Perhaps in the current Iran of the Islamic Revolution we have not found the environment in which the context of the One Thousand and One Nights, and the black veil of women darken a territory with a really friendly and affectionate population towards the traveler we will talk about in future articles. What we have no doubt is that Iran offers the walker colorful stages and chimeras, which becomes able to stop time to such an extent as we had not achieved before on any trip. And it is that our hourglass has been able to stand in really enriching snapshots. Do we review those 12 essentials to see and do on your trip to Iran?
1. A lost caravanserai inside Kashan's bazaar
Traveling aimlessly has many times improvised surprises that you would not achieve otherwise. What we could not expect is that walking through the labyrinthine, but quiet at lunchtime, Kashan's bazaar, crossing huge wooden gates, presented to our amazement a huge room possibly considered as a masterpiece of architecture in its time.
The friendliness before the traveler is reflected in every moment of our trip, and thus, in the small teahouse that keeps this place, we are invited to a tea by a young Iranian interested in the outside world while he finishes his studies.
The caravanserai network in Iran is extensive, since we are facing a country where these small or large inns for travelers welcomed flourished in the old commercial networks of the Silk Road
2. A people anchored in time called Abyaneh
A town of intense reddish tones stands between the valleys near the city of Natanz. His "abyanukis", generally elderly people, keep their traditional costumes away from the black veil imposed by the government on women and speak their own ancient dialect.
There is no detail that does not surprise the traveler who decides to visit it as essential among his "things to see and do on a trip to Iran." Their houses of intense adobe, its almost absolute silence only interrupted by the walking of some travelers, its small mausoleum on the other side of town ... or its particular way of life, drying dates and collecting water from the channels of the deepest area of the basin.
The best view to appreciate the contrasts of this place is at the other end, up the hill.THE INTERNET LOCK:
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Here, from the remains of an old caravanserai deteriorated over the years, it is possible to value and even respect the life of a people really anchored in time.
3. A panoramic view from a minaret of the Shah Mosque in Isfahan
The beauty of Isfahan, its location, its bazaars and even its beautiful Naghsh-i Jahan square, made multiple rooms declared World Heritage by Unesco, and that many other musicians and poets talked about it for centuries.
Today, the beauty it shows can be magnified with a small "bribe" to one of the guards who take care of the Shah Mosque, south of the square, and that allow observing the privileged panoramic view that it offers from one of its minarets.
There, from its heights, even the 6-story Ali Qapu seems small. So is Lotfallah although its beautiful ceramic and marble dome where blue is the dominant color between green, yellow, red and turquoise, even with an absence of minaret, saves some of the best works of Iranian culture
4. A beautiful sunset in historic Persepolis
The reddish evening light on the ruins leaves a picture to frame from the highest graves. It is the icing on a cake that began several hours earlier when we surpassed the imposing winged bulls of the Gate of Nations through which many armies had passed centuries before.
Persepolis is the icon of Persia, from Iran. It is the dream of Dario I El Grande that around 512 B.C. He would undertake this ceremonial capital that would be continued by his son Xerxes I and his grandson Artaxerxes I.
Perhaps it was his majesty and splendor that would take years later to the great Alexander the Great to destroy it, as a symbol of his hegemony, but today he can still contemplate his Apadana, his Palaces, his Stairs, his mosaics and reliefs, his Harem and his columns
5. A live story of a mausoleum in Qom, Shiraz or Mashhad
We are accustomed today to go through vestiges of the past and imagine for a moment in full swing of the Maya Civilization, or in the oldest Babylon or, why not ?, at the time when Jesus Christ walked through the Temple of Jerusalem, but it is still that, imagination.
What if for a moment we entered one of those scenarios full of life? Qom, Shiraz or Mashhad get it. We "sneak in" in Qom and in my mystical mausoleum of Fatima, the sister of Imam Reza, whose golden dome and live spirituality offer the traveler a unique experience. But also in the Shah Cherag Mausoleum of Shiraz, which contains the tombs of two children of the seventh imam, where the color of their tiles and the intensity of their domes contrasts with the family life that their most devoted congregates on the carpets.
Mashhad is religious fervor, it is a pilgrimage, it is the most sacred place of Chiism next to the previous ones, where the remains of Iman Reza, the eighth imam rest and whose sanctuary to overflow with devotion and vehemence is the perfect emblem of one's vision full story S.XXI
6. A reckless dive between adobe roofs in Yazd
Between the deserts Dasht-e Kevin and Dash-e Lut emerges the oasis city of Yazd, of picturesque adobe-colored alleys and multiple buildings of great architectural value.
Although it is not the most prudent, peeking at your rooftops while the sunlight changes late in the afternoon offers one of those magical moments, of those things to do in Iran essential, between baghires and other ventilation systems that adapt the population to the extreme climate of the surroundings, while in the distance the multiple mosques (including the highest on Friday) begin to illuminate and we hear the call to prayer from the nearest minaret .
