⦁ ancient city dating to the 3rd century AD
⦁ a world center of ⦁ Persian carpet manufacture
⦁ located in the foothills of the Payeh mountains
⦁ mixed population of Persians and Baluchis
⦁ population around 500,000
⦁ the city lies at 1754m above sea level
⦁ situated over 1000km south east of Tehran. Capital of Kerman province
Situated in the foothills of the Payeh mountains on the edge of the Dasht e Lut desert, Kerman survives on water brought to the city by an intricate system of qanat water channels. Dating back to the Sassanian period of the third century AD, Kerman is best known today for its world-famous, elaborately designed carpets, including kelims (goats hair carpets), jajims (silk and wool rugs) and shawls, which are hand-woven in hundreds of small workshops dotted around the city. The city was the main stop-over for visitors on their way to the ancient citadel of Bam to the south east, but is an interesting destination in its own right. Kerman’s attractions include the now restored 17th century bath-house – the Hamum-e Ganj Ali Khan with its wonderful frescoes depicting people and animals. The large, historic Bazar-e Vakil, parts of which date back to the Safavid period, is an interesting area to shop and admire the architecture.The nearby Jameh Mosque dates back to the early 14th century and is noted for its splendid blue tiling. The Imam Mosque, built in the Seljuk period is also worth a visit for its intricate reliefs. The Moshtari-ye Mostaq Ali Shah mausoleum is the resting place of a noted Sufi mystic and was constructed in the Qajar period with fine stucco and tiles. The Sheketeh Farsh carpet factory can be visited and is a good place to see the techniques of carpet weaving at first hand.On the outskirts of town is the mysterious Gonbad-e Jabaliye stone dome, which puzzles experts as to its origins but may date to the second century CE and be either a tomb or an observatory.
Access – how to travel to Kerman
There are flights to Esfahan, Zahedan and Tehran.
Buses run to many destinations including Bam (3 hours), Bandar-e Abbas (8 hours), Tehran (15 hours), Mashhad (16 hours), Esfahan (12 hours) and Yazd (6 hours).
A daily ⦁ train to Tehran (approximately 13 hours) goes via Yazd, Kashan and Qom.
⦁ Kermanshah city has a population of over 800,000
⦁ area borders Iraq with crossing at Mehran
⦁ bas relief carvings at Bisotun
⦁ gardens of Taq-e Bostan over 2,000 years old. Ruins of a temple to Anahita
Similar to the Ganj Nameh inscriptions in Hamadan, the carvings at Bisotun are set high in the rock face by an important trade route for all travellers to see. The site is 30km from Kermanshah City near the village of Bisotun. Bisotun is the Arabic equivalent of the Old Persian name “Bagestan” which means “place of the gods”. The site is located near to a spring where caravans would stop to gather water while on the way to or from Afghanistan or the Mediterranean. The route between these two areas had been used from as early as 10,000 BC and was especially important for the trade of lapis lazuli and soapstone. The inscription is approximately 15m high by 25m wide at a very inaccessible 100m above ground level. Presumably this was in order that the inscription be safe from tampering hands. It shows a life sized bas relief of Darius I with two attendants leading away 10 smaller figures chained at the neck, representing defeated enemies. The winged god Ahuramazda floats above giving his blessing to the King, confirming that Zoroastrianism was the faith of Darius and the nation. The accompanying text is in the same three languages as the Ganj Nameh inscriptions in Hamadan, Old Persian, New Elamite and New Babylonian and was as instrumental in the deciphering of cuneiform, a previously lost script. It was a British army officer, Sir Henry Rawlinson who undertook the challenge, first translating a list of the names of kings in 1835 with the help of a parallel text by the Greek historian Herodotus. On a second visit in 1843, Rawlinson braved the chasm to reach the Elamite and Babylonian sections and the translations were made known to European academics by 1846. The text itself tells the story of the accession of Darius to the throne after he foiled the attempted intrigue of a high-ranking priest who claimed to be younger son of Cyrus the Great and usurped the Achaemenid throne. Darius defeated the impostor, quelled subsequent rebellions and proclaimed himself king of the Empire, having the Bisotun inscriptions carved in 520 BC as a statement to this effect. Later, in the time of the Seleucids, another statue was carved lower down the rock face, this time of the Greek hero Hercules.He is shown reclining with his right hand on his knee and a cup of wine in his left, wearing a lion skin to denote power. His mace lies to his right and there are olive trees carved into the rock face behind him. According to evidence found at the site, the Hercules statue dates back to 148BC.There are also other carvings at the site dating back to the period of the Arsakids. One represents King Mithradates II (123-83BC) with many subjects paying tribute to him. Other features of the Bisotun area include caves formed during the Mesolithic Period (40,000–35,000 BC) and the remains of a Sassanid palace and garden.
