The Glories of the Persian
Empire - The Legacy of the mighty Achaemenian Kings and Alexander the
Great - The stunning ceremonial city of Persepolis - The wondrous
monuments of Islamic Persia
Iran offers the visitor an unforgettable journey through
3,000 years of history: the mighty dynasty of the great Achaemenian kings,
from Cyrus 1 to Darius III, whose empire came to an end at the hand of
Alexander the Great and whose ceremonial capital at Persepolis remains one
of the world's archeological wonders; the splendid monuments of Islamic
Persia which reached their zenith under the great builder Shah Abbas in
the 17th century, and the 20th century revolution that felled the Shah and
established an Islamic republic under Imam Khomeini. Iran offers the
visitor an extraordinary and unforgettable travel experience.
Official name: The Islamic Republic of Iran.
Head of Government: President Hojjat-ol-Islam Seyid Mohammad
Climate: Optimum times to visit are September to November and March
to May when median daytime temperatures average in the 70s F. Summers can
be extremely hot in the main tourist regions of Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd,
Kerman and Bam and temperatures in excess of 100F should be expected.
Winters in the southern regions of Iran can be pleasant but the north can
be very cold with snowfall.
Petroleum, Natural Gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc,
- Population: 65,179,752 (July
0-14 years: 36% (male 11,963,438; female 11,447,191)
15-64 years: 60% (male 19,549,935; female 19,276,784)
65 years and over: 4% (male 1,561,877; female 1,380,527) (1999
Population growth rate: 1.07% (1999 est.)
Birth rate: 20.71 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)
Death rate: 5.39 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)
Net migration rate: -4.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population
Languages: Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic
and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%,
Turkish 1%, other 2%
- Country name:
conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Iran
conventional short form: Iran
local long form: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
local short form: Iran
- Data code: IR
- Government type: theocratic republic
- Capital: Tehran
- International organization participation: CCC, CP, ECO, ESCAP,
FAO, G-19, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC,
IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM
(observer), ISO, ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO,
UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO
- Diplomatic representation in the US: none; note-Iran has an
Interests Section in the Pakistani Embassy, headed by Fariborz
JAHANSUZAN; address: Iranian Interests Section, Pakistani Embassy, 2209
Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007; telephone:  (202) 965-4990
- Diplomatic representation from the US: none; note-protecting
power in Iran is Switzerland
- Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of
green (top), white, and red; the national emblem (a stylized
representation of the word Allah) in red is centered in the white band;
ALLAH AKBAR (God is Great) in white Arabic script is repeated 11 times
along the bottom edge of the green band and 11 times along the top edge of
the red band. top
- Currency: 10 Iranian Rials (IRR)
= 01 Toman; note-domestic figures are generally referred to in terms of the
- Exchange rates: USD 01 = IRR 8750 (During 1st six months of 2004)
- Fiscal year: 21 March-20 March
total: 7,286 km
broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge
standard gauge: 7,192 km 1.435-m gauge (146 km electrified) (1996
total: 162,000 km
paved: 81,000 km (including 470 km of expressways)
unpaved: 81,000 km (1996 est.)
- Waterways: 904 km; the Shatt al Arab is usually
navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km; channel has been dredged
to 3 m and is in use
- Pipelines: crude oil 5,900 km; petroleum products
3,900 km; natural gas 4,550 km
- Ports and harbors: Abadan (largely destroyed in
fighting during 1980-88 war), Ahvaz, Bandar 'Abbas, Bandar-e Anzali,
Bushehr, Bandar-e Imam Khomeyni, Bandar-e Lengeh, Bandar-e Mahshahr,
Bandar-e Torkaman, Chabahar (Bandar Beheshti), Jazireh-ye Khark,
Jazireh-ye Lavan, Jazireh-ye Sirri, Khorramshahr (limited operation since
November 1992), Now Shahr
- Merchant marine:
total: 132 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,238,293
ships by type: bulk 46, cargo 35, chemical tanker 4, combination
bulk 1, container 5, liquefied gas tanker 1, multifunction large-load
carrier 6, oil tanker 21, refrigerated cargo 2, roll-on/roll-off cargo 10,
short-sea passenger 1 (1998 est.)
- Airports: 288 (1998 est.)
- Airports-with paved runways:
over 3,047 m: 38
2,438 to 3,047 m: 18
1,524 to 2,437 m: 25
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 6 (1998 est.)
- Airports-with unpaved runways:
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 126
under 914 m: 32 (1998 est.)
