Shiraz, the heart of Iranian wine making in days gone by, is a provisional capital in south-central of Iran. Historically, Iran has had an ancient tradition of wine culture, which, was usually captured in the poetry of Hafez.
Hafez is the most celebrated of Persian poets, who lived during the 14th century in Shiraz. His collections of poems can be found in every Persian household. Most of his poems are about wine, love and roses. The tomb of Hafez is situated inside a luscious garden pavilion in the city of Shiraz. This garden tomb has become a historical site for visitors from all over Iran.
After the Iranian Islamic revolution, wine making and consumption became prohibited in the country. As a consequence, wine has become an underground commodity amongst Iranians in Iran, produced and consumed behind closed doors.
130 km to the north of Shiraz, surrounded by rigid mountain ranges, is one of the world’s greatest archeological sites. Iran’s second registered UNESCO World Heritage site of Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid empire was founded by King Darius I in 518 B.C. This imperial site was merely built to showcase the glory of the Persian empire at the time. Grand ceremonial affairs, national celebrations and international exhibitions were held at this grandiose complex. The Shiraz Summer Art Festival held between 1967-1977 in Persepolis gathered artists from all around the world.
The arrival of spring and the mesmerising scent of orange blossoms describe the essence of the city of Shiraz. Every year in May, bitter orange blossoms cover the entire city and turn it into a vibrant, fragrant and lively destination for visitors from all walks of life. An iconic tourist attraction in Shiraz is the famous Pink Mosque, also known as the jewel of Shiraz. This mosque, with its stunning pieces of floral coloured stained glasses is an architectural phenomenon. Built in 1888 during Qajar dynasty, The Pink Mosque or Nasir-Ol-Molk Mosque (as locals call it) is a must-visit spot on the itinerary of every traveler, visiting Shiraz. At sunrise, when the sun breaks through the stained glass windows in the prayer room, a kaleidoscope of colours and light are created.
Shiraz is also home to numerous Persian Gardens. The Persian style of garden design and landscaping has its roots in Pasargadae. 25 centuries ago, Cyrus the Great, established his capital in Pasargadae. Upon visit, you find remains of his glorious ancient city enclosed by the mountains. His mausoleum is by no doubt one of Iran’s most significant landmarks.
Eram Park or the paradise garden is undoubtedly one of the most luscious Persian Gardens in Iran. Located in the heart of Shiraz, this historic complex comprises of a botanic garden, an eye-catching water fountain in the centre of the courtyard and an impressive mansion, overlooking the entire precinct. Eram Park is now recognised as an official botanical garden, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During the mid 18th century, Shiraz became the capital of Iran by Karim Khan, the founder of the Zand Dynasty. He invited many skilled artists and architects to Shiraz. He then commissioned the Karim Khan Citadel and Vakil Bazaar to be built. The citadel used to be where the kings or local rulers resided, during both the Zand and Qajar Dynasty. Later, it became a prison in Pahlavi Dynasty. In 1972, it was registered in National Heritage of Iran. Nowadays, after having undergone renovation and restoration processes, it has turned into a museum, open to the public.
The Vakil Bazaar is a maze of distinguished shops. It is so colourful and beautiful. The 10 meter high ceiling of the bazaar and the enormous complex are astonishing. The Vakil complex contains a Mosque, a replica of a regal Arabian Mosque. There are 48 twisted ribbed marble columns that support the ceiling with tiled mosaics. The stunning architecture of the Vakil complex is representative of the rich history of the city of Shiraz. Today the name of Shiraz lives on. The spirit of this city, the splendid architecture and craftsmanship, the scent of fresh orange blossoms in spring, the mystical poems of Hafez, the eternal love and the rich wine of Shiraz.