This ancient city -Shiraz- is the city of Love and Literature and the origin of first samples of Persian gardens is the unique example of hospitality and warmness of its people and bears many historical and ancient attractions and old cities of Persian Empire showing the glory of a nation such as Persepolis and Necropolis and Pasargadae. The first capital of Fars, some 2500 years ago, was Pasargadae (is located near to Shiraz). It was also the capital of Achaemenid King Cyrus the Great. The ceremonial capital of his successor, Darius, and his son Xerxes was Persepolis. Today, only the ruins of these two capitals remain. Estakhr was another capital of Fars. It was established by the Sassanid and lasted until Shiraz finally assumed the role of the regional capital. You can completely feel the highlights of the cultural city of Shiraz if you travel to this nice city during spring season when the fragrance of flowers, especially orange tree blossoms has filled up the air. Secondly, you should really pay a visit to its marvelously attractive gardens which are numerous and extraordinarily beautiful and eye catching. Thirdly, you will have an amazing experience after visiting the fabulous religious sites of this city which are painted colorfully and make the people who visit the places mesmerized by the play of colors which are mostly relaxing and sacred. Finally, the amazing architecture of these attractions is what really fascinates every visitor especially the ones who study architecture and architectural styles professionally both in terms of ancient and historical architecture and also modern architectural styles.
Shiraz was selected as the southern capital city during the Saffarid Dynasty (861-1003). Also, the Daylamite Dynasty (934-1062) selected Shiraz as their capital city; consequently, Shiraz turned to the most important city in southern Iran. The Salghurids conquered Shiraz in the mid-12th century and selected it as their capital city. Under their reign, Shiraz was saved from being looted by the Genghis khan’s army. Due to its stability and peaceful atmosphere during the Salghurids Dynasty, Shiraz became the gathering place for many scholars, philosophers, artists and litterateurs such as Sa’di and Rouzbahan known as Sheikh (cleric) the Great.
Shiraz flourished and turned to an art and knowledge center during the Safavids (1501-1722). As Karim khan Zand took the reign, Shiraz was selected as the capital city of Iran in 1766. Under Karim Khan, Shiraz underwent rapid and huge development in terms of trade, economy, and especially arts and culture. Most of the architectural masterpieces remaining today (Karim Khan Citadel, Vakil Bazar, Vakil Mosque, etc.) were built during that time.
Until recently, some scholars referred to the ancient reliefs in Barm-e Delak, arguing that the history of Shiraz would date back to the Sassanid era. However, the term Shiraz was first referred to as Shirrazish and Tirrazish on Elamite clay tablets dating back to 2000 B.C., which were unearthed at the Persepolis in 1970. Recent excavations attribute early settlements in the plain of Shiraz to about 5500 B.C. Founded in the Achaemenian Dynasty (2500 years ago), Shiraz became one of the main cities of the province and rose to special prominence after the advent of Islam.
Fars Province and Shiraz have enjoyed a special status throughout the history of Iran. Fars Province has played such a major role in the country’s ancient history that it is considered the center of Iranian identity – the Persian language spoken today is called Farsi. Indeed, Fars was one of the main seats of the great Achaemenian Empire, stretching from Egypt to India. The province is home to numerous precious monuments including the UNESCO-inscribed sites namely the Persepolis, the Pasargadae, eight archaeological sites situated in three geographical areas in the southeast of Fars Province under the title “Sassanid Archeological Landscape of Fars Province,” and Eram Garden and ancient Garden of Pasargadae as examples of the Persian Garden.
Shiraz boasts a long, distinguished tradition of art. The city of roses and nightingales is the birthplace of the Shiraz School of art, which led to the creation of outstanding works of miniature, tile-working, mirror-working, Khatam, plaster, sculpture, etc. The Bird and Flower style of art, which flourished in the 14th century, has originated from this school of art. A wide variety of finely-made handicrafts are produced in Shiraz and Fars: Khatam and Monabbat, kinds of wood marquetry, Ghalamzani, and seven-colored tiles, to mention just a few. Khatam of Shiraz has received the UNESCO SEAL (seal of excellence).
