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.
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!
Tabriz, capital of East Azerbaijan Province, is one of the most populous cities in Iran. Located at 1,350 meters above sea level, it has cold winters and mild summers.
As one of the historical capitals of Iran, the city has a long and turbulent history. Its oldest civilization sites date back to 1,500 B.C. The transition of the different Iranian architecture styles is still visible on its buildings although repeated devastating earthquakes and several invasions have damaged many of its historical monuments. The Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2010.
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.
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)
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)
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.
Kish is a duty-free, resort island in the Persian Gulf 19 kilometers from mainland Iran, in Hormozgan Province. It has a population of 26,000 residents and about 1 million visitors annually. The island is located on a narrow strip of tropical vegetation in the Northern Hemisphere and has a semi-equatorial climate. Along its coast are coral reefs and many other small islands.
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.
The Veresk Bridge and the Three Golden Lines, a railway spiral passing three times by the same area at different heights are located in Savadkuh County, Mazandaran Province. They are part of the Trans-Iranian Railway, a major railway building project that started in 1927 and completed in 1938. It links the capital Tehran with the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea.
The Danish firm Kampsax began constructing Veresk Bridge in 1934. The structure stands at 110m height and has a 66m long arch. It connects two mountains in the Abbas Abad region.
The construction of this bridge included craftsmen of many nationalities. The name of the bridge is derived from the name of a Czechoslovakian technician whose name was hard to pronounce for Iranians. Near the bridge is a memorial for the workers who lost their life while building the bridge and its nearby tunnels. The Chief Engineer, Austrian Walter Aigner, following his wishes, is buried in the local cemetery of Veresk.
During World War II, it was known as the Pol-e-Piroozi, or the bridge of victory. During the course of the war, Reza Shah was asked by Hitler to blow up all tunnels and bridges, including the Veresk Bridge, on Iran’s railway lines in order to delay the transfer of goods and reinforcement troops to the north for the Russians. He furthermore promised to replace and reconstruct all of such demolished structures following the Germans’ victory in the war. Reza Shah rejected the request. Today trains connecting Tehran to Gorgan or Sari pass over this bridge an average of four times a day.
Sepidan, which means “The Whiteland” in Persian, is a County located in the Zagros Mountains, in Iran’s Fars Province.
The beauty of the region – Sheshpir Lake, vineyards, forests and rivers – coupled with the mild climate in the summer makes Sepidan a popular destination for ecotourism. Roanj and Barmefirooz, 3.720 and 3.706 meters above sea level, are the highest peaks of the county and are covered with snow throughout the year. Margoon Waterfall, Beheshte Gomshodeh (Lost Paradise) and Pooladkaf, one of the best ski resorts in south Iran are at the foothills of these peaks.
Though Sepidan is visited mostly for its nature and landscapes, it can be a destination for historical and archeological tourists. Anshan, which is considered the Cradle of the Achaemenid Empire and Golbahar Tower, built by the Safavids are located also in this county.
Kambadn was an ancient city, located north of ancient Kermanshah. Nowadays, with the expansion of the city the ruins are located between Taq Bostan and Kermanshah. A city named Kambadn was mentioned in Bisutun (Behistun), the inscriptions authored by Darius the Great, and archeological excavations have located this city near Taq Bostan.
Kermanshah is considered one of the cradles of prehistoric cultures. The area has been occupied by prehistoric people since the Lower Paleolithic period, and continued to later Paleolithic periods till late Pleistocene period; with Neanderthal presence in Middle Paleolithic. The region was also one of the first places in which human settlements were established between 8,000-10,000 years ago.
In May 2009 one of the oldest prehistorian village in the Middle East dating back to 9800 BCE, was discovered in Sahneh, located west of Kermanshah. Remains of later village occupations and early Bronze Age are found in a number of mound sites in the city itself.
In ancient Iranian mythology, the construction of the city is attributed to Tahmuras, the third king of Pishdadian dynasty. It is believed that the Sassanids have constructed Kermanshah and Bahram IV – he was called Kermanshah, meaning king of Kerman – gave his name to the city.
Danesfahan is a city of around 9,000 inhabitants (2006) in Buin Zahra County, Qazvin Province, Iran. It is located west of Sagezabad and south of Esfarvarin. Historically, the city has been affected by earthquakes.
Photo gallery: Charming autumn nature in Danesfahan
Gilan Province lies along the Caspian Sea, bordering the Republic of Azerbaijan in the north, as well as Russia across the Caspian Sea. The climate is humid subtropical with the heaviest rainfall in Iran. Rasht, the capital of the province, is known within Iran as the “City of Rain”.
Large parts of the province are mountainous, green and forested. The coastal plain along the Caspian Sea is similar to that of Mazandaran, mainly used for rice paddies.
In May 1990 large parts of the province were destroyed by a huge earthquake, in which about 45,000 people died. Abbas Kiarostami made his films Life, and Nothing More… and Through the Olive Trees based upon this event.
Enjoy Gilan’s beauty in autumn:
Berberis vulgaris, also known as European barberry or simply Barberry, is a deciduous shrub, native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. It grows up to 4m high with yellow flowers that bloom in late spring. The fruit is an oblong red berry, rich in Vitamin C, that ripens in late summer or autumn. Although it has a sharp flavor, people in many countries eat it as a tart and refreshing fruit. The thorny shrubs make harvesting them difficult, so in most places, they are not widely consumed. They are an important food for many small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.
Iran is the largest producer of zereshk and saffron in the world. Zereshk (or sereshk) is the Persian name for the dried fruit of Berberis, specially that of Berberis integerrima ‘Bidaneh’, which is widely cultivated in Iran. Zereshk and saffron are produced on the same land and the harvest is at the same time. In Iran their main production area lies in South Khorasan, especially around Qaen and Birjand. There is evidence of cultivation of seedless barberry in South Khorasan two hundred years ago.
Zereshk is widely used in cooking, imparting a tart flavor to chicken dishes. It is usually cooked with rice, called zereshk polo, and provides a nice meal with chicken. Zereshk jam, zereshk juice, and zereshk fruit rolls are also produced in Iran.
Photos of zereshk farms in Semirom (Isfahan), Birjand and Zohan (South Khorasan)
Mazandaran is a Caspian province in the north of Iran. Located on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, it is bordered clockwise by Russia (across the sea), Golestan, Semnan, Tehran, Alborz, Qazvin, and Gilan provinces. Sari is the largest city and the capital of Mazandaran province.
The diverse nature of the province features plains, prairies, forests and rainforest stretching from the sandy beaches of the Caspian Sea to the rugged and snowcapped Alborz sierra, including Mount Damavand, one of the highest peaks and volcanos in Asia.