Iran has one of the highest urban population growth rates in the world. From 1950 to 2002, the urban proportion of the population increased from 27% to 60%. The United Nations predicts that by 2030 80% of the population will live in urban areas.Most internal migrants have settled near the cities of Tehran, Isfahan, Ahwaz,  and Qom.  Tehran, with a population of 8.2 million (2012 census), is the largest city in Iran and is the nation’s capital. Tehran is home to around 11% of Iran’s population. It is the hub of the country’s communication and transport networks.

Mashhad, with a population of 2.4 million, is the second largest Iranian city and the centre of the province of  Razavi khorasan.  Mashhad is one of the holiest Shi’a cities in the world as it is the site of the Imam Reza shrine.  It is the centre of tourism in Iran and between 15 and 20 million pilgrims go to the Imam Reza’s  shrine every year.

Another major Iranian city is Isfahan (population 1.5 million), which is the capital of  Isfahan province. The growth of the suburban area around the city has turned Isfahan to the second most populous metropolitan area (3.4 million).

The fourth major city of Iran is Tabriz (population 1.3 million), capital of the East Azarbaijan province  and the second-ranking industrial city of Iran after Tehran. Tabriz was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s and one of its former capitals. The other major cities are Karaj  (population 1.3 million), and Shiraz (population 1.2 million). Karaj is the capital of  Alborz province and is situated 20 km west of Tehran, at the foot of Alborz mountains; however, the city is increasingly becoming an extension of metropolitan TehranHere is a list of most important ones:



untitled 1 ESFAHAN

Esfahan is the capital of  Isfahan province in Iran, located about 340 kilometres (211 miles) south of Tehran. It has a population of 1,583,609 and is Iran’s third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad. Esfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian  call it “Nesf-e-Jahan”, meaning “Half The World”.

The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments and is known for the paintings and history.

 Visit Esfahan Attractions

A visit to the beautiful city of Esfahan could be accomplished by exploring several sights tourist attractions including:

Naghsh -E- Jahan square:  Naqsh-e-Jahan Sq (Image of the world), it is a World Heritage Site with all three monuments around it registered in UNESCO’s list. Shah Abbas I, started his royal project of constructing this square and the bazaar as well as the palace and mosques around it in 1612. Visitors to Esfahan love this square and keep coming back there to see and enjoy its beauty.

Imam Khomeini Mosque: Formerly known as Shah Abbas Friday Mosque is one of the monuments built as a part of the royal project ordered by Shah Abbas and situated at the south of the Imam Khomeini Square still being used as a mosque as well as a site for the visitors.

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque: It is a private mosque constructed as part of the same royal project at teh eastern side of the square. This mosque is not very large although its domed chamber is a sizable one. What makes it unique is the artistic and architectural styles applied to it.

Aliqapoo Palace: This is a six-storied building constructed by the order of Shah Abbas I, to be his residence and office. It is located on the western side of Imam Khomeini Square.

Chehel Sotun Palace: In mid 17th century, Shah Abbas II ordered a palace to be built for him outside the well-known Imam Square. It has got several columns and huge pool built in form of a mansion in the middle of a Persian Garden.

Hasht Behesht Palace: Built in the second half of 18th century, it is a beautiful palace in the middle of the royal gardens and close to the famous Chahar-Bagh street. The square plan of the building and miniature fresco has given a particular beauty to the building.

Jame Mosque: This is  a grand mosque originally built as a fire temple which converted to a mosque later. Throughout the history in several historical eras, a lot of annexations, restorations and redesign has happened at this mosque. The variety of brick works, tile works and mehrab stucco works in this compound are exemplary.

Vank Cathedral: This is a building constructed in mid 17th century in the Armenian district called Jolfa. It includes a few buildings: Chapel, Museums, Library and other structures and monuments. The mural paintings inside are the works of Iranian Armenians of that period who learned the European arts of their time.

