Tehran & Hamadan

Part 1 of the Glories of Persia Travel Diary.

Posted 30th September 2014 by David McGuinness


I got up early on Sunday morning; after breakfast, I took myself to the Carpet museum, which is about 5 minutes from the hotel in which I was staying, the Laleh hotel. It has some beautiful carpets as you would expect and is well laid out, with some stunning photos of the carpet-making process in various parts of Iran and some exhibits of the materials and equipment. I am not really a “carpet person” but it held my interest well enough for about an hour. On my way back to the hotel I stopped in the tiny Laleh Art Gallery, a new tiny museum housing a very small collection of contemporary works from artists from the Gilan province. It is a nice gallery and only needs a few minutes. After the gallery, I took a short walk around the lovely Laleh Park, an oasis of green and tranquility, even though it is not far from Tehran’s busy streets, and then I returned to the hotel.

I met up with the group in the hotel reception and everyone had made it in one piece, although not everyone had had a lot of sleep. Mehrdad, our guide for the trip, shepherded us all onto the bus and we headed to the National Museum, which I had already been to on 2 previous occasions but with a different guide each time, meaning I had learned a different things on each occasion, and this was no exception. There was also a temporary exhibition of some incredible objects from the museums warehouse which is only open until the end of the month, so that was a real treat.

We continued on to the Crown Jewels museum where we had to leave all bags, cameras, phones etc before entering the exhibit. The museum is full of ancient bling and plunder from Iran and India mostly including a vast array of expensive jewellery, diamond-studded swords, a “mobile throne”, which apparently pre-dated the mobile phone by many centuries as well as the world’s largest pink diamond and the famous Peacock Throne, or in fact an imitation from the early 1800s as the original was destroyed. Still very impressive. After that we came back to the hotel; some people crashed, and others went out for a walk with Mehrdad to the local market to pick up some headscarves, manteaux etc for the ladies, and some fruits, nuts etc. for the bus journeys ahead.


It is Monday now, and after breakfast we headed West towards Hamadan. Mehrdad distributed a few books from his mobile library for people to read on the bus and we drove off through the barren landscapes in the East of Tehran. After a few hours we arrived into Hamadan, we were given some free time to explore and have some lunch. A few of us found a local kebab house, had lunch there and explored the Baba Taher monument, celebrating the famous Iranian poet. Iranian poets are to Iranians what rock stars are anywhere else; the works of the most famous are known by all and frequently recited and alluded to.

In the early evening we headed out to see the Jewish shrine of Esther & Mortakai, the 10th Century Friday mosque (at least parts of it were from that period) and then took a walk through the bazar, where we attracted plenty of friendly attention. The final visit was to the famous 3rd Century BC stone lion, built by Alexander the Great to commemorate the loss of one of his generals and friends. We then drove across the town, through the posh districts and the university area, to a nice rooftop restaurant where we had dinner – chicken and lamb kebabs, lamb shanks, rice, peppers, onions, roasted tomatoes and yoghurt. It was delicious, and at 2000m, about 200m above Hamadan itself, it was very pleasantly cool with a lovely breeze. It will get hotter from here though…

This blog is part of an Off-The-Beaten-Track Travel Diary. Click on the link below to navigate through this journey.


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