Qajar Art


Although indelibly illustrious, the millennia-long tale of Iran is, by and large, a sad one. Ravaged by invaders who threatened to put paid to its rich and ancient cultural heritage, razed to the ground by bloodthirsty warlords, perennially betrayed by its own children, and far too often the victim of foreign ploys, the ‘land of the noble’ has been to hell and back again, and then some.

The 19th Century was one of the darkest periods in Iran’s recent history. Ruled by sybaritic autocrats who sold Iran for a pittance to foreigners, and plagued by poverty, disease, ignorance, and an overall state of decrepitude and decay, Iran wasn’t exactly the place to be.

Yet, as grim as the picture painted by travellers was, whether by Iranians or European diplomats, that depicted by the artists of the Qajar courts was truly a sight to behold. Sumptuous, iconic, and wholly novel, their artworks nearly have the potential to redeem the Qajars.

Portrait de Nasir al-Din Shah en apothéose Nasir al-Din (also Nasseredin) is the most well-known of the Qajar monarchs (Credit: Musée du Louvre)

Nearly a century after the fall of Iran’s Qajar dynasty (which lasted from 1785 to 1925), and amidst the festivities of the two-week-long Iranian New Year (Norooz), a landmark exhibition at the Louvre Lens Museum in France, The Rose Empire, is showcasing masterpieces of Qajar art.

“In France, we’d never had an exhibition of Qajar art before, so it will be the first one”, says curator Gwenaëlle Fellinger. What’s more, the exhibition’s interior and displays are the work of the fashion designer – and Qajar art lover – Christian Lacroix.

“Qajar art belongs to these temporal spaces that have always fascinated me, between two worlds, two eras”, he tells BBC Culture. “The Qajar era is interesting … because of its East-meets-West/West-meets-East mixture of influences.”

Boucle de ceinture – The Rose Empire exhibition has borrowed works from over 400 museums and private collections – including this ornate buckle (Credit: Museum of Islamic Art, Doha/Samar Kassab)

During the golden age of the Safavid shahs in the 17th Century, their capital Isfahan was the envy of all who visited it. The site of a major cultural renaissance and crossroads, and an inspiration to artists the world over, it is still referred to by its citizens as ‘half the world’.

Things took a downward turn, however, after the death of the greatest ‘Sophy’ (as Shakespeare would have said) of them all, Shah Abbas the Great. By the time the last Safavid monarch, Abbas III, ascended the throne, the sun had set over Iran once again.

Paradise lost

If the Safavids had ushered in an era of culture and exchange, and the Afsharids and Zands imperialism and peace, that of the Qajars was one of humiliation and depravity.

The 18th and 19th Centuries saw Iran stripped of all its former splendour. Vying for power in the strategically important Iran, as well as elsewhere in Central Asia, the Russians and British continually encroached on Iran’s sovereignty.

Children were lucky not to die in their cribs, sickness often meant death, venality was what set wheels in motion, and ancient sites were used for target practice

With Iran being ruled by feckless and feeble monarchs, the job was all too easy for foreign conspirators; in fact, in some cases, they didn’t even have to lift a finger.

To finance his over-the-top lifestyle, Nassereddin Shah – perhaps the most well-known Qajar monarch – gave a single British baron control over all of Iran’s roads, telegraphs, railways, mills, factories, and most of its natural resources; and another, a monopoly on Iran’s tobacco industry.

iran king

Foreign intrigue aside, Iran was in a pitiful state. Travellers to the country wrote about the lack of proper infrastructure, hideous living conditions, extreme debauchery (drunken orgies and the like), and corruption.

The story at the imperial courts, however, was another matter. Expanding on new forms of aesthetics in painting that were introduced in the Afsharid, Zand, and even late Safavid periods, which broke out of the framework of two-dimensional Persian miniatures, artists at the Qajar courts created a visual vocabulary wholly their own.

Bedecked in towering crowns topped with aigrettes, glittering brassards, and vivacious robes, and sporting outlandish beards and moustaches, Qajar monarchs like Fat’h Ali Shah, Mohammad Shah, and Nassereddin Shah appeared larger than life, and as works of art in and of themselves.