Sio-Se-Po (33-Arch Bridge): Built in early17th century, it is still the longest brick-made bridge of city. Every travelers, who visits Esfahan, will certainly go to this bridge to enjoy walking on it to the other bank of the river.

Khaju Bridge: This bridge and water dam was built by Shah Abbas II (mid 17th century) and is considered the finest of its type in the entire province. There are two piers on which people can cross the river on foot and a parlor is erected in the center of it for the royal family to enjoy the scenery of the royal gardens and the river flowing eastward.

Shahrestan Bridge: This is the oldest bridge of the city the original construction of which is said to date back to 14th century. It has been the connecting path from the southern bank to the northern one when travelers arrived in Esfahan and wanted  to enter the city.

Joui Bridge: This bridge was built in mid 17th century by Shah Abbas II to irrigate the royal gardens. The aqueduct was made on top of it for this purpose.

Menar Jonban (Shaking Minarets): This monument was originally a mausoleum for a mystic figure of 14th century. Later in Safavid period a couple of minarets were added to the top of it making a unique building that resists against sever tremors. Once one minaret is pushed to be shaken, the other one also begins to shake.




untitled 2 SHIRAZ

Shiraz is the fifth most populous city of Iran  and the capital of Fars Province. In 2009 the population of the city was 1,455,073. Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the Roodkhaneye Khoshk (Dry river) seasonal river. It has a moderate climate and has been a regional trade center for over a thousand years. It is regarded as one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia.

in the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading center of the arts and letters, due to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. It was the capital of the Persia during the Zand dynasty from 1750 until 1781, as well as briefly during the Saffarid period. Two famous poets of IranHafez and Saadi, are from Shiraz.

Shiraz is known as the city of poetsliteraturewine and flowers It is also considered by many Iranians to be the city of gardens, due to the many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen in the city. Shiraz has had major Jewish and Christian communities. The crafts of Shiraz consist of inlaid mosaic work of triangular design; silver-ware; pile carpet-weaving and weaving of kilim, called gilim and jajim in the villages and among the tribes.  In Shiraz industries such as cement production, sugar, fertilizers, textile products, wood products, metalwork and rugs dominate.

 Visit Shiraz Attractions Inside the City

There are several sights to see inside and outside Shiraz. First, let’s take a look at Shiraz tourist attractions worth visiting inside the city:

Tomb of Hafez (Hafezieh): This is the burial place of Hafez, the well-known Iranian poet of 14th century whose ghazal poems are still considered the best in their genre.

Tomb of Sa’dy (Sa’dieh): This is the burial place of Sa’dy, the most prominent poet of Iran second only after Ferdosy in using the Persian Language. His direct words and beautiful literary works in prose and poetry has attracted lot of Persian speaking people inside and outside Iran.

Vakil Mosque: It has been built in mid 18th century by the order of Karimkhan e Zand. The mosque has got two large eyvans with beautiful tile works.

Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque: It is a local mosque with unique decoration particularly at its columned prayer hall where stain glass windows let the light through in the morning.

Atiq Jame Mosque: This is one of the very old mosques still standing in Iran. Its original construction time dates back to 9th century although more restoration and redecoration has been applied to it later in Seljuk and  Safavid eras.

Vakil Bazaar: Built by the order of Karimkhan e Zand as part of the entire royal district, it is still a very attractive bazaar specially at its Saraye Moshir courtyard and set of handicraft shops around it.

Vakil Bath: This public bathhouse has been built as part of the same royal district constructed by the order of Karimkhan e Zand. It is now a museum of Fars Province rugs and woven items.

Shah e Cheraq & other Shrines: There are several shrines in Shiraz these days and several of them are being incorporated into a shrine compound. Shah e Cheraq is the largest, which is the burial place of Seyed Mir Ahmad, brother of Imam Reza (6th Imam of Siites).

Arg-e-Karimkhani: It is obviously named after its builder as a citadel in the same royal district as other monuments were constructed. This citadel was served as his residential building with a private bath in it.

