12 Things to Expect when Visiting Iran
Not so many people would consider Iran as the perfect destination for tourists. The collective imagination depicts it as a land of fundamentalist and dangerous people and an unsafe place. But that is...wrong! Ale and Ross Canepa were curious about travelling to Iran and so planned a visit during the summer of 2013. They had the most surprising and happiest travel experience ever and discovered a fascinating country.
Here they share a shortlist of 12 things you will find if you are brave enough to get rid of the prejudices and book a flight to Teheran:
1. Smiling people welcoming you to their country
"Welcome to Iran!" will be the most frequent greeting and you'll meet people asking to take a picture together. If you like meeting people, Iran could be the best country in the world. Hint: iranian people are mad for picnic and at dinner, in every park or garden of the country, you can meet thousands of families happy to talk with you and to share something to eat! In our opinion people in Kashan are probably the nicest of the country!
2. Colourful mosques
Forget about sad and grey buildings, where people go just to pray, Iranian mosques are beautiful with their pale blue or pink tiles (not to mention the stained glass windows) and they are a lovely place where to meet families and have a talk with locals.
3. Lively bazaars
You can buy "one thousand and one nights" jewels, clothes and carpets - every town has its own and it's usually huge... you might get lost in them but don't mind, a nice and friendly iranian will be ready to help and accompany you wherever you need to go
4. Elegant museums and palaces
Golestan Palace and the Glass museum in Teheran, Naranjestan Palace in Shiraz or the traditional houses in Kashan are just an example of the architectural highlights of this country
5. Archaeological sites
Not so many archaeological sites in the world are as famous as the legendary Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid empire: never heard of Xerses, Cyrus or Alexander the Great?
6. Ancient and almost unknown religions
In Iran you will find not only mosques but also orthodox churches, jewish sinagogues and zoroastrian temples (if you don't know what is zoroastrianism, perhaps you might be familiar with the name Zarathustra and the motto "right thoughts right words right actions")
7. Caravanserais in the middle of the desert
No, they are not a mirage but true shelters. Meet the keeper and his family, you'll have fun with them!
8. The biggest square you have ever seen in your life
In the city of Esfahan, aka "the half of the world": no surprise they have such a huge and wonderful square!
If the day is too hot to wander around, wait until evening: you'll see people that gather in the streets and gardens and you'll listen to the old singers under the amazing old bridges of Esfahan
10. Feeling like the Prince of Persia on the rooftops
Some ancient buildings and the hammams have beautiful roofs. Climb up to see the incredible skyline of Kashan
11. Fascinating cities
Walk around the cities searching for the joyous, creative or rhetorical murales - many of them are full of poetry
Lose yourself exploring the narrow alleys in search of the most beautiful badgir - the typical tower wind, in the ancient desert city of Yazd
By Ale and Ross Canepa