Courtly paintings and photographs depicted a dazzling wonderland of colour, passion, and every jewel under the sun

Ditching the dainty and delicate ideals of beauty prevalent in previous eras, painters at the Qajar courts opted for thick, conjoined eyebrows, dark, almond-shaped eyes with coquettish gazes, little rosebud lips, and long, flowing curls. Shahs were attended on by pageboys bearing jewel-encrusted ghalyans (water-pipes), female dancers performed acrobatics on hennaed hands, and belles in diaphanous blouses pouring copious amounts of wine.


Elsewhere, Nassereddin Shah, obsessed with all things European and keen to introduce ‘modern’ ways to his country, toyed with photography in his spare time; Antoin Sevruguin captured the lives of the rich, the poor, and the downright wretched on celluloid; and painters like Kamal ol-Molk artfully blended together European and Iranian imagery.

In contrast to French and British magazines of the day, which often portrayed the shahs as spineless and degenerate, and Iran as a Persian cat made the plaything of a British lion and Russian bear, courtly paintings and photographs depicted a dazzling wonderland of colour, passion, and every jewel under the sun in which the Shah, ‘God’s Shadow on Earth’, reigned supreme.

The age of opulence

The art of the Qajar era has long been admired by artists and scholars, says Christian Lacroix. “[Its] opulent elegance impressed [fashion photographer] Louise Dahl-Wolfe … She was inspired by Qajar portraits for a famous shooting session – and one of my favourite fashion features ever.” Yet, Qajar art has also been misunderstood and overlooked by many.

Despite the decades of darkness the Qajar monarchs brought to Iran, the splendour of Iranian art and culture continued to shine in full force; and now, centuries later, the dazzling masterpieces of that era’s artists are not only as radiant as ever, but are also being used to foster understanding and appreciation of an ancient and much-misunderstood civilisation. Should we be surprised? Not according to Lacroix. “Art is the best link, always.”


By Joobin Bekhrad
23 March 2018

Monty Don paradise gardens – bbc

Monty Don paradise gardens

In this series, Monty travels across the Islamic world and beyond in search of paradise gardens.

The Koran, the holy book of Islam, tells of these magical places – green spaces filled with flowers and fruit where shade and water provide a safe haven from the harsh climate that dominates the Arab world. For Muslims, these gardens are an earthly vision of the real paradise awaiting believers in heaven.

At the Alhambra, he discovers the basic building blocks of paradise gardens – green spaces divided into four by channels of water that meet at a central fountain.

The channels of water that divide the garden are representative of the four rivers of heaven: water, milk, honey and wine.

The repeated geometric shapes seen in the fountains and rills are symbolic of heaven and earth and the flowers and fruit provided heady scent that beguiled the weary desert traveller.

It is Monty’s final stop that sheds the most light on the origins of these incredible gardens. In Iran, he explores the huge influence emanating from the gardens of old Persia.

In the cultural centres of Isfahan, Kashan and Shiraz, Monty visits some of the most exquisite gardens in the world and then in the middle of the desert, comes across the secret to their creation.

At Pasargadae lie the ruins of the 6th-century palace of Cyrus the Great, and as recent excavations show, at its heart there was a garden. The garden was divided into four, representing the sacred Zoroastrian elements of water, wind, fire and earth.

When the Arabs invaded Persia in the 6th century, it was these Zoroastrian gardens that influenced their ideas not only of what a garden should be, but of paradise itself.

Source: BBC

The Most luxurious book of poetry


In 1909, two London bookbinders were commissioned to create a book that would become one of the most bedazzling the world had beheld. Joobin Bekhrad reveals how it ended up at the bottom of the Atlantic – and how it still influences today.

“When the Titanic went down on the night of April 14 1912 in the sea off the New World, its most eminent victim was a book…” French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf may have been stretching it a bit in his 1988 historical novel Samarkand. Or not, depending on whom you were to ask at the time.

The book in question was a fictional manuscript of the Rubáiyát (Quatrains) by the 11th-Century Iranian polymath Omár Khayyám, prized because it was the only one in existence.

