Arg of Karim Khan (Karim Khan Fortress) is one of the Zand monuments in Shiraz which was once used as the living quarters of the founder of this dynasty. The fortress combines military and residential architecture in its design. The residential part of Arg of Karim Khan included a small garden, fountains, iwans (rectangular halls, walled on three sides and with one end entirely open), and rooms covered in delicate wall paintings. The military part of the monument consisted of four fortress towers and a moat, which served as a defense mechanism.
Arg of Karim Khan
Bibi Dokhtaran (Lady of Girls) mausoleum in Shiraz was built during the Zand Dynasty (1750-1794). This two-story monument has a round dome. A square pool lies directly in front of the building with two small gardens on either side. In the olden days, young girls would visit the mausoleum and tie a string to it in hopes that their wishes would come true.
Cube of Zoroaster
The Cube of Zoroaster is located 3-4 kilometers from Persepolis in Fars Province at Naqsh-e Rostam. The walls of this ancient Achaemenid era (550-330 BC) structure are marked with inscriptions cataloging Sassanid (224 -651 CE) victories. The purpose of this tower is not known, but it has been proposed that it was either a royal tomb or a depository for objects of dynastic or religious importance.
Hafiz (1325-1390) the poet of love, who has inspired the works of Islamic and Western writers, hailed from Shiraz. His resting place, the Hafezieh, pleases the eyes of visitors with its cypresses, poplars, flowering shrubs and rose bushes. The teahouse of Hafezieh serves a delightful orange blossom tea and is a great place to relax and reflect on the words of the poet: How beautiful is Shiraz's unparalleled state God save it from harm and the hands of fate. May God keep its flowing Roknabad River Its waters with freshness, always equate.
Imamzadeh Zanjiri (Chained Imamzadeh) is another mausoleum in Shiraz built by the Qajar lord Mirza Hasan Ali Nasir al Mulk. The dome of the mausoleum has extensive tilework and the inside shrine is made of silver. The Imamzadeh (direct descendant of a Shia Imam) was named Zanjiri because Nasir al Mulk would have suspected criminals chained to the shrine, if the chain broke it was considered proof of innocence and the suspect would be released. Imamzadeh Zanjiri is a protected National Heritage Site.
Jame Atiq Mosque
Jame Atiq Mosque of Shiraz is one of the oldest religious monuments of the city. The mosque was built by Amr ibn al-Layth in the 9th century. The mosque, which is two-stories in some parts, has six doors, several shabistans (inner sanctum), chambers for seminary students, stone pools and a marble courtyard. Naskh, Thuluth, and Kufic hand inscriptions have been used to decorate the mosque with Quranic verses and catalogue the several renovations of the structure. The Mihrab (prayer niche) of the mosque has pleasing turquoise tilework. The mosque also has muqarnas, decorative ironwork and khatam embellishments.
Khwaju Kermani (1280–1352) was a famous Persian poet and Sufi mystic who has been laid to rest north of Shiraz. Khwaju was said to have traveled extensively in his youth to meet scholars of other lands. His mausoleum, which is located by the famous Quran Gate, is still visited by admirers of his work today. The tomb of the poet is encased in a protective glass to shield it from the elements.
