Ancient Persia: Modern Iran
Persia to some, Iran to others, the evil empire to many is on the list of top destinations for the inquisitive traveler/photographer. Persia, an exotic land is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations is a modern country of over 70 million people that since 1935 has been called Iran. What the world knows about this country is based on newspaper reports and the media. Travelers to Iran, which numbered over 4 million in 2013 all report the same thing. The people are friendly and warm, their hospitality is ever present whether meeting them in coffee houses, on the street, in the bazaar or rural villages. This photography expedition is not about politics but about getting to know the people as they go about their daily life and to capture images of ancient civilizations, scenic beauty, friendly bazaars and rural villages.
In the midevil city of Shiraz the group will meet students and teachers in a madrassa as well as photograph the magnificent gardens, ancient alleyways and the pulsating bazaar. From Kerman we will drive to the lip of the dessert to photograph mud brick buildings and the peasant farmers. In Yadz we will photograph the wind towers and silk weavers. In Isfahan we will wander around the magnificent Islamic buildings of Iman Square. In Tehran we will explore the Grand Bazaar and photograph the spice merchants, copper workers, enamelware and block print textiles.
On this extensive trip we will crisscross the country in a comfortable coach with a fluent English speaking guide and stay in 4-5 star hotels. Our tour operator is based in Tehran and has organized trips for all major world class tour operators. They will be assisting us in visa acquisition and all matters having to do with pre-trip preparation. The cost of the trip is based on 2015 rates and is subject to change.
We will visit fabulous bazaars, photograph intricate architecture with complex ornamentation, ruins and archeological sites, dessert villages and get to know the people. If you learn just word in Farsi it will be Khosh Amadin which translates to "welcome". This trip is bound to be a fascinating photographic experience.
DAY 01: March 01, 2016 – TEHRAN
Arrival at IKA airport, meet and transfer to Laleh Hotel. Later in the morning visit to some of Tehran’s museum: Iran’s National Museum (Archaeological Museum only – Islamic Museum is currently under renovation), displaying an authenticated collection of pre-historic and ancient artifacts with pottery dating back to 6-7 millennium B.C., Abguineh (Glass and Ceramics) with a wonderful and delicate collection of ancient and Islamic glass and pottery, and the Carpet Museum, displaying a beautiful collection of old and new Persian carpets and rugs; overnight hotel.
DAY 02: March 02, 2016 – TEHRAN-KERMAN
Morning flight to Kerman, and half-day city tour of Kerman to visit the Friday Mosque, the Ganj-Ali Khan Complex of converted Hammam (or bathhouse) into an Ethnographic Museum, the Maidan (or square) with mosque/madrassa/water cistern, and bazaar, all dating to the 17th and 18th centuries, plus the Vakil Tea-House (another converted bathhouse), O/N hotel.
DAY 03: March 03, 2016 – KERMAN/EXC. MAHAN AND RAYEN (return 250 km)
Full day excursion to the village of Rayen, to visit the Arg, or Citadel, of Rayen, a miniature version of the Arg-e-Bam, with all the architectural features of a desert citadel, now on the map as a result of the tragic earthquake in Bam, which destroyed the town and its magnificent citadel; on the return journey stop at Mahan, to visit the blue-tiled Mausoleum of Shah Nematollah-e-Vali, the great 14th century Sufi Leader; and the Shahzadeh Garden (late 19th century Qajar period garden/house); return to Kerman for O/N stay at hotel.
DAY 04: March 04, 2016 – KERMAN/EXCURSION KALUTES
Early morning drive to Shahdad, one of the ancient remote towns on the verge of the Lut Desert. Around 3 hours drive will take us first to the semi-green 3000 meter mountainous pass and then to dry barren lands of Lut Desert and finally to the Kalute region and the small town of Sirch. From here, we will drive on one of the most intriguing isolated roads in the deserts of Iran to arrive at Deh-Seif, the remotest dwelling place on the western borders of Lut Desert, and then to the magnificent Kalutes area. Kalutes are spectacular geological formations shaped by the erosive desert winds and rain water and resemble man-made structures; return to Kerman for O/N stay at hotel.
DAY 05: March 05, 2016 – KERMAN-SHIRAZ (550 km)
Drive to Shiraz, via Neiriz, and en-route visit the remains of the Sassanian Palace at Sarvestan. This fifth century A.D. building is thought by many to be a hunting lodge or small palace built by Bahram V (420-440 A.D.); on to Shiraz for O/N stay at hotel.
