November 9 ~ Tehran - Kermanshah
Tehran is a fascinating fusion of old and new; conservative elders uphold the traditions of the country’s past while the young and fashionable find ways to celebrate in a country that bans alcohol. The city itself may be crowded and a little on the dusty side, but the grit gives it flavor and even color, helped by hundreds of well‐kept parks. In Tehran, you will visit several sites for insight into what you can expect in this ancient country, home at one time or another to many of the world’s religions. We will visit Golestan Palace, the 19th century residence of Qajar kings and the Coronation and marriage palace of the Pahlavi dynasty, with its painting galleries and mirrored palaces. We’ll have lunch and then visit the Jewelry Museum, where you will see the priceless treasures of the Persian kings, and also the Kiyanid crown. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for our flight to Kermanshah.
Parsian Kermanshah Hotel
November 10 ~ Tehran - Kermanshah
After breakfast, we drive to the center of town to visit the colorful bazaar, and the 19th century Tekiyeh Mo’avenolmolk spectacular tile‐works. We take our lunch in a local restaurant. The afternoon will include visits to the ancient site of Taqe Botan. Kermanshah is also the birth place of the author Doris Lessing.
Parsian Kermanshah Hotel
November 11 ~ Kermanshah - Borujerd
Today, journey over the 7,000‐foot‐high Assadabad pass, the main gateway into western Iran. Travel on the Persian trade route to Bisotun to view an ancient inscription – the longest and shortest inscription from the Achaemenid period, (the first Persian Empire), ever found. Dating to the sixth century B.C., it depicts the Persian king Darius I, victorious in his battle against the rebellious rulers, and tells the story of his conquests. Then, arriving in ancient Hamedan (Ecbatana). Some believe the Assyrians first occupied this city in 1100 B.C., but Herodotus says it was the capital of the Medes, an early Iranian people, around 700 B.C. Either way, this lovely city at the base of Mount Alvand attracts many trekkers and other travelers each summer, intent on discovering its Persian secrets. Visit the ancient excavated site of Ecbatana, the first Median Kingdom of Iran. You’ll also explore what Judeo‐Persians believe to be the tomb of Queen Esther and Mordechai, regarded as the most important pilgrimage site for Iranian Jews. The tour will continue into the crypt, which also contains Hebrew inscriptions and a copy of the Ten Commandments. Continue to Borujerd for overnight.
November 12 ~ Borujerd-Googad
You’ll take the cross‐country route today via the Zagros Mountains, making a few stops en route to Khomein. You’ll stop at Falak Ol Aflak in Khorramabad, a castle dating 1,800 years to the Sassanid era, the last Iranian empire before the rise of Islam. The tour will also pass through the towns of Dorud , Aligudarz and Khomein. Drive on to Arg‐e‐ Googad, or the Googad Citadel, for a night in a 400‐year‐old fortress.
November 13 ~ Googad-Isfahan
Morning drive to Isfahan and up on arrival Your tour will start with the Vank Cathedral, also known as the Church of the Saintly Sisters, which belongs to the Armenian Christians who first came to this area in the early 17th century by the order of Shah Abbas the Great. Alongside the church there is a unique museum, related to Christian culture, which includes the first book ever to be printed in Iran. Lunch in a local restaurant in Armenian Quarter. In the afternoon, visit to a private art gallery, then the 17th century Sio‐ Se Pol and Khaju bridges, stroll around the enchanted gardens of the 17th century Hasht‐Behesht Palace, the Eight Paradises Palace, one of the last of many great mansions that once graced this city. Then check into the hotel
November 14 ~ Isfahan
Isfahan has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most important cities in Iran’s history for its connections with the trade routes. Lying right in the center of the country, equidistant from the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, it sits on both the east‐west and north‐south trade routes that transverse the country. Today, the city is filled with Islamic art and architecture. Your tour will start with visit to Chehel‐Sotoun Palace, which we’ll view large frescoes depicting court life, counterbalanced by miniature paintings of the 17th‐century Safavid dynasty. Then we’ll take a look at Ali Qapu palace overlooking the royal square for hundreds of years, Later visit the Royal Square, where Persian and Iranian Royalty played and watched polo, named Imam Square at the moment, one of the largest plazas in the world. Continue to Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque (Ladies Mosque), built by Sheh Abbass first, for the use of his harem, making it one of the few women‐only mosques. Spend some time at the old bazaar before pausing for a moment for reflection and a cup of tea in a traditional teahouse followed by a look at the incredible art and culture of Persian carpets at a gallery.