Pars Museum (Nazar Garden): This is a small octagonal mansion in the middle of Nazar Garden and part of the royal project. The building was used for official ceremonies and meetings by Karimkhan.

Eram Garden: This is a typical Persian Garden,which is much older than the Qajar house in the middle of it. The garden itself dates back to approximately Seljuk period. Today it is a botanic garden under University of Shiraz.

AfifAbad Garden: This is another beautiful Persian Garden turned into a historic weaponry museum. There is an interesting tea house at its garden with fantastic teahouse-style paintings.

Qavam House: This was the court of the supreme judge of Shiraz in 19th century. The mirror works and European-style paintings in its house, planned as a Persian Garden, has made it a beautiful little place to visit.

Zinat-ol-Molk House: This house has been the residence of the supreme judge, Qavam. There are beautiful plaster work and mirror work decoration with Persian dignitaries’ wax statue museum in the underground.

Qoran Gate: The construction of this entrance gate of Shiraz goes back to Buwahid era, approximately 1000 years ago. It has been restored several times, but a small chamber with a large volume of Qoran was added to the top of it at Karimkhan e Zand period.

Visit Shiraz Attractions outside the City

By driving to three different directions, you will be able to visit some of Shiraz tourist attractions that are  the world-class sights worth visiting during your stay in Shiraz. All of them date back to pre-Islam period.

Persepolis: This unique ceremonial palace compound started to be constructed at the time of Darius the Great and continued to be expanded until the fall of Achaemenians. Persepolis is a World Heritage Site at the north of Shiraz with several palaces, three rock tombs and a museum of the artifacts discovered at the same area. It is located 65 km north of Shiraz.

Naqsh-e-Rostam: This is a sight 3km away from Persepolis, which was first used in 2nd millennium BC by Elamites for their rock reliefs. Four Achaemnian kings are buried here and several Sassanian rock reliefs are carved on the face of the mountains. A unique Achaemenian building is still standing in front of the perpendicular cliffs.

Naqsh-e-Rajab: It is located between Persepolis and Naqsh-e-Rostam with 3 rock reliefs of Sassanians carved on the lower part of the mountains.

Palace of Ardeshir: This is a unique building constructed by Ardeshir, the founder of Sassanian dynasty in 3rd century. The first examples of dome building can be found at this palace. It is located almost at 120km south east of Shiraz.

Ancient City of Bishapur: This is an ancient city built by Roman slaves and engineers under Sasssanians and is partly standing where several buildings can be visited such as an Anahita Temple, Shapur Palace, Valerian dungeon. It is approximately 150 km south west of Shiraz.

Tang e Chogan Reliefs: They are opposite the ancient city of Bishapur and represent some of the most eye-catching reliefs of Sassanians recording major historical triumphant moments of Iranians history against Romans and Arabs.




untitled 5 YAZD

 Yazd is the capital of Yazd ProvinceIran, and a centre of Zoroastrian culture. The city is located 270 km (170 mi) southeast of Isfahan. At the 2006 census, the population was 423,006, in 114,716 families.

Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd is an architecturally unique city. It is also known in Iran for the high quality of its handicrafts, especially silk weaving, and its confectionary.

 Visit Yazd Attractions inside the City

Every year, lots of international travelers visit Yazd tourist attractions inside the city and spend at least one full day exploring the beauty of its local architecture.

Yazd Friday Mosque: This is the grand congregational mosque of 14th century built by well-known Yazdi architects. It has the tallest minarets in Iran.

Mirchaqmaq Tekieh: This is the mourning structure used by Shiite mourners who commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, Fatima, etc by sitting in its cells and watching the religious passion play and the mourners’ parade in front of the structure.

Water Museum: Affiliated to the water organization, this museum showcases how water has been supplied using various tools, methods and traditions. This is probably the best museum of water in the entire country with this topic.

