Iran - The Achaemenian Heritage
£3,455 excl. flight
Current FCO advice is against travel to this wonderful country. However, we feel hopeful that tourism can safely return in the near future.
- The site of Persepolis, one of the wonders of the ancient world
- Shiraz, famous for poetry, literature and exquisite gardens
- Isfahan for fine examples of Islamic architecture
Iran first gained prominence in the 6th century BC under the Achaemenid dynasty, creators of the Persian Empire, when art and architecture were encouraged to flourish. Further riches survive from the Sasanian Empire, plus splendid buildings from the Islamic period from 642 AD. From then, a near millennium of conquests by foreign powers, have resulted in a spectacular legacy of magnificent tower tombs, mosques, madrasas and shrines.
Day 1 London/ Tehran - Depart London.
Day 2 Tehran – Morning at leisure. Afternoon tour of Tehran taking in the glittering Golestan Palace built by Nasser al-Din during the Qajar period and the exquisite collection of Crown Jewels held in the city’s central bank.
Day 3 Tehran – Continue your exploration of the city including a visit to the Persian Carpet Museum, the
National Museum of Persian antiquities and the Glass and Ceramics museum. Late afternoon excursion to the north of the city to visit the Saadabad Palace complex.
Day 4 Tehran, Kerman – Fly to Kerman, a desert trading city, founded in the 3rd century AD by Ardashir 1, founder of the Sassanian dynasty. Spend the afternoon exploring the city’s sights including its bustling grand bazaar and the Ganj Ali Khan Complex.
Day 5 Rayen, Mahan, Kerman - Drive southeast to Rayen, in the foothills of the Hezar mountains, with a stop in Mahan en route. Visit Rayen’s impressive Arg-e-Rayen (citadel) which perches on the edge of a hillside overlooking the town. In the late afternoon return to Kerman for the night.
Day 6 Kerman, Shiraz - Full day drive to Shiraz through wonderful arid desert landscapes.
Day 7 Shiraz - Tour of Shiraz, the romantic city of poets, literature and wine. Visit the Vakil Mosque, the Pars Museum, its exquisite gardens and the tombs of the great Persian poets, Hafez and Saadi.
Day 8 Persepolis - Explore the expansive site of Persepolis, as well as Naqsh-e Rustam, the rock-cut tombs of the kings, Xerxes and Darius I and II.
Day 9 Shiraz, Pasargadae, Yazd – Journey to Yazd with a visit to Pasargadae en route, which was the capital of Cyrus the Great and dates back to 546 BC.
Day 10 Yazd - Spend the morning visiting the oasis town of Yazd, exploring its labyrinth of passages, bazaars and mud brick streets. Visit a fire temple, the soaring Jameh Mosque and Bagh-i-Dolat Abad (tallest windtower). Afternoon excursion to a ‘Tower of Silence’, a Zoroastrian funerary site.
Day 11 Yazd, Meybod, Naein, Isfahan - Journey to Isfahan via Meybod and Naein.
Day 12 Isfahan - Explore the stunning Iman square and its ensemble of glorious Safavid architecture. Visit the Sheikh Lotfallah & Imam Mosques, the Ali Qapu palace gateway and the Chehel Soton palace pavilion.
Day 13 Isfahan - Drive to the Armenian quarter to take in the Vank Cathedral and its adjoining museum. In the afternoon you will have time at leisure to explore the sights at your own pace.
Day 14 Isfahan, Tehran - This morning you will have time to explore the labyrinth of bazaars surrounding Imam square, before your flight to Tehran.
Day 15 Tehran/ London - Return flight to London.
Sylvie Franquet was born in Belgium, but has lived in London for over 20 years. She has studied Arabic and Islamic studies at Ghent University, and then at Cairo University. She has led many trips to the Middle East, and has written extensively about the region in travel articles and guidebooks. Having travelled a lot in the Middle East, she went to Iran a number of years ago, and fell totally under the spell of the country. In the last few years Iran became the focus of her travels, as no country defies preconceptions as much Iran. She read obsessively about the country, its culture and history, and started learning Farsi. She lives in London with her husband, the writer Anthony Sattin, and their two sons.
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