Yazd, in addition, is the capital of Zoroastrianism, whose most extreme rite can be seen on the outskirts of the fearsome towers of silence, used to leave the bodies outdoors for decomposition thanks to the large community of vultures that inhabit the area.
7. A ghost town called Kharanag
The narrow and claustrophobic minaret amid the ruins of the ancient city of Kharanaq leaves at its highest point the most impressive views of an inanimate city, without inhabitants, without life.
We are in a population abandoned to their fate, whose mud buildings endure the passage of the centuries in a prodigious way, and let us glimpse what it should have been in its day, keeping intact its thick wooden doors, its pantries or its old locations.
In the distance, the green irrigated fields communicate with the turquoise blue dome mosque through a flimsy arch bridge that survives the most extreme weather.
8. A cup of tea in a prehistoric cave in Meymand
We reached Meymand almost by chance on the Yazd-Kerman route. Its more than 12,000 years of history seem not to have altered the life of its old population at all. Arid lands and extreme weather makes numerous houses carved by hand in the cave-shaped rock serve as shelter and settlement for the survival of its inhabitants.
At the top of one of the main areas we received the call from an octagenarian woman. He invites us to have tea and visit his rooms. It is an irreproachable proposal.
Some time ago she acquired widowhood and barely saved a photo of her husband, along with a damaged kitchenette, a decrepit tableware and an austere decoration. However, there he makes his life, and the warmth of the home is something that a traveler can never underestimate.
9. An iron and fire forge in the isolated Kerman
In the streets of Kerman the dark complexion of the Baluchi population intermingles with the most native of the place. His farsi becomes more complex, and communication is a convoluted tongue twister sometimes without solution.
However, its labyrinthine lanes guard the best kept secrets. Corners where the most ancient trades remain unchanged and where the metal continues to heat up to the glow to undergo the forging process
A coal furnace constitutes the perfect forge where to heat metal parts that are incessantly beaten until they acquire their final shape.
10. A citadel fallen into oblivion called Bam
On December 26, 2003 an earthquake of 6.2 degrees on the Richter scale would ravage Bam and the surrounding areas, leaving only death and desolation. More than 40,000 people and an entire citadel would be forgotten.
Almost 10 years have passed since then, and the few existing news led us to know first hand the state of restoration of one of the emblems of Iran ... !! and did not disappoint !! As my good travel companion says, if we imagined for a moment that this citadel was devastated by a Mongolian horde and we saw it with that perspective, we would be amazed, turning it into another one of those things to do in Iran today.
Arg-e Bam, the citadel of the silk route that enjoyed prestige for its fabrics and clothing, is today a must for travelers in love with this type of archaeological sites, a few kilometers from the border with Pakistan.
11. A night in the Kaluts of the Lut desert
Something has the deserts that bewitch all those who step on them. When we discovered the existence of a "Martian" place northeast of Kerman, where some improvised camp was once settled, we did not doubt it, we would get to spend a night there. Whether in an abandoned Caravanserai or in a tent, we got down to work to get a jeep and someone to guide us.
What we did not expect is that a kilometer road only crossed by long-distance truckers, let pass to extraterrestrial formations of sharp appearance and mud foundations, where silence reminds me again of the deep and penetrating murmur of some places in the inhospitable places of the frozen continent of Antarctica.
An improvised fire and an untimely sandstorm give way to a nocturnal adventure, and this to a privileged location between mud rocks vulnerable to sand, wind and time, in the place of the planet whose surface reaches the recorded temperature record … !! 70ºC !!
12. A story of a centennial hammah in Qazvin
When Ayatollah Khomeini interrupted the Westernization carried out by the Shah and established Islamic law in 1979, many of the acquired rights went to a better life. Mixed schools, laws in favor of women and even the use of hammah, hamman or Turkish baths, which were transformed into tea shops, restaurants or even museums were abolished.
However, hidden in the less known streets of the city of Qazvin, 150 km from Tehran, Survives a centennial public restroom, closed, gloomy and wet, whose social and meeting function is kept alive.
It is precisely this old man hidden in the depths of some stairs in the basement of an old building, the cost of which barely exceeds 80 cents, which takes us to the origins of the prohibitive luxurious spas so known in our time.
For when the travel diary?
Many are those who write to ask us about preparations (flights, visas, insurance), practical information and the travel journal itself, in addition to accommodation or gastronomy (the complete GUIDE). You are absolutely right in the world! We have had so much accumulation of trips that we still have it without publishing in detail but it will be VERY SOON when you have every day online (! PROMISED!). While you can go to all the details of my good travel companion Sele's Corner or the live experience located in the "Another newspaper" section of the side menu:
+ DAY 1-8: Tehran, Qom, Kashan, Isfahan and Shiraz
+ DAY 9-14: Yazd, Pasargada, Persepolis and Kerman
+ DAY 15-21: Lut, Mahan, Mashhad and Qazvin Desert
Although if these snapshots and scenarios are really a privilege, more are its people, which we will talk about in future stories (UPDATED:You can already read)
Isaac, from the heart of Persia