DAY 06: March 06, 2016 – 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 poets, Hafez and Sa'adi; the pink tiled 19th-century Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, the Arg-e-Karim Khan (18th-century citadel), the Madrassa Khan (Theological School), to have interaction with teachers and students, the Qajar-period Narenjestan Garden/House, the Vakil Bazaar of Shiraz, and the Holy Shrine of Shah-e-Cheragh (not open to non-Moslems and can only be seen from outside). O/N hotel.
DAY 07: March 07, 2016 – SHIRAZ/ EXC. PERSEPOLIS&NAGHSH-E-ROSTAM (return 100 km)
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 several more Sassanian reliefs; return to Shiraz for O/N stay at hotel.
DAY 08: March 08, 2016 – SHIRAZ-YAZD (450 km)
In the morning, you will drive to Yazd, enroute visit Pasargadae, the site of the simple, but impressive, tomb and remains of the palaces of Cyrus the Great (the Founder of the Persian Empire); also stop over at the small desert town of Abarkuh, and have tea under the shade of a 4000-year old cypress tree. Continue to Yazd for O/N stay at hotel.
DAY 09: March 09, 2016 – YAZD
Full day sightseeing 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. As this is a religious mourning holiday (The Martyrdom of Imam Ja’afar Sadegh, the Sixth Shi’ite Imam), you will visit one of the two Zoroastrian abandoned Towers of Silence (Dakhma), dating back to the 18th century, where until some 50-60 years ago the dead were carried and left to decompose and be devoured by birds; and the active Zoroastrian Fire Temple, the fire of which has been burning for about 1500 years. Among Yazd’s Islamic sites are the Friday Mosque (1324 A.D.) with the highest portal and minarets in Iran and the Mirchachmagh Maidan and Mosque. Other notable Islamic monuments in the old Fahadan area of Yazd are the Seljuk shrine dedicated to the Twelve Shi’ite Imams; O/N hotel.
DAY 10: March 10, 2016 – YAZD-ISFAHAN (300 km)
Drive to Isfahan, en-route stop over first at the Meybod, a small desert town with several very interesting monuments of desert/mud architecture and a caravanserai. Continue to see village of Mohamadiye, to see the traditional workshops, weaving the camel cloaks worn by the Moslem clergy in Iran, on to Na’in another 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 town. O/N hotel.
DAY 11: March 11, 2016 – ISFAHAN
F/D 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, O/N hotel.
DAY 12: March 12, 2016 – 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 years of Persian religious architecture and is truly one of the world’s greatest mosques. Also visit the Harun-e-Velayat Shrine and the Ali Minaret. From here drive to the Chehel Sotun Palace, built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century; its 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. The small but intricate building is set amongst tree-lined alleys, a reflecting pool and water rills. O/N hotel.
DAY 13: March 13, 2016 – ISFAHAN-TEHRAN
Morning drive to Tehran, first visit the ancient and picturesque village of Abyaneh, and an Iranian Cultural Heritage site, hidden in Karkas Mountains, and enjoy walking in this ancient village which was one of the last places in Iran that surrendered to Islam. The people of Abyaneh have preserved their ancient culture and traditions over the centuries, and still wear their traditional clothes. Continue to Kashan and 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 Borujerdi House with its beautiful stucco dome and inlaid mirror work, with some of the best examples of existing “badgirs” (wind-catchers); on to Tehran, and drive by the Mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, O/N hotel.
DAY 14: March 14, 2016 – TEHRAN
Full-day city tour of Tehran to visit the Reza Abbasi Museum, which has an important collection of Achaemenid and Sassanid period artifacts, but most notable are the several excellent galleries of calligraphy and miniature paintings. Also visit the former residence of the last Royal Family of Iran at Sa’adabad Palace/Museum Complex in north Tehran, and close to the mountains, where several palaces, including White and Green palaces, will be visited; also visit the local Tajrish Bazaar; O/N hotel.
DAY 15: March 15, 2016 – DEPARTURE TEHRAN
Transfer to IKA airport for departure flight.
Photograph the intricate Islamic architecture of 17th century Isfahan. The blue mosaic tiles and roofs at sunset are awe inspiring.
Experience the mud brick buildings in Kerman which sits on the outskirt of the the Lut dessert.
In Tehran photograph the weavers, spice market and merchants in the grand bazaar. Meet and befriend the local population in coffee houses.
Photo shoot in 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.
March 1- 15, 2016
Includes all meals
Single supplement: $850
Couples Discount: $300