Naqsh-e Rostam is a site believed to have been a cemetery for Persepolis, where Achaemenid (550-330 BCE), Parthian (247 BC–224 CE) and Sassanid (226-651 CE) royalty were laid to rest. Located about 3-4 kilometers northwest of Persepolis, the site also contains funerary related works belonging to the Elamite (second millennium BC) era. Hewn out of a cliff high above the ground are four Achaemenid tombs reputed to have belonged to Xerxes (519 -466 BC), Darius I (550-486 BC), Artaxerxes (?- 424 BC) and Darius II (?- 404 BC). According to Greek historian Ctesias, the tomb of Darius I was in a cliff face that could be reached only by means of an apparatus of ropes. The openings in the massive tombs led to the funerary chambers, where bones were stored after vultures picked them clean and the reliefs above the openings resemble that of Persepolis with the kings standing at Zoroastrian fire altars supported by figures representing the subject nations below. Naqsh-e Rostam structures have been built from white and grey limestone without the use of mortar. The site has seven elaborate Sassanid rock reliefs cut into the cliff beneath the facades of the Achaemenid tombs, which depict scenes of imperial conquests and royal ceremonies. The oldest relief carved near the Elamite relief depicts the appointment of Ardashir I (180-242 CE) by Ahuramazda and his receiving the ring of kingship. Ardashir's successor, Shapur I (241-272 CE), was the next to carve his "Victory over the Romans" and the scene of his triumph over Roman Emperor Valerian (reign 253–260 CE) on a relief standing near the Darius tomb. The third relief, carved over the Elamite relief, shows Bahram II (273-293 CE) with members of his family and court. The remnants of the scene show an attendant standing behind two deities seated on layered thrones resembling coiled snakes. A fourth relief shows the victory of Bahram II. There is another relief directly below this one which is believed to have depicted Bahram III (?-293 CE) whose reign was ended after only four months. A fifth relief shows the ascension of Narseh (?-302 CE) and his receiving of the ring of Kingship from a figure believed to be Anahita, the Persian water goddess. A sixth relief depicts Hormizd II (?-309 CE) on a horse slaying an enemy with his spear. A seventh relief depicts Shapur II (309-379 CE) slaying his enemies. There is an eighth slab which was prepared for another royal scene but which was never used. Naqsh-e Rostam is currently pending approval by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque also known as the Pink Mosque was built in 1888. This Qajar era (1785-1925) mosque is known for the extensive use of colored glass in its façade as well as the use of traditional architectural elements in its design. The mosque, which is protected by Nasir al Mulk's Endowment Foundation, still welcomes worshipers every day.
The ruins of Pasargadae, the first dynastical capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC), lie northeast of Persepolis, in Fars Province. Pasargadae was the capital and holds the tomb of Cyrus the Great (576-530 BC), who is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards the nations he conquered and for drawing up the first Charter of Human Rights known to man. It is said that Cyrus chose the location of his capital as it was near the battlefield on which he defeated Astyages (reign 585-550 BCE), the last Median ruler. What remains of the palace of Cyrus the Great contains a pillar with a unique 'winged figure' relief which is believed to be a representation of Cyrus. The figure is seen in Elamite robes, wearing an Egyptian crown and with Assyrian wings—all subject nations of the Achaemenids. On a hill on the northern limit of Pasargadae stands a fortified terrace platform made of limestone known as Tall-e Takht. As customary of Achaemenid architecture the anathyrosis method (the ancient technique used to dress the joints without the use of mortar) was used to join the stone blocks used in the construction of this structure. While the palaces of Pasargadae were abandoned over time, Tall-e Takht continued to be used as a fort in later times. The tomb of Cyrus, which is one of the most prominent structures of Pasargadae, has a design similar to Mesopotamian ziggurats. The limestone structure has six steps leading to the sepulcher where it is believed that the body of the Achaemenid king was placed on a golden bed. It is said that during the Attack of Alexander (356-323 BC), Cyrus’ Tomb was raided and its riches were plundered. According to Greek accounts, when the raiders entered the tomb they found an inscription which read “O man, whoever thou art, from wheresoever thou cometh, for I know you shall come, I am Cyrus, who founded the empire of the Persians. Grudge me not, therefore, this little earth that covers my body.” Until 100 years ago it was believed that the tomb of Cyrus belonged to Prophet Solomon’s mother. The tomb was a pilgrimage place and a mosque was built around it, which was in use until the 14th century. The remains of the mosque were cleared from the site in the 1970s when the tomb of Cyrus was restored. Recent archaeological studies have found that Achaemenid engineers constructed the city to withstand massive earthquakes. Pasargadae is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire, was once known as the richest city under the sun. Persepolis was built by the Achaemenid King Darius I (550-486 BC) and his successors. The compound includes military quarters, the treasury, reception halls and living quarters for Achaemenid kings. One of the main attractions of Persepolis is the "Gate of All Nations," which was where all visitors had to pass through on their way to the Throne Hall to pay homage to the reigning Achaemenid king. Gift-bearing Bactrian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Ethiopian, Indian and Arachosian delegations entered a grand hall with four columns through this gate and sat on black marble benches to wait their turn to see the king. Its western entrance was guarded by a pair of bulls and the eastern one by two Lamassi (winged lions with human heads). The Hall of Hundred Columns, which spanned an area of 4,600 square meters, was built by Xerexes and completed by his son Artaxerxes I (??