In a country which has been home to many internationally renowned literary figures, Shiraz is deservedly proud to be known as the literary capital. Shiraz is the birthplace of two internationally celebrated poets Hafez and Sa'di, whose work has influenced many writers and poets across the world. Inspired by Hafez, Goethe wrote his West- Eastern Diwan. Also, Sa'di's famous books Gulistan (the Rose Garden) and Bustan (the Orchard) are widely acclaimed masterpieces. His Bustan was ranked by the Guardian among the top 100 books of all time. Shiraz is also home to many more renowned scholars, scientists, and artists.
Mullā Sadrā, also known as Sadr al-Muta’allihin (1571/2 – c. 1635/40) was one of the most prominent Islamic philosophers. He was the master of the Illuminationist (Ishraghi) school of Philosophy and founder of the Transcendent Theosophy. To mention just a few of the notable figures from Shiraz one can refer to the following: Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi, the 13th-century Iranian polymath and poet who made contributions to astronomy, mathematics, medicine, physics, music theory, philosophy; Sibawayh was a Persian leading grammarian and author of the earliest book on Arabic grammar known as Al-Kitāb, or "The Book.” ; Lotfali Sooratgar, the 19th-century painter; Ali Asghar Khodadoust (1935 – 2018) professor of ophthalmology specializing in corneal transplantation and originator of the Khodadoust line method.
Shiraz is one of the key tourism sites in Iran; its cultural heritage is of global importance. Let’s get acquainted with some famous tourist attractions in Shiraz:
*The tombs of Hafiz, Sa’di, and Khaju Kermani (whose tomb is inside a mountain above the city's old Qur'an Gate). Other lesser known tombs are that of Shah Shoja' (the Mozafarid emir of Persia, and patron of Hafiz), and the Haft Tanan mausoleum, where seven Sufi mystics are buried. The tomb of Baba Kuhi sits atop a mountain overlooking the city, and the tomb of Karim Khan Zand is at the Pars Museum of Shiraz.
*The oldest mosque is Atigh Jame' Mosque, which is one of the older mosques of Iran, followed by Vakil Mosque and Nasir al-Mulk mosque.
*The citadel / Arg of Karim Khan sits adjacent to the Vakil Bazaar and Vakil Bath at the city's central district. The most famous of houses are Zinat-ol-Moluk House and Qavaam House, both in the old quarters of the city.
*Zinat al-Mulk House, the magnificent Qajar mansion, is one of the attractions of Shiraz, Iran. The mansion once belonged to Qavaam al-Mulk family, ruled over Shiraz for years; The house was named after the daughter of the owner, Zinat al-Mulk. This fabulous house is considered as the only house in Shiraz with a brick basement beneath its total surface.
*The Qur'an Gate is the entrance to Shiraz. It is located near the gorge of Allah-o-Akbar and is flanked by the Baba Kuhi and Chehel Maqam mountains. The gateway once contained two hand-written Qur’ans by Sultan Ibrahim Ibn-e Shahrukh Gurekani in an upper room which have now been moved to the Pars Museum.
*The Eram Garden (Bagh-e Eram) in Shiraz is a striking location for visitors with a variety of plants as well as a historic mansion. Although the exact date of the construction of the garden is not clear, historical evidence suggests it was constructed during the Seljuk Dynasty on the orders of the celebrated Seljuk monarch Sanjar. Other historical Persian gardens are Afifabad Garden (originally the Golshan Garden) and The Museum of Weapons, Delgosha Garden and Jahan Nama Garden.
*Delgosha Garden is one of the historical gardens in Shiraz, Iran near Tomb of Sa’di and it belongs to the pre-Islamic era of the Sassanian Empire.
*Afif Abad Garden is a museum complex in Shiraz, Iran. Located in the affluent Afif Abad district of Shiraz, the complex was constructed in 1863. It contains a former royal mansion, a historical weapons museum, and a Persian garden, all open to the public
*Qavaam House is a traditional and historical house in Shiraz, Iran. It is at walking distance from the Khan Madrassa.
