Category Archives: Travel

Iran’s National Botanical Garden in Tehran (Photos)

Founded in 1968, the garden extends over an area of about 150ha (370ac) and is planned to be the main center for horticulture and plant taxonomy in Iran.

A herbarium of Iranian plants is gradually being built up and now consists of some 160,000 species. It also contains gardens of non-Iranian plants, an arboretum, six lakes, hills (to represent the Alborz and Zagros mountains), a rock garden, a waterfall, a wetland, a river about 1 km long, systematic area, fruit garden, picnic area with some pavilions, desert plants areas, a salt lake and a wadi (a dry, ephemeral, riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain). The botanical and horticultural library has more than 11.000 volumes.

The area, located at 1320m altitude by the freeway between Tehran and Karaj, is flat and slopes gently to the south. The Albourz Mountains forms the background. The climate is dry with an average annual precipitation of about 240 mm falling between November and May. Temperature reaches as much as 42–43ºC during July and August. During winter the temperature may fall to –10ºC or lower. The natural vegetation of the area is dry Artemisia Siberia steppe.

Sources: Research Institute of Forests and Rangelands, Wikipedia, instagram @nbgiran, Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1, MNA 2, MNA 3, Tehran Picture, tishineh.com, netbaran.com, behtarynha.com

Kariz-e Kish: An underground city in Kish Island, Iran

A stone doorway opens up into a maze of walled passages and clear openings that is now partly open for tourists. It is actually an ancient underground aqueduct in Kish, a resort island in Hormozgan Province, in the Persian Gulf.

The kariz of Kish is said to have been built about 2500 years ago by the inhabitants of Harireh City. They stroked the coralline layers of the island in search of water and built the qanat to channel fresh water to their homes and farms. For centuries afterwards, this water not only relieved the thirst of the local residents, but by exporting it to neighboring states, they bartered it for sugar or cash.

Before the Roman aqueduct, the people of pre-Islamic Iran had developed their own hydraulic system called kariz (qanat). The technology spread then eastward to Afghanistan and westward to Egypt. A qanat taps underground mountain water sources trapped in and beneath the upper reaches of alluvial fans and channels the water downhill through a series of gently sloping tunnels, often several kilometres long, to the places where it is needed for irrigation and domestic use. Although new qanats are seldom built today, many old qanats are still used in Iran and Afghanistan, mainly for irrigation.

The ancient water management system in Kish collected water from 274 wells in an area of 14km² and conducted the water to a central refining shaft filled with three layers of filter material. The top layer was coral gravel which was used to neutralize the acids in the water and filter bigger solids in the water. Then a layer of coral grit with clay was filtering fine solids, and the lowest layer was made of marl, a special sort of clay.

Sixteen meters below the coral island, the tunnels, which have been reinforced for safety, snake through the island for over five miles, creating a subterranean world. Its ceilings, once a seabed, are eight meters high and mostly covered by fossilized shells and corals. Tests conducted on these fossils at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, determined that they are from 53 to 570 million years old.

Kish has a history of about 3.000 years, over this time it has been called under various names such as Kamtina, Arakia, Arakata, and Ghiss. The island has an estimated population of 26.000 residents and about one million visitors annually.

Kish Underground City is located at the Olympics Square, on the intersection of three aqueducts with 74 wells over an area of 10km². Efforts have been made to preserve the traditional and historic fabric of this site while providing new uses with museums, art galleries, handicraft workshops, traditional and modern tea and coffee shops for tourists. Nevertheless, the developers have not forgotten its ancient function; the kariz is again fulfilling its role as a water filter, although the filtered water is used mainly for irrigation purposes.

Sources: Ancient Origins, Atlas Obscura, Daily Mail, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Facebook @Kariz.Kish, Fars News, Flickr @ashkan-kankash, Flickr @maissam, Flickr @watoo-watoo, Hamgardi, Hidden and little known places, Historical Iran, ISNA, Kish Underground City, Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1, MNA 2, Panoramio @Nasser Emami, Tasnim News Agency (TNA) 1, TNA 2, Tishineh, Untold Iran, Wikipedia, Young Journalists Club

Photo Series: Autumn in Iran – Mashhad

Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran and is the capital of Razavi Khorasan Province. It is located in the north east of the country close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its population is 3,131,586. It was a major oasis along the ancient Silk Road connecting with Merv in the East.