Varahram Fire Temple: The most famous fire temple of Zoroastrians, Varahram is widely known for the age of its fire, which is approximately 1500 years old and never extinguished.

Towers of Silence: Known as Dakhmeh, they are the high places surrounded by a wall on top of the hills where people’s corpse used to be disposed to the vultures to be eaten by them.

Fahadan Residential Quarter: This is the oldest part of the city where houses are made of sun-dried bricks and walls are made of mud and straw. Some of the oldest monuments of the city are found here.

Boqeh 12 Imams: This is the oldest structure in Yazd still standing as a memorial building constructed approximately 900 years ago in honor of 12 Imams of Shiites.

Alexander/Harun Prison: This is actually a 14th century school (madrasah) with relatively plain decoration. The real name is Zia’ieh, but it is called a prison because of the octagonal pit below the level of its courtyard that looks like a dungeon.

Dolat Abad Garden: This is a typical Persian Garden that used to be the house of Yazd governor in 18th century with the tallest wind catcher of yazd, 22m.



untitled 4 TEHRAN

 is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province since 1778. With a population of around 8.3 million and surpassing 14 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is Iran’s largest city and urban area, and the largest city in Western Asia.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Tehran has been the subject of mass migration of people from all around Iran. The city is home to many historic mosqueschurches,synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples. However, modern structures, notably Azadi (Liberty) Tower and the Milad Tower, have come to symbolise the city. Tehran is ranked 29th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area. Throughout Iran’s history, the capital has been moved many times, and Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran although it has been Iran’s capital for 240 years. Although a variety of unofficial languages are spoken, roughly 99% of the population understand and speak Persian. The majority of people in Tehran identify themselves as Persians. In pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, Tehran was an unimportant village and part of the area of present-day Tehran was occupied by Rey (which in the Avesta occurs in the form of Rhaga), now a part of the city of Tehran, which took over its role after the destruction of Rey by the Mongols in the early 13th century.

 Visit Tehran Attractions inside the City

The international travelers who visit Iran, have found the following sights and museums interesting inside the city:

Golestan Palace Compound: This is the first set of palaces originally built at the end of Safavids in a garden at Central Tehran close to its grand bazaar. Pahlavi kings held coronation ceremonies here. There are several palace museums here that have got attractive items in them.

Niavaran Palace Compound: This palace compound was first started by Nasereddin Shah, the Qajar king.  Pahlavi dynasty continued to reside at this garden and constructed more buildings in it.

Sa’ad Abad Palace Compound: Except for one Qajar mansion in it, this compound was chosen to be the summer residence and office of Reza Shah, founder of Pahlavi dynasty. Later, he and his son built more palaces there which are now all museums with different topics.

Treasury of National Jewels: The extraordinary collection of gemstones and jewelry at this  place is a breathtaking must-see that is housed by the central bank of Iran. The history beyond each piece is amazing. One cannot put any price on this collection and cannot find anything similar to this in the world. When you visit Tehran, make sure you can have a look at this collection.

Iran Bastan Museum: This is also known as the national museum of Iran boasting of some of the most attractive pre-Islam items in one building and post-Islam items in another. Every piece has got its own clear history of archaeology, place of discovery and other details.

Abgineh Museum: Known as the museum of ceramics and glassware, this is a fantastic set of items beautifully displayed and showcased indicating the delicacy of Iranians’ skills in crafting the items made of these materials.

Reza Abbasy Museum: The visit to this collection of the artifacts ranging from pre-Islam items to the 20th century works of art makes an amazing time spent in Tehran exploring its rich history and culture.

Carpet Museum: Carpets are the most well-known Iranian art. The collection of some of the most fabulous pieces in this museum and the variety of patterns, colors and design will amaze the visitors.

Museum of Contemporary Arts: This museum surprises you by the fantastic modern items in it. There are paintings, sculptors, etc at this collection that make you familiar with Iranian modern artists.

