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Book a flight to Shiraz with Qatar Airways and get ready for a memorable Persian adventure. Home to the centuries-old craft of Persian rug weaving, Shiraz oozes art – from buildings embellished with intricate mosaics, to well-manicured rose gardens. For more than 2,000 years, it has been the cultural and literary cornerstone of Iran. The city gave birth to some of the nation’s most revered poets, writers and philosophers, including Hafez and Sa’adi.
Founded by Darius the Great, Shiraz quickly became one of the most important cities in Iran and, during the Zand Dynasty, was the country’s capital. Despite its history, etched on exquisite mosques and found in remnants of the ancient world, Shiraz has plenty to offer 21st-century visitors.
On any trip to Shiraz, the spotlight always falls on Takt-e Jamshid, also known as Persepolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Established around the 6th century, it was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire and was once looted by Alexander the Great.
Persepolis is located about an hour’s drive, or 60km, from the city centre, but don’t let that put you off. Once you arrive, you’ll appreciate some of the finest examples of carvings from the ancient world. It also displays spectacular rock reliefs, imposing towers, and the ruins of the incredible Apadana Palace. The whole experience is an unmissable trip back in time.
The mausoleums dedicated to the memory of poets Sa’adi and Hafez – from the 13th and 14th centuries, respectively – are also a spectacular draw. Hafez Mausoleum is set in a beautiful garden and features a marble tombstone inscribed with verses from his works. And Sa’adi Mausoleum is set against a vibrant, green backdrop. Both sites are important to Iranians with a keen interest in Persian literature.
On Lotf Ali Road is Qavam House, another UNESCO World Heritage site known locally as Narenjestan Garden and Museum. Here you will 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. It also has an astounding 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 features mirrored tiles that reflect the kaleidoscopic light playing through the stained-glass windows.
Get in touch with the Persian culture when you travel to Shiraz by sampling some of their traditional dishes. Iranian cuisine is an amalgam of several influences. A culinary trip to Shiraz takes you on a tour of the Middle East, Greece, Asia and even Russia – so be prepared to give your taste buds a workout.
Don’t miss polo shushtari, a dish made up 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 and oil, served with a dollop of yoghurt to temper the spices. Most dishes are accompanied with flatbreads, while tea is the brew of choice. Tea shops add a musty, aromatic perfume to the street markets and bazaars.
Shopping in Shiraz is something of a multi-sensory experience. The chatter of hagglers and traders; the smells of perfume and spices; the brightly coloured hand-woven rugs on sale. It’s a feast for the senses.
Be sure to check out the Persian rugs, which are hailed throughout the world as some of the best examples of tapestry 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 selection of goods on sale.
Essential facts about Shiraz
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip