PEARL OF IRAN
DAY 01: ARRIVAL TEHRAN
Arrival in Tehran; meet and transfer to hotel for overnight stay at hotel
DAY 02: TEHRAN-SHIRAZ
Full day visit to some of Tehran’s major museums, including Iran’sNational Museum; the Abguineh (Glass & Ceramics) Museum and also visit the Carpet Museum(all above museums are closed on Mondays); in the evening transfer to airport for flight to Shiraz, as available, transfer to hotel for overnight stay.
DAY 03: SHIRAZ/EXCURSION TO PERSEPOLIS & NAGHSH-E-ROSTAM
Full day excursion to Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the Ancient World, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings with remains of the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, and its famous bas-reliefs, depicting kings and courtiers and gift-bearing representatives of tributary nations of the Persian Empire; also visit Naghsh-e-Rostam to see Ka’be-Zardosht (fire temple/sanctuary), and Royal Tombs (also Achaemenid); plus seven magnificent Sassanian rock-reliefs (including Shapur the First’s famous victory over Roman Emperor Valerian); and Naghsh-e-Rajab, a nearby grotto with more Sassanid reliefs, return to Shiraz; overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 04: SHIRAZ
Full day city tour of Shiraz to visit some of the famous gardens of this city of “roses and nightingales”, including the Eram Garden, the tomb of Iran’s greatest lyric poet Hafez; the pink tiled 19th-century Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, the Arg-e-Karim Khan (18th-century citadel), the Madrassa Khan (Theological School), the Qajar-period Narenjestan Garden/House, and the Vakil Bazaar of Shiraz, and also drive by the Holy Shrine of Shah-e-Cheragh (not open to non-Moslems and can only be seen from outside); overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 05: SHIRAZ-YAZD
Drive to Yazd, en route visit Pasargadae, pre-dating Persepolis, site of the simple but imposing tomb of Cyrus the Great, the Founder of the Persian Empire, and remains of his several palaces, all located in the beautiful plain of Dasht-e-Morghab, continue to Yazd for overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 06: YAZD-ISFAHAN
Morning visits in Yazd, the center for Iran’s small Zoroastrian community, who seeking refuge from the invading Arabs found a safe haven within its fortified walls; visits include active Zoroastrian Fire Temple, the fire of which has been burning for about 1500 years. Also visit the Friday Mosque (1324 A.D.) with the highest portal and minarets in Iran, with a walk through the old Fahadan quarter; drive to Isfahan via Na’in, a charming desert town, half way between Yazd and Isfahan, to visit the 10th century Friday Mosque, and the 17th century Pirnia House/Ethnographic Museum (closed on Mondays), with a walk through the old part of the town; continue to Isfahan for overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 07: ISFAHAN
Full day tour of the beautiful city of Isfahan, the 17th century capital of the Safavids, referred to as Nesf-e-Jahan (Half of the World) in Safavid sources, to visit the famous bridges of Shahrestan, Khajou & Sio-se-pol, the Armenian Quarter with several churches, including the important Cathedral of Vank; in the afternoon visit one of the world’s grandest squares, the Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan, with several sites (the Ali-Qapu Palace with its enchanting music rooms and balcony overlooking the Maidan, from where the Safavid Kings watched polo games, and two of Islamic world’s greatest mosques – the Sheikh Lotfollah and the Shah – with magnificent architecture and tilework), finishing with a visit to the Qeisarieh Bazaar with hundreds of shops displaying the arts and handicrafts for which Isfahan is world-famous (bazaar is closed on Fridays); overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 08: ISFAHAN
Another full day sightseeing of Isfahan to visit the magnificent Friday Mosque, with the famous Uljaitu Mihrab (Prayer Niche) of the Il-Khanid period. The Friday Mosque is considered a museum of a thousand year of Persian religious architecture and is truly one of the world’s greatest mosques. From here drive to the Chehel Sotun Palace, built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century; its twenty wooden columns reflected in the surface of the pool give rise to its name ‘The Palace of Forty Columns’. Final stop of the day is at the Hasht Behesht pavilion built in 1670 by Shah Solayman and known as the Pavilion of Eight Paradises or the Palace of Nightingales. This small but intricate building is set amongst tree-lined alleys, a reflecting pool and water rills; overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 09: ISFAHAN-TEHRAN
Morning drive to Tehran, en-route stop over at the charming town of Natanz to visit a beautiful Islamic Complex (Friday Mosque/Monastery/Tomb of Sheikh Abdol Samad Isfahani), on to Kashan to visit the historical garden of Fin which was first planted during the Safavid period and kept alive with water from the nearby Sulaimanieh Spring. This beautiful garden was expanded by the Zand and Qajar monarchs, with many open pavilions added. You will also visit a fine example of a 19th century merchant residence known as Taba-Tabai House with its beautiful stucco dome and inlaid mirror work, with some of the best examples of existing “badgirs” (wind-catchers); continue to Tehran and drive by the Mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, transfer to hotel for overnight stay.
DAY 10: DEPARTURE TEHRAN
Transfer to IKA airport for departure flight.