Grand Bazaar: Tehran’s bazaar mostly dates back to 19th and early 20th century with more than 10km of corridors and passageways. Lots of traditional merchants and brokers are busy working there. The ambiance is of particular interest to several tourists.

Visit Tehran Attractions outside the City

For those who are interested in exploring the origins of the urban settlement and historic monuments more than museums, Tehran tourist attractions outside the city has got the following to offer:

Toghrol Tower: Not so far from Tehran, at Ray, south of Tehran, you can visit this tower that dates back to 12th century commemorating Tugrul Beg, the Seljuk monarch.

Shah Abdol Azim Shrine: It is a 9th century burial place of one of the descendants of Imam Hassan (2nd Shiite Imam). Since 15th century this location was chosen to be the burial place of some of the Timurid, Safavid and Qajar rulers and kings in Iran. Therefore, the ornate structure started to be built since then and continued till now.



untitled 3 KERMAN

 is the capital city of Kerman ProvinceIran. At the 2011 census, its population was 821,374, in 221,389 households, making it the 10th most populous city of Iran.

It is the largest and most developed city in the Kerman Province and the most important city in South-East Iran. It is one of the largest cities of Iran in terms of area. Kerman is famous for its long history and strong cultural heritage. The city is home to many historic mosques and Zoroastrian fire temples. Kerman is also on the list of the recent world’s 1000 cleanest cities. Kerman is also a former capital of Iran, a position that it held during several periods. It is located on a large, flat plain, 1,036 km (643 mi) south of Tehran, the capital of Iran.

 Visit Kerman Tourist Attractions inside the City

There are several sights to explore in this city, but most of Kerman tourist attractions inside the city are the ones listed below:

Kerman Friday Mosque: Built in 14th century by Yazdi architects, it is a functional mosque with beautiful portal decorated with tiles of blue color in different shades.

Ganjali Khan Complex: This is a set of structures built at the side of Kerman Bazaar by Safavid governor, Ganjali Khan. It includes a caravansary, a bathhouse, a water reservoir, a minting house, a mosque and part of the present-day bazaar.

Kerman Bazaar: Apart from Ganjali Khan complex, the rest of the bazaar is made at Qajar period. The herb shops’ area and the open air fruit market of Kerman Bazaar are worth visiting.

Malek Mosque: Also known as Imam Mosque, this is a Seljuk mosque and is considered one of the largest in the entire country. There are three unique mehrabs in this mosque.

Jabalieh Dome: This octagonal building looks like Sassanians buildings and has interesting features. Today it accommodates tomb stones found in the province.

 Visit Kerman Tourist Attractions outside the City

Taking a drive outside the city, you can visit Kerman province tourist attractions that are worth exploring. Here is the list of the highlights:

Bam Ancient Walled City: Unfortunately, as a result of the earthquake, the major part of this 2000-year-old Iranian World Heritage Site is destroyed and needs restoration.

Rayen Citadel: This is another walled town dating back to almost 2000 years ago in which the local governor of Rayen used to live. It was served as the summer residence of Bam governor too.

Shahzadeh Garden: This fabulous Persian Garden dates back to Qajar era and has got beautiful water cascade design leading the water from its mansion to the entrance.

Shah Nematollah Valy Mausoleum: This gigantic four-courtyard plan mausoleum of the 14th-century Sufi was first built and expanded in Timurid era and enlarged under Safavids. Qajars added some sections to it as well.

Shahdad Kaluts: They are natural rock formations developed and formed as a result of thousands of years of erosion and sand storms in the hottest desert of the world, Kavir-e-Lut. Nature lovers who travel to Iran, witness to its uniqueness.

Meymand Ancient Houses: These are rock-carved dwellings of the local people approximately 270km east of Kerman. These houses go back to 12000 years ago.



untitled 6 KASHAN

Kashan is a city in and the capital of Kashan County, in the province of IsfahanIran. At the 2006 census, its population was 248,789, in 67,464 families. The etymology of the city name comes from Kasian, the original inhabitants of the city, whose remains are found at Tapeh Sialk dating back 9,000 years; later this changed to Kashian, hence the town name. Between the 12th and the 14th centuries Kashan was an important centre for the production of high quality pottery and tiles. In modern Persian, the word for a tile (kashi) comes from the name of the town.