*Nearby, down from the 18th-century bridge, is situated the Ali Ibn-e Hamzeh Holy Shrine, constructed perhaps in pre-Seljuk times to honor a relative of the seventh Imam. Its two minarets, exterior dome, entrance vestibule and courtyard rooms, however, date from the late 18th and 19th centuries. If, as is likely these days, a visit to Shahecheragh shrine is not possible during your stay, this shrine possesses similar extensive Qajar mirror work on its interior walls and vaults.
*The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque, is a traditional mosque in Shiraz, Iran. It is located in Gawd-i Arabān quarter, near Shahecheragh shrive. It was built during Qajar dynasty rule of Iran. Its porch is festooned with colorful tile working and has the highest number of different colors in its construction using colors caressing the eyes. This gorgeously colorful place of worship is filled with relaxation as you enter.
*Shapouri House or Shapouri Pavilion and Garden is an early 20th-century Persian building and garden in the city of Shiraz, Iran.
*The Pars Museum is a museum in Shiraz, Fars Province, and southern Iran. Founded in 1936 under Reza Shah Pahlavi, it is located in Nazar Garden.
*Saraye Moshir is traditional Bazaar in Shiraz, Southern city of Iran. It was founded more than 250 years ago under the order of government general of Fars province in Shiraz named Mirza Abolhassan Moshir al-Mulk. It was made as bazaar in the first days of its establishment. Hereafter the time passed and history began. In some days this place was used as a museum and also as a traditional restaurant and Tea-Serving center. After the revolution in Iran it was closed for some years. Then it began to become a place for making handcrafts and artful goods. Till then up to now it has continued.
*Vakil Bazaar: The wonderfully photogenic Vakil Bazaar is Shiraz’s main market place and home to hundreds of shops and stalls. Satisfyingly labyrinthine, the bazaar is the place for buying rugs, spices, jewellery, and household goods.
*The Vakil Mosque is a mosque in Shiraz, southern Iran, situated to the west of the Vakil Bazaar next to its entrance. This mosque was built between 1751 and 1773, during the Zand period; however, it was restored in the 19th century during the Qajar period. Vakil means regent, which was the title used by Karim Khan, the founder of Zand Dynasty. Shiraz was the seat of Karim Khan's government and he endowed many buildings, including this mosque. On the two sides of the entrance gate there are magnificent tile-works and arches. The left and right corridors of the entrance gate are connected to the main room.
*The Vakil Water Storage is an “ab anbar” that was built in the late 1700s during the Zand dynasty. Karim Khan, the founder of the Zand dynasty made Shiraz his capital. Thus he began to construct new monuments and buildings that were necessary. He began to create a bazaar in his capital, Vakil Bazaar. Then, Karim Khan ordered engineers to build a public bath as there were no baths in homes back in the 1700s. The Vakil Bath constructions were also completed in a short time, but the new capital of Iran needed a better source of fresh water. So his majesty thought about building a water reservoir chamber, an ab anbar.
*Vakil Bath, Wakil Bath, or Wakil Hammam is an old public bathhouse (hammam) in Shiraz, Iran. It was a part of the royal district constructed during Karim Khan Zand's reign (1751–1779) which includes the Arg of Karim Khan, Vakil Bazaar, Vakil Mosque and many administrative buildings. It is located on the west side of the Vakil Mosque. The hammam was originally intended for use by the nobility and continued to be in use up until the 20th century.
*Naranjestan Garden in Shiraz, is one of the most beautiful and praised gardens one will love to visit. This amazing garden was built in the 19th century. This garden belonged to the Qavaam family. At that time, the Qavaam family was among the political figures of Shiraz and Qavaam House was the residential place of Qavaam family and the office for their administration.
*Takht-e Jamshid (Persepolis, Parse, Parse Polis), is a huge complex including palaces, gates, kings mausoleums, reliefs, and glorious stairways constructed on the west hillside of Rahmat mountain; it was started to establish in 518 BC and completed after 150 years. Being developed during the dynasty of Darius I, Xerxes and Artaxerxes I, this ancient city was considered a majestic and ceremonial capital for Achaemenian, which had been constructed on a stone terrace higher than the Marvdasht flatlands. In 321 BC Alexander set fire to Persepolis and a great part of the complex was destroyed.
