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Led by Mr. Bahman Zenhari

Land Only rate
June 16 - 23, 2018
• 8 days
$4390 per person, double occupancy from beginning in Shiraz and
ending in Isfahan
plus expedited Iranian visa fee of $201
Single Supplement $780
Airfare Additional

Price based on 5 participants
Maximum 15 participants


Day by Day Itinerary

June 16 SHIRAZ

Welcome to Iran! Rooms are available for check-in at 2:00 PM today. However most flights will arrive after midnight. We suggest using Turkish Airlines TK884 which departs Istanbul, IST at 8:45 PM (on June 16) and arrives Shiraz, SYZ at 2:05 AM (on June 17). See page 6 and 7 of the brochure for detailed flight suggestions.

*****Homa Hotel/Zandiyeh Hotel

June 17 SHIRAZ

If using TK884 arrive at 2:00 AM. We will be greeted and transferred directly to our hotel for immediate check-in.

Shiraz is the heartland of Iran, present-day capital of the Fars Province, which gave its name to the Persian language: Farsi. It was capital of the Zand Dynasty (1747-1779) and one of the most important cities of the medieval Islamic world. Shiraz is situated in a plain surrounded by two mountain ranges. The city is well known for its mild climate and friendly people.

After a late breakfast we have a city tour of Shiraz to visit some of the famous gardens of this “City of Roses, Poets, and Nightingales”. It is interesting to note that the word Paradise has its roots in the Old Persian language, which means walled garden including Nasir-ol-Molk, the pink-tiled 19th-century mosque. One lovely edifice of the Qajar period, the Narenjestan Garden and House, which was occupied by the Governor’s Court, today is used by the faculty of Art and Architecture of Shiraz University and contains a collection of Arthur Upham Pope. It is a beautiful house in traditional style with a courtyard in the middle and the rooms around the courtyard. The rooms are richly decorated with wall and ceiling paintings or mirror tile work. Shirazi contributors to art, administration philosophy and architecture, include the architect of the Taj Mahal.

After lunch, we pay our respects at the Garden and Tomb of the beloved poet, Hafez. Have your fortune read and make a wish! Then we will step back in time as we wander through the Vakil Bazaar with its blue tiled dome roof. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful bazaar in the world. The bazaars take travelers completely away from the outside world and immerse them in an age-old rhythm of life. Here the atmosphere is full of the market cries of vendors, the hammering of the coppersmiths, the activities of carpet weavers, silversmiths and cloth printers, the grilling of kabobs and the preparation of spices. Time permitting, we can walk through the nearby residential citadel of Karim Khan of the Zand Dynasty. Overnight in Shiraz. (B-L-D)

*****Homa Hotel/Zandiyeh Hotel


Get ready for a truly wonderful day! After breakfast, we’ll drive about 35 miles to Takht-e Jamshid or as the Greeks called it, Persepolis, a ruined capital of ancient Iran. It is one of the greatest artistic legacies of the ancient world and perhaps one of the most beautiful and spectacular archaeological sites surviving today. In the 6th century BC, the Achaemenian King Darius I, created Persepolis as a palatial precinct for an empire which eventually became larger and more efficiently ruled than any other in the ancient world. Persepolis was reserved only for ritual celebrations. In the spring of each new year, on Nowruz, the Zoroastrian observance marked the beginning of Spring. On March 21st, the dynamic ruler and his court gathered at Persepolis to receive the tribute of subject nations and to reestablish universal order for the coming year. Nowruz is still enthusiastically celebrated today. Step back in time as we enter through the Gate of All Nations. The arrival of the erstwhile delegations was announced by trumpeters who stood at the top of the staircase in front of the Gate of Nations. They were then led to the Hundred Column Palace to the presence of the king. Superb bas reliefs depict the flow of ritual processions that once passed through the palaces and audience halls of the Achaemenian Kings. We’ll explore the Gate of Xerxes, the Apadana Palace, the Treasury, the Harem and the private palaces of the different rulers. Persepolis was completed by Xerxes and Artaxerxes I who ruled Persia in the 5th century BC. The palaces were used by the Achaemenid Kings up until they were destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BC as revenge for the sacking of Athens during the Persian Wars with the Greeks.

To top off the afternoon, visit Naghsh-é-Rostam, which contains the rock carved chambers of four Achaemenian tombs, believed to be those of Darius the Great, Xerxes, Artaxerxes and Darius II. The ornamental façades are rock reliefs from the Sassanian dynasty depicting various scenes of imperial conquests as well as a probable fire temple from Achaemenian times.

We also make a stop at Pasargadae, the capital of Cyrus the Great and site of his simple but imposing tomb. Later, return to Shiraz via the Koran Gate, for dinner and overnight. (B-L-D)

*****Homa Hotel/Zandiyeh Hotel


We say goodbye to Shiraz and embark on our scenic 3-hour drive northward to the Yasuj which could be translated “place where jasmine flowers grow in abundance” in the local dialect. The city has become known the Capital of Nature in Iran due to its lush vegetation, scenic waterfalls and fertile soil.

Continue 4 hours plus stops, through beautiful landscapes of the Zagros Mountains and its Dena Protected Area, to Shahrekord (Shahr-e Kord and Shahr Kord), the “Roof of Iran”. The city is located at an elevation of 6,700 feet. The nomads of the Bakhtiari tribe have migrated by this time of year, but we’ll have a chance to learn about them. They consider themselves descendants of the Shahnameh hero, Fereydan, and their music is said to have inspired the great Russian composer Borodin. In preparation for your visit, you might want to see the famous 1925 documentary, Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life and the 1996 Iranian Film, Gabbeh. (B-L-D)

***Parsian Azadi Hotel, Shahrekord

Wednesday ISFAHAN

After breakfast, we drive 56 miles to Isfahan, often considered the highlight of a visit to Iran, along with Persepolis. With history dating back 2500 years, Isfahan was the capital of Iran during three historical periods. But it was Shah Abbas I who gave Isfahan its character with his masterful experiments in city planning and building in the early 17th century.

