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4 Myths And Realities About Travelling In Iran

Friends have always asked me where am I travelling next, and I’m usually happy to share and talk about my next destination. But there was one destination which I was reluctant to mention for I knew the questions coming my way, given the unusual choice of country. It’s the country that has a bad reputation in the West and there are not many news media releases that state the good stuff about the country. That country is Iran. You must be thinking, “but…why Iran?”  Typically, I would have responded cheekily, “hmm…why not?” but prior to the trip, I gave vague

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Farewell to the Land of Persia!

Yes, this is my last post on Iran, a travel series that I had written for the past 3 months, capturing the places that I had visited and experiences that I had went through during that 8-day trip. It seems quite a lot for an 8-day trip but rest assured, we had quite a lot of free time as well to experience Iran at a more leisurely pace. We left Esfahan on a Friday – it was a start to their weekend and the city was quiet. There were not many cars on the roads. Shops were closed and not

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Churches and Coffee in New Jolfa, Armenian Quarter in Esfahan

New Jolfa is the Armenian quarter of Esfahan established in 1606 by Shah Abbas I during the Safavid era. The Armenians were fleeing the Ottoman Empire’s persecution and because Iran and Armenia had a long history of close relations, Shah Abbas relocated 500,000 Armenians to Persia. New Jolfa quarter became their new home and over time, the Armenians became active in the cultural and economic development of Persia. Shah Abbas treated the Armenian population well, as such, the Armenians were able to assimilate with the Persians while keeping their Christian faith and Armenian traditions. In the 20th century particularly during

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More Discoveries in Esfahan: Frescoes and Sunset

Our time in Esfahan got better each day. Not that the previous trips to Tehran and Shiraz weren’t great, they were just different. Each city has a special theme: palaces and museums in Tehran; gardens, poetry, Islamic shrine and Persian ancient cities in Shiraz; and mosaics and frescoes in Esfahan. And the frescoes in Esfahan are so well preserved like they were recently painted in the 21st century. Just a stone throw away from Naqsh-e-Jahan Square is a pavilion called Chehel Sotoun, a palace situated amongst beautiful landscape of gardens and a long pool. The pavilion was built by Shah

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Scenes from Naqsh-e-Jahan Square: Ali Qapu Palace and The Grand Bazaar

Last week I shared with you a glimpse of Scenes from Naqsh-e-Jahan Square in Esfahan, mainly the southern and eastern part of the square – Imam Mosque and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – both feature beautiful and jaw-dropping Persian-Islamic architecture and mosaics. Moving on to the western side of Naqsh-e-Jahan Square is the Ali Qapu Palace. The palace was used by the first Shah Abbas of Persia in the 17th century to greet and entertain noble visitors and foreign ambassadors. It has 7 floors and is accessible by a spiral staircase. We climbed the stairs all the way up to the 7th

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Arrived in Esfahan and Scenes from Naqsh-e-Jahan Square

The melancholic Persian songs played on the car radio lulled us to sleep. I don’t know what the songs were about as Mustafa, our driver from Shiraz, spoke very little English, but it must have been about love, lost love, heartache, or…perhaps a lost goat. Although the car had air-conditioning, we could see the weather outside was hot. It was spring in Iran but there were times when temperatures shot up to mid 30 degrees Celsius and got uncomfortably hot. We drove past dry and rugged landscape – though some areas were dotted with cypress trees – but the land

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In Pictures: Ancient City of Persepolis and Tombs of Necropolis (Naqsh-e-Rostam)

Persepolis is located 70km from Shiraz and was the ceremonial capital of the Archaemenid Empire circa 515 BC. Persepolis means city of Persians and its construction began during the rule of Darius the Great. Archaeological evidence shows that Cyrus the Great chose the site of Persepolis and according to ancient tablets found at Persepolis, Darius planned for an impressive complex of palaces for government administration and cultural centre of the Archaemenian kings and their empires. Darius lived long enough to see only a small part of his plans materialised but the rest of his grandiose plans were executed by his

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Shah-e-Cheragh Shrine in Shiraz

In my previous post, I wrote about our visit to Nasir al Mulk Mosque in Shiraz. We were thrilled to see the morning light streamed through the stained-glass windows of the mosque, resulting in rich and vibrant colours of red, pink, blue, green & yellow splashed on the deep red Persian carpets laid on the light green marble floor. While the experience at Nasir al Mulk Mosque was certainly delightful, the visit to another mosque in the afternoon was more exciting because I had read earlier that the entire walls and ceilings of the mosque are adorned with intricate coloured glass

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Colours and Poetry in Shiraz

The first leg of our trip in Tehran was just an initial peek into the ancient and rich heritage of this misunderstood country. As much as we wanted to see more of the capital city, it was time for us to move on. We left Tehran for Shiraz via a domestic flight with Qeshm Airlines, flight duration of 1 hour and 20 minutes. The flight was fine but I was knackered. I was tired from the massive traffic jam to the airport in Tehran; another 3 hours waiting at the airport; the warm weather (sometimes it was uncomfortable because I

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Vivid Colours of Flowers in Iran

I was captivated by the variety of flowers while I was travelling in Iran. It was towards the end of spring moving on to summer when we visited, and coming from the tropics, I never realised that parks and gardens could be an attraction. Moreover, with the dry and arid landscape especially in Shiraz, a visit to the gardens was a refreshing change – flowers bursting with vivid colours, as if welcoming me to their lovely abode, their lovely country. ***** Pin it!

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