Despite Iran’s tough domestic government and international tensions, it is still one of the best tourist destinations in the world with its magnificent historical sites, fascinating culture and elegant landscapes. But with the election of a more moderate leadership the country is expected to open up a bit more.
The people of Iran are warm and hospitable and a trip to Iran will shatter the perception given by international media and the hard leadership of its own. The total population of Iran is 81.8 million and Tehran is the capital.
Here is the top ten things to do in Iran.
10. Bazaar of Tabriz
The largest covered bazaar in the world, the Bazaar of Tabriz was first established in the fifteenth century and it is the oldest bazaar in the Middle East. The Bazaar of Tabriz is also part of UNESCO’s world Heritage Sites.
The bazaar consists of multiple sub-bazaars like the Amir Bazaar which consists largely of gold and jewelry shops, the Mozaffari bazaar with carpet shops, bazaar for shoes and many more for daily household items. In an era with a lot of modern malls and shops the Tabriz Bazaar has maintained its position as the economic center of the city.
09. Abbasi Hotel Tea House
This amazing complex is worth staying a few days, but if you are not in the mood of staying a visit is a must. The building of the hotel was a 17th century caravanserai complex which has now been turned into a hotel with a rooftop restaurant and an amazing teahouse.
Although a more modern coffee shop is available in the main lobby of the hotel, it does not compare with the historic and atmospheric courtyard teahouse. The teahouse remains open until 11pm in the months of summer.
The city of Kashan is one of the most oldest human settlements in history and its origins date back to approximately 7,000 BCE, the late Neolithic age. It is located in the province of Isfahan and from 12th to the 14th century it became the most prominent trading centers of Iran.
There are a lot of popular landmarks to visit, one of them is the Tabatabaei House which consists of four courtyards, beautifully painted glass windows and wall paintings. This house is the perfect example of Persian residential culture. The Agha Bozorg Mosque and Hammam-e Amir Sultan are two other famous landmarks of the city.
Shiraz is also an ancient city located in the Fars Province of Iran and the earliest references of the city were found on 2000 years old Elamite clay tablets. Shiraz was a hub of arts and letters as there were numerous Persian scholars and artists in the city in the 13th century.
Shiraz is known as the city of poets and two of most famous persian poets Saadi and Hafez belonged to this city and their tombs are located on the boundaries of the city. Shiraz is also considered a city of Gardens because there are numerous fruits trees grown in the city.
06. Grand Bazaar of Tehran
Tehran is the capital of Iran and is also the spiritual, intellectual and political center of the country. Tehran is not such a beautiful city as compared to Yazd and Esfahan but it is far more vibrant, stimulating and important.
The tangibly historic Grand Bazaar of Tehran is the most important commercial hub of the city. It is over 10 kilometer long and is covered from the top, the Grand Bazaar is the oldest Bazaar in the city. It consists of shops, banks and financiers, guest houses and mosques.
05. Hazardastan Traditional Teahouse
Adorned with carpets, antique kalyans, samovars, wooden benches and cushions hazardastan is the most beautiful teahouse restaurant in Iran. The walls have paintings depicting the Shahnama of Ferdosi.
Hazardastan literally means a thousand tales and it is the best place to sit down relax have a long talk or discussion with your friends and family over a nice cup of tea.
04. Naqsh-e-Jahan Square
Also known as the Imam Square, the Naqsh-e Jahan square was previously called the Shah Square. This square is located in the middle of Isfahan city and it was built first in 1598 and then in 1629 and now it is part of UNESCO’s world Heritage Sites.
Naqsh-e Jahan Square consists of some amazing gardens with beautiful fountains, vibrant bazaars and magnificent Islamic structures like palaces and mosques. Naqsh-e Jahan Square is also the world’s second largest square.
03. Amir Chakhmaq Complex
Situated in Yazd, Iran Amir Chakmak Complex is famous for its uniform sunken alcoves and it is an important structure in the city of Yazd. The complex is a mosque and it also contains a bathhouse, a cold water well, a tekyeh and a caravanserai.
The building turns into a beautiful spectacle at night when it is lit up after the sunset lightning the arched cloves. Many Iraqis and Afghans took refuge in the complex during the Iran-Iraq wars and US attack on Afghanistan.
02. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Standing near the east side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square is the best architectural triumph of the Safavid Iranian style of architecture. The construction began in 1603 and the mosque was completed in 1619. Shah Abbas I ordered the construction and Shaykh Bahai was the chief architect. This mosque is not that large and it was built to be used only by the Royal family.
Known as Takht e Jamshid in Persian or the Throne of Jamshid in English, Persepolis was the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire between 550-330 BC. The ruins of Persepolis were declared by UNESCO as part of its World Heritage Sites.
Persepolis is located near the city of Shiraz almost 60 kilometer in the Fars Province of Iran. The extremely well preserved archeological ruins were discovered by a French archeologist in 1930s.