In fact, a plethora of copies of the volume of Persian poems existed. There was, however, at the time the Titanic made its ill-fated voyage, one that outshone them all – not in terms of what was written within, but rather, its almost otherworldly appearance. It was this very real manuscript that served as the inspiration for Maalouf’s acclaimed novel.

“At the bottom of the Atlantic there is a book,” he writes in its introduction. “I am going to tell you its history.”

‘Whoso desireth a peacock must endure the trials of Hindustan’, says a popular Persian proverb. While this particular one refers to the Iranian monarch Nader Shah Afshar’s sacking of Delhi and looting of the famed Peacock Throne (amongst other things) in the mid-18th Century, it might just as well have been coined a few centuries later in London.

With a desire to revive medieval traditions of bejewelled bookbinding, George Sutcliffe and Francis Sangorski were renowned throughout the city in the early 1900s for their opulent and over-the-top designs. Accordingly, it was to them that Henry Sotheran’s, a bookstore on Sackville Street, went to commission a book like no other.

Cost, according to Sotheran’s, was to be no object; the bookbinders were given carte blanche to let their imagination go wild and conjure the most bedazzling book the world would ever behold. Completed in 1911 after two years of intensive labour, the book – of Edward FitzGerald’s loose Victorian interpretations of Omar Khayyám’s poems, illustrated by Elihu Vedder – came to be known as ‘The Great Omar’, as well as ‘The Book Wonderful’, on account of its sheer splendour.


Gracing its gilded cover were three peacocks with bejewelled tails, surrounded by intricate patterns and floral sprays typical of medieval Persian manuscripts, while a Greek bouzouki could be seen on the back.

Over 1000 precious and semi-precious stones – rubies, turquoises, emeralds, and others – were used in its making, as well as nearly 5000 pieces of leather, silver, ivory, and ebony inlays, and 600 sheets of 22-karat gold leaf.

The Great Omar

Although intended to be shipped to New York by Sotheran’s, the booksellers declined to pay the heavy duty imposed on it at US customs. It was returned to England, where it was bought by Gabriel Wells at a Sotheby’s auction for £450 – less than half its reserve price of £1,000. Wells, like Sotheran’s before him, intended to have the masterpiece shipped to America. Unluckily for him – and the world – it couldn’t be taken aboard the ship originally chosen.

The Titanic was next in line, and the rest needs no explanation. The story, however, didn’t end with the sinking of the Titanic, or even Sangorski’s strange death by drowning some weeks afterwards. Sutcliffe’s nephew Stanley Bray was determined to revive not only the memory of the Great Omar, but also the book itself. Using Sangorski’s original drawings, he managed – after a gruelling six years – to replicate the book, which was placed in a bank vault.

The Great Omar, it seemed, had been born under a bad sign, for, during the London Blitz of World War Two, it was – not unlike the poet’s wine jugs, symbolic of human frailty – dashed to pieces. Shaken, but not shattered, Bray once again rolled up his sleeves to produce yet another version of his uncle’s swan song.

This time, however, its making wasn’t a matter of years, but decades. Completed after 40 years of on-and-off work, Bray’s tribulations were realised in another stunning reproduction, which he loaned to the British Library, and which his estate bequeathed to the institution following his death, where it can be seen today. “I am not in the least bit superstitious,” Bray remarked shortly before his demise, “even though they do say that the peacock is a symbol of disaster”.


What was the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, and who was this enigmatic personage with whom Sotheran’s, as well as innumerable others, were fascinated? An 11th-Century polymath from eastern Iran, Khayyám was revered in his lifetime for his groundbreaking work in astronomy and mathematics. As with other Iranian polymaths like Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Khayyám was also a poet.

That said, his poetry was unlike that of any other Persian poet before him, and he has occupied, for centuries, a place wholly unique in the grand corpus of classical Persian literature.

Owing to his inquisitive nature, Khayyám questioned things most around him took for granted: faith, the hereafter, and the meaning of life itself. He had little confidence in the promises of religion, with its talk of Heaven and Hell, and even expressed doubts regarding the logic of God. There was only one thing Khayyám was certain about, and which he cherished: this life.



