Shiraz & Persepolis

In Tehran, Justin from New Zealand joins our little group. We take an overnight train to Shiraz.

Tehran train station

The train is one of the most comfortable we’ve been on in a long time.

On track
Persian sunset

Early next morning, we arrive in Shiraz.

Saeed is happy because Shiraz is his home town – he gets to see his family.

We enjoy a breakfast of local bread and ‘ash‘ (pronounced ‘osh’ as in ‘OshKosh B’gosh’.

Saeed calls this Shirazi comfort food

First stop is the Nasir-ol-molk mosque.

Nasir-ol-molk mosque

It’s famous for its stained-glass windows, which tourists love to photograph.

Nasir-ol-molk mosque, secular side

The unlit side is where the serious praying gets done

Nasir-ol-molk mosque, pious side

The streets are alive with commerce.

Pots shot

The Qavam House has a beautiful garden. Gardens are a Persian specialty.

The alleys provide shelter from the sun.

Ye Shoppe of Old Photographs

We go for a stroll in the the UNESCO-listed Eram Garden.

Shiraz is the home of our tour company, Pars Tourist Agency. We drop in to meet the people Maria has been in regular email contact with for two months.

Denis, Maria, the wonderful Aliye, our traveling companion Justin, and Roya

We come across the Vakil Mosque.

The courtyard is burning hot.

Carpets drying in the courtyard

But it’s refreshingly cool inside.

Most Iranian mosques are covered in colourful tiles. Easy to see where the carpet patterns come from. Or maybe it’s the other way around?

Tree of Life

We visit the mausoleum of the poet Hafez, one of Shiraz’s most famous sons.

O Beloved, upon this river of wine, launch our boat-shaped cup…’ – Hafez, Ghazal No. 377

He would be disappointed by the absence of wine in modern-day Shiraz.

Sight or Insight of the Day

I’ve had a lifelong interest in visiting Persepolis. I can now cross that off my bucket list.

Approaching Persepolis

It’s constructed from house-trailer-sized blocks of stone.

Alexander the Great is supposed to have burnt it down in 330 BC. What remains brings to mind the poem Ozymandias.

‘Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ – Percy Bysshe Shelley

The main gate has fascinating graffiti from the past.

Early 19th century graffiti
Remains of doorways
Tomb in the cliffside

Up the road at Pasargadae is the tomb of Cyrus the Great.

‘… the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm…’ – Ezra 1.1

This pillar from his palace reminds us of the monolith in ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey‘.

Three lullabies in an ancient tongue for the Court of the Crimson King

Inscribed on the pillar is ‘I am Cyrus the king, an Achaemenid’ in Old Persian, Elamite, and Akkadian.