Mysteries of Ancient Persia
Heritage Tour of Iran
|Country:||Iran||View route map »»|
|Tour duration:||7 days / 6 nights|
|Best time to travel:||March - June, August - November|
|Itinerary:||Tehran - Shiraz - Yazd - Isfahan - Tehran|
Persia is one of the world’s most ancient states, which in the period between the 6th century BC and the 4th century BC when it was captured by Alexander the Great, occupied a huge territory from India to the Mediterranean Sea and played a key role in Asia. Its location on the Great Silk Route made it a country of fabulous riches and a highly developed culture. This tour will become a perfect continuation of the tour of Uzbekistan, from where the Great Silk Road led to Persia.
For a long time the world of Ancient Persia was closed for foreigners. However, today Iran is willing to demonstrate its richest cultural and historical heritage. The stupendous Shah Cheragh mosque and the blossoming gardens arranged following a description of paradise gardens in the Koran, all located in Shiraz, the grandiose ruins of Persepolis often compared to the Acropolis at Athens, the legendary royal tombs of Naqsh-e Rustam and Naqsh-e Rajab with startling rock reliefs, and museums in Teheran with huge collections are only a few of the great number of interesting objects that can be visited in Iran today.
Pilgrims from Muslim countries come to Iran with the purpose of visiting sacred places, while Europeans are more interested in the archaeological and historical aspect of this ancient land. Feel the atmosphere of ancient Persia full of mysteries and enigmas!
Services & Cost
Itinerary in Detail
- Useful Information
|Day 1||Arrival in Tehran.
Arrival in Tehran (SU-512 at 03:40). Meeting at Khomeini Airport. Transfer to hotel and check-in. After a little rest start your sightseeing of the Iranian capital: Sa'd Abad Museum Complex (former residence of Iranian shah), Jewellery Museum, Carpet Museum. Overnight rest in hotel.
|Day 2||Tehran - Shiraz.
Breakfast in hotel. Check out and transfer to the domestic airport for a short flight to Shiraz. Transfer to hotel and check-in. After proceed with a little bit of sightseeing: Karim Khan Citadel, Eram Garden (UNESCO Site), Vakil Mosque & Bazzar, Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, Madraseh-ye Khan, Imamzadeh Ali Ebn-e Hamze shrine. Overnight rest in hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. Guided sightseeing tour of Shiraz environs: Persepolis Complex (UNESCO Site), Rock tombs of Naqsh-e Rajab & Naqsh-e Rostam, Tombs of Hafez and Sa`adi. Overnight rest in hotel.
|Day 4||Shiraz - Yazd.
Breakfast at the hotel. A short drive to the ruins of Pasargadae before continuing on to Yazd which is said to be one of the oldest cities in the world: Pasargadae & Tomb of Cyrus (UNESCO Site). Arrive in Yazd and transfer to hotel. Overnight rest in hotel.
|Day 5||Yazd - Isfahan.
Breakfast at the hotel. After touring the sites of Yazd: Jameh Mosque, Amir Chakhmaq Complex, Zoroastrian Fire Temple, Towers of Silence. After leaving Yazd for the jewel of ancient Persia, Isfahan is one of the finest cities in the Islamic world. After checking into hotel we can visit its famous bridges (illuminated at night): Zayandeh River Bridges (Si-o-seh & Khaju Bridges). Overnight rest in hotel.
|Day 6||Isfahan - Tehran.
Breakfast at the hotel. Isfahan is a place for savoring the high refinements of Persian: Imam Square (UNESCO Site), Ali Qapu Palace & Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Chehel Sotun Palace (UNESCO Site), Vank Cathedral Museum, Jameh Mosque. PM: Transfer to the domestic airport for a short flight to Tehran. Overnight rest in hotel.
|Day 7||Tehran. Departure.
Transfer to Imam Khomeini airport and fly to origin.
|The cost of the tour in USD for 1 person:|
|Hotels 3*||2.335||1.490||1.260||1.155||1.045||950||+ 95 USD|
Cost does not include:
If this itinerary does not completely suit you, Central Asia Travel can change days, cities, tourist attractions, hotels, services, etc for your convenience.
We choose the most conveniently located and reputable hotels for our customers to stay at. The list of the hotels we offer is below. However, due to seasonal conditions and group size this list is subject to change.
Hotels 3* - inexpensive yet cozy private hotels, with traditional national interiors in many of them, providing all the necessary facilities for comfortable stays; notable for very warm hosting and home-like atmosphere.
