Day 01 Arrive Tehran
Upon arrival , we are welcomed to Tehran , the pearl of Persia. After checking into our hotel , we enjoy a leisurely evening and rest up , before our formal itinerary of exploring this country rich in history and culture begins.
Day 02 Tehran
Our half day tour of the capital starts off with the visit to the Fine Arts and the Archeological Museums. Its massive collections include a stone capital of the winged lion from Susa and a 6th century B.C. audience hall relief of Darius the Great from the Treasury at Persepolis. The museum's exhibits date from 4500 B.C. to contemporary times. Overnight: Tehran (2 Nights)
Day 03 Tehran / Hamedan (Drive 215miles / 343kms)
An early start takes us on a scenic drive to Hamedan , one of the oldest inhabited towns in the world. An afternoon tour of Hamedan will include a stop at the charming waterfall Ganjnameh before proceeding to the magnificent and dominating Avicenna Memorial & Baba Taher Tombs. Next follows a visit to Ester & Murducai the most important Jewish pilgrimage sight in Iran. Before we lose ourselves in the maze that is the colorful oriental Bazaar of Hamedan , we pay a visit to the famous 14th century Stone Lion.
Overnight: Hamedan (1 night)
Day 04 Hamedan / Kerman shah (Drive 118miles / 189kms)
We depart in the morning for Kerman shah via Bi-Sotoun , where the famous bas relies are carved out of a dramatic mountain. This region hosts the most interesting and famous archeological sites in Iran. We view many Achaemenian inscriptions including one of about 1200 lines where we get insight into the hard fought battle of Darius , defeating the governors who tried to dismantle the Empire. Leaving the famous Tablets of Darius we visit the Temple of Anahita , the goddess of abundance and the guardian of water in ancient Iran. In the evening we visit the traditional bazaar in Kermanshahan where we'll have the opportunity to sharpen our bargaining skills.
Overnight: Kermanshahan (1 night)
Day 05 Kermanshahan / Susa / Ahvaz (Drive 314miles / 509kms)
We travel south on a scenic countryside drive to Ahvaz. En route , we stop at Susa , one of the oldest archaeological sites in Iran. This prehistoric settlement (from at least 4000 B.C. and an important Elamite city) reached peak under the reign of Untash Gal , who built Susa as his administrative capital and founded Chogha Zanbil as his religious center. Chogha Zanbil remains the best surviving example of Elamite architecture.
Overnight: Ahvaz (1 night)
Day 06 Ahvaz / Shiraz (Drive 351miles / 568kms)
After breakfast and a cup of "chai" , we depart for Shiraz visiting also the famous Sassanid Relies and Palace of Bishapur. Shiraz , traditionally known as city of Roses and Nightingales , is also home to the finest Persian lyrics and is also the cradle of Persian civilization. It is now an important university town with students eager to meet foreigners.
Overnight: Shiraz (3 nights)
Day 07 Persepolis
Persepolis is the last and ultimate expression of the ancient Middle East. Nearly 2500 years ago , construction for its magnificent structure was begun by Darius the Great with the intent to make it the focus of the mighty Achaemenian Empire. Our tour will also include the Naqsh-e-Rustam where hewn out of a cliff rest the tombs believed to be of Darius I and II , Artaxerxes and Xerxes I. In the afternoon we visit Kuh-I-Rehmat , Naqsh-e-Rajab and Passargade where we view the impressive six tiered tomb of Cyrus the Great.
Day 08 Shiraz
Our day is spent exploring Shiraz where we start with a visit to the picturesque Eram Garden , famous for its cypress trees. Next we visit the tombs of Persia's best known poets: Saadi and Hafiz. While there , why not enjoy a cup of chai at the wonderful atmospheric teahouse where one sit on a floor of cushions and mingle with the locals. Our next stop takes us to the "modern" Nasiro-Molk mosque and the pretty Afif-Abad Garden followed by a visit to the Church of Saint Simmon the Zealot with the famed stained glass windows and then off to see the ornately mirrored Shrine of Shah-Cheragh. This wonderful day culminates with a trip to a labyrinthine bazaar.
Day09 Shiraz / Kerman (Drive 492miles / 797kms)
The morning journey to Kerman is breathtaking as we travel in this land of mountains and deserts. Kerman , the carpet capital , has a long and turbulent history. The old part of the city located in the bazaar district , houses the famous Friday Mosque dating back to the 14th century. This well preserved mosque , with its four lofty minarets and shimmering blue tiles , welcomes all faiths.
