Persian History and Culture Revisited

November 9-23, 2024 | 15 Days

Tehran, Hamadan, Kermanshah, Tagh-e-Bostan, Pol-e-Dokhtar, Ahwaz, Chogha-Zanbil, Susa, Bishapour, Shiraz, Persepolis, Naghsh-é-Rostam, Pasargadae, Abarquh, Yazd, Na’in, Isfahan • Natanz • Abyaneh, Tehran

DAY 01 (Sun. 09 Nov.): Tehran

Afternoon arrival in Tehran, meet and transfer to hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 02 (Sun. 10 Nov.): Tehran

Early morning arrival at IKA Airport; meet and transfer to hotel. After late breakfast, visits in Tehran to include some of Tehran’s major museums: National Museum: the Archaeological, displaying an authenticated collection of pre-historic and ancient artefacts with pottery dating back to 6-7 millennium B.C.; and the Islamic with a unique collection of artefacts, manuscripts, silver and bronze objects and tiles from different post-Islamic periods in Iran, displayed on two floors; after lunch, visit the Abguineh (Glass & Ceramics) Museum, a valuable collection of pre-Islamic and Islamic glass and ceramics, beautifully displayed and located in an elegant early 20th century mansion, also visit  the Carpet Museum, which has an excellent collection of Persian carpets from different regions of Iran on display. Return to the hotel for O/N stay.

DAY 03 (Mon. 11 Nov.): Tehran-Hamadan (380 km)

Drive to Hamadan, afternoon sightseeing in Hamadan to include Tepe Ecbatana (an archaeological site dating back to 700-500 B.C.), the Tombs of Esther and Mordecai, a major Jewish pilgrimage center; the 12th-century Alavyan Tomb Tower, and the Ganj-Nameh inscriptions by Darius and his son Xerxes, O/N.

Day 04 (Tue. 12 Nov.): Hamadan-Kermanshah (180 km)

Drive to Kermanshah, en-route visit the Temple of Anahita, built in 200 B.C during the Hellenistic occupation of western Iran, at Kangavar. Anahita, the goddess of water and fertility, was worshipped in ancient Persia along with Ahura-Mazda; also visit the site of the relief and inscriptions of Darius the Great at Bisotoun, which depicts Darius facing the nine rebel kings whom the Achaemenid ruler suppressed when he came to power; on to Kermanshah and visit the several important Sassanian reliefs at Tagh-e-Bostan (some inside a grotto), depicting royal hunting scenes and the investiture of the Sassanian kings, including the gigantic equestrian statue of Khosrow II (AD 591-628), mounted on this favorite charger Shabdiz. O/N.

Day 05 (Wed. 13 Nov.): Kermanshah-Ahwaz (550 km)

Drive to Ahwaz, via Pol-e-Dokhtar, and visit remains of Sassanian Bridge over Kashkan River; continue to Ahwaz, O/N.

Day 06 (Thu. 14 Nov.): Ahwaz-Exc. Susa (return 240 km)

Full day excursion to Chogha-Zanbil, to see the ziggurat built around 1250 B.C. by the Elamite king Untash-Gal. Also visit Haft-Tappeh (Elamite Necropolis), and Susa, the site of one of the oldest civilizations in Western Asia, dating back to 5,000 B.C. and the remains of the Achaemenian palaces, plus the nearby Tomb of Biblical Prophet Daniel; return to Ahwaz, O/N.

Day 07 (Fri. 15 Nov.): Ahwaz-Shiraz (560 km)

Drive to Shiraz, en-route visit the single Sassanian Relief at Sarab-e-Bahram above a spring, and on to Bishapur, remains of the Sassanian city built by Shapur 1st (241-273 A.D.), the second Sassanian king. The building complex includes a central chamber, a large courtyard which had been covered with impressive mosaics, plus the remains of a temple dedicated to Anahita, the goddess of water and fertility; on either side of a narrow gorge, there are also six Sassanian rock-reliefs at Tang-e-Chogan, commemorating Shapur’s victories over the Romans and other adversaries. Picnic lunch. Continue to Shiraz for dinner, O/N.

Day 08 (Sat. 16 Nov.): Shiraz

Full day city tour of Shiraz, the city of “roses and nightingales”, to visit some of the delightful gardens of Shiraz, including the Eram Garden, the Vakil Mosque, also visit the Qajar-period Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, popularly known as the “Pink Mosque” because of its colourful tile decorations, and the Narenjestan Garden/Pavilion, also dating from the Qajar period, and the family home of the wealthy Qavam Family of Shiraz. The Narenjestan has a reception hall or ‘Biruni’ and the private quarters of the family or ‘Andaruni’, which are now in two separate buildings; finish the day with a visit to Vakil Bazaar; O/N stay at hotel.