Taq-e Bostan, Kermanshah, Iran
Located 4km north of Kermanshah City, the gardens of Taq-e Bostan have a 2,000 year history. According to archaeological evidence it was first constructed during Parthian times between 250–224 BC and was used as a recreational hunting ground for noblemen. The name Taq-e Bostan means “arch of the garden” and refers to two large caves cut into the rock face of the neighbouring mountainside carved with bas reliefs.The more interesting of the two reliefs depicts King Khosro II (591-628), known as Khosro Parvis (“Khosro the Victorious”), receiving the ring of power from the Zoroastrian god Ahuramazda and a second ring from the water god Anahita. The lower part of the relief shows a powerful representation of the King on horseback and in full battle dress. This larger arch was carved during the period 591–628 when the armies of Khosro II had taken Jerusalem and it seemed as though the glory of the Achaemenid Empire had been restored in Sassanid times. On the side walls of the arch are reliefs of hunting scenes which are likely to be representations of Khosro Parviz hunting in this garden. The left wall shows the king hunting wild boar from a boat with members of his retinue including musicians and elephant handlers in attendance. Also on the left is a relief showing the king having finished the hunt with a light shining from behind his head. The right hand wall shows gazelles which have been speared being carried on the backs of camels.
In the small town of Kangavar, located on the road between between Hamadan and Kermanshah are the ruins of a temple to Anahita, goddess of water and fertility, dating back to the 2nd century BC. The temple was built on a raised stone platform 4.5m above ground level. This and the architectural style mirror many of the monumental buildings of the period. Historians of the ancient era describe the temple here as one of great importance and magnificent treasures. Indeed, modern investigation has revealed that the site covered an area 210m by 230m and that the pillars of the main hall once stood over 35m tall. The area is scattered with the remains of walls, staircases and pillars.
There are daily flights from Kermanshah to Tehran. Buses go to many destinations including Tehran (9 hours), Tabriz (8 hours), Khorramabad (5 hours) and Ahvaz (10 hours). For Hamadan take a savari (3 hours).
The Iranian province of Kurdistan is situated on the western border of Iran south of the Azerbaijan region. The climate is temperate but because of its mountainous geography winters are harsh and cold.The ethnicity of the region is primarily Kurdish with the Kurdish language widely spoken and traditional dress very common.For men this consists of loose trousers tied high up with a long fabric belt and drawn in at the ankles along with a round turban. Women dress similarly but in brighter colours, often incorporating metallic thread and mirrors into fabrics. Women wear brightly coloured headscarves in addition to turbans.
Luristan (Lorestan) Province
⦁ Khoramabad (Khorramabad) population over 300,000
⦁ Major site Falak Al-Aflak fortress
⦁ Located in the Zagros Mountains
⦁ Situated in western Iran
Khoramabad (Khorramabad) is the capital of Luristan province. The city was founded in theSassanid period and was first known as Shapur Khast meaning “as desired by Shapur”. The name was later changed to Dezh-e Siyah meaning “black palace”. In the centre of the city on a rocky hilltop are the ruins of a Sassanid palace known as Falak Al-Aflak(“the sky of skies”) since the Qajar period. Various reconstructions and improvements were carried out in the following centuries. The walls, constructed with both fired and unfired bricks, once stood at 22m in height. The castle is nearly 23km in circumference and once had a single courtyard. Subsequent constructions divided this huge compound into two sections. Numerous chambers connected with galleries remain as does an underground passage that allowed occupants to escape secretly. The palace was once used as a prison and is now a museum with many archaeological and anthropological exhibits. Other points of interest are the 900-year-old brick tower, the Manar-e Ajon, a former beacon for travelling caravans and the Tavasuli mosque on Shakaster Street.
Mashhad, often referred to as “Holy Mashhad” is home to one of the holiest pilgrim sites for Shia Muslims. The city, which draws millions of tourists every year, is a shopper’s paradise. Blessed with a rich heritage and old world charm, Mashhad holds the promise of a unique travel experience.
Mashhad, capital of Iran’s Khorasan Province and Iran’s second largest city, is known for the shrine of Imam Reza (A.S), the Eighth Imam of the Shia Muslims who follow Twelve Imams. Mashhad literally means “burial place of the martyr.” The city started out as Sanabad, a stop-over for trade caravans traveling to and from Turkmenistan. It was only after the martyrdom of Imam Reza (A.S) at Tus in 818 and the construction of his shrine here that the city became a pilgrim site. The ruined city of Tus lies about 23 km from Mashhad.
The city of Mashhad has been built around the shrine of Imam Reza (A.S). The holy areas in and around the holy shrine are known as Bast. The Bast forms a perfect circle and there is one circular road around it and four roads between the Bast and the rest of the city. The layout of the city is unique as these four roads point to the compass points in the north east, north west, south east and south west directions.
İmam Reza Shrine Complex
The complex is a city in itself and visitors are frisked by security at all gates. Women must observe shrine decorum and cover themselves with the chador, without which they will not be permitted to enter the complex. Apart from its religious significance, the complex is an architectural masterpiece decorated with intricate tiles, calligraphy, beautiful courtyards and porches. The complex also houses a museum, library and the very beautiful Masjid-e-Gohar Shaad of the Timurid period. Photography is not permitted within the complex.
The large structure with a blue dome was built to honor one of the apostles of the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W). One of the most important sites for Muslim tourists it is frequented by pilgrims and local Iranian families and can get quite crowded on public holidays.
Mosques and Mausoleums
The 15th century 72 Martyrs Mosque located just outside the city is one of the many mosques in Mashhad. The Nadir (Nader) Shah Mosque and mausoleum is a monument dedicated to the founder of the Afshar dynasty, who was responsible for the development of Mashhad city and expansion of the Imam Reza Shrine complex. Ferdosi Park and mausoleum and Gombade Sabz mausoleum are some other mosques in the city.