houses the tombs of Achaemenid Kings. Because it was so hot and with no water (Yoones was fasting and I feel bad for drinking in front of him), I decided to just take a picture from the gate.
Ghalat Village is about 1-hour from Persepolis or 45-minutes if you are going from Shiraz city. It is a village where houses are built with roughly-shaped stones plus motar. Yoones said that during other cooler seasons, locals can be seen having picnic along the stream and waterfall. And some shops in the village actually sell alcohol! (which is a taboo in Iran). Unfortunately, it was Summer and it’s Ramadan period, the whole village seems like a ghost town to me ???
Bazar-e Vakil/ Vakil Mosque
Just a 15-minutes walk from Niayesh Hotel is the main bazaar of Shiraz: Vakil Bazaar. Nearby you can also visit the public bath houses and Vakil Mosque.
Arg-e Karim Khan
The Karim Khan Castle is located 20-minutes walking distance from Niayesh Hotel. The castle is shaped in resemblance of medieval fortress. Inside the castle is a large, open courtyard filled with citrus tress and a pool. One of the rooms housed wax figures in traditional dress. There are guided tour service with additional charge on top of the 200,000Rls entrance fee.
And that’s my end of 4-days stay in Shiraz! Next city: Kerman ?