In front of the Friday Mosque, Kerman

Trending Now: Iran

Iran: the name alone is evocative, conjuring images of exquisite Islamic architecture and ancient centres of learning. One year after the declaration of Iran as once more safe for travellers, we look at why this fascinating nation is having such a resurgence.

Ladies walking Ladies walking

 

Following last year’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran, the country has resurfaced as a viable destination for many travellers curious to explore its many cultural and natural wonders. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office officially declared Iran safe to travel in July 2015, and ever since there’s been a veritable buzz around the country formerly known as Persia. Travel supplements have been vaunting the merits of places such as Persepolis and Isfahan and waxing lyrical about the incredible hospitality of the Iranian people. Naturally, many curious travellers are keen to see Iran for themselves – as soon as possible.

Pasagadae Pasagadae

 

It’s not hard to see the allure of a country steeped in over 3,000 years of history and culture. Located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Iran has long played a pivotal role in world affairs and benefited from a trade in both commercial goods but also cultural and artistic movements.

Maymand lunch Maymand lunch

 

The weight of this legacy is visible all around, from the troglodyte dwellings of Maymand to Tehran’s modern buildings via the imposing remains of Achaemenid Persepolis and the grander of the numerous mosques and madrassas. The wealth generated from centuries of trade has led to sumptuous merchant houses and exquisite gardens sparking out of the desert, whilst the arts and crafts tradition is truly alive, not least through the many fine Persian carpets on display.

Nasir ol Molk Mosque, Shiraz Nasir ol Molk Mosque, Shiraz

 

Despite all this new attention on Iran portraying the country in a more positive light, there is still, for many, a feeling of concern about travelling to Iran. The real question on many travellers’ lips is, what is it actually like to visit Iran? Tom Harari joined Exodus’ first group returning to Iran last year, to ensure everything went smoothly following the change in travel advice. So we asked him to give us a first-hand account as someone who had been there.

Tom in Iran Tom in Iran

 

“Whilst Iran had been on my travel wish-list for a long time I still had a slight sense of trepidation when I first landed in Tehran. It didn’t take long for this sense feeling to dissipate, however. As we travelled through the country joining one town to the next, each better and more exciting than the previous, via beautiful desert and mountain scenery, I kept having to ask myself again and again, why was I concerned at all? Iranians are undoubtedly some of the friendliest and most hospitable people I’ve met on my travels, they really make you feel welcome and are genuinely pleased to see you. The sites are breath-taking and seem to build in crescendo as we make our way to Isfahan with its glorious main square surrounded by palaces, mosques and bazaars. Iran may take travellers out of their comfort zone simply because the culture is so different to what they may be used to, but it does so in the best possible way.”

Royal Bridge Isfahan Royal Bridge Isfahan

 


Read Tom’s full account of his Iranian adventure.

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