*Pasargadae world heritages collection, a collection of ancient structure remained from Achaemenid era which includes different parts such as: Cyrus the great tomb, Pasargadae mosque, Pasargadae royal garden, Darvazeh palace, bridge, Bar-e a'm palace, exclusive palace, two palaces, royal garden fountains, Cambyses tomb, Tal-e Takht defensive structures, Mozafari caravanserai, sacred ground and Tange Bolaghi in Madar-e Soleiman region were the causes of establishing the Hakhamanesh district in Pasargadae county and Madar Soleiman village was promoted to the Madar Soleiman city by the promotion of four villages to towns in Fars province at February 14, 2013.
*Shapur cave/ Shahpour cave is located in the Zagros Mountains, in southern Iran, about 6 km from the ancient city of Bishapur. This cave is near Kazerun in the Chogan valley, which was the site of polo, in the Sassanid period.
*Sangtarashan cave is located in the Jahrom, in southern Iran; it is the largest handmade cave in the world. It has several corridors, columns and openings.
*The Sassanid Palace at Sarvestan is a Sassanid-era building in the Iranian city of Sarvestan, some 90 km southeast from the city of Shiraz. The palace was built in the 5th century AD, and was either a gubernatorial residence or a Zoroastrian fire temple.
*Qal'eh Dokhtar or Ghale Dokhtar or Dokhtar Castle or Dezh Dokhtar, is a castle made by Ardashir I, in present-day Fars, Iran, in 209 AD. It is located on a mountain slope near the Firouzabad-Kavar road.
*Ancient City of Bishapur: Between two ancient cities of Persepolis and Susa, linking two Sassanid (224-642 AD) capitals of Estakhr and Ctesiphon, founded or better saying rebuilt on an older city, Bishapur became a dazzling jewel of its era. The city is named after Shapur I (241-272 AD) as Bishapur by the size of 2.1 kilometers. The city has a square plan with two main streets crossing each other, and reaching the main gates, unlike other Iranian cities that have a circular plan.
*Ardeshir Babakan Palace, also known as the Atash-kadeh (Fire Temple), is a castle located on the slopes of the mountain on which Ghaleh Dokhtar is situated on and it's one of the Sassanid archaeological landscape of Fars region that registered in UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE in 2018.This palace Built in AD 224 by Ardashir I of the Sassanid Empire, it is located two kilometers (1.2 miles) north of the ancient city of Gor, i.e. the old city of Firouzabad in Fars.
*Naghshe Rajab is one of the most beautiful ancient rock carvings in Iran which is within reach of Persepolis 3kms away in Shiraz. Once you are there, you will see the massive carvings to the right of the Royal road ( Shahi Road), the main road built here 25 centuries ago to connect Susa in Persia to Sardis in Lydia. Naghsh-e Rajab has been carved in the northern slope of Mount Rahmat and depicts historical scenes from the coronation of Ardashir I (224-239 BCE), the figure of Shapur I and his coronation (239-270 BCE), and Kartir, the Magi of all magis in the Sassanid Dynasty. Many carvings have remained here from the Sassanid Period.
*Naqsh-e Rostam (Necropolis) is one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring ancient sites of the Achaemenid Empire, consisting of the colossal tombs of Persian kings dating back to the first millennium BC. It stands as a lasting memory of a once powerful empire that ruled over a significant portion of the ancient world. Naqsh-e Rostam is located approximately 5 km (3 miles) to the northwest of Persepolis, the capital of the former Achaemenid (Persian) Empire in the present day in Iran.
*Darabgerd is a circular city located in southern Iran, 9km south-west of Darab. It may be considered as the initial capital of Sassanid Kingdom. The foundation of the city has been placed at the time of Darius the Great (522- 486 BC). The governmental citadel was located at the top of dome-shaped mountain. This city was protected by a very high circular rampart and also a deep trench.
*Zoroastrian Temple: Tower, stone chamber or so called ka’ba-ye Zartosht is located near Marvdasht in Necropolis historical complex. The stone chamber is 46 meters from the mountain exactly opposite Darius II's mausoleum. It is rectangular and has only one entrance door. The material of the structure is white limestone.