Recent political turbulence may have burned Iran`s fragile reputation to the ground, but this country is slowly rising from the ashes to reveal its strength of spirit and unique historical and natural delights. Formerly known as Persia, Iran is littered with a diverse, eye-catching array of ancient temples and artworks, mosques, fortresses, and striking monuments, each of which reflects its own intriguing history. With a warm, but not overbearing climate, you can bask in the sunshine and take in the multitude of different atmospheres this country has to offer.
Authentic Iranian culture and tradition is kept alive in the many scenic local villages and the city bazaars. And hikers are spoilt for choice with Iran`s stunning mountains, valleys and and the Middle East`s highest peak, Mount Damavand. History lovers can soak in the legends of ancient temples and imposing fortresses, dating from early civilisations such as the Safavids and the Sassasians. Art enthusiasts can admire the innovative mosque designs and ancient mountain relief paintings. A warm welcome, historical secrets and an artistic paradise awaits you.
The Valley of the Assassins
Trek the most breath-taking of Iran`s mountain valleys, and imagine its myths and legends. The Almut Valley shelters the 50 or so ruined castles of the Ismaeli`s, the medieval tribe known as the `Assassins`. The `Assassin` nickname is thought to be derived from the Persian for hashish - the drug their enemies said the Ismaeli`s were slaves to, to further their monstrous reputation. Nonetheless, the valley holds true to the magical enigma of the Assassin tribe and their land of stolen castles. Stand in awe of the stunning Lambesar Castle on its dramatic cliff-perch, and see Almut Castle towering over the cherry village in the valley below. Walk through stunning forests past mountain lakes and stay in scenic local villages.
Western & Northern Iran
Western and Northern Iran boast ancient and medieval architecture, littered with churches, mosques, ancient temples and early Persian art. Discover the bygone temple relics at the Throne of Solomon and marvel at the mystical Sassassian rock relief carvings in Kemashah. See the mighty base belief of Darius I at Bisotun, with its inscriptions in lost languages, and the Temple of Anahita, with its serene lake pool. Explore the crumbling city of Sultaneih, `The Land of the Sultans` and its rich cultural heritage, and witness the lost civilisation of Hamadan. See the idyllic Armenian St Stephano`s Church, the mountain-set Babak Castle and admire the Blue Mosque at Tabriz. By the coast, delight in scenery and culture of Ramsar and explore the serene mountain village of Masuleh with its authentic rust-red houses.
Take a fascinating journey through Iran`s history and enigmatic architecture as you enter a world of dramatic fortresses, ornate palaces with stunning gardens, and archaeological and cultural gems. Travel the lost land of Ancient Persia and learn about the rich cultural history at the heart of modern Iran. Surrender to the chaotic energy of the Tehran Bazaar, and marvel at the circle-shaped fortress city of Firuz Abad. Discover the remains of the Zoroastrian community in Yazd, and witness the dramatic Towers of Silence and the eternal flame burning at the Fire Temple. Uncover legend at Persepolis, home of the Archaemenid Kings, and explore the stunning gardens at Kashan. Walk in the footsteps of Isfahan`s ancestors by crossing Shiraz`s spectacular river bridges, and enter a poetic maze of stunning palace gardens and boulevards. Uncover tradition in the 1000 year old mud-brick towns at Meybod and the Kharanagagh Village, and succumb to folktales at the cliff-town of Chak Chak. Admire architectural triumphs like the Islamic complex at the small town of Natanz and the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini in the traditional village of Niasar.
Climb to the peaks of the Middle East`s highest mountain with a beautiful trek through the Alborz mountain range. Gain fantastic views of the Caspian Sea and its ivory cliffs, as you get closer and closer to the summit. Take in the thrills of an environment shrouded by myth and folklore, and stand on the mountain known as the symbol of resistance in Persian literature. Feel the mystique that surrounds the mountain legend as you relax in its thermal springs.