November 15 ~ Isfahan - Yazd
Today in the morning, we’ll take a look at the Royal Mosque in the Imam square. Lunch in a local traditional restaurant which serves “Good Food”. After lunch, we’ll drive to Yazd. En‐ route, visit an early 10th century Friday Mosque with an ancient underground prayer hall which is believed to be an ancient Mithra temple. Also observe Nar Qale Citadel, both in Na ‘in, a Hebrew settlement which dates from the 6th century
November 16 ~ Yazd
Yazd is the center of Zoroastrian culture in Iran. Our first visit here is to Dakhmeh, the “Tower of Silence”—a circular, raised structure which was used to expose the dead, much like the traditional Tibetan “sky burial.” Then we’ll visit the Zoroastrian fire temple. Still in use today, it holds a fire that has been kept alight continuously since 470 AD. We’ll continue to explore the 15th‐century Mirchakhmaq Square and the façade of the old bazaar of Yazd, followed by a visit to the 14th century Jame’ mosque. Yazd mosques are known for their high and lofty minarets and we will find the tallest one on the Jame’ mosque. From here, we’ll stroll through the spiral back alleys of the old quarters of the city, visiting the prison of Alexander and Lariha Traditional House. Built in 1879 AD (1286AH), Lariha House was built as a family resident and office for a fabric merchant. We’ll enjoy tea and delicious Yazdi baklavas in a traditional Persian restaurant. The 18th‐century Dowlat Abad garden and its lofty wind tower (badgir) is another wonder of Yazd. Wind towers, also referred to as wind trappers or ventilation towers, are an inseparable part of the architecture of central and southern Iran, and have provided natural air conditioning in this hot climate for hundreds of years. The wind tower in this garden stands almost 110 feet tall.
November 17 ~ Yazd - Shiraz
This morning, drive to Shiraz, visiting the oldest Cyprus tree in Iran (4500 years old) and a cleverly‐made ancient ice house in the city of Abarqu. After lunch, visit the tomb of Cyrus the Great at the UNESCO World Heritage in Pasargadae. This sixth century B.C. site was once the capital of the Persian Empire until the Macedonians, led by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., conquered it. Afterwards, drive to Shiraz.
Grand Shiraz Hotel
November 18 ~ Shiraz
The first known existence of Shiraz traces to 2000 B.C., and it has played a major role in the area’s cultural history to this day. Genghis Khan spared it from destruction during his conquer of the area in the 13th century. During the Zand dynasty (1747‐79 A.D.), Shiraz was the Iranian capital; many of its most architecturally interesting buildings were either built or restored during this time. You will spend the day meandering its pretty streets, buildings and gardens. A few highlights will be the peaceful Eram Garden – the word “Eram” is taken from an Arabic word for Heaven. You will also explore the colorful bazaar of Haji and the 19th century Nasir al Mulk Mosque, more commonly known as the Pink Mosque for its colorful tiles. A traditional Persian lunch will be taken at Shater Abbas restaurant. Shiraz has long been synonymous with the arts and especially poetry: In the afternoon you will visit the tomb of the noted poet Hafez, whose collected works are highly regarded as the pinnacle of Persian literature.
Grand Shiraz Hotel
November 19 ~ Shiraz
Today, travel to Persepolis, looted and burned by Alexander the Great around 330 B.C., home to the King of Kings for over 200 years, this archaeological site was lost under the Persian deserts for hundreds of years. Modern excavation began in the 1930s, around the time Persia became the Islamic state of Iran. Originally named Parsa, and known in the ancient world as the “wealthiest city under the sun,” the Greeks who ruled it called it Persepolis, “The city of the Persians”. Around the time Persia became the Islamic state of Iran commons people called it Taghte‐Jamshied (related to a King in Persian Mythology). Today, people flock here to marvel at its grandeur, and Iranians seeking to connect to their Persian roots often make pilgrimages here. You will identify the remains of several government buildings, including the Gate of all Nations, the Palace of 100 Columns and the Palace of Darius. Proceed to the royal necropolis in Naqsh‐e Rostam, just a few miles northwest of Persepolis. Lunch in a local restaurant, then back to the city. You may also visit the vibrant Vakil Bazaar and an old caravanserai, Saray‐e Moshir before calling it a day.
Grand Shiraz Hotel
November 20 ~ Shiraz - Tehran
Today, we fly to Tehran at 10:40 AM. Upon arrival, we will visit the Iran Artist’s Forum and adjacent art galleries, stopping for lunch in their vegetarian restaurant. Afterwards, drive by the ex‐American Embassy and later on check in to the hotel to rest for your departure flight. Later, gather for a farewell dinner at the hotel.
November 21 ~ Departure
This morning, transfer to Tehran International Airport for your departure flight.