For millennia, the country today known as the Islamic Republic of Iran has been traversed by settlers and traders, people with distinct linguistic and cultural traditions, some shared with others, some unique, which have melded to form the national consciousness of today’s state.
The country’s natural, cultural and historical attractions continue to entice visitors from around the world, , Touristneeds.com reported.
The top ten historical sites are listed below:
1- Mausoleum of Oljeitu, Zanjan
Notwithstanding the scaffolding, the mausoleum can enchant every visitor. This 14th-century structure, inspired by the Sassanid arch at Ctesiphon (Iraq), was originally intended to house sacred Shiite relics. It represents an advance in Islamic architecture and is seen by some scholars as anticipating India’s Taj Mahal. The Ilkhanid ruler Sultan Oljeitu whose name in Mongolian means ‘blessed’, had his capital here. He was baptized a Christian and later converted to Buddhism before embracing Islam. The mausoleum was intended to house the remains of his teacher, and later Shiite when it was designated as Oljeitu’s own resting place.
2- Taq-e Boustan
Now often thronged with pilgrims en route to the Shiite holy sites in Iraq, Taq-e Boustan was probably a frontier area. The rock-cut reliefs from the early centuries of our era show investiture scenes of Sassanid kings in the presence of gods and goddesses from the Zoroastrian pantheon. Among them we see Ahura Mazda, Anahita pouring a libation and a radiate depiction of Mithra stands on a lotus and holds the barsom for tending the sacred fire. Judging from the vivid depictions of boar hunting, the place was probably also a favorite hunting ground for the kings.
3- Grand Mosque of Isfahan
This is one of those buildings that cause the hairs to rise on the back of my neck. The oldest portions of this noble mosque date back to the 10th century AD but excavation has revealed it was built above an older fire temple. The winter prayer hall is adorned with majestic floriated plasterwork inscriptions from the 14th century rule of Sultan Oljeitu. For those preferring color to monochrome, there is also exquisite tilework mainly from the Safavid period. The bare brick with light and shade created by raised and sunk geometric patterns and the soaring domed spaces penetrated by shafts of light from distant clerestory openings, create a spiritual context whatever one’s beliefs. For those preferring color to monochrome, there is also exquisite tilework.
Despite its fame and status, nothing can prepare you for your first glimpse of Persepolis.
4- Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan
A private royal mosque named after the spiritual preceptor of the Safavid ruler, Shah Abbas. Robert Byron, the author of The Road to Oxiana, found the building one of the most beautiful he saw on his travels. A tile-lined corridor--necessary to achieve the correct orientation--brings the visitor into the single domed prayer hall with its full-height squinches and breathtaking mosaic tilework, satisfying with its color scheme limited to blue, turquoise and natural.
5- Dowlatabad Garden in Yazd
Bagh-e Dowlatabad (Dowlatabad Garden) is a relatively modern (18th century) complex in this traditional town on the edge of the desert. It consists of an enclosed garden whose chief attraction lies in the pavilion sited axially on the main water channel that passes below it. The water is part of the elaborate cooling system so necessary in the harsh, hot desert climate. Breezes are drawn into the building by means of the enormously tall badger or wind tower and the air then cooled further as it passes over the water circulating around the complex, refreshing the air as it passes. The sense of pleasure within the building is enhanced by the fountains and colored glass. Today’s curious visitor may gaze up at the wind tower and marvel. The chief attraction lies in the pavilion with its fountains, colored glass and enormous wind tower upon which the visitor can gaze.
6- Ice House, Abarkouh
Abarkouh certainly saw more prosperous times when it lay on the busy desert trade routes. Although many of its once fine buildings--mosques and tombs-- are crumbling now, modes of life made obsolete by the advent of abundant electricity still cling on here in the form of wind towers, underground cisterns and ice houses. In the cold winter months, ice was manufactured in the lee of walls in the Ice House to be stored underground for use in the searingly hot summer months. The ice was manufactured in shallow, manmade channels in the lee of specially constructed walls to guarantee shade; the ice was then stored underground, below the dome and insulated with saw dust, for use in the searingly hot summer months.