- 424 BC) and had eight stone doorways and black marble columns with double-headed bull capitals. The Royal Audience Hall or Apadana Palace was built as the most glorious of Persepolis palaces by Darius the Great. Apadana once had seventy-two 20-meter-high columns, 13 of which still stand today. A relief at Apadana depicts men believed to have been members of the fearless royal elite guards known as the Immortals, who were a symbol of military strength in the old world. One of the only structures to escape the fire which destroyed Persepolis is Tachara Palace or Hall of Mirrors. Built as the private quarters of Darius, Tachara was once covered with polished stones that reflected images when sunlight shone through its windows. The ruins of Tachara have reliefs depicting dignitaries bearing gifts for the Achaemenid King. Hadish Palace, which spanned an area of 2,250 square meters, was the living quarters of Xerxes (519 -466 BC) and is believed to be where the fire that destroyed Persepolis originated. The building is decorated with a Faravahar symbol which is a winged disk with a male upper body and which has become the definitive symbol of Zoroastrianism. Each part of the Faravahar signifies an idea or a philosophy: The male upper body represents the wisdom of age, the hand pointing upwards is a reminder that the path of righteousness is the only one to choose, the hand holding the Zoroastrian covenant ring urges man to hold true to promises, the ring in the center symbolizes the eternity of the universe or the eternal nature of the soul, the two streamers extending outward from the central disc symbolize the choices between good or evil, the three-layered wings symbolize "good thoughts, good words, and good deeds," and the lower part of the Faravahar consists of three parts representing "bad reflection, bad words and bad deeds," which cause misery and misfortune for man. Persepolis is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Persian Paradise garden gets its name from the Old Persian word ‘pairadaeza’, meaning an enclosed area, which appears in Avestan text. The first writer to make reference to a Persian garden using the word ’paradise’ was the Greek narrator Xenophon. According to historical accounts, paradise gardens were primarily hunting-parks with fruit-trees grown for food and even bronze works datable to 1,000 BCE unearthed in Luristan Province depict trees next to streams. Persian gardens were places where one could enjoy shade and cool water in private, where one could seek spiritual solace, or meet friends in formal adjuncts to the houses, temples or palaces they surrounded. Every city had private and sometimes public gardens which were open to all during Persian New Year celebrations (Nowruz). The first excavations at the ruins of the palaces in Persepolis ignored the question of gardens and neglected Garden Archaeology, the scientific study of the physical evidence of gardens recovered through excavation. Based on historical accounts, the tomb of Cyrus the Great (576-530 BC) was enclosed by four gardens and a grove. Excavations at Pasargadae led to the discovery of the first monumental garden, at least in western Asia, securing a place for Persian gardens in the history of garden design. Archaeologists discovered that the four-fold garden accords with the traditional Persian garden plan known today as Chahar Bagh in which waterways or pathways are used to quarter the garden and bring to mind the four rivers of the Garden of Eden. As Cyrus was known as the "King of the Four Quarters," it is believed that later-day Persian gardens owe their origins to the Achaemenid monarch’s novel garden plan. All Persian gardens have vertical lines in their design, a central structure built on the highest point of the garden, a main waterway, a large pool in front of the structure to reflect the building, and a close relationship with nature. Earth, water, vegetation and atmosphere are the most important elements in paradise gardens. Trees and flowers are planted in gardens based on their usefulness; therefore, a Persian garden has more fruit trees, then shade trees and finally flowers. Underground water canals called Qanat irrigated gardens which were often built on slopes to facilitate the natural flow of water or create artificial waterfalls. Persian gardens influenced garden design around the world and became the foundation of Islamic and later European garden traditions, an example of which can be seen in the Mughal gardens of India namely the Taj Mahal in Agra. The lavish use of flowers in such gardens inspired the weaving of floral designs into what are known as garden carpets. The Persian Garden has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The traditional and historical Qavam House was built by a family of merchants in the later part of the 1900s in Shiraz. The house is enshrined by the Eram Garden which includes palm trees, flower beds and fountains. Qavam House is unique in its muqarnas, monabbat (woodcarving), mirror-work, stained glass, stucco reliefs, and stone carving decorations. The house has been turned into a museum.
