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If it’s history and heritage you’re after, then book a flight to Shiraz with Qatar Airways. Shiraz has been the cultural cornerstone of Iran for over 2000 years, giving rise to philosophical poets, such as Hafez and Sa’adi. Founded by Darius the Great, it quickly became one of the most important cities in Iran and, during the time of the Zand Dynasty, took its place as the country’s capital.
Despite its obvious history, etched into exquisite mosques and found in the remnants of the ancient world, Shiraz has plenty to offer the 21st Century visitor. If you enjoy lush rose gardens, wide, tree-lined streets and the promise of adventure, then this is one to put on the list. Fly to Shiraz for an exotic and evocative holiday destination.
The spotlight always falls firmly on Takt-e Jamshid – also known as Persepolis. It’s located about an hour’s drive from the city centre, but don’t let that put you off. Once you arrive you’ll be able to appreciate some of the finest examples of carvings from the ancient world, spectacular rock reliefs, imposing towers and the incredible Apadana Palace. The whole experience is a trip back in time and you can’t travel to Shiraz and not see it.
The Hafez and Sa’adi Mausoleums are also a spectacular attraction, celebrating the influential works composed by these mystic poets. Hafez’ Mausoleum is set in a beautiful garden and consists of a marble tombstone inscribed with verses from his most important poems. Sa’adi, also one of Iran’s most respected thinkers, also has a mausoleum set against a vibrant, green backdrop. Both these sites are important to Iranians with an interest in profound thought.
Naranjestan Museum is well worth a visit, just down the Lotf Ali Road. Part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll find beautiful gardens lined with rows of palm and orange trees. Inside, the Museum is fabulously opulent with a mirrored entrance-hall and beams painted with European motifs – not to mention the amazing archaeological collection put together by Arthur Upham Pope, who taught there in the mid-20th Century.
No trip to Shiraz would be complete without a visit to the Shah Cheragh, a mosque built to honour the brothers Ahmad and Muhammad, sons of the Seventh Imam. However, as entry is only permitted to Muslims, a good alternative is the shrine to Mazar Ali ibn Hamzeh, which boasts mirrored tiles that reflect the kaleidoscopic light that plays through the stained-glass windows.
If you want to get in touch with the local culture, then it’s a good idea to eat what the locals eat. Iranian cuisine is unique, being made up of a variety of influences from neighbouring countries and those who have left their marks behind. You’ll find a culinary trip to Shiraz takes you on a tour of Greece, Asia and even Russia – so be prepared to give your taste-buds something of a work-out!
Be sure to try polo shushtari – a dish of rice, black beans and chicken seasoned with saffron and dill. Alternatively, look out for street vendors selling osh, a thick soup of noodles, beans, oil and yoghurt to cool the spices. Most dishes are accompanied with flatbreads. Tea is the brew of choice and the tea shops add a musty, aromatic perfume to the street markets and bazaars.
You’ll find that shopping on your trip to Shiraz is something of a multi-sensory experience. From the chatter of the hagglers and traders, the smells of perfume and spice and the brightly-coloured rugs on sale, it’s a real banquet for the brain. Be sure to check out the rugs; they’re hailed throughout the world as some of the best examples of tapestry that you can buy. You’ll also find jewellery, food, fabrics and dishes on sale – but remember to haggle.
Of the many bazaars the city has to offer, Vakil Bazaar is probably the most famous and the one with the greatest selections of goods on sale.
Flights to Shiraz will take you to Shiraz International Airport. There are plenty of taxis available and good car-hire facilities.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Shiraz please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Iranian Rial (IRR)
Voltage: 220 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type C
International dialing code: +98