Saturday, May 1, 2010

Naghsh -e-jahan sq

Iranian history represents a rich blend of legend, mythology, recorded fact and living tradition. Several civilizations have risen in various parts of the country at different times, each leaving its own impression on the subsequent development of Iranian history.
The oldest known civilization in Iran is that of Elam in the 10th century B.C. and the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C. Other major Iranian civilizations are Media, Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanians. Unfortunately, most of the landmarks of these civilizations were demolished during the Arab and subsequent Mongol and Tatar invasions. The 16th century Safavids civilizations that has the most lasting number of monuments has inherited from both Persian civilization and its invaders. Many other dynasties and monarchies succeeded the country until the Pahlavi, that was once again demolished by the Islamic Revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, in a way similar to its predecessors.

Iran has a long history of almost 7,000 years since the Aryans emigrated to the Iran Heights. Aryans gave their name to this land and called it "land of Aryans" or Iran. Achaemenid appeared in the 550 B.C. was the first unified dynasty and until it was conquered by Alexander of Macedonia (Eskandar e Maghdooni) in 330 B.C., Iran prospered as "The Great Persian Empire" for more than two centuries. Contributions of the Achaemenians to the worlds culture are numerous. Cyrus (Xerxes) The Great (550 B.C.) was the first emperor who conquered Elam and gave Jews freedom. He was also the first one who declared and practiced human rights. In the Great Persia Empire from East China to Libya, many nations were coexisting and all were declared free to pactice their own religion and follow their own traditions and customs. Daryush The Great (500 B.C.) was the first emperor who commited to digging the ancient Suez Channel, joining the Red and Mediteranian sea. There are many landmarks left from the Achaemenian period mostly in Persepolis and Naghshe-rostam near present Shiraz.

Melika Kalhoor

Friday, January 8, 2010

Persepolis or Takht-é Jamshid

Persepolis or Takht-é Jamshid as the Iranians call it, was built in about 500 BC by the Achaemenian Kings Darius, Xerxes and their successors. There are no words to describe Persepolis. On the other hand, if this page wouldn't have any text, it would appear quite strange, so at least we'll tell about some of the things we saw here. The site of Persepolis is very large, over 125.000 m2. Besides that, there are hundreds of interesting details. That means you can easily spend a whole day here and still be able to discover things you haven't seen before. The Gate of All Nations, also known as the Gate of Xerxes, is one of the first things you see. This gate bears inscriptions in three languages that you should be kind to travellers and must respect other peoples' cultures. The original Persepolis stood on a platform about 10 meters higher than the surrounding plains. You can get the idea what it looked liked when you walk to Persepolis from the car park and have to climb those magnificent stairs before you can see a thing. After entering the platform, you see there is another platform that is a bit higher. This second platform holds the Apadana Palace. This is the place where the King held his receptions. It isn't hard to discover the symbols of the Zoroastrian religion. Above you see the symbol for the Great God Ahura Mazda. You see him in a lot of places. Other symbols you see very frequently are the symbols for the four holy elements: lion = fire, bull = earth, lotus flower = water and eagle = air. A lion attacking a bull is the symbol for Now Ruz, the Iranian New Year, which is celebrated on the 21th of March. The best kept reliefs can be seen along the staircases of the Apadana Palace. There are 23 different scenes showing us the representatives of 23 different countries in the Achaemenian Empire, how they dressed, what weapons they carried and what treasury they brought from their homelands to please the King. Located about 6 kilometers north from Persepolis is Naghsh-é Rosham, the tombs of Darius, Xerxes I and II and Artaxerxes. Being Zoroastrians, the bodies of the dead Kings were fed to vultures. When the vultures were finished, the remaining bones were buried in the ground. Simple and easy. When the Achaemenians travelled to Egypt, they saw the pyramids of the Pharaohs and were very impressed. When they were back home, they dig up the bones and started to make something impressive for their own kings. Probably they have also been in Petra in Jordan??? A riddle to all the archaeologists is this cube opposite the tombs of the Kings. Some say it is an ancient fire temple, but they can't say for sure.

Shiraz - the poetic capital of Persia

Shiraz is known as the poetic capital of Persia, because two of the greatest poets of the world, Hafez (1324-1391) and Sa'di (1209-1291), come from this city. Sa'di, the traveler saw a great part of the world before he finally settled in Shiraz, where he died. Hafez on the other hand, except for one very short journey, never even left his city. So it's logical we start our stay in Shiraz with a visit to their mausolea. At the mausoleum of Sa'di it is unnervingly quiet, the door is open but there's nobody there. We discover why when we arrive at the mausoleum of Hafez. Today, it happens to be Hafez Memorial Day and every Iranian who loves poetry has come here to commemorate the great poet while reading, reciting or listening to some of his poems. For us, this is a very strange experience. We can't imagine so many young people would come to a Vondel Day in Holland. Iranians must truly love their poetry. Our Iranian guide Shervin surprises us, he recites a beautiful poem of Sa'di, by heart.When it's almost dark, we go to the Shrine of Shah Cheragh. This is the tomb of Seyed Amir Ahmad, the brother of Imam Reza, the 8th Imam. The outside of the Shrine looks absolutely fabulous in the dark. The Shrine is a Holy Place and an important place for pilgrimage, but it is open to non-Muslims, as long as you ask permission first and under the condition that women wear a chador. We are even allowed to look inside, where a service is going on. We see a lot of grief come out, men throw themselves against the tomb, women are crying, and there are people praying everywhere. While at the same time a little boy is walking around serving tea. This service is something we have never seen in our lives, still a little bit shaken we leave for our hotel. The next morning, we go back to the Shrine, but it doesn't have the magic anymore it had in the dark.When visiting time is over, we head for the bazaar. Pieter promised his mother to take some real Iranian cloth with him, so we spend almost an hour comparing the wares and prices of the different shops and another hour bargaining for a good

