Why choose Iran as our travel destination?
Iran is located on the Equator orbit that has made it to be one of the best tourist’s attractions. It’s a four season country with different climate in different areas, while you can do ski in the north, at the same time you can go to the beach in south. Iran is also a country full of variety of languages and cultures in different regions and you will benefit from the diverse local foods in here. Iranian people are really warm-blooded, friendly and hospitable; you will surely become surprised of their expressing happiness and welcoming you to their country. Some Medias also has introduced Iran among the top travel destinations in the world.
Is Iran a safe country to travel to?
Experiences of the people who are working in tourism fields has proved that most of the tourists who travel to Iran have a kind of lack of security feeling but they consider Iran as a safe country at the end of their travel. This is mostly because of the reflection of the news which releases in the worldwide media, all headlines on the news and media are very different from what travelers face and experience in Iran. Moreover, some of the travel threats to Iran are related to the wars in the neighbor countries. However world community lack of recognition about Iran has caused this misunderstanding. The US government and most Western countries have a lengthy travel warning for Iran, while not advising you to ignore this warning; we do advise that you balance it with direct comments of Americans and many other travelers who have recently visited Iran. The country is safe and beautiful, the history is rich, and the people are eager to demonstrate their almost-sacred commitment to hospitality. The best manner to get answer is asking the travelers who have visited Iran, we encourage you to refer to the Testimonial part of our Website and read more about Iran.
When is the best time to travel to Iran? (considering the climate)
The climate varies greatly between regions in Iran, but we note particularly cold winters, and on the other hand very high temperatures (around 40 ° C) during the summer, between June and August. Rains are more frequent in the north and west. The most pleasant time to visit the country is from mid-April to early June and from late September to early November, avoiding extreme temperatures.
What are the most touristic cities of Iran?
Shiraz: The City of Poetry
Shiraz is the central southern province of Fars and is regarded as the city of love, gardens and great poets, led by the major poets Hafez and Saadi, who even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once adored. Today, their graceful mausoleums, tomb of Hafez and tomb of Saadi, in splendid extensive attract legions of Persian visitors.
Even if the name of the city suggests otherwise, Shiraz is not a city full of delicious red wine. Because just like anywhere else in Iran, alcohol strictly prohibited.
Isfahan: A Persian Beauty
An Iranian proverb says, Isfahan is half the world. I say it’s at least half Persia. For indeed, all romantic notions of the Orient are fully serviced here.
First, there is the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, a 500-meter area that is said to be the second largest square in the world after Tiananmen Square in Beijing – well, in the opinion of the local population it is the greatest square anyway. Especially on Friday, the weekly holiday in Islam, the people gather together. Big families, friends and lovers spend their evenings on the green grass and enliven the place with a lively atmosphere. From all cities in Iran, Isfahan is definitely the most well-known besides Tehran. On the other hand, the city comes up with some of the most magnificent buildings in the entire Middle Orient. First of all there is the royal mosque Masjed-e Shah (or Masjed-e Imam) and the majestic Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque directly at Imam Square.
Then there is as well the gigantic Jameh Mosque of Isfahan (Masjed-e Jameh) hidden behind the bazaar that no visitor should miss. Not to forget the lovely Behesht Palace and the impressive Forty Pillars Palace Chehel Sotoon amidst wonderful sprawling gardens. For the hot hours of the day, I can recommend a stroll through Bazaar-e-Bosorg Isfahan, under whose thick walls you can lose yourself extensively. The bazaar is mainly famous for the finely crafted carpets and handicrafts.
And in the evening, when the sun sets behind the peaks of the Zagros mountain range, the only thing missing is a visit to the Pol-e Si-o-Seh (Si-o-Seh Bridge), a 400-year-old 33-arch bridge that has lost any trace of charm and despite all the efforts of the government in the evening is still a popular meeting place for the young population and secret turtledoves. No wonder, Isfahan, one can easily fall in love with you.
Kashan: Iran for Newbie’s
The oasis city of Kashan, just north of the metropolis of Tehran, is a good introduction for first-visitors to the country and my little insider tip besides the better-known sights and cities in Iran. In addition to the extremely photogenic Agha Bozorg Mosque, it comes up with a small but nice bazaar including an impressive caravanserai called Khan Amin al-Dowleh Timche. Especially a visit to the 1000 m² big Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse is worth a visit, a historic bathhouse from the Safavid period in the 16th century (The Persian name is “Hammam-e Sultan Amir Ahmad”). Tip: Make sure to climb up to the roof, from where you have a stunning view over Kashan.