He well understood – perhaps owing to the turbulent times during which he lived (Iran, then under Turkic occupation, had recently been invaded by Arabs, and the Mongol hordes would soon raze his homeland to the ground) – the transience of life and the inevitability of death, and the importance of seizing the all-too-brief moment we are allotted on earth. Any talk of the afterlife or religion he deemed hot air. As he wrote:

No one has seen Heaven or Hell, O heart of mine;
Who, say you, has come from that realm, O heart of mine?
Our hopes and fears are pinned to that to which,
Save a name and notion, we can naught else assign.

Although he often lamented the ephemerality of life, he also resolved to enjoy himself – with copious amounts of wine (and a few sweethearts, too).

If Goethe had been enamoured of Hafez, and Voltaire Sa’di, the Victorian poet Edward FitzGerald found a kindred Iranian spirit in Khayyám, ‘The Old Tentmaker’. When he turned his attention to Khayyám, he had already translated from the Persian Jami’s Salaman and Absal, as well as an abridged version of Attar’s Conference of the Birds. It was the Rubáiyát, however, that was to prove his magnum opus.

Although not exactly a translation of the original Persian poems, FitzGerald’s very loose interpretation captured, to no small degree, the spirit of the Rubáiyát and the poet’s Weltanschauung – hence the reference to the author as ‘FitzOmar’.

While it enjoyed little popularity upon its release, the slim yet profound volume soon came to enjoy a popularity FitzGerald could never have imagined. In the late 19th Century, an elite literary salon in London – the still-active Omar Khayyám Club – was named after Khayyám. FitzGerald’s rendition of the Rubáiyát also served as a source of inspiration for Pre-Raphaelite artists such as William Morris, who produced two illuminated manuscripts of it, the second of which also contained illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones.

Countless other editions were also produced, with every manner of illustration, by artists such as Edmund Dulac and Edmund Joseph Sullivan. One illustration by the latter, in fact, later came to grace the Grateful Dead’s self-titled 1971 album. Elsewhere, the acclaimed short story writer Hector Hugh Munro chose the nom de plume ‘Saki’ (the title Khayyám used to address his cupbearer), while Agatha Christie’s 1942 novel The Moving Fingerhad a FitzOmar poem as its namesake.

That’s not to mention the 1957 Hollywood film made about Khayyám, US actor Alfred Drake’s 1960 recitation of the entire Rubáiyát, and Martin Luther King’s quotation of him in a 1967 anti-war speech (he beat Bill Clinton to it by a few decades), amongst many other instances. In the 1950s, the Rubáiyát was so popular that more than half of it could be found in the compendiums Bartlett’s Quotations and The Oxford Book of Quotations.


The Not-so-Old Tentmaker

Khayyám’s poetry has, undeniably, stood the test of time. In his native Iran, he is a towering figure whose book of verse, like that of Hafez’s, is very much a household staple. FitzGerald’s rendition of the Rubáiyát is still, in spite of the prodigious liberties he took, the most well-known English version of it by far, and an English classic in its own right. Elsewhere around the world, his poems can be read in virtually every language imaginable.

As such, it’s perhaps no mystery why Sotheran’s chose the Rubáiyát as the raison d’être of Sutcliffe and Sangorski’s bound marvel. But why? How could the words of an 11th-Century polymath have any relevance not only in the Victorian era and the mid-20th Century, but also today?

The answer lies in the timelessness of the Rubáiyát, and its universal truths that know not culture, religion, or creed. Indeed, in today’s uncertain times, the Rubáiyát may be even more relevant than during the tumultuous times in which it was originally written. What would the author of the most luxurious book of poetry ever made have to say about our mad, mad world, were he around today? Perhaps, to quote the sage:

How swiftly does this caravan of life pass;
Seek thou the moment that with joy does lapse.
Saghi, why lament tomorrow’s misfortunes today?
Bring forth the chalice, for the night shall pass.

By Joobin Bekhrad
11 January 2018

Makhunik – Iran ancient village


In the first part of Jonathan Swift’s book Gulliver’s Travels, Lemuel Gulliver washes ashore on the island country of Lilliput, where he encounters the Lilliputians, who stand barely taller than 15cm.