Day 09 (Sun. 17 Nov.): Shiraz-Exc. Persepolis (return 100 km)

Half-day day excursion to Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the Ancient World, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings with remains of the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, and its famous bas-reliefs, depicting kings and courtiers and gift-bearing representatives of tributary nations of the Persian Empire; also visit Naghsh-e-Rostam to see Ka’be-Zardosht (fire temple/sanctuary), and Royal Tombs (also Achaemenid); plus seven magnificent Sassanian rock-reliefs (including Shapur the First’s famous victory over Roman Emperor Valerian); and Naghsh-e-Rajab, a nearby grotto with several more important  Sassanian reliefs. Return to Shiraz and visit the tomb of Iran’s greatest lyric poet, Hafez, located in pleasant gardens, with charming “Chai-Khaneh” (tea-house), O/N stay at hotel.

Day 10 (Mon. 18 Nov.): Shiraz-Yazd (450 km)

Drive to Yazd, enroute visit Pasargadae, site of the simple, but impressive, tomb, and remains of the palaces of Cyrus the Great (the Founder of the Persian Empire), after picnic lunch at the site, drive through Abarkuh and continue to Yazd and, time-permitting, visit the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence; dinner, O/N.

Day 11 (Tue. 19 Nov.): Yazd-Isfahan (300 km)

Visits in Yazd, including one of the two Zoroastrian abandoned Towers of Silence (Dakhma), dating back to the 18th-century, where until some 40-50 years ago the dead were carried and left to decompose and be devoured by birds; and the active Zoroastrian Fire Temple, the fire of which has been burning for about 1500 years; also visit Dowlat Abad Garden, with an 18th-century feudal hexagonal house. Drive to Isfahan, enroute visit Na’in a charming desert town, half way between Isfahan and Yazd, to visit the 10th century Friday Mosque, and the 17th century Pirnia House/Ethnographic Museum; continue the drive to Isfahan, O/N.

Day 12 (Wed. 20 Nov.): Isfahan

Full day tour of the beautiful city of Isfahan, the 17th century capital of the Safavids, referred to as Nesf-e-Jahan (Half of the World) in Safavid sources, to visit the famous bridges of Shahrestan/Khajou/Sio-se-pol, the Armenian Quarter with several churches, including the important Cathedral of Vank; in the afternoon visit one of the world’s grandest squares, the Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan, with several sites (the Ali-Qapu Palace with its enchanting music rooms and balcony overlooking the Maidan, from where the Safavid Kings watched polo games, and two of Islamic world’s greatest mosques – the Sheikh Lotfollah and the Shah – with magnificent architecture and tilework), finishing with a visit to the Qeisarieh Bazaar with hundreds of shops displaying the arts and handicrafts for which Isfahan is world-famous, O/N at hotel.

Day 13 (Thu. 21 Nov.): Isfahan

Another full day sightseeing of Isfahan to visit the magnificent Friday Mosque, with the famous Uljaitu Mihrab (Prayer Niche) of the Il-Khanid period. The Friday Mosque is considered a museum of a thousand years of Persian religious architecture and is truly one of the world’s greatest mosques.. From here drive to the Chehel Sotun Palace, built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century; its wooden columns reflected in the surface of the pool give rise to its name ‘The Palace of Forty Columns’; the last visit will be Hasht Behesht pavilion built in 1670 by Shah Sulaiman and known as the Pavilion of Eight Paradises or the Palace of Nightingales. This small but intricate building is set amongst tree-lined alleys, a reflecting pool and water rills;  In the afternoon return to the main Maidan for further visit to shops and bazaar; O/N at hotel.

Day 14 (Fri. 22 Nov.): Isfahan-Tehran (450 km)

Morning drive to Tehran, and the first stop will be at Natanz to visit a beautiful Islamic Complex (Friday Mosque/Monastery/ Tomb of Sheikh Abdol Samad Isfahani), onto Kashan to visit the historical garden of Fin, which was first planted during the Safavid period and kept alive with water from the nearby Sulaimanieh Spring. This beautiful garden was expanded by the Zand and Qajar monarchs, with many open pavilions added. You will also visit a fine example of a 19th century merchant residence known as Taba-Tabai House with its beautiful stucco dome and inlaid mirror work, with some of the best examples of existing “badgirs” (wind-catchers); continue to IKA AIRPORT HOTEL (REXAN), O/N hotel.

Day 15 (Sat. 23 Nov.): Departure

Walk to the airport for departure flight.