This tour comes with the following accommodation:
|Tehran||Kowsar Hotel 3*||or similar|
|Shiraz||Arg Hotel 3*||or similar|
|Yazd||Parsian Yazd Hotel 3*||or similar|
|Isfahan||Setareh Hotel 3*||or similar|
The tour comes with two domestic flights Tehran - Shiraz and Isfahan - Tehran. The aircraft used for the flights meet all the international safety and comfort requirements.
Among the airlines providing international flights to Tehran are Iran Air, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, and many others.
The tour also comes with rides in comfortable modern motor vehicles (cars, vans, minibuses or buses depending on the number of travelers) featuring climate control facilities, spacious luggage areas, panoramic windows and many other amenities.
Itinerary in Detail
Day 1. Tehran.
You land in Tehran, Iran’s capital. With a population of about 12 million, it is one of the largest cities in Western Asia and Iran’s primate city - that is, much larger than any other city in the country.
Tehran has a number of interesting historic and modern sites, even graffiti ones. However, your time in the city is limited, so visiting its most impressive museums - Saadabad Palace Complex (also spelled Sa’dabad), The Carpet Museum of Iran, or The Treasury of National Jewels (aka Jewelry Museum) - is probably the best choice.
Saadabad Palace Complex, built and used by Iranian monarchs (in the 19th century, in the 1920s and 1970s), was partly converted into a museum complex after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Over 110 hectares in area, the complex consists of 18 palaces (also called castles or houses). Many of them are museums - of fine arts, historical plates, Persian miniature and arts and crafts, calligraphy, anthropology, military, etc. - while the rest house various cultural organizations. Adjacent to the complex is the current presidential palace.
You may opt for visiting the Carpet museum boasting a rich collection of world-famous Persian carpets dating from the 18th century to the present, or the jewelry museum with its stunning Imperial Crown Jewels of Iran (aka Imperial Crown Jewels of Persia) containing bejeweled crowns, thrones, tiaras, aigrettes, swords and shields, separate precious gems, tableware and some unusual precious items.
They say Tehran museums are the best tourist attraction in the city - at least in terms of cultural enlightenment.
Day 2. Tehran - Shiraz.
You fly to Shiraz in the morning.
Dating from 2000 BCE, Shiraz is one of the oldest Persian cities. It was a leading cultural center of Persia in the middle ages. Many renowned scholars and artists, including the famous Iranian poets Havez and Saadi, came from Shiraz. Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Shiraz was designated the capital of Persian Art, Culture and Literature. The city is also known for its most beautiful gardens.
After breakfast you go on a guided tour around the city. You first visit the citadel called Arg of Karim Khan (also Arq of Karim Khan, Arg-i Karimi, Arg-e-Karimi, Arg-e Karimi, Arg of Shiraz, Citadel of Shiraz, or Citadel of Karim Khan). It was built in the 1760s for Karim Khan, the founder of Zand dynasty, to be his stronghold and living quarters, and it served as a governor’s seat and even a prison under the following dynasties. Today the citadel is a museum run by Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization.
Next, you go to enjoy Eram Garden (Persian: Bagh-e Eram), one of the most beautiful Persian historic gardens, and, set in it, the traditional Persian upper-class villa Qavam House (also called Narenjestan e Ghavam), a museum now. Today they are part of Shiraz Botanical Garden under Shiraz University and are a World Heritage Site.
Then you visit Vakil Bazaar (Persian: Bazar-e Vakil), which is considered to be Iran’s best. It features a series of impressive vaulted arcades (built in the 18th century) with courtyards, caravanserais, bath houses, and, of course, shops - in two rows. The bazaar is a most enjoyable shopping place in terms of exoticism, atmosphere and prices. Its astonishing range of merchandise boasts an enormous number of local souvenirs and handicrafts, including famous Persian rugs and carpets.
Among several mosques and shrines adjacent to the bazaar stands out Vakil Mosque (Persian: Masjed-e Vakil) built in the mid-18th century by order of Karim Khan. This grand structure featuring exuberant decorative tiles is quite worth visiting as well.
Dating from the 18th century, too, Nasir al-Mulk Mosque (Persian: Masjed-e Naseer ol Molk) or Pink Mosque you see next is notable for its unique pink tiling in the interior decoration, a lot of beautiful stained glass in the façade and striking examples of traditional decorative elements, such as honeycomb vaults and intricate geometric designs.
Day 3. Shiraz (environs).
