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Prayer Hall, Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque

Prayer Hall, Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque

Shiraz is the fifth most populous city of Iran and the capital of Fars Province. In 2009 the population of the city was about 1.5 million. 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.

The earliest reference to the city, as Tiraziš, is on Elamite clay tablets dated to 2000 BC. 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 Iran, Hafez and Saadi, are from Shiraz.

Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature 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. The crafts of Shiraz consist of inlaid mosaic work of triangular design; silver-ware; pile carpet-weaving and weaving of kilim 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. Shirāz also has a major oil refinery and is also a major center for Iran’s electronic industries: 53% of Iran’s electronic investment has been centred in Shiraz. Shiraz is home to Iran’s first solar power plant. Recently the city’s first wind turbine has been installed above Babakoohi mountain near the city.

Shiraz is most likely more than 4,000 years old. The name Shiraz is mentioned in cuneiform inscriptions from around 2000 BCE found in south western corner of the Shiraz city. According to some Iranian mythological traditions, it was originally erected by Tahmuras Diveband, and afterward fell to ruin. The oldest sample of wine in the world, dating to approximately 7,000 years ago, was discovered on clay jars recovered outside of Shiraz.

In Achaemenian era, Shiraz was on the way from Susa to Persepolis and Pasargadae. In Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāma it has been said that Artabanus V, the Parthian Emperor of Iran, expanded his control over Shiraz. Ghasre Abu-Nasr (meaning “the palace of AbuNasr”) which is originally from Parthian era is situated in this area. During the Sassanid era, Shiraz was in between the way which was connecting Bishapur and Gur to Istakhr. Shiraz was an important regional center under the Sassanians.

The city became a provincial capital in 693, after the Arab invaders conquered Istakhr, the nearby Sassanian capital. As Istakhr fell into decline, Shiraz grew in importance under the Arabs and several local dynasties. The Buwayhid Empire (945–1055) made it their capital, building mosques, palaces, a library and an extended city wall. It was also ruled by the Seljuks and the Khwarezmians before the Mongol conquest.

The city was spared destruction by the invading Mongols, when its local ruler offered tributes and submission to Genghis Khan. Shiraz was again spared by Tamerlane, when in 1382 the local monarch, Shah Shoja agreed to submit to the invader. In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading centre of the arts and letters, thanks to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. For this reason the city was named by classical geographers Dar al-‘Elm, the House of Knowledge. Among the Iranian poets, mystics and philosophers born in Shiraz were the poets Sa’di and Hafiz, the mystic Roozbehan, and the philosopher Mulla Sadra. Thus Shiraz has been nicknamed “The Athens of Iran”.

The Quran Gate

The Quran Gate

Shiraz Bazaar

Shiraz Bazaar

Shiraz Bazaar

Shiraz Bazaar

Shiraz Bazaar

Shiraz Bazaar

The old Public Bath House

The old Public Bath House

The Citadel

The Citadel

Eram Gardens

Eram Gardens

Shiraz Burger Shop

Shiraz Burger Shop

Or should it be Hum Berger?

The Citadel

The Citadel

Farida and two Shia girls

Farida and two Shia girls

Mausoleum of Hafez

Mausoleum of Hafez

Hafez was one of Iran’s famous poets

Vakil Complex

Vakil Complex

Vakil Complex

Vakil Complex

Vakil Complex

Vakil Complex

Tile from Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque

Tile from Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque

The Iranians copied drawings of European churches and painted them on tiles for the mosque, complete with the crosses.

Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque

Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque

Shiraz is an ideal stop-over on a journey through Iran, as not only does the city have many amazing sights there are a few day trips out of Shiraz that are very interesting. Two of these trips will be coming up soon.

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