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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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But…Why Iran?

I had decided in Feb to travel to Iran in early May. It was only for 8 days – a short trip – enough to see Iran as a first-timer though I have later learnt that the average time a traveller spends in Iran is 2 weeks. My sister was interested to join me on this trip. We did all the necessary research in March: organized a private tour through a travel agency in Iran, booked our flight tickets and applied for travel visa. In all my travels, friends have always asked me about my next destination, and I’m usually

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Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad, Maharashtra

I don’t have a travel bucket list of UNESCO heritage sites to visit. But I realise that 2014 is certainly my year of travelling to these sites! If you have followed my narratives on Sri Lanka a few months ago, there were many UNESCO heritage sites on that island and we covered a number of them during our 1-week stay there. And then when I mapped out my plans for Maharastra visits, once again, UNESCO heritage sites were featured in my itinerary 🙂 The state of Maharashtra is indeed very proud of their rich heritage in the form of cave

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In Pictures: Polonnaruwa…and Duran Duran

Duran Duran…that got your attention, didn’t it? Well, hold that thought and I will explain shortly 🙂 We were on the quest of visiting and exploring UNESCO heritage sites in Sri Lanka. After 2 days of visiting Dambulla Caves and climbing up Sigiriya the Lion Rock in the Central Province, our drive went slightly further up to North Central Province. The drive from Peradeniya to Polonnaruwa was about 3-4 hours. For this excursion, we had to wake up earlier than previous days, thus we set off at 7am. We stopped en route to have breakfast, and thank goodness, we did

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