- Heliports: 11 (1998 est.)
Agricultural Revolution made possible permanent settlements and the
creation of complex civilizations. The Iranian plateau became the cradle
of one the oldest civilizations in history.
Firuz Tepe Wine Jar, discovered in Iran, is the oldest archaeological
finding of wine-making in the world.
Sialk (near Kashan), the first city on the Iranian plateau, was built.
Persians and the Medes, two groups of Aryan nomads, migrated to the
Iranian plateau from central Asia.
Prophet Zoroaster was one of the first prophets to introduce the concepts
of: monotheism, duality of good and evil, mankind's free choice between
the two alternatives, messianic redemption, resurrection, final judgement,
heaven (the word "paradise" comes from Old Persian), hell and
the notion of an almighty, kind, loving and forgiving God. He
believed man's salvation in life and in the afterlife could only be
ensured through Good thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. Many of these
concepts had a profound influence on Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Persians adopted Zoroastrianism at a time when Greeks and, later, Romans
still practiced polytheistic religions. (There is some dispute concerning
Zoroaster's exact period.)
- 530 BC Cyrus the Great established the Persian Empire in 550 BC, the first world
empire. His respect for local traditions, laws, languages, and religions
set the foundation of a relatively benevolent empire.
Babylonia surrendered peacefully to Cyrus the Great. Welcomed as a
liberator because of his compassionate policies, Cyrus freed the Jews from
captivity and assisted them to migrate to their homeland and to
reconstruct their temple in Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, in the Book
of Isaiah, Cyrus is hailed as the Shepherd of the Lord.
I am Cyrus, King of the World. When I
entered Babylon I did not allow anyone to terrorize the land. I kept in
view the needs of its people and all its sanctuaries to promote their well
being..... put an end to their misfortune. The great God has delivered all
lands into my hand, the lands that I have made to dwell in peaceful
habitation.for more information www.mehan.com
- Persian Language
Persian Language, also known as Farsi, is the
most widely spoken member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian
languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European languages. It is the language
of Iran (formerly Persia) and is also widely spoken in Afghanistan and, in
an archaic form, in Tajikistan and the Pamir Mountain region.
Persian is spoken today primarily in Iran,
Afghanistan, but was historically a more widely understood language in an
area ranging from the
Middle East to India. Significant populations of speakers in other Persian
Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, People's Democratic Republic of
Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates), as well as large communities in the
Total numbers of speakers is high: over 30 million
Farsi speakers (about 50% of Iran's population); over 7 million Dari
Persian speakers in Afghanistan (25% of the population); and about 2
million Dari Persian speakers in Pakistan.
Three phases may be distinguished in the development
of Iranian languages: Old, Middle, and Modern. Old Iranian is represented
by Avestan and Old Persian. Avestan, probably spoken in the northeast of
ancient Persia, is the language of the Avesta, the sacred scriptures of
Zoroastrianism. Except for this scriptural use, Avestan died out centuries
before the advent of Islam. Old Persian is recorded in the southwest in
cuneiform inscriptions of the Persian kings of the Achaemenid dynasty
(circa 550-330 BC), notably Darius I and Xerxes I. Old Persian and Avestan
have close affinity with Sanskrit, and, like Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin,
are highly inflected languages.
Middle Iranian is represented not only by Middle Persian and the closely
related Parthian language but also by several Central Asian tongues.
Parthian was the language of the Arsacid or Parthian Empire (circa 250
BC-AD 226). Although it is known chiefly through inscriptions of the early
kings of the following Sassanian period, Parthian declined when Sassanian
power expanded. During the Arsacid period, however, it influenced Persian.
The language of the Sassanian Empire (AD 226-641) was Middle Persian,
often called Pahlavi (a term more strictly reserved for a form of the
language used in certain Zoroastrian writings). Middle Persian has a
simpler grammar than Old Persian and was usually written in an ambiguous
script with multivalent letters, adopted from Aramaic; it declined after
the Arab conquest in the 7th century. Although much of the Middle Persian
literature was translated into Arabic, the bulk of its writings was lost
during Islamic times. Other Middle Iranian tongues were also spoken in
Sassanian Persia or in bordering regions of Central Asia: Khwarazmian, in
Khiva; Bactrian, in Bactria; Sogdian, in the vast region of Sogdiana,
including the cities of Samarqand and Bukhoro; and Saka (a name associated
with various Scythian kingdoms), in Chinese Turkestan. Sogdian produced a
body of Christian, Buddhist, and secular literature, and Saka's Khotanese
dialect was the vehicle of an important Buddhist literature. Most
Khwarezmian texts are from the post-Islamic period. Bactrian is known only
in a few recently discovered inscriptions in Afghanistan.
