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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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Palaces and Museums of Tehran: Part 2

After lunch, our guide, Rana, was ready to take us to the next stop – Glass & Ceramics Museum. Sounds boring, isn’t it? I’m not into pots and vases, and especially after such a fascinating morning of history and architecture at Golestan Palace, I wasn’t sure if the afternoon itinerary was going to be as interesting as the morning one. But I told myself to keep an open mind and just go with the flow. I won’t go into details about the artefacts in the Glass & Ceramics Museum but the history behind the building was: It was formerly a

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Palaces and Museums of Tehran: Part 1

We arrived in Tehran in the evening, feeling tired especially after an 11-hour flight from Malaysia (including transit time in Dubai). By the time we exited the airport, we came across heavy traffic leading into Tehran. It was Friday, the weekend was already in full swing and locals were out and about (weekends in Iran are Friday & Saturday). A journey which could have been an hour to our hotel turned out to be 2 hours. All we wanted to do was check-in to the hotel, unpack, shower and go to sleep. The next morning I woke up bright and

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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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