Again, another post from my wife, written during our trip to Iran in August-September 2010.
Shiraz is a city located in south of Iran. It is considered the heart of the Persian culture for over 2,000 years. It is one of the most important cities in the medieval Islamic world during the Zand dynasty. The reason we went to Shiraz is because nearby are two very famous archeological sites: Pasargadae and Persepolis.
On the way to Pasargadae suddenly appears at the end of the road in front of us a super striking image. The tombs of the 4 Achaemenid kings Naghsh-e Rostam, dug into the cliff. They are huge and very perfect, and below are some drawings of the kings in battle.
The Pasargadae trip is not an obvious choice for tourists as it is 90km from Shiraz and the ruins of the city that remained are very small and not as well preserved as those of Persepolis. The city was built in the empire of Cyrus the Great around 546 BC but was destroyed by a massive invasion of Macedonian Alexander the Great. In the empire of Darius I, the city was abandoned and the population moved to Persepolis. In Pasargadae is still possible to find the tomb of Cyrus, which consists of six floors and stone that was once surrounded by beautiful gardens. We could not come to Persia and do not know the famous city quoted in Manuel Bandeira’s poem “Vou-me embora pra Pasargada…” (“I’m off to Pasargadae”).
Returning to Shiraz we made the obligatory stop at Persepolis (Perse = Persia, polis = city), which is simply amazing! The ruins are huge, which shows the city’s size, its grandeur and dominance of the empire. Everything is so well preserved that it is easy to imagine what life was like back then. It is as if we were back 2,500 years ago. The reason for their preservation is that over the years and several earthquakes that happened in the past, the town was completely submerged by sand and rediscovered only in 1930. For lovers of history, is a compelling place!
Back in Shiraz, we did a fast tour that took us to interesting places. We visited several mosques, which are very similar. Bazaar-e Vakil is smaller than that of Tehran, but more noble and organized. The smell in there is very peculiar, because the spices take care of the environment. It’s nice to see the shops, where products are all piled up, forming a mega colorful vision. Which is pretty typical here are the shops where you can create your very essence of perfume, but you can feel that the Iranians are not experts at it!
My most memorable experience was visiting in Shiraz mosque Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh, exclusive to Muslims. The entry of people from other religions is not allowed, but with the help of a guide you can get there. This mosque is one of the most important of Iran, because one of the main religious leaders of the Islam was killed inside it. There are some basic rules: women must wear the chador, there is a separate wing for women and men, and everyone must remove their shoes. As in the Persian palaces we visited, the decoration of the mosque consists of tiles of mirrors that shine and expand the very colors of the environment. Upon entering the mosque we finally came across the scene we had expected: the moment of prayer, with women scattered everywhere, facing Mecca, kneeling and bowing their bodies to the ground, praying with great force. In the center is the Bogh’e-ye Sayyed Mir Mohammad, a sort of cage made of silver and gold where the tomb of the two brothers of Ahmad Mir is (I imagine they are very important people, like saints for Christians). What I found most amazing is that women are pushed and almost climbed on top of one another to lay their hands to this cage while praying with a lot of pain, apparently to ask their advice or blessing. They made a movement of touching their hands, their foreheads and then kiss the cage in thanks. The word I would use to describe this scene is fervor. I think this was the first time I really thought: “I’m in Persia!”
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