Visit Kashan Attractions inside the City

Here is a list of Kashan tourist attractions that you can visit inside the city:

Historical (Old) Houses of Kashan: Boroujerdi ha, Tabatabaie ha, Abbasian, and Ameri ha houses are some of the beautiful examples of 19th century houses of merchants in Iran.

Fin Garden: Many Iranians and non-Iranians plan to visit Kashan to see this beautiful garden and remember how a well-liked Iranian politician (Chancellor) of 19th century was ordered to be murdered by the king. Also, the cool and shady area of this garden in this dry and hot climate provides such a pleasant ambiance.

Sialk Historical Mounds: Formerly outside the city, these mounds are now engulfed by Kashan development plans. They are some of the earliest settlements of ancient dwellers of this part of Iran after the ice age.

Aqa Bozorg Mosque: This is a late 18th century mosque and theological school (madrasah) located in city center. It has got a particular architecture with two courtyards in two levels and a relatively open domed chamber.

Kashan Bazaar: It is believed that this bazaar was first built during the Seljuks and renovated under Safavids. You can find several mosques, tombs, tim, timcheh, bath, etc in it. Timcheh Amin-o-Dowleh is a highlight to see.

Visit Kashan Attractions outside the City

There are several interesting sights worth visiting outside Kashan that are introduced here:

Niasar Fire Temple: This is a Sassanian Fire temple approximately 30km west of Kashan that is in good condition after some restorations. The domed chamber of this temple clearly shows the Chahar Taqy architecture of ancient Iran.

Niasar Mithra Temple: This is a temple carved in form of a cave also called “Ghar-e-Reis” (Boss’ Cave). It could well be traced back to Parthian era.

Noosh Abad Underground City: it is about 5km north of Kashan and under the village of Noosh Abad where people are living today. The underground city has been a hideout for the inhabitants to protect themselves from Arab invaders and others, who attacked Iran after that.



untitled 0 HAMEDAN

is the capital city of Hamedan Provinceof Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 473,149, in 127,812 families. Hamadan is believed to be among the oldest Iranian cities and one of the oldest in the world. It is possible that it was occupied by the Assyrians in 1100 BCE; the Ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, states that it was the capital of the Medes, around 700 BCE.

Hamadan has a green mountainous area in the foothills of the 3,574-meter Alvand Mountain, in the midwest part of Iran. The city is 1,850 meters above sea level. The special nature of this old city and its historic sites attract tourists during the summer to this city, located approximately 360 kilometres (224 miles) southwest ofTehran.

The main symbols of this city are the Ganj Nameh inscription, the Avicenna monument and the Baba Taher monument. People of the city identify their mother tongue as Persian.



untitled 7 AHWAZ

Susa is the site of one of the oldest civilizations in the Middle East,dating back to 5,000 B.C. Archaeologists have worked at Susa for well over one hundred years , excavating the extensive remains which stretched from the 4th millennium B.C. to the early Islamic period. On the ruins of the Elamite capital that was destroyed by the Assyrians, Darius built this winter capital. The ruins of the Achaemenian palaces are still visible as the remains of the Apadana, which lent its name to the famous Apadana audience hall at Persepolis. At the height of its importance Susa claimed to be the capital of the world. The names of Darius and Susa are inextricably linked and it is here that his now famous headless statue ( now at Iran’s National Meuseum) with Egyptian hieroglyphics on the base was found.

A broken bull capital is one of the few surface remains at Susa that recals the magnificense recorded in found ation tablets recovered from the palace of Darius on the Apadana mound. Other artifacts, clay inscriptions and pottery found at Susa are on display at a very good local meuseum.