City Of Poetry And Love: Shiraz

ALTHOUGH IT IS KNOWN AS ONE OF IRAN’S LEADING COMMERCIAL CENTERS, SHIRAZ IS, ABOVE ALL ELSE, A CITY OF LOVE AND POETRY.

Hafez and Saadi, Iran’s two most important poets, were from here and both have sumptuous tombs in the city. Set in vast gardens, these tombs are never without visitors all day long. While Saadi attracts visitors of all ages, Hafez’s tomb is visited more by lovers and the lovelorn.

MARKETS AND MOSQUES
Besides its poets, Shiraz is also famous for its mosques and markets. The Bazar-e Vakil at the city center boasts all the traditional goods of the East. One of the city’s most magnificent buildings, Vakil Mosque was built in 1773 by Kerim Khan. The tile decorations that grace its walls are, in a word, breathtaking.

THE SHIRAZ GARDENS
There are a large number of large gardens in Shiraz. Called ‘bagh’ in Persian, they surrounded the mansions built in the past by the city’s rulers. Irem Bagh, the city’s most famous, is also its most popular venue in summer thanks to its water ways and stately trees.

PERSEPOLIS
But the most outstanding site in Shiraz is without a doubt Persepolis. Capital of the ancient Persian Empire, the Middle East’s most magnificent, which once shaped history, Persepolis heads the list of sites that fire the imagination of every traveler and history buff. Founded by the Persian king Darius in the 6th century B.C., the ancient city of Persepolis is about 60 kilometers from Shiraz. Even the ruins of this city, construction of which took 180 years, more than reflect the splendor of the period.

The minute you see the colossal reliefs and lion sculptures at the entrance you know you have come to an extraordinary place. The Hall of A Hundred Columns at Persepolis, and the city’s central structure, is conspicuous for the reliefs on its walls, which depict Persian mythology and the empire’s many kings and wars. They are still beautiful despite having been carved some 2,500 years ago. Shiraz is an extraordinary city in the true sense of the word. Iran does not require a visa, and Turkish Airlines has direct flights to the city. All of which make a trip to Shiraz even more attractive.

HORN OF PLENTY: BAZAR-E VAKIL
This market is said to have been built by the Buwayhids and used by Karim Khan of the Zand dynasty to transform Shiraz into a major commercial center. Rumor has it that its brick ceiling explains why it is cool in summer but warm in winter. With close to 200 shops lined up along one long corridor, Bazar-e Vakil sells everything from clothing and flatweaves to spices and gift items.