While Swift’s Lilliput is merely a fantasy, a comparable village exists in the eastern extremities of Iran. Up until around a century ago, some of the residents of Makhunik, a 1,500-year-old village roughly 75km west of the Afghan border, measured a mere metre in height – approximately 50cm shorter than the average height at the time.

In 2005, a mummified body measuring 25cm in length was found in the region. The discovery fuelled the belief that this remote corner of Iran, which consists of 13 villages, including Makhunik, was once home to an ancient ‘City of Dwarfs’. Although experts have determined that the mummy was actually a premature baby who died roughly 400 years ago, they contend that previous generations of Makhunik residents were indeed shorter than usual.

iran-village Makhunik

Malnutrition significantly contributed to Makhunik residents’ height deficiency.

Raising animals was difficult in this dry, desolate region, and turnips, grain, barley and a date-like fruit called jujube constituted the only farming. Makhunik residents subsisted on simple vegetarian dishes such as kashk-beneh (made from whey and a type of pistachio that is grown in the mountains), and pokhteek (a mixture of dried whey and turnip).

“When I was a kid no-one drank tea. If someone drank tea, they’d joke and say he was an addict,” recalled Ahmad Rahnama, referring the stereotype that opium addicts drink a lot of tea. The 61-year-old Makhunik resident runs a museum dedicated to Makhunik’s historic architecture and traditional lifestyle.

In the mid-20th Century, the construction of roads and the proliferation of vehicles allowed Makhunik residents access to ingredients found in other parts of Iran, such as rice and chicken.

“When the vehicles came, people could bring food from nearby towns so there was more to eat than just kashk-beneh and bread,” Rahnam said.

iran-village Makhunik

Although most of Makhunik’s 700 residents are now of average height, reminders of their ancestors’ shorter statures still persist. Of the roughly 200 stone and clay houses that make up the ancient village, 70 or 80 are exceptionally low, ranging between 1.5 to 2m – with the ceilings of some as low as 1.4m.

Stooping down, I followed Rahnama into one of Makhunik’s ‘Lilliputian’ homes, ducking through the wooden door that was located on the house’s southern side to let in more light and protect the home’s single room from strong northerly winds.

I found myself in a small living quarters known as the ‘sitting room’ – aptly named as I was forced to sit due to the low ceiling. This roughly 10- to 14-sq-m space consisted of the kandik (place for storing grain and wheat), a karshak (a clay stove for cooking) and a sleeping space.

Constructing these tiny homes was no easy feat, Rahnama said, and residents’ short stature wasn’t the only reason to build smaller houses. Domestic animals large enough to pull wagons were scarce and proper roads were limited, meaning locals had to carry building supplies by hand for kilometres at a time. Smaller homes required fewer materials, and thus less effort.

Additionally, although cramped, smaller houses were easier to heat and cool than larger ones, and blended in more easily with the landscape, making them harder for potential invaders to spot.

“Nowadays young people go to nearby cities for work and bring back money and food. The women do some weaving, but aside from that there is no work,” Rahnama said. Meanwhile, older residents have had to rely heavily on government subsidies.

Despite the difficult circumstances, Rahnama is hopeful that interest in the village’s unique architecture will lure visitors and that tourism will create more jobs and business. For now, though, “it is what it is,” he told me with a resigned smile.

“But,” he added, chuckling, “things are better now than they used to be before. Before people were short and stocky, and now they’re tall and lean.”

By Shervin Abdolhamidi
10 January 2018
Source BBC



Camilla Smith is our  eagle eyed, friendly,  efficient  and thoughtful  powerhouse  in the office, ready  to answer all  travel  queries  and to  deal  with the smooth  running of our tours and the extensive administration (visa process) involved when travelling to  Iran.  She is a keen traveller and is fascinated by Iran and its culture.

Satellite image – Shadegan, Iran


The Shadegan wetlands of south-west Iran cover about 400,000 hectares, making this the largest wetland area in the country. The wetlands are composed of a system of ponds, shallow lagoons and marshes, some of which form drainage patterns that resemble tree branches extending from cerulean stems.

