Shiraz is a city famous for wine… Or, frankly speaking – it used to be. From the ninth century, the whole area was full of excellent vineyards… Then the year 1979 came together with the Islamic Revolution and wine became just a nice memory. The government has introduced prohibition and made citizens dry grapes (raisins!) instead of fermenting them. Though you won’t experience any wine tasting here anymore, it’s still worth visiting this city. Where you should head for while in Shiraz?
1. Hafez Tomb
When it comes to wine… we have to mention Hafez. The most famous Iranian poet wrote about wonderful properties of this drink in his poems, which, he allegedly created under its influence… The Islamic Revolution could deal even with that – and began to promote an idea that when writing wine the poet really meant Allah. The legend of Hafez alone was too strong to fight with. Rumour has it that in Iran, every family has his poems… but not necessarily the Qur’an on the bookshelf. Many Iranians know his verses by heart.
Dozens of Iranians go here to experience this almost mystical atmosphere. They slowly and gracefully make steps towards the grave, solemnly reading Hafez verses engraved on alabaster board. Then they gather in groups and the fun begins… they predict future from randomly opened books of Hafez! The whole mausoleum is exquisitely decorated, located in a garden full of roses and orange trees, here and there are cute little ponds. In this unusual set, young poets sit in the park and look for some inspiration… Who will help them better than Hafez while the wine is banned? For us the visit was a truly unique experience, I can’t imagine anyone behaving with such dignity while visiting let’s say Shakespeare’s tomb.
2. The Pink Mosque – Nasir-al-Molk
Stunning, kaleidoscope-like, breathtaking views… You’ll read about this true marvel and see more photos in the previous post.
3. Shah Chergah Mosque
On our way back from Pink Mosque, once again we got lost in the streets of Shiraz… In front of us there was a square full of women in black chadors… and two mosques. They looked beautiful even from the distance, but we approached the entrance hesitating – there were no tourists! It turned out that the square can be accessed only with a guide, and I had to wear the colourful chador 🙂 First time in my life… And the last I hope – I really admire the Iranian women, walking in chadors with such ease and grace! I felt more like a “burrito-man.”
Unfortunately, infidels can’t enter the mosques. What a pity… I checked Google Graphics and apparently part of the mosaics in both mosques was replaced with mirrors… looks like a starry sky. We had to be happy only watching them from the outside, although the guard at the eagerly moved the curtain, so we could take a look at an interior full of gold and crystal… This luxury, however, is not surprising. Shah Cheragh Mosque is one of the Shiite pilgrimage places – this is where are the tombs of two brothers, Ahmed and Mohammed, the sons of Musa al-Khadim, the seventh Shiite imam. We came across a group of giggling 9-year-old girls who wore a hijab for the first time and visited the mosque to celebrate… It quickly reminded us of Polish children’s excitement about First Communion 🙂
4. Bazar-e Vakil
Yes, we mentioned about the bazaar in Shiraz, where we got lost so many times… Narrow streets, looking almost the same, similar stalls… In addition, in fact the bazaar is combined of several markets, which also doesn’t help. The most famous is Bazar-e Vakil. Under the arches made of ivory bricks, floats the smell of curry, cinnamon, nutmeg and other million spices, Europeans never heard of. Salesmen spread carpets, encouraging passers-by to purchase. Iranian women pick colorful, full of sequins materials, which contrast sharply with their black chadors. You should come here at least for a moment, to feel the atmosphere of truly oriental bazaar, which you will never experience in the resorts of Egypt, Turkey or in so touristy Dubai souks. There is a chance that this “moment” turns quickly into a day trip… like I said, it’s hard to find a way out!
How much time do you need? 1-2 days
Where to stay in Shiraz? We can recommend you quirky Karim Khan Hotel (Roodaki Street), 50$ per double room with breakfast. If you booked your hotel room online in advance, remember to confirm one day before your arrival – or they could rent it to someone else!
Where to eat in Shiraz? Falafel saved us again 🙂 Sharzeh (Vakil Street) is a very good restaurant, although vegetarian choice is rather limited… and the price is a bit touristy (approx. 20 000-30 000 tomans/5-8 EUR for a dish).
How to get to Shiraz? If you travel from Tehran, plane is the best solution. Flights take place several times a day. We chose Mahan Air – cheaper (40 EUR per person) and supposedly safer than Iran Air. Despite initial concerns (in my job I read a lot about aviation crashes, so my imagination is THAT BIG), the airline surprised us positively. We got a big bag of really good snacks, even Sesame Seed <3 Buy your ticket in advance – I was mega surprised that big Airbus was stuffed to the brim… And the airport is full of people trying to get on the waiting list! If you fly off from Tehran, remember that domestic flights departure from quite a different airport (THR) than international ones (IKA)!
When it comes to the other cities, bus is the best option. You will pay for a VIP bus from Yazd approx. 35 000 tomans (9 EUR) per person, the route takes 7 hours. If you still decide to travel by bus from Tehran, it will tak you only 13-14 h.
Fee: For every entrance to the mosque / temple / another attraction, you will be charged 15 000-20 000 tomans (4-5 EUR) per person. You have to estimate your budget very well in advance, but bear in mind that information in the guides is mostly outdated!
Are you going to see Shiraz soon? Read more about our adventures in Iran!
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