7- Mausoleum of Sheikh Abdol-Samad Al-Isfahani, Natanz
Dated to the early 14th century and commemorating a Sufi saint, this tomb complex boasts a turquoise tiled roof shaped like that of a tent. The adjacent minaret still boasts its sparse glazed decorations and upper level muqarnas (honeycomb molding). Beautiful Seljuk plasterwork ornaments the interior here along with that of the nearby principal mosque. Natanz lies secluded in mountains in the province of Isfahan.
Despite its fame and status, nothing can prepare you for your first glimpse of the giant platform with so many columns and other structures still standing. Its true purpose is still discussed-- was it solely intended for the celebration of the vernal equinox, Norouz (marking the Iranian New Year), as the presence of the tribute bearing subject nations shown in the low reliefs might imply?
Today Persepolis is in many ways overprotected, with its wooden overlay of the ancient stone steps leading up to the platform and particularly the incongruous ‘shelter’ along the sculpted Apadana stairway which, according to many, serves no purpose other than to cause awkward shadowed areas for the photographer. The time here never seems long enough before logistics or thirst and heat drive the visitor away.
9- Naqsh-e Rostam
Naqsh-e Rostam is a jolly site and good value, too. At the base of an imposing limestone cliff are the signs of all three of the major ancient civilizations of Iran: the Achaemenid, the Parthian and the Sassanid.
Standing in front of the cliff is a massive structure of unknown use from the Achaemenid period, while at the top of the cliff several imposing Achaemenid tombs have been excavated, including that of Darius.
The lower part of the surface contains mainly high reliefs of various Sassanid kings overcoming their Roman adversaries, and to the extreme left traces of reliefs left by their predecessors, the Parthians.
10- Reza Abbasi Museum, Tehran
Reza Abbasi Museum has selected first-class items representing Iranian cultures from earliest times, the 2nd millennium BC, to the Qajar period of the early 20th century and all most beautifully displayed. It is an oasis of wonder and a magic house. The displays are arranged chronologically on several floors. The objects exhibited include artifacts made of baked clay, metal and stone from prehistoric times to pottery and metal objects, textile and lacquer painting belonging to the Islamic period. There is jewelry from the pre-Islamic period as well as examples.
Holidaying in Golestan Province
Translated by Katayoon Dashti
Edited by Mohammad Reza M. Karimi
Golestan province, which is adjacent to the provinces of Khorasan Razavi and Semnan, shares borders with Turkmenistan.
Famously known as Jorjan, Gorgan and Esterabad in the past, Golestan’s people speak in Mazandarani, Torkamani and Sistani dialects, the Persian daily Iran wrote.
According to historical documents, this land dates back to thousands of years. Its major provincial cities include Gorgan, Gonbad-e Kavous, Bandar Torkaman, Aliabad Katoul, Azadshahr, Aq Qala, Gomishan, Bandar Gaz, Ramian, Kordkoy, Galikash and Minoudasht.
Various clans such as Fars, Torkaman, Sistani, Baluch, Kord, Turks and Kazakhs live in Golestan province.
The visitors can travel to this northern province via railroad that passes through the cities of Garmsar, Sari and Savadkouh and ends up in Gorgan and Bandar Torkaman.
Golestan’s souvenirs include Jajim (a kind of coarse carpet), silk weaving, caviar, handicrafts, cotton, fish, local cookies, rugs and small carpets, as well as Torkaman cushions.
The natural beauties of the province include Atrak River (the border river between Iran and Turkmenistan, which originates from Khorasan’s Hezar Masjed Mountains and pours into Caspian Sea), Gorganroud River that originates from Alborz Heights and pours into Caspian Sea.
It passes the cities of Gonbad-e Kavous and Aq Qala, and Qarahsou River (which originates from East Alborz Heights and pours into Gorgan Gulf).
Golestan National Park, which is located in the two provinces of Golestan and Khorasan Razavi, is spread over 80 hectares. Its vegetation includes oak, fig, alder, raspberry, wild pomegranate, barberry and other forest species.
The park’s wildlife species include gazelle, ram and eve, brown bear, buck, and bird species include partridge, pheasant, black woodpecker and eagle.
