Dates: October 20 - November 2, 2017
Total Duration: 14 days
Cost: $7,690 per person, double occupancy
Deposit (per participant): $1,000
Activity level: Moderately Active
Tour Operator: Distant Horizons
Region: Near Middle East
Today the country is known as Iran, but until 1921 it was Persia, bound on the north and south by two rich bodies of water – the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. It is a land of glittering canals, golden deserts punctuated by slender wind towers and crumbling clay-baked caravanserais, and everywhere a horizon pierced by mosques and turquoise minarets. The trip begins in Tehran located at the foot of magnificent Mount Damavand. It has been the country's capital city for only 200 years and is home to many fine museums including the excellent National Museum. Fly to Kerman where long shady alleys run into the town's extensive bazaar, mosque and caravanserai complex. Close by is the beautiful town of Mahan the final home of the Sufi saint and poet, Shah Nematollah Vali. In Yazd, a distinctive architecture has developed from the arid surroundings. Houses in the old part of the city are built of mud bricks with domed roofs and use wind-towers to draw in the cooling winds.
Continue to Shiraz, which was one of the most important cities in the medieval Islamic world. It was the Iranian capital during the Zand dynasty (1747-1779) and sightseeing here will include visits to the tombs of Hafez and Saadi, well-known Persian poets, and to the town's bazaar where the nomadic Qasqais, recognizable by the women's brightly colored dresses, can often be seen. Explore Persepolis, built by Darius the Great between 518 and 516 BC. Conceived to be the seat of government for the Achaemenian kings and a center for receptions and ceremonial festivities, the wealth of the Persian Empire was evident in all aspects of its construction. The stairways are adorned with rows of superbly executed reliefs depicting scenes from the Norooz festival and processions of representatives of subject nations. Spend two days exploring Isfahan including the Royal Mosque, the crowning architectural achievement of Shah Abbas I who built it to complete the magnificent central square of Isfahan. Next door is the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque whose façade is covered with intricate tilework. Return home from Tehran.