Mashhad is also known as the city of Ferdowsi, the Iranian poet of Shahnameh, which is considered to be the national epic of Iran. The city is also well-known and respected for housing the tomb of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam.

Sources: Tasnim News, Wikipedia | Mashhad

Iran’s West Azerbaijan Province: Shalmash Falls (Photos)

Shalmash Falls is a cluster of three waterfalls, each of them about 10m high, along a branch of the Little Zab River, situated on the outskirts of the village of Sardasht, West Azerbaijan Province, Iran.

The falls lie in a beautiful valley, surrounded by scattered forests. There is a staircased viewing platform to ease the access to the falls but a good hike deep into the valley would be necessary to go near the other two falls.

Sources: Wikipedia | Shalmash Falls, Iran Daily, IRNA 1, IRNA 2, tishineh.com

Jangal-e Abr: Beautiful cloud forest in northern Iran (Photos)

Jangal-e Abr (Cloud Forest or Cloud Jungle) is one of the oldest and most beautiful forests in Iran. It is located on the eastern part of Alborz mountains, on the border between the provinces of Semnan and Golestan, 45km north east of Shahrud.

Sprawling on an area of 35,000 hectares, the Cloud Forest is a remnant of the ancient Caspian and Hyrcanian forests, encircling the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains like a belt, covering the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea. Inside the thick woods, it is hard to imagine that the forest is located in the semi-arid province of Semnan, close to the Central Desert and Khar-Turan National Park.

When the temperature falls, two or three hours before sunset, clouds rush into the forest. They are so thick that you may not see an arm lenght in front of you. Above them Ghale Maran, a peak of high altitude, seems to be floating on the sea of clouds. It is said that there was ancient castle located on top of this mountain, south of Ramian. After a while into the night, the clouds usually scatter away, letting a clear view of the surrounding valleys, if the moon is up.

Sources: ISNA 1, ISNA 2, irpedia.com, financialtribune.com, tishineh.comiranlandmark.ir, instagram @chamgir, instagram @yasin_0500, instagram @sshnzk, instagram @arsalanpartovianobanini.com, Wikipedia | Jangal-e Abr (in Persian)

Iran’s Tehran Province: Park-e Shahr in Tehran

Park-e Shahr, literally the City Park, is one of the oldest parks in Tehran, located just a few blocks north of the Grand Bazaar. The park covers over 25 hectares and, besides its 17.3 hectares dedicated to green space, it houses a lake, a library, a small aviary garden and a traditional restaurant.

The Tehran Peace Museum, a member of the International Network of Museums for Peace, is also located within Park-e Shahr. The main objective of the museum is to promote a culture of peace through raising awareness about the devastating consequences of war. The museum coordinates a peace education program that holds workshops on humanitarian law, disarmament, tolerance, and peace education.

Sources: Wikipedia | Park-e Shahr, The Culture Trip, Untold Iran, Tehran Picture Agency (TPA) 1, TPA 2, Wikipedia | Tehran Peace Museum

Iran’s Alborz Province: Dizin Ski Resort hosts snowboard competition (Photos)

Iran hosted earlier this month a snowboard and freestyle ski competition event in Dizin Ski Resort, north of the capital Tehran. Eight female and twenty eight male athletes competed alongside, defying the unexpected, unfavorable weather conditions at the beginning of the tournament.

Dizin, established in 1969, is one of the larger Iranian ski resorts in the Alborz mountain range, 120km from Tehran by car. The ski season in Dizin lasts from December to May, because of the resort’s high altitude.

Related article: The other Iran | Dizin Ski Resort

Sources: IRNA, Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1, MNA 2, Tasnim News Agency, Fars News Agency, Young Journalists ClubISNA, PressTV