Other attractions include Qabous Tower that was constructed in 977 AD. It has a height of 60 meters.
Annually, a huge number of pilgrims of Imam Reza (AS) shrine stop in Naharkhoran Park to rest. It is located five kilometers off southern Gorgan. It has a residence site, restaurant, sanitary water and other welfare facilities.
Shabnam Forest Park in Nodeh Khandouz, Azadshahr, is the other natural park of Golestan province. It has a favorite climatic condition.
Louh waterfall in Louh Village is located 25 km off Galikash. It is surrounded by forests and mountains in the west of National Golestan Park. Its height is more than 12 meters in some spots.
The other waterfall is Kaboudval, which is located five km off Aliabad-e Katoul city.
Gorgan’s Jam’e Mosque is the other historical site constructed during the Seljuk Era. It was renovated during Safavid era. It has brick inscriptions in Kufic, wooden pulpit and a wooden inlay door.
Hezar Pich is considered one of the highlands near Gorgan. Its trees and vegetation attract many visitors. Also, there is a parachute and paragliding site on this highland.
Golestan Road is considered an important route linking northern Iran to Mashhad city. It passes through Golestan forest and its deep valleys.
Sweet Fragrance of Shams
I need a lover and a friend
All friendships you transcend
And impotent I remain.
You are Noah and the Ark
You are the light and the dark
Behind the veil I remain.
You are passion and rage
You are the bird and the cage
Lost in flight I remain.
You are the wine and the cup
You are the ocean and the drop
While afloat I remain.
I said, “O Soul of the world
My desperation has taken hold!”
“I am thy essence,” without scold,
“Value me much more than gold.”
You are the bait and the trap
You are the path and the map
While in search I remain.
You are poison and the nectar
You are defeated and defeat
Sword in hand I remain.
You are the wood and the saw
You are cooked, and are raw
While in a pot I remain.
You are sunshine and the fog
You are water and the jug
While thirsty I remain.
Sweet fragrance of Shams is
The joy and pride of Tabriz
Perfume trader I remain.
Chicken breasts/drumsticks, 400 grams
Onion, 1 large (thinly sliced)
Frozen or fresh green beans, 2 cups (cut in 1-2 inch pieces)
Carrots, 1 1/2 cups (sliced)
Tomatoes, 2 medium (cut into thick slices)
Garlic, 2 cloves (finely chopped)
Tomato sauce, 1 cup
Oil, 2 tablespoons
Turmeric, 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon
Lemon juice, 2 tablespoons
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, saute onions in two tablespoons of oil over medium heat until they become translucent, add garlic and saute for another five minutes. Add turmeric, stir well.
Place the chicken in the pan and fry on both sides. Add salt, pepper and cinnamon.
Gently pour a cup of water in the pan, lower the heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce, vegetables (green beans, carrots and tomatoes) and the lemon juice.
Cover and cook for another 30 minutes on medium to low heat.
This dish could also be made in the oven. After you cook the chicken in the pan, transfer it to an oven proof dish, add the vegetable, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour until the chicken is well cooked.
Serve with rice or warm pita bread, fresh herbs and pickles.
Health Benefits of Chicken
Chicken is rated as a very good source of protein, providing 67.6 percent of the daily value for protein in 110 grams. The structure of humans and animals is built on protein.
We derive our amino acids from animal and plant sources of protein, then rearrange the nitrogen to make the pattern of amino acids we require.
People looking for ways to reduce the amount of fat in their meals can try eating more chicken. The leanest part of the chicken is the chicken breast. The fat in chicken is also less saturated than beef fat.
However, eating the chicken with the skin doubles the amount of fat and saturated fat in the food. For this reason, chicken is best skinned before cooking.
Studies show that some sections of the population, especially older people, have poor protein intake. But protein may be important in reducing bone loss in older people.
In one study, the 70- to 90-year-old men and women with the highest protein intakes lost significantly less bone over a four-year period than those who consumed less protein.
Visitors to Kandovan
The number of visitors to the rocky village of Kandovan in East Azarbaijan province registered a 120-percent increase during this year’s Norouz holidays (March 21-April 2) compared with the previous year.