Sources: ISNA I, ISNA II, ISNA III, IRNA I, IRNA II, IRNA III, Tasnim News Agency (TNA) I, TNA II, TNA III, TNA IV, TNA V, TNA VI, TNA VII, TNA VIII, TNA IX, Azad News Agency, Mehr News Agency (MNA) I, MNA II, MNA III, MNA IV, MNA V, asangardi.com, Fars News Agency
Isfahan was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Persian–Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian proverb “Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast” (Isfahan is half of the world).
The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments and is known for the paintings, history and architecture.
Photo gallery: Beautiful pictures of Isfahan in autumn
Today Isfahan is the capital of Isfahan Province and with a population of 1,755,382 inhabitants is also Iran’s third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad. The city is located 340 kilometres south of Tehran, in the lush plain of the Zayanderud River, at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range.
The nearest mountain is Mount Soffeh (Kuh-e Soffeh) which is situated just south of Isfahan, at 1,590 metres (5,217 ft) above sea level on the eastern side of the Zagros Mountains. Isfahan has an arid climate but despite its altitude, the city remains hot during the summer. However, with low humidity and moderate temperatures at night, the climate can be very pleasant.
The site lies in the eastern Zagros Mountains, 50-160 km east of Shiraz, and includes two very large salt-lakes -Tashk and Bakhtegan- and a large area of permanent freshwater marshes and seasonally flooded plains along the lower Kur river to the west (Kamjan Marshes). The two lakes are normally separated by narrow strips of land but may be joined during very wet winters to form a single expanse of water covering up to 136.500 ha.
Supporting more than 20.000 waterfowl, up to 50.000 flamingos and other species (e.g. ducks, geese, swans and cranes), the lakes are extremely important for breeding of a wide variety of species.
Kamjan Marshes formerly comprised ca. 10.000 ha of permanent and seasonal freshwater marshes. Although the marshes have been extensively modified by the drainage canals, 5.250 ha of wetland remains, including expanses of wet mudflats. Some irrigation canals are already silting up, and parts of the drained land are reverting to marsh. In addition, new marshes have developed at the mouths of the three main drainage canals where they enter the western ends of Lake Tashk and Lake Bakhtegan.
The two lakes, their delta and spring-fed marshes are designated as Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an inter-governmental treaty established in 1971, establishing a framework for the stewardship and preservation of wetlands.
Shahdad Desert, on the western edge of Lut Desert, is home to unique natural structures called kalut (sand castles) by locals. The area is regarded as an archeological site of Kerman Province with graveyards, forts, and caravanserais which date back to the fourth millennium B.C.
The Lut Desert is a large salt desert located in the provinces of Kerman and Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran. It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2016. The hottest part of Dasht-e Lut is Gandom Beryan, an approximately 480km² (190 sq mi) large plateau covered in dark lava, 80 km north of Shahdad city. According to a local legend, Gandom Beryan (toasted wheat) originates from an accident where a load of wheat was left in the desert which was then scorched by the heat in a few days. The surface of its sand has been measured at temperatures as high as 70 °C (159 °F), making it one of the world’s driest and hottest places.
These impressive formations which are scattered over 11.000km² across the desert are called yardangs. They form by erosion in environments where water is scarce and the prevailing winds are strong, uni-directional, and carry an abrasive sediment load.
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.
A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth.
In 2016 there were three consecutive supermoons (in October, November and December). The moon on November 14 was the closest supermoon since January 26, 1948.
Hamedan Province is one of the most ancient regions of Iran. The city of Hamedan laid on the Silk Road. The Province lies on the Zagros mountain range. Hamedan enjoys temperate warm summers and relatively cold winters.
According to local Jewish traditions, Hamedan is mentioned in the Book of Esther as the capital of Ancient Persia in the days of King Ahasuerus. It was then known as Shushan. The Tombs of Mordecai and Esther are located in modern-day Hamedan.
Arasbaran is a mountainous area in the north of East Azerbaijan Province in northwest of Iran. This region is famous for the unique and intact nature. Since 1976 UNESCO has registered 72.460 hectares of Arasbaran as biosphere reserve. Enjoy the photo gallery!
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.
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.
The Perseids is a prolific meteor shower visible from mid-July each year, that stretches along the orbit of the comet Swift–Tuttle. The cloud consists of particles ejected by the comet as it travels on its 133-year orbit. The meteors were named Perseids because the point from which they appear to come, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus.
Although they can be seen all across the sky, they are primarily visible in the Northern Hemisphere. The peak in activity is between August 9th to 14th. During the peak, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour. Most Perseids burn up in the atmosphere while at heights above 80km.
The earliest record of Perseid activity comes from the Chinese annals, where it is said that in 36 AD “more than 100 meteors flew thither in the morning.” Numerous references appear in Chinese, Japanese and Korean records throughout the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th centuries.
Perseids seen in Darbid and Khoravand. Darbid is a village in Yazd Province, 40km from the city of Yazd. Khoravand is a village in Markazi Province, 70km from Arak.
In Europe, the first known observation is from the year 811 and the first known written record is from “Introduction a la Philosophie naturelle” by Dutch scientist Pieter van Musschenbroek in 1762, where he states that the increased August meteor activity is a recurring event. In 1835, Belgian astronomer Adolphe Quetelet identified the shower as emanating from the constellation Perseus. In 1866, after the perihelion passage of Swift-Tuttle in 1862, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli discovered the link between meteor showers and comets.
The Perseids is the most famous of all meteor showers. Due to its summertime appearance, it tends to provide the majority of meteors seen by non-astronomy enthusiasts.
Paveh, with a population of 19,800 inhabitants, is a city in Kermanshah Province, Iran. It is located in a sub-region along the Iran-Iraq border commonly referred to as Hewraman situated within the larger geographical region of Kurdistan. The city is considered by inhabitants of the region as the capital of the Hewraman. The inhabitants of Paveh are mostly Kurds that speak Auramani.
As a mountainous town, Paveh has cold winters and cool springs. The surrounding mountains are normally filled with fresh spring water from March to June. The town is also encircled with large fruit gardens which create beautiful sceneries during summers.
An old myth regarding the name of the city is that the Emperor Yazdgerd III sent his son named Pav to this area to renew his religious Zoroastrian faith. Both Persians and the local Kurdish inhabitants practiced Zoroastrianism during the Persian Empire’s Sasanian era from which this myth is derived.
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.com, iranlandmark.ir, instagram @chamgir, instagram @yasin_0500, instagram @sshnzk, instagram @arsalanpartovi, anobanini.com, Wikipedia | Jangal-e Abr (in Persian)
Landi is a 700-inhabitants village surrounded by beautiful nature in Ardal County, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, Iran. A one night hiking trip away from a waterfall surrounded by pristine nature.
Photos: Road and hiking trip – From Tehran to Landi Waterfall
The province of Ardabil is located in the north-west of Iran, bordering the Republic of Azerbaijan and the provinces of East Azarbaijan, Zanjan and Gilan. The Talesh mountain range on the east separates Ardabil from Gilan. The majority of its population are Azeris.
The origins of the city Ardabil go back 4000 to 6000 years, but its golden age was in the Safavid period. The name of Ardabil came from a Zoroastrian name of “Artavil” (mentioned in Avesta) which means a holy place. Meshgin Shahr, called “Khiav”, “Orami”, and “Varavi” in the past, is the closest city to the Sabalan mountains.
Sabaland, an inactive volcano in the Alborz mountains, is Ardabil’s most famous natural region but the province offers many other beautiful natural landscapes, mineral and hot springs (Sareyn, Khalkhal, Sardabeh, Booshli) and lakes (Neor, Shoorabil, Shoorgel, Noushahr, Alooche).
The weather in the province varies drastically. The city of Ardabil has very cold winters (-23°C) and very pleasant summers. Bilasuar and Parsabad have hot summers and warm winters. But generally this province is considered the coldest province in Iran though large parts of the province are green and forested.
Other nature posts: The other Iran | Nature
North Khorasan Province, located in northeastern Iran with Bojnord as its capital, is one of the most multicultural territories in the country: Kurdish speakers make a 46.1% of the population, followed by Persian speakers (27.8%), Khorasani Turks (20.6%), Turkmens (3.3%) and other Iranians (2.2%).
Photos: Early spring days across North Khorasan Province (Borna)
Sizdah Be-dar, literally “thirteenth in outdoors”, is an Iranian festival, and part of the Nowruz celebration rituals, held annually on the thirteenth day of the first month of the Iranian calendar (Farvardin). It is celebrated by leaving the house to spend the day outdoors, picnicking and enjoying nature. Thus this festival is also known as “Nature Day”.
A ritual performed at the end of the picnic is to throw away the sabzeh (greenery on the haft-sin table) part of the traditional table setting for Nowruz in Iran. Doruq-e Sizdah, the Iranian version of the prank-playing April Fools’ Day is also celebrated on this day.
Sizdah Bedar is customary to Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan and some parts of Central Asia. In cities with large populations of Iranians, like Los Angeles, it is common to see families celebrating Sizdah Bedar across the city.
Related article: The other Iran | Sizdah Bedar 2015
Photos: Sizdah Bedar 2016 in Iran – Picnicking outdoors on a sunny, rainy and even a snowy day!
Sources: Wikipedia | Sizdah Be-dar, kish.ir 1, kish.ir 2, IRNA 1, IRNA 2, IRNA 3, IRNA 4, ISNA 1, ISNA 2, ISNA 3, ISNA 4, ISNA 5, ISCA News, Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1, MNA 2, MNA 3, MNA 4, MNA 5, Fars News Agency, Tehran Picture Agency (TPA) 1, TPA 2, TPA 3, TPA 4, TPA 5, TPA 6, Borna News 1, Borna News 2, Borna News 3, Borna News 4, Borna News 5, Borna News 6, Tasnim News Agency (TNA) 1, TNA 2, TNA 3, TNA 4, JameJam Online, Young Journalists Club (YJC) 1, YJC 2, Azad News Agency (ANA) 1, ANA 2
Marivan is a city on the Zagros mountain range, in Kurdistan Province, western Iran. West from the city, to the feet of high mountains and surrounded by thick forests lies Lake Zarivar.
Related articles: The other Iran | Landscape
Photos: Early spring days in Marivan, Kurdistan Province, Iran
Nowruz, the Iranian New Year celebrated on the day of the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, has almost arrived and with it we can enjoy the first blossoms across the country: From Rumeshgan in Lorestan, Estur in Kerman, Khaledah and Shiraz in Fars to the gardens of Qazvin.