ITINERARY: IRAN

An 11-day journey of exploration, history, culture, and architecture across the country.

Dating back to 4,000 BC, Iran is home to one of the oldest societies in the world. The Medes, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans have all left their mark on the landscape and peoples of the historic region. Since declaring independence on April 1, 1979, Iran is a theocratic republic with a developing economy and a modern infrastructure.

Iran is a surprising destination with welcoming people, turquoise-tiled domes, and busy bazaars. A journey through Iran unveils the history of the Persian Empire and modern day Iran through architecture, art, and culture, visiting ancient sites and modern bazaars, and staying in some of Iran’s most loved hotels.

Begin in Tehran, Iran’s capital city, set on the lower slopes of the Alborz Mountains. You’ll get an introduction to the city with a full day tour, starting at the UNESCO World Heritage site Golestan Palace. The palace complex is located in the heart of historic Tehran and is an excellent example of the architectural and artistic achievements of the Qajar era. You’ll also visit the historic Grand Bazaar of Tehran, recognized as the world’s largest bazaar, and either the Archaeological Museum or the Carpet Museum.

Your journey continues in Shiraz, birthplace of the Persian poet Hafiz. During the Zand Dynasty, the city thrived and many of the beautiful buildings you see today were built or restored during that time. There is plenty to see in this city: visit Bagh-e Eram Garden and Shiraz University Botanical Garden, the Karim Khan Citadel, the poet Hafiz’s Tomb, Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Narenjestan Garden and House, and Vakil Bazaar.

Take a day trip to visit Persepolis, one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites. Darius the Great founded it 2,500 years ago with the intent to make it the focus of the Achaemenian Empire. You’ll also visit the ancient necropolis Naqsh-e-Rustam and see tombs thought to belong to Darius I and II, Atraxerxes, and Xerxes I, all hewn out of a cliff.

Continue your journey in Iran with a night in Yazd, stopping on the way at Pasargadae. The remaining palaces, gardens, and mausoleum of Cyrus in Pasargadae are exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization.

Then you’ll head to Isfahan, Iran’s top tourist destination. Isfahan is a city of tree-lined boulevards, Persian gardens, and Islamic buildings. There are many artisans in the city, displaying the traditional culture of Iran. Spend two days here getting to know the city, and the people who make it so unique. Visit the Chehel Sotoun (the Palace of Forty Columns) and Hasht-Behesht (the Palace of Eight Paradises), situated within the Nightingale Garden which date back to the year 1660. You’ll also visit handicraft factories and the Isfahan Bazaar, and you’ll uncover the evolution of mosque architecture through 476 separate domes on the Jam e Mosque. Finish your city tours with the Armenian Quarter and Cathedral of Vank.

After your stay in Isfahan, travel to Kashan, an oasis along the Qom-Kerman road on the edge of the Dasht-e-Kavir. There’s a cluster of 19th-century houses in Kashan which are significant for their traditional Persian architecture. The Tabatabaei House is one of them: its gardens and courtyards are delightful. Paintings of flowers and birds by the royal painter Kamal-ol-Molk adorn the walls throughout the house.

Iran is a country with a rich history and a fascinating story to tell. Contact your luxury travel professional or the Ker & Downey luxury travel consultants to learn more about traveling to Iran.

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