Shiraz, with over 2000 years of history is considered the heart of Persia, not only in historical and cultural terms; Shiraz is known as the city of poets, where the tombs of Hafez and Saadi poets and also famous for wine which is currently prohibited under Islamic law, that in the 9th century became the most famous wine in the Middle East. Despite the phonetic similarities with the name of Syrah cast, popular in Europe, have nothing to do with Iran’s Shiraz that is a white wine … yes, “is” because secretly is still produced and not all existing vineyards in the region are for grape or raisin!
The city has much to offer to visitors, among mosques, bazaars, gardens, etc… but not everything is close to the center, requiring long walks or trips on a shared-taxi.
As must-visit is the Masoleum of Hafez (Aramgah-e Hafez), where is the tomb of Hafez poet, surrounded by a garden where locals and visitors move to pay respect to the poet, praying, reading books or simply wandering along the place. The arrival to this place by the end of the day, when the sun had already disappeared over the horizon but the sky still keep some tones of blue that quickly get dark letting emerge the stars, with together with the intellectual and spiritual devotion create a mystic and magic atmosphere to which no one get´s indifferent.
The rich architecture, the elaborately decorated in mosaics forming geometric motifs that lines the main building ceilings, and the spacious and minimalist gardens, of the Masoleum of Saadi (Aramgah-e Saadi) did not provide an atmosphere so special, yet this place is also very popular among the local population, that comes here at the end of the day savoring the tranquility and fresh air.
The Bazaar-e Vakil, despite the interesting architecture of the building this bazar wasn’t particularly interesting finding is dominated by Ashura decorations, the largest religious festival for Shiite Muslims, which is dominate the black flags with religious inscriptions.
But the most striking impression of Shiraz, not just by the stunning space but the mostly by the atmosphere experienced was Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh, the giant mosque located in the city center, which can go unnoticed despite its ornate portals, and that is the principal place of pilgrimage in the city of Shiraz.
Security measures forbidden cameras inside, but no picture can convey the impression made by the interior of the mosque where lies the tomb of Sayyed Mir Ahmad: the walls, pillars and ceilings completely covered with small mirrors forming a kind of kaleidoscope as we move towards the different rooms. Inside, where men and women are separated, reigns a mixed environment of religious devotion with lines of women fully black dressed praying at the tomb while others sited in groups, chatting casually while children run and play without rest.
Around the mosque hidden by big walls from the streets of Shiraz is the huge patio that was gradually filling up with people. From a distance comes the sound of drums, slow and syncopated beat, and songs that more closely resemble lamentations. Following towards these unusual sounds that take us out of the mosque, we are faced with a procession, in which groups of men dressed in black shirt, hit strongly with his hand on the chest to the rhythm of the words that come out from shrill speaker accompanying the procession. Behind other groups, hit with chains on the shoulders, a flogging act that leaves the metallic sheen of the currents on the black fabric of the shirts. This was the first of ten days dedicated to the celebrations of the Ashura all over Iran.
Out of this black and heavy environment, the visit on the day after to the Masjed-e Nasir-al-Mock brought opposite sensations, with the light entering the prayer room through the windows full of color glass that occupy the entire facade facing the east, illuminated the interior of the space of a colorful warm light, transmitting peace and comfort.
Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh Mosque
Cameras are not allowed; however during Ashura, in the company of elements of “foreigner affairs” (volunteers with good English which lead tourists through the mosque) you can take pictures.
Women have to wear chador, which completely covers the body from head to toe; at the entry the chadors are provided for free.
Open 24 hours.
During the week: 8.00 – 12.00; 15.30h – 18.00h
Friday and public holidays: 8.00 – 11.00; 15.30h – 17.00h
Ticket: 100,000 rials
Should go during tomorrow around 10 or 11 hours, when the sun shines on the facade of stained glass.
Niayesh Boutique Hotel
In front of BiBi Dokhtaran, Alley 4,
Namazi Junction towards Shahe-e Cheragah
Phone: 0711 2233 622
Dorm that the room is more similar to a corridor roughly split into compartments with 2 beds each; little space. The rooms have window to the central courtyard that also work as restaurant, and can be a bit noisy especially during the breakfast, served by 7 am.
Dorm Bed: 400,000 rials.
Breakfast is included and is very good: buffet style (fruit, bread, egg, cheese, yogurt, butter, jams, honey, tea and coffee … and some delicious dates involved in tahini (sesame paste).
Where to eat:
In the main streets of the center, such as the Loft Ali Khan Boulevard and Karim Khan Zand-e Boulevard you can find some fast-food restaurants with kebabs, falafel, ash-e reshteh and halim.
Like most Iranian cities, Shiraz also has its traditional sweet, the foloodeh, a kind of ice cream made of thin starch noodles, flavored with rose water and slightly sweetened. Sometimes it can be served with ice cream and drizzled with lime juice. Very refreshing.
The Salamat Restaurant is a vegetarian suggestion, located in Niayesh Boulevard, but is located far away from the city center.
The arrival in Shiraz is on the well-organized Karandish Bus Terminal. On arrival we are approached by various taxi drivers and that lead you to a kiosk of prepaid taxis. Solution to avoid if you are traveling alone because here taxis charge 100,000 rials to the city center; for half the price you can take a shared-taxi in the streets surrounding the terminal.
To go from downtown to the Karandish Bus Terminal, from were departure the long distance buses, you can use the local bus, that start from the small bus terminal, Ahmid Bus Stop in Dastgheib Boulevard, near the Mosque Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh; there is a small kiosk selling tickets that provides information about the number of the bus and the corresponding stop.
Bus Esfahan – Shiraz: 7 hours, 170,000 rials, Normal bus
Bus Shiraz – Yazd: 5 hours, 200,000 rials, VIP Bus