It is also worth visiting one of the traditional houses that were built in the 18th century, such as the Tabatabaei House (Khan-e Tabatabaei) or the Ameri House. Kashan also comes up with one of the oldest and most famous Persian gardens, the Bag-e Fin, called the “Fin Garden”. Also Kashan is the perfect starting point for a trip to the Dasht-e Kavir desert (see below).
Yazd: The most Picturesque Desert City
Yazd lies 250 km east of Isfahan and is the Persian desert city. One almost gets the impression that at any moment Luke Skywalker could pass by on a futuristic air vehicle. In fact, the old city of Yazd is almost completely made of sun-dried clay that ensures for a pleasant coolness inside the houses and for a light brown skyline from the outside that is dominated by the Badgirs, ancient wind towers rising from almost every roof in the desert sky. Originally built at an oasis, the Mud City of Yazd is one of the oldest cities in Iran – the UNESCO even claims that Yazd would be the “oldest adobe city in the world”. And besides the water museum, the Friday Mosque (Masjed-e Jameh) and the Ateshkadeh Fire Temple, the imposing Zoroastrian Towers of Silence just outside the city centre are also worth a visit. You can reach them in 15 minutes by taxi.
However, the best thing to do in Yazd is strolling along the winding streets of the old town, where one feels a little bit like on an alien planet.
Dasht-e Kavir & Dasht-e Lut: Deserts of Sand and Salt
Yes, Iran also comes up with impressively huge deserts! Everyone who has the opportunity to visit one of the deserts of Iran simply has to do it. Please do not just pass them just like many tourists on group travel often do. I can recommend the Dasht-e Kavir to anyone who wants to explore a saline desert. This Great Salt Lake desert is located in the Iranian highlands between the Zagros Mountains in the southwest and the Alborz mountain range in the north and can seems incredibly surreal with its oppressive silence and the driest air. In addition, some smaller pieces of sand dunes reach to the great salt flats and are surrounded by old caravanserais and many straying camels. One should rather avoid a journey through the 166,000 square kilometers big Dasht-e Lut desert south of the Kavir in the summer months, as the temperature of Iran’s largest desert can increase to about 70 degrees, no joke! Otherwise, a visit to the eroded wind mountains called the Kaluts is worthwhile.
How is Iran visa rule and process?
A.Choose your itinerary and submit the Visa Application Form in the website. Then send a scanned copy of the photo page of your passport and also a photo (6*4 cm) with white background to this email address: visa@AcrossIran.travel
B.Your Visa Application Form will be checked and confirmation will be sent to you within 48 hours that AcrossIran has received. If your application form is not complete, AI will ask you to send whatever information is missing.
C.In 7 working days MFA will update us with your visa status.
If your request has not been rejected, go to the next part.
D.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) will send your Invitation Letter to the Iranian Consulate of your choice. AI will provide you with the Invitation Letter of your visa (Reference Code). You will call that Iranian Consulate of Iran to ascertain that you have received your reference code. If your reference code has arrived, go to (F). If has not arrived, go to (E).
E.If your Reference Code has not arrived, you should inform AI and ask that it be sent again. AI will contact the MFA and request the code to be sent again.
F.Once you have ascertained that your Reference Code has arrived, you will go to that Iranian Consulate with the Reference Code and your passport in hand and receive your visa in a few days.
1. Some countries have more than one Iranian consulate while others have none. Please specify the exact consulate in which you would like to pick up your visa.
2. We will take appropriate actions in order to extend your visa if it will expire during your visit, once you are in Iran.
3. Visas for Malaysia & Singapore nationals will be issued upon entering Iran.
4. Visas for all C.I.S countries, except for Russia & Armenia, will only be issued at the Iranian consulates in their respective C.I.S countries.
5. We will do our best to secure your visa and take care of all the necessary details; however the final decision rest with the government of Iran therefore we cannot guarantee when and if a visa will be granted.
6. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months.
