Persepolis would have to be the highlight of my trip to Iran. The Pompeii of Iran, and far more impressive. Founded by Darius in 518 BC it is a massive archaeological site boasting beautiful capitals, fantastic animal friezes and a thousand impressive figures from various areas of the Persian Empire bringing gifts and paying homage to the Shah at New Year. We are fortunate to still see it as during the revolution Khomeini threatened to destroy it and locals lay on the street in front of the bulldozers in protest.
Nearby is another magnificent archaeological site of Tombs elaborately sculpted with Victory scenes.
This is not the only gigantic site in Iran, as can be seen by the Isfahan main square – 500m x 150m, the second largest in the world after Tiananmen square. It is awesome, absolutely magic, and the photos hardly do it justice!
Salt lakes – Kerman
Hike to the Maiden Castle – Qal’eh-e-Doktar
Back into civilisation to stop for lunch in the market
And onto explore the various Caravanserai – traditional roadside inns, some of which will be our accommodation.
Local girls are embarrassingly attractive. Super made up, and as our guide related often retouched with plastic surgery that is cheap in Iran. Veils sit well back now on bouffant hairstyles and their long sleeve jacket cover ups can be flashy colours, very slinky, like a second skin hugging leggings or over stove pipe stretch jeans.
Forty (40) is used to mean lots, as Italians would use ‘mille’ (thousand). The old fable of Ali Baba and his 40 thieves or the Palace of 40 columns only means there were lots of them….columns and thieves!
Young men are required to do military service, or they will not be given a passport. There is no access to Internet products as there are no credit cards linked to any external banking system. Tourists pay in local currency, as it is rare to be able to use a credit card, and Euro or other foreign currencies are generally exchanged in the black market.
Children learn at least 1 language at school, and if studying overseas need to leave a deposit ( approx Euro 4,000) to guarantee their return.
Local Sport centres continue to train athletes in the traditional method used to train ancient warriors.
Iran is a very genuine country, well preserved, feels completely safe and the people give a warm welcome. It has an extraordinary mix of architecture, old and new and very refined with an eclectic cultural flexibility that reflects the ancient Persian Empire, one of the oldest and richest in the world.
If you get the chance to go there, I guarantee you will not be disappointed!