Located in a fertile crescent of Iran, the Shadegan wetlands are surrounded by date palm orchards famed for their sweet dates, livestock farms and sugar plantations. Shadegan is also known for its biodiversity; the Shadegan Wildlife Refuge provides sanctuary to animals such as the marbled teal, a diving duck classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.


Iran’s ancient cave village

iran village

An ancient cave villageIran’s ancient village of Maymand, located around 900km south of the capital Tehran, is littered with troglodytic dwellings ‒ cavernous, underground homes carved out of soft rock. Stone engravings found at the site are estimated to be more than 10,000 years old.

A Unesco World Heritage Site, Maymand is said to have been inhabited continuously for more than 2,000 years, which makes it one of Iran’s oldest surviving villages.

Seasonal housing

Tucked away in a valley within the arid mountains of central Iran, Maymand experiences extremely hot summers and severely cold winters. To adapt to these harsh conditions, villagers switch homes according to the season.

In the summer and early autumn, they live in homes with grass thatch roofs which help protect them from the oppressive heat. When temperatures plummet and bone-chilling winds sweep the valley, Maymand residents move underground.

Iran's ancient cave village


Winter caves

Of the 400 caves built more than 10,000 years ago, 90 remain intact. These cave homes can contain up to seven rooms, each about 2m tall and 20m squared, although size varies from cave to cave.

Modern living

Residents have updated the caves to suit their lifestyle: they have electricity, which allows for refrigeration, and even televisions. However, there is no running water, and ventilation is minimal. The dark film that covers some of the walls is a result of the soot from the fires used to cook or heat the rooms.

Remnants of an ancient past

The village once followed the ancient mystical religion of Zoroastrianism, which prospered under Persian rule. Vestiges of Maymand’s spiritual past remain, like the Kicheh Dobandi, a cave that is said to have once been a temple (and is now a small museum).

In the 7th Century, Islam overtook Zoroastrianism as the primary religion in Maymand, and today, the caves are home to one of the few cave mosques in the world (pictured).

Nomadic shepherds

The majority of the villagers are agro-pastoralists, raising cattle on mountain pastures and bringing the animals with them when they migrate to the caves, which feature underground stables. Residents also collect medicinal plants, which they claim help them achieve good health and long lives.

A disappearing lifestyle

Today, fewer people are choosing to live in the caves, instead moving to neighbouring towns in the winter and returning in the summer. Only an estimated 150 people populate the village throughout the year.

Preserving a legacy

The dwindling year-round population poses a threat to the survival of Maymand’s unique lifestyle. In 2001, the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization has worked to raise awareness of Maymand. Since then, the village has received more visitors; today Maymand even has caves where tourists can stay the night to experience a way of life that has persisted for millennia. (Credit: Rodolfo Contreras)

The Silk Road Tour | 15 days – £2245


This is an exciting new tour, offering an authentic trip around the timeless sights of the Silk Road.

We can’t wait to travel with you from the vibrant, modern city of Tehran through to the windswept deserts of Yazd, the legendary city of Persepolis and the tranquil gardens in Isfahan. Come with us as we explore  Zoroastrian fire temples, Nomadic life and royal palaces as we travel through the glorious, picturesque sights of Iran.

Our groups attract well travelled open minded individuals, who are naturally curious, keen to learn and to make their own minds up about Iran. Our guests are a mixed combination of couples, single travellers and also families with grown up offspring.

Tour dates:  2019 Outbound – Return

  • Thurs.  April 18th – Thurs. May 2nd 2019

Tour itinerary

Day 1 London – Tehran
Depart from London Heathrow on an evening flight.

Day 2 Tehran
Arrive early morning and transfer to hotel. After breakfast visit Golestan Palace, one of the Royal court’s former residences. On to the Contemporary Art Museum.

Day 3 Tehran
Visit the Archaeological and Glass Museums with their fine collection of antiques. Lunch at a traditional tea house. Visit the stunning Crown Jewels held in the vaults of the Central Bank of Iran.

Day 4 Tehran – Yazd
Morning drive to Yazd. This desert town, famous for its wind towers, is the Zoroastrian centre of Iran. Visit the ‘Atashkadeh’ Fire Temple. Although the temple is modern (1940), the sacred fire has been burning since 470 AD. On to Alexander’s Prison and Jame’h Mosque.