7. Iran visa on arrival has 14 days validity and issued at the six airports in Iran:
_IKA: Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport
_THR: Mehrabad International Airport
_MHD: Mashhad International Airport
_SYZ: Shiraz International Airport
_TBZ: Tabriz International Airport
_ISF: Isfahan International Airport
8. Iran visa on arrival needed documents:
•A confirmed return ticket
•A valid passport with at least 6 months validity
•A photo to be attached to the Iran visa application form
•Visa stamp fee, which is payable to the Iran Visa & Passport Office at the airport. Iran airport visa fee depends on the applicant’s nationality
•An invitation letter or hotel reservation voucher. The invitation letter has to be sent from the Iranian travel agency to Iran Ministry of Foreign Affairs at least 48 hours before your arrival to Iran airport
Please remember Iran visa on arrival is issued for two weeks. It can only be extended if Iranian Foreign Affair Office finds it necessary. In that case, maximum 14 days extension is possible.
Moreover; in case your Iran visa on arrival is rejected; you will be held the responsibility for the return flight and any other costs.
9. Who cannot apply for Iran visa on arrival:
_Travelers who have been rejected for Iran visa previously will not receive Iran visa on arrival.
_Journalists and reporters on mission cannot get Iran visa on arrival.
_Iranian nationals holding other nationality’s passport are not allowed to get Iran visa on arrival.
_Iran visa on arrival is issued for tourist purposes only (ordinary passport). Diplomatic passport, official passports, etc. cannot apply for this type of Iran visa.
_Iran visa on Arrival is not issued for USA, UK, Canada, Colombia, Somalia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India nationalities. But it does not mean that they cannot receive Iran visa. AcrossIran (AI) can help you to receive Iran visa, easy, cheap and fast.
10. What is the Iran visa rule for US citizens?
The Iranian government requires that all US, UK and Canadian citizens travel with a private guide or group tour to Iran. Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) must approve your complete guided travel itinerary before issuing you a visa; guided travel itinerary means a travel guide must accompany you while you are in the country. It can be traveling either as part of a group tour or on a tailor-made individual one specially planed based on your interests. You must submit your itinerary in advance and adhere to it exactly. No matter you join a group tour or travel as an independent traveler; you will have many time to explore around, walk the streets, browse the bazaars, making connection with ordinary people, eat street food and…
Note 1: Although Iran doesn’t have an official embassy in United States of America, you can get the visa in Iranian Interest Section at the Pakistan Embassy that handles Iranian visa requests in Washington D.C. If you don’t live in that area you’ll need to send your passport, application form and passport photos by mail with a prepaid return envelope.
Note 2: If your travel starts before Iran and you plan to visit other countries; you can pick up your visa at an Iranian Consulate abroad. But you should specify the consulate in advance on your application form.
What are Iran’s souvenirs?
Each country is famous for some special souvenirs. Let us give you a little information about our country’s most popular souvenirs:
1. Persian Carpets:
A persian carpet or Iranian carpet, also known as Iranian rugs, is a heavy textile, made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purpose, produced in Iran and surrounding areas which once belonged to the Persian Empire for home use, local sale, and export. Carpet weaving is an essential part of Persian culture and art. Within the group of Oriental rugs or Islamic carpets produced by the countries of the so-called "rug belt", the Persian carpet stands out by the variety and elaborateness of its manifold designs. Persian carpets and rugs of various types were woven in parallel by nomadic tribes, in village and town workshops, and by royal court manufactories alike. As such, they represent different, simultaneous lines of tradition, and reflect the history of Iran and its various people. The carpets woven in the Safavid court manufactories of Isfahan during the sixteenth century are famous for their elaborate colors and artistic design, and are treasured in museums and private collections all over the world today. Their patterns and designs have set an artistic tradition for court manufactories which was kept alive during the entire duration of the Persian Empire up to the last royal dynasty of Iran. Carpets woven in towns and regional centers like Tabriz, Kerman, Mashhad, Kashan, Isfahan, Nain and Qom are characterized by their specific weaving techniques and use of high-quality materials, colors and patterns. Town manufactories like those of Tabriz have played an important historical role in reviving the tradition of carpet weaving after periods of decline. Rugs woven by the villages and various tribes of Iran are distinguished by their fine wool, bright and elaborate colors, and specific, traditional patterns. Nomadic and small village weavers often produce rugs with bolder and sometimes more coarse designs, which are considered as the most authentic and traditional rugs of Persia, as opposed to the artistic, pre-planned designs of the larger workplaces. Gabbeh rugs are the best-known type of carpet from this line of tradition.