The Tomb of Hafez

Hafez' tomb is the closest to the town centre. Built in 1953 in a garden, the mausoleum is a small open pavilion; inside which is a marble tombstone with several of the poets' verses. One of the nicest tea-houses (chaikhaneh) in Shiraz can be found in the grounds, set around a rectangular pool. You can sit around on cushions sip a cup of tea, or rose water while reflecting on his poetry. Hafez spent most of his life in his native town and died there in 1389. He is considered the undisputed master of the ghazal1, and his poems reflect a richness and a subtlety unequalled even by the other great talent, Saadi.


After the shrines of Imam Reza in Mashhad and Fatima in Qum, the third most venerated pilgrimage destination in Iran is the shrine of Shah Chirag in the city of Shiraz. Archaeological excavation indicates a settlement on the site of Shiraz in the prehistoric period and cuneiform records from the great ceremonial capital of Persepolis, 57 kilometers to the north, show that it was a significant town in Achaemenian times. As a city however, it was founded in 684 AD, after the Arab armies conquered the Sassanians. The Buyids (945-1055 AD) made Shiraz their capital, building mosques, palaces and a great city wall. The 13th and 14th centuries saw Shiraz as a literary center especially famous for its poets Sa'adi and Hafez, both of whom are buried in the city. There are many splendid Islamic monuments in Shiraz, especially its enormous Safavid mosque, but the most notable religious site is the shrine of Syed Amir Ahmad (also called Ahmad ibn Musa). Amir Ahmad and his brother Mir Muhammad, both of whom were brothers of Imam Reza, took refuge in Shiraz following Abbasid persecution of the Shi'ite sect (Amir Ahmad died or was murdered in 835). The brothers' tombs, originally only simple mausoleums, became celebrated pilgrimage destinations in the 14th century when the pious and art-loving Queen Tashi Khatun erected a mosque and theological school by the tombs. Known locally as Shah Chirag or the 'King of Light', the exquisite tomb of Amir Ahmad is a place of truly stunning beauty. The enormous dome above the shrine is inlaid with hundreds of thousands of pieces of finely crafted tile and the interior walls are likewise covered with myriad pieces of dazzling cut glass intermixed with multi-colored tiles. In the same complex is the mausoleum of Mir Muhammad. Besides the great pilgrimage shrine of Shah Chirag, Shiraz is also famous for its many imamzadihs, these being shrines of descendants or relatives of the twelve Shi'ite Imams. The term imamzadih refers to both the shrine structure and the saint associated with the shrine. Different shrines, or rather the imamzadihs watching over them, are believed to possess different miraculous powers and thus pilgrims in Shiraz may seek assistance with such matters as finding a mate, ease in childbirth and treatment of a variety of physical and psychological ailments. Shrine of Shah Chirag, Shiraz

naghsh -e-jahan square

Narenjestan building, known as “Narenjestan Qavam” is a part of Qavam complex. It was designed and used as “Birouni” (a part of building to receive people out of the family circle). It was the domicile of Governor’s Court of Fars during Qajar period. It also includes Zinat-ol-molk house, designed and used as “Andarouni” (part of the home for only the close family). The other parts of the complex were: Private bath house, public bath house, Husseinieh (religious ceremonies building, detention house and stable. The detention house and stable no longer exist. Narenjestan and Zinat-ol-molk buildings (Andarouni and Birouni) were connected via underground passage way. The complex is a significant representation of Iranian architecture during "Qajar" period. Narenjestan and Zinat-ol-molk buildings are examples of traditional Iranian residential architecture. This structure was built between 1879-1886 on the Northern side of the luxuriant "Narenjestan Garden" in Shiraz. Its construction is attributed to "Mirza Ebrahim Khan", the great grandson of the elder "Qavam" and grandfather of the contemporary "Qavamolmolk", with the assistant of a master mason. In 1965, Narenjestan was handed over to the staffs of Asian Institute and Shiraz University. One of its halls was being transformed into a museum later. It is necessary to mention, that Professor Arthur Upham Pope spent 50 years of his time life, working here, dedicating it numerous antique artifacts. Museum's collections of photographs and slides, initiated by Professor Pope, are also preserved here

Shiraz, Naranjistan

Shiraz, Naranjistan, 19th century. This very beautiful house and garden which originally belonged to the Ghavam family now been restored to become the home of the Asia Institute. A fine painted title frieze borders the roof, while the facade has a dado of carved stone slabs. The high central porch fronts a room lined with mirror mosaic, and the garden has been restored to an original design.