We visit one of the world’s grandest squares, Meidan Emam or Naghsh-e Jahan square complex. You’ll delight at the sight of families and friends gathering for picnics spread on the sprawling square, and you are certain to be invited for tea and sweets. The square is 1674 feet by 540 feet and enclosed by double-storied arcades. It drew merchants and ambassadors to the Safavid court for centuries. It is unmatched in elegance and spaciousness anywhere in the world! The square is seven times the size of the Piazza San Marco in Venice, and puts the grandeur of the surrounding palaces and mosques into appropriate proportions. Did you know polo originated in Isfahan, spread to India where it was picked up by the British Raj? Today polo is still played in Iran. On the north side of the Square is the entrance to the Royal Qaysariyyeh Bazaar. On the east side is the Lotfollah Mosque. On the west side is the Ali Qapu Palace. Two of the Islamic world’s greatest mosques are in this complex: the Sheikh Lotfollah and the Shah, both with magnificent architecture and tile work.

To the south is the Shah Mosque, dedicated to Shah Abbas the Great. To many, it is also considered to be the most beautiful mosque in the world. We’ll stay for three nights at the exotic Abbasi Hotel (subject to availability), which was built in the 1960s on the site of a 17th century caravanserai. Overnight in Isfahan. (B-L-D)

*****Abbasi Hotel/Kowsar Hotel


Today is a very full day of sightseeing in wonderful Isfahan. We’ll begin with a visit to the beautiful Chehel Sotoon (forty pillars) Palace, with its exquisite collection of frescoes and paintings on tile. The reflecting pool magnified the majesty of the ruler. Here Shah Abbas II welcomed dignitaries and ambassadors. Today you are the guests of honor!

Then we’ll see the antique UNESCO site of the Masjed-e Jame or Friday Mosque; as it stands now it is the result of over 1000 years of continual construction, reconstruction, additions and renovations on the site from around 841 AD to the end of the twentieth century. Archaeological excavation has determined an Abbasid hypostyle mosque in place by the 10th century. Buyid construction lined a façade around the courtyard and added two minarets that are the earliest example of the double minaret on record.

We’ll visit the Armenian Quarter to visit the richly decorated Vank Cathedral. Begun in 1606 at the time of arrival of Armenian immigrants to Isfahan at the invitation of Shah Abbas, it was completed between 1655 and1664 under the supervision of Arch-bishop David, with the encouragement of the Safavid rulers. It is the historic focal point of the Armenian Christian Church in Iran. The dome and walls have colorful paintings representing the story of Creation. Pause for lunch in the Armenian Quarter.

We return to the Naghsh-e Jahan complex today. Like the Safavid Kings, you can climb the steps of Ali Qapu Palace to step into the enchanting music rooms and peer over the balcony and imagine polo games played in the huge square below. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, constructed between 1603 and 1617, served as a private chapel for the Imperial family. You’ll see exquisite 17th century Persian tile work on the domed ceiling. Then wander through the Shah Mosque. Finish with free time in the Square to enjoy the Qaysariyyeh Bazaar with hundreds of shops displaying the arts and handicrafts for which Isfahan is world-famous.

Finish the day with a visit to the Hasht Bahesht (eight paradises) Pavilion and Park. It was built as an official court and a reception hall by Shah Abbas II (1647 AD). The ceilings are outstanding. (B-L-D)

*****Abbasi Hotel/Kowsar Hotel


This morning walk across the historical bridge of Khaju, constructed by Shah Abbas II in 1650. It is essentially a bridge superimposed upon a dam, 436 feet long and supported by twenty-four stone arches. On the far side is the garden tomb of Arthur Upham Pope and his wife Phyllis Ackerman, Americans who were dedicated to the study of Persian art, history and culture.

During our time in Isfahan, you are invited to a private gallery to visit with a famous miniaturist artist.

Those who are interested may visit a carpet shop to sip tea and admire Iran’s most valuable craft and art form. The Persian knot allowed the tight composition to create intricate Arabesques, geometric and other floral designs. Much of what we call Arabesque, we should really call Persian-esque! See both City and Tribal carpets. Unlike Arabic Islamic design, Shia Muslims took literally God’s commandment to know Him through His creation. Thus you find figurative art in all forms including tile, metalwork and carpets. Persians also developed natural – and lasting- dyes. Cobalt found in Isfahan was exported to China where it was used in the blue on ceramics known later by the British as ‘China’. Bid farewell to your new friends over a farewell dinner. (B-L-D)

*****Abbasi Hotel/Kowsar Hotel

June 23 Depart ISFAHAN

A transfer to the Isfahan, IFN airport is included. We suggest departing by Turkish Air flight TK893 which departs for Istanbul at 4:05 AM and arrives at 6:10 AM. Turkish Airlines has connections from Istanbul to many U.S. gateways nonstop. For those with a connection longer than five hours, Turkish Airlines offers an optional whirlwind tour (in just 3 hours) of Istanbul for those who wish to take it.

B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner

Note: Flight schedule always subject to change.

Order of sightseeing may be revised.


We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to sarah@serioustraveler.com. If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.



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