The art and craft of carpet weaving has gone through periods of decline during times of political unrest, or under the influence of commercial demands. It particularly suffered from the introduction of synthetic dyes during the second half of the nineteenth century. Carpet weaving still plays a major part in the economy of modern Iran. Modern production is characterized by the revival of traditional dyeing with natural dyes, the reintroduction of traditional tribal patterns, but also by the invention of modern and innovative designs, woven in the centuries-old technique. Hand-woven Persian carpets and rugs were regarded as objects of high artistic and utilitarian value and prestige from the first time they were mentioned by ancient Greek writers, until today. Although the term "Persian carpet" most often refers to pile-woven textiles, flat-woven carpets and rugs like Kilim, Soumak and embroidered tissues like Suzani are part of the rich and manifold tradition of Persian carpet weaving.
In 2010, the "traditional skills of carpet weaving" in Fars and Kashan were inscribed to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
2. Persian Saffron:
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the "saffron crocus". Saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas which are the distal end of a carpel. The styles and stigmas, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and coloring agent in food. Saffron, long among the world's most costly spices by weight, is native to Southwest Asia and was probably first cultivated in or near Greece. As a genetically monomorphic clone, it was slowly propagated throughout much of Eurasia and was later brought to parts of North Africa, North America and Ocienia.
Saffron's taste and iodoform or hay-like fragrance results from the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a carotenoid pigment, crocin, which imparts a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and textiles. Its recorded history is attested in a 7th-century BC Assyrian botanical treatise compiled under Ashurbanipal, and it has been traded and used for over four millennia. Iran now accounts for approximately 90% of the world production of saffron.
Saffron is considered the world’s most expensive spice in terms of weight. Saffron is used as a spice extensively in Persian, European, North African, Indian, Spanish, Turkish, Moroccan, and Asian cuisines. Its aroma is described by experts as resembling that of honey, with grassy, hay-like, and metallic notes. Saffron's taste is like that of hay, but with hints of bitter. Even though saffron threads are red, it contributes a luminous yellow-orange coloring to items it is soaked with. In both antiquity and modern times, mostly saffron was and is used in the preparation of food and drink. Cultures spread across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas value the red threads for use in such items as baked foods, curries, and liquor. Saffron contains more than 100 components, but the three most promising appears to be: Crocin which is responsible for its orange color, Picrocrocin which provides its bitter taste, and Safranal which gives its aroma. Saffron benefits are countless. It has a long history in traditional healing and has been recently recognized for treating respiratory infections and disorders such as coughs and colds, scarlet fever, smallpox, cancer, hypoxia, and asthma. Other targets included blood circulatory disorders, insomnia, paralysis, heart diseases, stomach upsets, gout, chronic uterine haemorrhage, dysmorrhea, amenorrhea, baby colic, eye disorders, digestive stimulant, women menstrual pain, menopausal problems, and depression.
It also helps with memory loss, male impotency, encourages oxygen flow, speeds the healing of wounds, and prevents cell death. Saffron has long been used as an aphrodisiac throughout centuries. In a simple word, benefits of saffron for male are that saffron promotes blood flow which longer and better sexual performances follow as a natural result. Saffron is also very well known to treat blood circulatory disorders and male impotency, but don’t expect to see the result after one use only. You need to add it to your daily regimen and see the result after a while. You’ll be surprised! The followings are the most important benefits of saffron during pregnancy!
•Hormonal fluctuation will cause mood swings. Saffron has antidepressant properties that help balance your mood.
•During pregnancy digestive system is very slow and will cause many problems such as bloating, gas, and constipation. Saffron is a digestive stimulant. Saffron targets stomach upsets and sooths acidity.
•Hormonal surges will cause skin problems and hair fall off. Saffron has properties for removing pimples, easing rashes, and smoothing face and skin tone.
•Pregnant women with infections or cold cannot take any pharmaceutical medicines in order not to affect their fetus. Saffron has recently been recognized for treating respiratory infections and disorders such as cough and colds.