After breakfast you ride to Persepolis (`Persian city’; Old Persian: Parsa), one of Iran’s most interesting locations 70 km northeast of Shiraz. The ceremonial capital of Achaemenid Empire or First Persian Empire (550 - 330 BCE), it was excavated in the 1930s and currently boasts the remarkable ruins of Great Stairway, Gate of All Nations (built by order of Xerxes the Great), Apadana Palace of Darius, Hall of a Hundred Columns, Tripylon Hall and Tachara Palace of Darius, Hadish Palace of Xerxes, the palace of Artaxerxes III, Imperial Treasury, Royal Stables, Chariot House and a number of other ancient structures. The citadel of Persepolis has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
At a distance of 12 km from Persepolis lies the necropolis Naqsh-e Rustam (also Naqsh-e Rostam; “Picture of Rostam”) you head for next. It dates from c. 1000 BCE and features very impressive tombs of Achaemenid kings (Darius I the Great, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, Darius II, and Artaxerxes III or Darius III). Carved in a rock face quite high above the ground, these huge tombs are called Persian Crosses for their cross-shaped facades. The site also features notable reliefs of Sassanid kings of the Neo-Persian Empire (224 - 651 CE), depicting scenes of their victorious battles and day-to-day royal life.
The site Naqsh-e Rajab you see next is located at a distance of a few hundred meters from Naqsh-e Rustam. It features rock-face inscriptions and reliefs dating from the early Neo-Persian Empire, including Shapur's Parade celebrating the victory over the Romans in 244.
You also visit the tombs of the famous Persian poets Hafez (1315 - 1390) and Saadi Shirazi (1210 - 1291 or 1292). Translated into many languages, their works are still very popular in Iran and are often used as quotation sources in the country and elsewhere, including the West. Set in beautiful gardens, these sites are Shiraz major tourist attractions.
Day 4. Shiraz - Yazd.
After breakfast you set out for Yazd, located at a distance of 440 km from Shiraz, stopping en route in Pasargadae, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An archeological site today, Pasargadae was the capital of the famous Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, and it is where Cyrus the Great is buried. You see his limestone tomb (dating from c. 540-530 BCE) and learn why it is also called Tomb of Solomon’s Mother. You also see most impressive Pasargadae ruins: the audience hall, the citadel, etc.
You arrive in Yazd in the evening and check in at your hotel.
Day 5. Yazd - Isfahan.
Yazd is an ancient city of over 5,000 years of age! And it is probably the most enchanting destination in Iran if perceived as a live historic city as a whole. Thanks to its remoteness from capitals and desert location, it was immune to many major wars during its history. Besides, Yazd has recently resisted modern urbanization and maintained its ancestral construction technologies. Hence it has kept a lot of its traditional desert structures and their charm, with their domed roofs, badgir windcatchers, qanat wells, yakchal “ice pits”, etc. According to UNESCO, Yazd is one of the few cities boasting the world’s oldest architecture, and the world’s largest adobe city.
Yazd is also a traditional center of Zoroastrianism, which the Persians had practiced for centuries before Islam was brought to the region. There are from 5% to 10% of Zoroastrians in the city even today. Yazd has a dakhma tower of silence and a fire temple with a fire that has been kept burning in it for centuries!
After breakfast you set out on a guided sightseeing tour of the city. First you see the Friday-prayer mosque Jameh Mosque of Yazd (Persian: Masjid-e-Jameh Yazd) dating from the 12th century (largely rebuilt in the 14th century). It features two minarets, Iran’s highest, and is rich in exquisite faience mosaics. Its tall mihrab (a Mecca direction niche to face while praying) is one of the world’s finest.
Next comes the fire temple Yazd Atash Behram. (Atash Behram “fire of victory” is the highest grade of fire a Zoroastrian temple is built to house. Fire temples are named after the grades of fire they maintain.) Today there are only 9 surviving Atash Behrams: the one you see in Yazd and 8 in India. Yazd Atash Behram was set up in 1932; the previous one was converted into a mosque when Arabs invaded the area. A plaque on the temple says the sacred flame in it, brought there from another shrine, has been burning since about 470 CE.
Then you go to see the local “Tower of silence”, a dakhma (also spelled dokhma, dakhmeh). By tradition, Zoroastrians used to put the bodies of their dead on top of dakhma towers to be cleaned up by scavengers, then put the bones into ossuaries and stacked them near or inside these towers. Since the 1970s such use of dakhmas has been illegal in Iran, which forced the local orthodox Zoroastrians to adopt new burial methods.
The next site you visit is the beautiful Amir Chakhmaq Complex (also spelled Chakmaq, Chakhmagh, Chakmak), consisting of a mosque, a caravanserai, a tekyeh (a place where Shia Muslims gather to mourn the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali), a bathhouse, a well, and a confectionary. The complex, Iran’s largest structure, is renowned for its grand façade featuring three stories of symmetrical ached alcoves.