Quran Gate is a historical gate at the northeastern entrance of Shiraz on the way to Isfahan. Built during the Buyid dynasty (949 to 983), the gate housed a handwritten Quran so that anyone passing from under the gate would be blessed by the Holy Book and travel safely. The gate was restored during the Zand Dynasty (1750-1794) and a small room was added on top for keeping the handwritten Qurans. In 1937, the Qurans were moved from the gate to the Pars Museum in Shiraz where they continue to remain today.
Shiraz is the birth and resting place of Persian poet Sa'adi Shirazi (1210-1290). One of his most prominent works Golestan (The Rose Garden) has been significant in the influence of Persian literature on Western culture. Today, a well-known verse from Sa'adi's Golestan graces the entrance to the Hall of Nations of the UN building in New York: “All human beings are members of one frame, Since all, at first, from the same essence came. When time afflicts a limb with pain The other limbs at rest cannot remain. If thou feel not for other’s misery A human being is no name for thee.
Shah Cheragh (Lord of Light) is a famous pilgrimage site in Shiraz which houses the tombs of two Shia brothers who took refuge in the city from Abbasid (750–1258) religious persecution. The interior of the mausoleum is extensively decorated with fine mirror-work, stained glass, mosaics, stucco inscriptions, and silver-paneled doors as well as hand-woven Persian carpets. The Shah Cheragh courtyard contains a large pool with fountains surrounded by trees.
Sibawayh (760-796)was an influential linguist and grammarian of the Arabic language. Despite having learned the Arabic language in later life, he wrote the first book on the grammar of the language and is often referred to as the greatest of all Arabic linguists. His resting place is located in the southwestern part of Shiraz.
Vakil Bath is an old public bath in Shiraz built by the founder of the Zand Dynasty, Karim Khan (1705–1779). The bath consisted of a changing room, a main hall, and a chamber with a cistern of warm water and a cistern of cold water. The main hall of the bath features limestone reliefs depicting various cultural and religious scenes. The bath also had a section designated for the king called shah-neshin (where the king sits). The bath has been turned into a museum, which houses wax figures. Vakil bath is a National Heritage Site.
Located in the heart of Shiraz, the Vakil Bazaar is part of the royal district constructed during Karim Khan Zand’s reign. It is believed that the bazaar was built in the 11 century and later renamed after the Zand ruler in the 18th century. Considered the main bazaar of Shiraz, Vakil Bazaar consists of public baths, caravansaries and old shops where one can still buy rugs, spices, handicrafts, antiques and jewelry today.
The Vakil Mosque, which is situated west of the Vakil Bazaar, is another Zand era (1750-1794) monument of great architectural and artistic significance. Haft rang (seven-colored) style tile work and magnificent moarraq decorations have been used in the design of the mosque. The Minbar (pulpit) of the mosque has been cut from a solid piece of green marble and the Shabistan (inner sanctum) has 48 monolithic marble pillars carved in spirals.
Zinat ol-Molouk House
Zinat ol-Molouk House is a Qajar era monument famous for its decorative paintings of animals, birds and flowers. Mirror and glasswork feature prominently in the Zinat ol-Molouk House. An underground passage connects this historic house and the Qavam House and Eram Garden. The house is a nationally protected site and is noted for the wax museum it houses within itself featuring famous Iranian figures.