A growing number of respected scientists are convinced of the possibility of saffron in curing cancer. Saffron's pharmacological effects on malignant tumors have been documented in different studies. Saffron has shown promise as a new and alternative treatment for a variety of cancers. Extracts of saffron have been shown to inhibit the formation of tumors and/or to retard tumor progression in a variety of experimental animal systems. The reddish-colored zeaxanthin is one of the carotenoids naturally present within the retina of the human eye. For its zeaxanthins property, saffron is also known for reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) of the eyes. Test findings suggest saffron reverses age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness in old people. Saffron affects the amount of fat stored by the eye, making vision cells tougher and more resilient. In the relatively small quantities in which saffron is usually consumed, it seems to be a perfectly safe and harmless substance. As people are being more aware of benefits of saffron on skin and saffron uses, the usage of this precious spice is now improving just because, saffron is a natural product for its aroma, and it contains removing pimples, easing rashes, and smoothing face and skin properties. Some studies show that saffron can inhibit the growth of some types of skin cancer, as well as another type of tumor called sarcoma. Researchers found that feeding mice with a saffron extract prevented the formation of soft tissue sarcomas.
Saffron Benefits as Antioxidant. Another saffron benefits as antioxidant comes from the intense golden orange color of saffron which hints of its medicinal nature and comes from the carotenoids and beta carotenes (precursor of vitamin A) found in carrots. Benefit of these two components is that they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants protect the body from free radical damage.
There will be no saffron side effects if you follow below instructions especially during pregnancy.
•If you’ve never taken saffron in your whole life, make sure that you are not allergic to it.
•You cannot take more than a pinch of saffron (5-10 Sargol threads) for each serving. Safe consumption of saffron is two servings per day. You may mix it in a glass of hot milk. By the time milk get cooler and ready to consume, saffron defuses its components while soaked.
•Consuming 5 grams of saffron in one day is poisonous and lethal.
•Pregnant women should consult with their doctors prior to taking saffron. You may take saffron from the 5th month of your pregnancy and on, not earlier.
•Although saffron has many advantages for you and your baby, taking high volume of saffron could result in miscarriage. Saffron Uses as Medicine: Documentation of saffron's use over the span of 4,000 years in the treatment of some 90 illnesses has been uncovered and mentioned above under saffron benefits section.
The saffron uses in food industry are increasing due to its golden color, and exotic aroma. It's most common function is to color rice yellow, as in risotto Milanese, where its delicate flavor make it the most famous of Italian rice dishes.
Saffron Uses in Liquor: In Italy saffron's most common use is in confectionery and liquor industries such as Chartreuse, izarra, and strega. These types of alcoholic beverages rely highly on saffron to provide a flourish of color and flavor.
Turquoise of stunning beauty has been mined in Iran (formerly known as Persia) for over 5000 years. Although Iranian production accounts for just a small proportion of the world's total output, its turquoise still sets the standard for quality. In Iran, turquoise is called “Feerozah," which translated means "victory." It is Iran's national gemstone.
It is believed that the first specimens of turquoise to which the Europeans were exposed probably came from Iran via trading posts in Turkey. One must wonder, if the Europeans who gave this gemstone its name new of its true origin, would you be reading the Persquoise Guide? The best of Iranian turquoise is rich blue, with fewer matrixes than most turquoise mined elsewhere. It is also distinguished by white patches. Turquoise is never a hard mineral, but Iranian turquoise is usually harder than turquoise mined in other locations. Today, only the turquoise coming from the Southwest U.S. comes close to Iranian turquoise in color richness and beauty.
The Persians classified turquoise into three quality groups:
•Angushtari. This is first quality, suitable for the finest jewelry. These stones had the rich blue "Persian turquoise" color with little marking or matrix.
•Barkhaneh. This is second-quality turquoise, much like Angushtari but with more markings and matrix.
•Arabi. These stones were considered third-rate due to a pale blue or green shade or unwanted speckles. (Spots in Persian turquoise tend to be white, not black.)
Turquoise is commercially mined in Iran in just one location: a section of the Ali-mersai mountain range, outside of the city of Mashhad. Mashhad is the capital of the Khorasan province.
Please refer to the “Tour Packages & Itineraries”, “Scientific Tours”, “Geo Tourism” part.
4. Traditional Persian Musical Instruments:
Persian Musical Instruments consist of: Tar, Setar, Barbat, Kamancheh, Gheychak, Santoor, Ghanoon, Ney, Tanbour, Tonbak and Daf.