Modern Persian had developed by the 9th century. It is a continuation of
an area-wide standard language that had considerable Parthian and Middle
Persian elements, with additional influences from other Iranian languages.
Written in Perso-Arabic script (an expanded version of Arabic script), it
has been the official and cultural language of Persia since it first
appeared. Its grammar is simpler than that of Middle Persian, and it has
absorbed a vast Arabic vocabulary.
& Christianity in Persian Poetry
Chronology of Persian
- Persian Language Ferdowsi - Shahnameh
or The Epic of Kings
The Achaemenian Ganjnameh [Treasure Inventory]
Falsafeh © -
Farsi - Persian
FarsiEats © -
Gorbeh Irani © -
Ghesseh - Traditional
Persian Children Stories
Gorbeh © - Persian Cat Stories
HotTea © Tea
recipes, History of Tea, Tea Vendors,...
According 2 Me © - Philosophy
Gallery - Life in Mashhad, Iran's holy city
NoRooz - Persian New
People Groups in
Diaspora Census, Persian
and Iranian Recipes, Persian
Rug Gallery, Persian
Rug FAQ ©, Saffron
- ZahFaron, the most expensive spice in the world
Iran Currency Exchange & Exchange rates
Foreign Husbands of Iranian Women
Tambr - Persian Iranian
Tasbih - Prayer Beads:
Used for prayer, decision making and meditation
Toman - Persian Iranian
Currency & Coins Collection
modern capital of Iran, a sprawling, frenetic city that is host to some of
the craziest driving in the world, can be prone to pollution and suffer
from smog. Nevertheless, it has many interesting sights and warrants the
two day stay we recommend in our suggested itineraries. Listed below are
some recommended sights:
(1) The Azadi (Freedom) Monument, built by the former Shah to commemorate
2,500 years of the Persian Empire, but now reflecting the nation's freedom
following the Islamic Revolution.
(2) The Carpet Museum, housing some of the most beautiful carpets and
tapestries in the Islamic world.
(3) The Sa'adabad Gardens of the former Shah, the location of his
secondary palace which has now been converted into a museum. The dining
room is magnificent. Of particular note are two enormous stone boots
standing in the grounds, the remains of a gigantic statue of Reza Shah
(the last Shah's father) that was destroyed in the revolution. Included in
the complex are the palace of the Shah's mother and a Fine Arts Museum.
The grounds are particularly nice to walk around.
(4) The Golestan Palace, where the coronations of the former Shah and his
father took place. Particularly notable are the Hall of Mirrors and the
(5) Archeological Museum, covering 7,000 years of Persian history, from
the 5th millenium BC to the 19th century AD.
(6) Glass & Ceramics Museum, housed in an early 20th century home that
was formerly the Egyptian Embassy.
(7) National Jewels Museum, containing a dazzling display of precious
stones including the 182-carat diamond known as The Sea Of Light, the
Globe of Jewels containing over 50,000 precious stones and weighing 80
pounds, and the Pahlavi Crown used at the coronation of the former Shah of
(8) The Sepahsalar Mosque & Madrasa. The largest mosque in Tehran with
eight minarets, it also functions as a theological college.
(7) The Bazaar
(8) The former US Embassy where the American hostages were held. Entrance
(9) The Shrine of Imam Khomeini. This beautiful golden-domed complex is
the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini.
Non-Muslims are allowed inside the mosque.
(10) Behesht-é Zahra. A vast cemetery housing thousands of graves of the
Muslim martyrs killed in the Iran-Iraq war. Although it is not normally on
the tourist schedule, a visit to the cemetery is recommended for those who
would like a deeper understanding of the war and its effect upon the
Iranian people. The gravestone carry photographs of the deceased, and a
particularly poignant day to visit is on a Friday when families tend the
graves. Naturally, visitors should behave with extreme respect at all
in Persian history as "half the world", Isfahan is a feast of
Islamic architecture, with stunningly beautiful buildings constructed
under the auspices of the great Shah Abbas in the 17th century. Three of
the most important are to be found flanking the sides of the magnificent
Imam Square: the majestic Imam Mosque, viewed by many as the greatest in
the Islamic world, the Sheikh Loftallah Mosque with its resplendent dome,
and the 7-storey Ali Qapu Palace with its views over the square and,
especially, its fascinating music room.
