THE MAGIC OF PERSIA
Day 1– Friday 4th March 2016
Fly with Turkish Airlines from London to Tehran via Turkey arriving late evening.
Day 2 – Tehran
During the day we plan to visit the major museums on our city tour. We see Iran’s National Museum, with prehistoric and ancient artefacts and pottery, dating back to the 6th to 7th millennium BC, the Glass and Ceramics Museum and the Carpet Museum. We also visit the Gold Museum.
Day 3 –To the Summer Capital of the Persians
We drive to Hamadan stopping at Qazvin to visit the shrine of Shahzadeh Hussain, a Shi’ite Saint, and the Friday Mosque. On arrival in Hamadan we visit the Tomb of biblical Esther and Mordecai, the 12th century Alavyan Tomb Tower, Tepe Ecbatana and the museum on the site. On to the Tomb of Avicenna, Iran’s celebrated philosopher and finally the cuneiform inscriptions by Darius I, and his son Xerxes carved on the mountain face at Ganjnameh. Overnight Hamadan
Day 4 – The City of Kings
We head to Kangavar a small town dating back to 200 BC to visit the Temple of Anahita, the Goddess of water and fertility. Then to Bisotun to see the Achaemenid inscriptions and bas reliefs depicting Darius I. Later we see the magnificent site of Tagh-e-Bostan and the Sassanian reliefs. Overnight Kermanshah
Day 5 – The Zagros Mountains
We drive to Ahwaz, via Islam Abad Gharb and the Province of Elam visiting the remains of the Sassanian Bridge at Pol-e-Dokhtar. If time permits we will divert to Shushtar a small town perched on the cliffs above the Karun River. We overnight in Ahwaz.
Day 6 – Lord of Susa
A full day excursion to see two outstanding ancient sites. First to Chogha-Zanbil to visit the ziggurat built by Untash Gal, King of Elam 1250 BC. The massive man-made mound was dedicated to the great god Inshushinak, ‘Lord of Susa’ symbolised in the form of a bull. Next, to Haft-Tappeh (Seven Mounds) and Elamite Necropolis discovered in the 1960’s. Then to Susa, site of one of the oldest civilizations in Western Asia, dating back to 5,000 BC. We see the remains of Achaemenian palaces plus the nearby Tomb of Biblical Prophet Daniel. Overnight Ahwaz.
Day 7 – Sassanian Iran
Today we drive to Shiraz, en-route we visit Bishapur, with the remains of the Sassanian city built by Shapur I (241-273 AD) the second Sassanian king. The building complex includes a central chamber, a large courtyard with mosaics and the remains of a temple dedicated to Anahita. On either side of a narrow gorge we view the six Sassanian rock reliefs at Tang-e-Chogan, commemorating Shapur’s victories over the Romans. Overnight Shiraz.
Day 8 – City of Roses and Nightingales
We have a full day tour to explore the beautiful city of Shiraz and visit some of the famous gardens including the Eram Garden, the tomb of Iran’s greatest lyric poets, Hafez and Sa’adi. Other highlights include the pink tiled 19th century mosque of Nasir-ol-Molk, the Arg-e-Karim Khan, the Qajar period Narenjestan garden and house and the Vakil Bazaar of Shiraz. Overnight Shiraz.
Day 9 – Magnificent Persepolis
A visit to one of the most important sites of the ancient world, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings at Persepolis. We explore remains of the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes and view famous reliefs - the finest in all of Iran. Next to Maghsh-e-Rostam to see Ka’be-Zardosht, the fire temple and Royal Tombs of the Achaemenid kings as well as seven magnificent Sassanian rock reliefs. These include Shapur I’s victory over the Roman Emperor Valerian. Finally to Naghsh-e-Rajab a nearby grotto with more Sassanian reliefs. Overnight Shiraz.
Day 10 – Cyrus the Great
We drive to Yazd and on our journey visit Pasargadae, the site of the simple but impressive tomb and remains of the palaces of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. We also make a stop at the small desert town of Abarkuh to see the 4,000 year old Cypress tree. On arrival in Yazd an architecturally unique city we will have a general city tour and visit Maidan-e-Mirchachmagh, the main square. Overnight Yazd.
Day 11 – The Zoroastrian Centre
Yazd is a centre of Zoroastrian culture and we visit the active Fire Temple, the fire of which has been burning for more than a thousand years. We walk through the old Fahadan area and visit the Dowlat-Abad Garden with an 18th century hexagonal house. We have an afternoon drive to Isfahan and stop at the charming desert town of Na’in to visit the 10th century Friday Mosque and walk through the old part of town. We overnight in Isfahan.
Day 12 – ‘Isfahan is Half the World’
The 17th century capital of the Safavids, referred to as Nesf-e-Jahan (Half the World) is one of the great cities of the world. We visit the famous bridges of Shahrestan, Khajou and Sio-se-pol and the Armenian Quarter with the important Cathedral of Vank. In the afternoon we visit the Safavid Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan, the Ali-Qapu Palace and two of the Islamic world’s greatest mosques – the Sheikh Lotfollah and the Imam. Overnight Isfahan.
Day 13 – City of a Thousand and One Nights
Another full day sightseeing in Isfahan. We start at the Friday Mosque before driving to Chehel Sotun Palace built by Shah Abbass II in the 17th century with twenty wooden columns reflecting in the pool giving rise to the name ‘The Palace of the Forty Columns’. Final stop will be the Hasht Behesht Pavilion built in 1670 by Shah Solayman and known as the Pavilion of Eight Paradises or the Palace of Nightingales. We return to the Maidan for a further visit to the bazaar. Overnight Isfahan.
Day 14 – Tehran
This morning we drive to Tehran but on the way we will stop at the charming town of Natanz to visit a lovely Islamic complex. Also a look at Kashan to visit the historic garden of Fin which was first planted in the Safavid period. We also see a fine example of a 19th century merchant residence known as Taba-Tabai House with inlaid mirror work and wonderful examples of ‘badgirs’, wind catchers. We arrive in Tehran for our last night in Iran. Overnight Iran.
Day 15 – Friday 18th March 2016
We drive to the airport for our Turkish Airlines flight to London.
THIS TOUR IS FULL BOARD THROUGHOUT