With my trip just over 3 weeks away, some friends have been inquiring about my actual itinerary, so I thought I’d share with you all! I’ll post updates from each city as I am able (depending on wi-fi connection and such), but here’s a general introduction to what I’ll be up to!
Day 1: Tehran
Most international flights come and go from Tehran, but most tourists don’t stay in Tehran for long. We’ll be there for just one night, spending our time visiting the Iranian Jewel Museum, shopping at a Bazaar, and going to the National Museum. From what I’ve read, visiting Tehran is a little bit like going to Dallas. Not much to speak of. Though I’m kind of looking forward to the Iranian Jewel Museum with items dating back to the 1500’s!
Day 2 & 3: Shiraz
We’ll take short flight to Shiraz that morning where we’ll spend two nights. Shiraz was the Capital of Persia 250 years ago, so we’ll be visiting the Zand Complex including a grand citadel and palace with walls at 15 meters high, it looks like a fortress from the outside.
On our second day in Shiraz, we’ll head out to Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the empire until about 330 B.C.E. The city was sacked and burned by Alexander the Great, for which many Persians have never forgiven him. You can still see some of the epic statues and carving though. We’ll also go to Naqsh-e Rustam, a necropolis holding the tombs of the great Achaemenid Kings including Daris I, Xerxes I, Artaxeres I, and others. If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, these names will ring a bell. We’ll also see the tomb of Hafez, in central Shiraz, Hafez being a celebrated 14th century poet in the Persian culture. I’ve read much of his work, it’s simply stunning.
Day 4, 5, and 6: Kerman
We’ll be driving to Kerman where we’ll experience a bit more of the desert culture of Iran. Here I’ll finally get to see some of the ancient Zoroastrian fire temples and burial mounds that I learned about in Graduate School. This is much of why I wanted to go to Iran in the first place. Zoroastrianism played a large role in Judaism and Christianity, so in a way it’s connecting me to my roots.
We’ll also take a day trip to Mahan, a center of culture for Sufi’s, and we’ll spend time in a famous garden which will be a great contrast to the desert surroundings.
Day 7: Zeinoddin
Zeinoddin is a 400 year old Caravansary that sits on the Old Silk Road, a major trade route between Asia and Europe. Caravansaries were built by the governments to help protect traders and soldiers. They were built approximately every 20-30 miles along the route. Not many survive today, and there are few that travelers can actually visit. The Zeinoddin Caravansary was restored and now allows travelers to experience the Silk Road very similarly to how the caravan travelers would have.
Day 8 and 9: Yazd
Another major Zoroastrian city, Yazd has a history of over 5,000 years. Much of our time will be visiting Zoroastrian sites, but we’ll also see a historical Qanat, basically a method to transport water that was developed around 1,000 BCE. We’ll visit the Masjed-e Jameh mosque which was built in the 15th century and has one of the tallest portal entrances in Iran.
We also get a free day in Yazd, though of course I will have to have my guide with me. At this point, I haven’t decided what I want to use this day for, I think I’ll probably plan a couple of things but leave it mostly open to see where the wind blows.
Day 10, 11, and 12: Isfahan
Isfahan was one of the largest cities in the world for about 700 years and is know as “Half the World.” There, we’ll visit the World UNESCO Site Naghsh-e Jahan Square, an example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. We’ll see a royal mosque and spend some time in an Armenian section of Iran, which should be very interesting after visiting both Islamic and Zoroastrian cultural sites. We’ll also get some leisure time, for shopping and what not.
The tour actually will continue without me from there, but as I only have 12 days, my tour guide will drive me back to Tehran where I will fly to Dubai and spend a couple of days visiting friends, learning about the UAE, and relaxing on the beach. I think it’ll be an excellent way to end my journey!