Overnight: Kerman (2 nights)
Bam & Mahan
A day excursion takes us to Bam. This desert oasis dates back to legendary times but all that is left today are the remains of the old city. Located on a 6 sq. km site and built in the 11th century , the Citadel of Bam's unique mud-brick structure is the largest clay structure in the world. Next we visit Mahan , the final home of the Sufi poet Shah Nematollah Vali. The poet spent many years wondering through Central Asia before finally settling here where he was enchanted by the surroundings of violet-colored mountains. His tomb is a perfect example of how traditional Persian architecture creates harmony with nature. The day's experience culminates with a visit to the beautiful terraced Shahzadeh garden in Mahan.
Day11 Kerman / Yazd (Drive 239miles / 387kms)
Our morning begins with a visit to Jame Mosque , the fascinating Ganj-Ali-Khan Bath , the Wax Museum and a trip to the old bazaar where you can consider shopping for your collection of colorful souvenirs. Later , we visit an old Caravan Serai before reaching Yazd. Located in the heart of Iran between the Kavir and Lut deserts , Yazd is also one of the oldest towns in the world.
Overnight: Yazd (1 night)
Day12 Yazd / Esfahan (Drive 195miles / 316kms)
As Yazd is home of the more traditional Persian architecture , we begin our day with a visit to the magnificent Masjid-e Jame and Amir-Chakhmaq Mosques. We continue to the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence and the Fire Temple (where fire worship is still practiced) and then tour Doulat Abad Garden with its traditional ventilation shaft (wind tower). In the afternoon we depart on a beautiful drive to Esfahan. Esfahan was a vibrant trade center , and its glorious Islamic architecture and beautiful gardens captured the hearts of many with the saying: "Esfahan is half the World".
Overnight: Esfahan (3 nights)
Esfahan is a city one can never forget. Our tour of this magnificent medina begins with Madrasah-ye Chahar Bagh , the pride of the last Safavid King , Shah Sultan Hussein. Next , we visit Hacht Behest Palace , a charming garden palace , built in 1680 , with impressive mosaics and stalactite moldings. Then we are off to see the richly decorated and serene Armenian Vank Church followed by the glorious Friday Mosque. No trip to Esfahan is complete without visiting the famous old bridges that cross the Zayandeh River. We take some time here to stroll along the river banks , mingle with the friendly residents and join the local folks for the famous Esfahan tea.
Our morning begins with a visit to the Emam Khomeini Square. This majestic square , built in 1612 , is constantly bustling with activity. Then , we take in the beautifully proportioned and decorated 17th century Masjid-e Sheikh Lotfollah and then off to see the magnificent Emam Mosque - one of the most stunning buildings in Iran. Next , a visit to the 6 story Ali Ghapou Palace followed by a tour of the most impressive pavilion and garden , Chehel Sotoun Place built with 40 pillars by Shah Abbas. We finish off this day of exploration with a trip to the most famous bazaar in Iran.
Day15 Esfahan / Tehran (Drive 256m / 414 Kms)
On our scenic drive to Tehran we stop at Kashan , an attractive oasis town , and take in its attractive sights. We visit Tabatabaie Houses and Khan-e Boroujerdi , built as a private residence , now a charming museum with a lovely courtyard. We then take in the famous Fin Garden and witness its breathtaking pools , orchards and natural springs. Next we visit Agha Bozorg Mosque famous for its lovely portals and minarets. After lunch , we visit the exquisite Shrine of Fatima in Qom and later we view the Tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Overnight: Tehran (2 nights)
Our culminating tour of Tehran begins with the impressive Glass & Ceramic Museum , continues in the Sa'dabad Garden Museum (with its 18 opulent Palaces) and the world renowned Carpet Museum which houses a spectacular collection of Iranian hand woven carpets. Our next museum is the Reza Abbasid's. Its artifacts date back to the 14th century and the museum exhibits stunning examples of Islamic calligraphy and exquisite jewelry from several dynasties. The day ends with a visit to the bazaar to pick up some last minute gifts and souvenirs followed by a special Iranian farewell dinner at a traditional local restaurant.
Day17 Depart Tehran
Today we exchange addresses with our new friends and bid farewell to ancient Persia
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