Day 5 Yazd – Shiraz
Morning visit to the Towers of Silence, ancient Zoroastrian burial grounds. Afternoon drive to Shiraz.

Day 6 Shiraz
In Shiraz visit Narenjestan Palace, Eram Gardens and the mausoleums of the Persian mystics and poets Hafez and Saa’di.

Day 7 Shiraz – Persepolis
Excursion to the wind swept ruins Persepolis and Naghsh-e-Rostam, the tomb of the three powerful Achaemenian Kings carved into huge rocks, overlooking one of the oldest Zoroastrian fire temples in Iran.

Day 8 Shiraz – Firuzabad
Drive to Firuzabad near Shiraz, winter quarters of the Qashqaii nomads. Visit the fire temple and Palace of Artaxeres. Dinner and overnight with Qashqaiis. Overnight in tents.

Day 9 Firuzabad – Yasuj
Breakfast with the Qashqaiis. Drive to Kazerun, home to many of the settled Qashqaiis tribespeople. Visit the silent ruins of the old city of Shapour and its rock carvings dating back to the Sassanian period. Drive to Yasuj, the main nomadic centre of Iran, a region with vast vineyards producing some of the finest grapes in Iran.

Day 10 Yasuj – Isfahan
Drive to Isfahan. This route rarely taken by tourists offers stunning scenery. Land of Waterfalls, as this region is referred to, offers the traveller a most memorable image.

Day 11 Isfahan
Tour of Isfahan’s magnificent buildings, some of the greatest examples of Islamic architecture, including the Royal (Imam) Square, the Shah and Seikh Lotf-Allah Mosques, Ali-Qapu Palace. After dinner evening tour of Isfahan including Si-o-Se and Khaju Bridges.

Day 12 Isfahan
Visit Chehel Sotun (Forty Columns), and then onto Jolfa, the Armenian quarters south west of the city, to see Vank Cathedral. In the evening, visit a Zoorkhaneh (House of Strength) to watch this traditional Iranian sport: a combination of physical and spiritual aerobics, with participants chanting to the powerful drums of their master.

Day 13 Isfahan
No trip to Isfahan would be complete without a visit to its famous bazaar, spanning 5km. Free time to shop.

Day 14 Isfahan – Abyaneh – Kashan – Tehran
Drive to Kashan via Abyaneh, a picturesque village dating back 1600 years to the Sassanian period, it is protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Kashan is an oasis town famous for its beautiful Fin Garden, Agha-Bozorg Mosque and House of Borujerdi. Evening arrival in Tehran.

Day 15 Tehran – London
Depart early morning from Tehran to London Heathrow.

The itinerary is an indication of the visits we propose to undertake each day, however please bear in mind that changes are possible due to public holidays, weather etc, at the time of your visit. Your guide will confirm the final itinerary each day.

Tour map

London – Tehran – Yazd – Shiraz – Firuzabad – Yasuj – Isfahan – Abyaneh – Kashan – Tehran – London

Tour accommodation

We aim to provide an ‘authentic’ Iranian experience, offering accommodation that is traditional, where possible.

We opt for the best available hotels at the Iranian three star level, to ensure our guests have a comfortable stay in traditionally decorated and simply furnished double or twin rooms. Where possible we also arrange overnight stay in a nomad tent or home stay.

Tour cost – 15 days

    £2245 per person based on two people sharing a twin bedded room

  • Single room supplement: £430
  • Visa stamp fees for UK passports: £165

The cost includes:

  • Obtaining tourist visa permit (excluding visa stamp fees)
  • All internal travel including:
    • Airport Transfers
    • Internal flights on Iran Air
    • Air conditioned vehicles and refreshments
  • An experienced, English speaking Iranian guide throughout the trip
  • 14 nights  in three star hotels in twin bedded standard rooms on  bed and breakfast basis
  • Sightseeing visits and all entrance fees as per the itinerary

The cost excludes:

  • International flights to Iran – British Airways London-Tehran economy around £400 per person
  • Lunch and dinner
  • Travel insurance

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