In the afternoon you leave for Isfahan. As you arrive in the city and checked in at your hotel, you go on a tour of impressive Siose Bridge or Siosepol (meaning “the Bridge of 33 Arches”; also called the Allah-Verdi Khan Bridge) and Khaju Bridge (Persian: Pol-e Khaju) - striking examples of Safavid bridge architecture (dating from the 17th century). Siose Bridge is 295 meters long and almost 14 meters wide. Khaju Bridge has 23 arches and is 105 meters long and 14 meters wide. Functioning as a bridge and a dam, it also serves as a building and a place for public gatherings. Khaju Bridge was recognized as one the world's great "multifunctional" bridges in 2008.
Day 6. Isfahan - Tehran.
With a population of almost 2 million, Isfahan is the third most populous city in Iran, after Tehran and Mashhad. It flourished particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty when it was Persian capital. Today’s Isfahan boasts fine examples of Islamic architecture, including historic bridges over the Zayandeh River (also spelled Zayandeh-Rood, Zayanderood, Zayande River). There is also a Zoroastrian fire temple and a number of churches (Armenian).
Your guided tour of Isfahan begins with Chehel Sotoun (also spelled Chihil Sutun or Chehel Sotoon), a palace in a park, with a large pool before it, built by Shah Abbas II in 1647 for entertainment and reception purposes. The name Chehel Sotoun translates as “Forty Columns”, for the 20 elegant wooden columns of the palace and their reflected in the fountain before them make 40. The palace features amazing frescoes depicting humans - contrary to Islamic design rules. They are real historical figures acting in scenes, such as the shah’s receptions, and imaginary ones painted to show the great values of love and life.
The next site is Naqsh-e Jahan Square (also known as Imam Square; formerly known as Shah Square; Persian: Maidan-e Naqsh-e Jahan; built in 1598 - 1629), a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. It is the world’s second largest square; it is 508 meters long and 160 meters wide. Naqsh-e Jahan Square is printed on Iranian 20,000-Rial banknote.
The square boasts most impressive historic buildings dating from the Safavid times (1501 - 1736): Shah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace, and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. Keisaria Gate on the northern side of the square opens into Isfahan Grand Bazaar.
The grand Shah Mosque (called Imam Mosque after the 1979 revolution) on the south side of the square dates from 1629. It is a striking example of Persian Islamic architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts rich interior decoration, gorgeous multicolored mosaics, calligraphic inscriptions, and iwan entrance vaulted ceiling muqarnas (also mocarabe, honeycomb work, or stalactite work, taking the form of small pointed niches stacked in stairs-like tiers.)
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on the eastern side of the square (also spelled Lutfullah, Lutfollah, Lutfallah, Lotf Allah), another masterpiece of Safavid architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, too. Dating from 1618, it is the earliest structure in the square. In contrast to Shah Mosque, which was intended for the public, Sheikh Lotfolla Mosque was built for the shah, his harem and the court. That is why it is smaller and of a different design (no minarets, secret entrance, etc.). And that is why it is even more impressive that Shah Mosque in terms of decoration. Open to the public now, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque reveals dazzlingly beautiful ornament made exclusively for the shah and his ladies.
Ali Qapu Palace, standing across from Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, is sometimes called the first Iranian “skyscraper”. Built in the 17th century, it is 48 meters in height and has 6 stories. It was originally built as a portal - Ali Qapu translates as “Exalted Porte” (chosen to rival “Sublime Porte” of the Ottomans) - to Isfahan royal quarter. The shahs used the palace for administrative, reception and residential purposes, as well as for entertainment. The palace features fine stucco ornaments and very charming frescoes.
When you are done with Naqsh-e Jahan Square, your last site is the grand Jameh Mosque of Isfahan (Friday communal prayer mosque), also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mosque is one of Iran’s oldest, dating from the 11th century. However, it has been reconstructed and renovated many times, so it presents - uniquely - various Persian architectural styles. It is especially notable for its stucco mihrab, muqarnas, and glazed tile work.
Transfer to the domestic airport for a short flight to Tehran. Transfer to hotel and check-in.
Day 7. Tehran. Departure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Peculiarities of the visa system in Iran. Is it necessary to obtain a visa to Iran?
Who may be refused entry into Iran?
What cannot be brought to Iran?
What cannot be taken out of Iran?
What should women wear in Iran?
Other characteristic features of Iran.
Useful Information on Traveling in Iran
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