Tehran ➛ Tabriz ➛ Kandovan ➛ Takht-e-Soleiman ➛ Sanandaj ➛ Hamedan ➛ Ahvaz ➛ Isfahan ➛ Shiraz ➛ Tehran
The combination of sights we call the ‘East of Eden’ tour allows you to explore the legacy of the Zoroastrian civilisation and its impact on the later, ‘modern’, religions of Persia and Iran. We have brought together under this title the religious sites of the faiths that have co-existed over the centuries: Islam, Judaism, Christianity and the mystic Sufism.
One of the most extraordinary sights in Iran must be a visit to the troglodyte village of Kandovan, where people live in cave dwellings as their predecessors did over 1600 years ago. Historians have recently quoted specific geographical references in the book of Genesis as evidence that link the area surrounding Kandovan with the Garden of Eden. It naturally follows that the village of Noqdi, to the east of this Eden, must be the biblical land of Nod.
In Isfahan you will see Zoroastrian fire temples and ‘shaking’ minarets. Persepolis bears witness to the great Achaemenian kings carved into the massive hulking rocks and, nearby, one of the oldest Zoroastrian fire temples in Iran. Visit Shiraz: beautiful, mystical and poetic.
The tombs of Esther and Mordecai in Hamedan are an important Jewish pilgrimage site. At Sanadaj, in the Iranian part of Kurdistan, you’ll discover more about the mystic Sufis, whose celebration of the trancelike state centuries later brought Byron to Persia. We can arrange for you to attend some of the meetings of the Dervishes for discussions and – if you’re lucky – observe some of the manifestations of their faith.
|Depart from London.|
|Arrive early morning and transfer to hotel. Morning Rest. Lunch at a traditional restaurant with live Sufi music. Visit the Archaeological Museum and the stunning crown jewels held in the vaults of the Central Bank.|
|Morning flight to Tabriz. After lunch and a short rest, tour of Tabriz including the fabulous bazaar, Blue Mosque and St. Mary’s Church. Dinner at El-Goli palace.|
|Morning excursion to the extraordinary troglodyte Kandovan Village with time to explore the tiny houses in this amazing village. Drive on to Maragheh on route to Takht-e-Soleiman.|
|Early morning start to visit Takht-e-Soleiman (Throne of Solomon), built around a lake on a hilltop. Here are the remains of a large fortified settlement from the Parthian, Achaemenian, Sassanian and Islamic Periods. It is claimed to be the birthplace of Zoroaster. In 1939 the Nazis came to dig in Takht-e-Soleiman looking for the “Holy Grail’.|
|On to Sanandaj in Kurdistan, driving through the remote & very beautiful mountainous roads. The foothills are carpeted in wild flowers in the spring. Afternoon & evening spent in gatherings with the Dervishes.|
|Drive to Hamedan through some of the vast plains in central Iran where the Aryans first settled around ten thousand years ago.|
|Visit the tombs of Esther and Mordecai in Hamedan. On to Ali-Sadr Caves to take a boat ride on the underground lake and canals for miles amongst the stalactites and stalagmites.|
|Leisurely drive to Ahvaz, stopping for a picnic lunch and visit some of tiny villages on route. Evening visit to the tomb of Daniel.|
|Visit Shush one of the oldest cities in the world dating back at least six thousand years, and Chogha Zanbil, the best preserved Ziggurat in Iran. Evening flight to Isfahan.|
|Tour of Isfahan’s magnificent buildings: some of the greatest examples of Islamic architecture, including the Royal (Imam) Square, the Shah & Sheikh Lotf-Allah Mosques & Ali-Qapu Palace. On to the Bazaar spanning 5 kilometres.|
|Visit Chehel Sotun (Forty Columns) and Hasht Behesht (Eighth Heaven) Palaces. Tour of Isfahan’s bridges including Si-o-Se & Khaju. 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.|
|Visit Jolfa, the Armenian quarters south west of the city, to see Vank Cathedral. On to the Shaking Minarets, on the way climb up to the top of a hill to see the 4500 year old Zoroastrian fire temple with a magnificent panoramic view of Isfahan.|
|Free time to shop or return to any of your favourite spots. Evening flight to Shiraz.|
|In Shiraz, visit Narenjestan Palace & Shah Cheraq (King of the Light) Mosque, Eram Gardens. On to the mausoleums of the Persian mystics and poets Hafez & Saa’di. Enjoy tea & ice cream in the gardens.|
|Excursion to the wind swept ruins of Persepolis & Naghsh-e-Rostam, the tomb of three powerful Achaemenian Kings carved into huge rocks overlooking one of the oldest Zoroastrian fire temples in Iran. Evening flight to Tehran.|
|Depart from Tehran to London early morning.|
There are no set dates for this tour, which we can arrange on a tailor made basis to suit your individual requirements.
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