Surrounding the square are walkways housing souvenir shops, while on the
fourth side of the square is the vibrant Bazaar. Here you can
"shop-till-you-drop", anything from exquisitely painted ceramic
plates to the finest silk carpets.
A visit to the famous bridges of Isfahan is a must, and to take
refreshment in the small chaikhana (teahouse) under Khaju Bridge is a
delight. The bridges span the Zayandé River and are very picturesque.
Other sites of interest (and there are so many) include the Shaking
Minarets of Jonban, which sway when pushed hard from inside (a climb to
the top is for the nerve-steady only), the beautiful 17th century Vank
Armenian Church, the Chehel Sotoun (Forty Columns) Museum housed in an
attractive pavilion, and the hilltop fire temple of the Zoroastrians.
city of poets and flowers, Shiraz is a lovely town with several must-see
sites for the visitor, in addition to the nearby Achaemenian city of
Persepolis. The mausoleums of the two venerated Persian poets, Hafez and
Sa'adi, set in beautiful flower gardens, are unmissable, as is the 14th
century Shah Cheragh shrine, an important Shi'ite pilgrimage site (the
brother of Emam Reza is buried here) - the interior of the shrine is a
wondrous display of mirror tiles. Another must-see is the Nasir-ol-Molk
Mosque with its incredibly beautiful tilework, and the Ali ibn Hamza
Mosque which is also emblazoned with mirror tiles.
Shiraz enjoys some splendid gardens, the most famous being Bagh-é Eram,
or Garden of Paradise, home to a pretty 19th century Qajar palace which
looks enchanting in its flowered setting beside a pool. The famous cypress
trees of Shiraz may also be seen here.
Narenjestan-é qavam, or qavam Orangery, is an elegant 19th century house
with orange trees in its garden. The house offers some fascinating
tilework in the shape of a crescent depicting a lion and the sun in the
centre with leopards devouring deer on either side.
One of the most attractive towns in Iran,
famed for its myriad wind towers that provide natural air conditioning for
the inhabitants, and its network of kuchés, or narrow lanes.
Yazd is also the centre of Zoroastrianism, the religion of the ancient
Achaemenian kings of Persia and practised to this day. There is a
Zoroastrian temple containing a sacred flame said to have been burning
non-stop for over 1500 years. Located just outside the town are the Towers
of Silence, an ancient Zoroastrian burial site built on two hills. In
fact, "burial" is the wrong word, as the dead would be laid out
above ground to be devoured by birds of prey.
There are two beautiful mosques, the 14th century Masjed-é Jame', or
Friday Mosque, with its imposing minarets, splendid dome and mosaics, and
the 15th century Amir Chakhmaq Mosque.
Other sites include the 11th century Tomb of the 12 Imams (although none
is actually buried here) and Alexander's Prison, a circular pit said to
have been built by Alexander the Great.
Hamadan (Hamedan) is situated 400 km south
west of Tehran, 190 km east of
Kermanshah and 530 km north west of Isfahan at the elevation of 1800
Today's Hamadan is what is left of
Ecbatana, The Medes' capital before they formed a union with the Persians.
The poet Ferdowsi says that Ecbatana was build by King
Jamshid. The modern Hamadan consists
of a large central roundabout with six avenues running into it.
While lacking antique vestiges, Hamadan,
has several monuments worthy of interest. They are usually mausoleums.
Their exterior was recently renewed by constructions inspired by the
spindle-shaped structure of Mongol towers, to the exclusion of all other
features of these towers. The best one covers the Tomb of the famous Ibn
Sina called Abu Ali by the Persians and Avicenna by the Western world.
Baba Tahir Oryan
, Born in
Hamadan, Iran, in the early eleventh century, was considered by his
contemporaries as one of the most eminent, erudite mystics and
sentimentalists of his time, a reputation he has held in the affection
of his countrymen to the present day.
treasure inventory - Abbas-Abad Valley, 5Kms. West of Hamadan. Two
inscriptions carved on the face of Alvand mountain, belonging to Darius
and Xerxes [Khashayarshah].
Abu Ali Sina (Avicenna)
Mausoleum of Esther
- An Achaemenian Queen
Hamadan Weather Forecast
Mashhad, Iran's holiest city, is located
850 kilometers North East of Tehran. Back in the 9th century, Imam Reza
was poinsoned and martyred in the city. He was the eighth Imam (head
spiritual leader) of Shi'ate Islam (Some consider him Imam of all Muslims . His holy position made his tomb a sacred place for
pilgrims to worship. Millions of people pay pilgrimage to the holy shrine,
undoubtedly the largest and most magnificent of its kind, every year.
There are plenty of priceless objects and unique manuscripts in the
shrine's library. Mashad is a tourist city with many hotels of various
categories as well as a great number of guest houses for the pilgrims who
come to this city from the other parts of the country everyday by tens of
flights, trains and buses.
Before he died, the city was known as
Sanabad, a small village in the north of Persia. After his death, pilgrims
came and ended up staying in Mashhad. The village grew into a small city
because of his shrine. Sunni Muslim forces sacked the city, followed by
the Mongols in the 13th century. The shrine was badly damaged and, after
In the 16th century, three Safavid dynasty
rulers established Shi'ite Islam for the whole territory. The shrine
was restored, enlarged, and a
Ghoharshad mosque was built.
These rulers made pilgrimages to the site and since then it has become
the most holy Shi'ite pilgrimage in
The city's climatic condition is varied
with very cold winters, pleasant springs, usually mild summers and
beautiful autumns. The magnificent holy shrine of Imam Reza and the
historical and artistic complex attached to it including the courtyards,
porticos and porches, the Goharshad Mosque (of Timurid period) as well as
its rich museum and libray are the most significant sights to be seen by
any visitor and pilgrim. There is a magnificent golden dome over the
shrine's building; surrounded by several proches. The Grand Gohaharshad
Mosque is located to the south of the shrine, the museum and the tomb of
Sheikh Bahaee to the southeast and Parizad and Balasar Schools to the
Other than a number of large beautiful
parks, the other sights tomb of Nader Shah, Kooh Sangi pool. There are
also some sights outside the city. Tomb of Khajeh Morad kilometers from
Mashad along the road to Tehran, the tomb of Khajeh Rabi' located 6
kilometers north of the city where there are some inscriptions by the
renowned Safavid calligrapher Reza Abbasi, and the tomb of Khajeh Abasalt
in a distance of 20 kilometers from Mashad along the road to Neishabur.
(the three personalities were the disciples of Imam Reza). Among the other
sights are the tomb of the great poet Ferdowsi in Tus, 24 kilometers away
from Mashad; and the Summer resorts at Torghabeh, Torogh, Akhlomod, Zoshk
The unique geographical location of Iran, which has served as a bridge
between the East and the West, together with its diverse climatic
conditions and various raw materials available, have caused the
flourishing of many arts and crafts in this country all through its long
In the pre-Islamic era, and from Achaemenid to Sassanian dynasties (559
BC- 651 AD ), precious items such as textile, metalwork, jewelry,
lusterware and glassware were exported from Iran to China and Europe.
One of the main features of the Iranian handicrafts is the continuous
preservation of traditional styles and original designs. As a result, art
works produced by contemporary craftsmen look like masterpieces made in
Persian carpets coloring is the most important process, since it comes
from the herbs and plants like madder, leaves and trunk of opopnax tree ,
leaves and branches of yellow weed and straw, pomegranate peels and walnut
shells and oaks,... each creating by itself a beautiful, stable and
delightful color. Each substance is not only the source of a particular
color, but can also they provide a combination of different colors.
Carpet weaving is a precious legacy of previous generations. Thousands of
designing, dyeing and weaving workshops across Iran (in Azarbaijan,
Baluchistan, Lorestan, Fars , Kerman and other provinces) have made the
carpet industry practically the largest in the country.
Gilim weaving with a very long history since antiquity is one of the
most ancient products of Fars and Kerman nomads. Unlike the carpet that
can be used only from one side, Gilim can be used from both sides.
Most of the designs are geometrical and stem from nature and the weaver’s
Tribal people are the major producers of Gilim in Iran.
These Gilims are made in different colors and sizes. Some of the most
famous types of gilim are "shireki pich", " suzani",
" kafsadeh" and "chehelmashuleh (sinehriz)" .
would like to propose, in the name of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
that the United Nations, as a first step, designate the year 2001 as
the "Year of Dialogue among Civilizations," with the earnest
hope that through such a dialogue, the realization of universal justice
and liberty be initiated.
"Excerpt from President Khatami's address to the United Nations"
In response to the proposal made by the president of the Islamic Republic
of Iran, the United Nations' General Assembly declared 2001 as the year of
Dialogue Among Civilizations. The Iranian government subsequently founded
the International Centre for Dialogue Among Civilizations (ICDAC) in