Tar is a plucked stringed instrument (a long-necked lute) that is played in Iran (Persia), Caucasian countries (like Azerbaijan, Armenia and so on) and central Asia (like Tajikistan). It exists in two forms now, the Persian (that is named Tar-e-Shiraz or Iranian) and Caucasian (that is named Tar-e-Ghafghaaz). The Persian tar is carved from a block of mulberry wood and has a deep, curved body with two bulges shaped like a figure 8. The upper surface is shaped like two hearts of different sizes, joined at the points. The sound box consists of two parts. The small part is called Naghaareh and the large part is called Kaasseh (that means bowl (sound box)). The sound box is covered with lambskin. On the lower skin, a horn bridge supports six metal strings in three courses. The long fingerboard has twenty-two to twenty-eight movable gut frets. The strings are plucked with a brass plectrum coated on one side in wax. Its range is about two and a half octaves.
Setar is one of the most favorite musical instruments of Persia (Iran). As its names shows, it had three strings. "Se" and "Tar" in Persian language respectively means three and string. But in the beginning of Gajar Period (19th century) a famous dervish Setar player, Moshtagh Ali Shah, added the fourth string to have more melodic colors and tunes. In historical texts for Persian music, many authors and poets have mentioned to its name and describe it as a three-stringed Tanbour. Tanbour is a very ancient long necked lute of Persia and it seems its ancient name has been tambour in pre-Islamic ages. Setar's sound is not as loud as the other instruments such as Kamancheh, Santoor and tar and therefore some love to listen to the sound of setar in the silence of nights. Setar's sound box is wooden with some holes on its surface. It is played with the nail of the index finger. The similarities between Persian Setar and Indian sitar, shows that their root should be the same and many Indians believe that sitar's ancestor is the Setar and Amir Khosro Dehlavi, the very famous Indian musician-poet who was originally from Persia, made some changes to make it more appropriate for Indian music. Famous Setar makers of the past: Ostad Haj Taher and Ostad Eshghi Famous Setar players of the past: Mirza Abdollah and his son Ostad Ebadi, Ostad Abolhasan Saba, Ostad Saeed Hormozi, Ostad Yousef Foroutan and so on...
BARBAT (UD, OUD):
The Barbat, in Arabic courtiers and Iran known as the Uod, is a short-necked fretless lute with five double-courses of strings and traditionally played with an eagle's quill. The Barbat is the ancestor of the European lute, and functions as a bass instrument. The Barbat is the ancestor of the Chinese Pipa too. The Pipa brought to Japan and was named Biwa.
The Kamancheh is the Persian spike fiddle and dates back to antiquity. It has a small, hollowed hardwood body with a thin stretched skin-membrane. Its neck is cylindrical, and it has four strings. It is played vertically in the manner of the European viol. It is suspected that the fourth string was added in the early twentieth century as the result of the introduction of western violin to Iran. The Kamancheh has been painted in Persian antique paintings.
The Gheychak is a bowed fiddle of the Persian folk music played in the southeastern region of Iran. There are two large holes on the upper side near the fingerboard and one on the lower tip, which is covered with a skin membrane. There are four main strings and eight to sixteen sympathetic strings, which have been eliminated in the context of Persian art music. The sound box resembles an upside-down anchor, which is carved from a tree trunk and is placed vertically on the player's lap. The upper and lower sections are separated by two oval indentations on the right and left side, which give the Gheychak a distinct nasal sound. The other instruments of Indian subcontinent such as Sarangi, Saringda, Esraj and Dilruba.
SANTOOR (SANTUR, SANTOUR):
The Santoor is a three-octave wooden-hammered dulcimer with seventy-two strings, which are arranged on adjustable tuning pegs in eighteen quadruple sets, nine (bronze) in the low register, and nine (steel) in the middle register. The Santoor can be made from various kinds of wood (walnut, rosewood, betel palm, etc.) depending on the desired sound quality. The front and the back of the instrument are connected by sound posts whose positions play an important role in the sound quality of the instrument. Although the Santoor is very old, it was neither depicted in miniatures, nor presented in any other medium until the nineteenth century. The secret of making the trapezoid-shape sound box lies in the quality and age of the wood, as well as in the arrangement of the sound posts which connect the table of the instrument to its back. Santoor is played in India, Iraq, Egypt and some other countries.
The Ghanoon is the Persian zither. It is a flat trapezoidal wooden box, with twenty-four strings in triple fastened at its rectangular side on one end and to pegs on the oblique side on the other. The player to make slight changes in pitch manipulates small levels lying below each course of strings. The strings are plucked with two horn plectra, one on each index finger.
The Ney that is the Persian knotgrass reed, has five finger holes in front and one thumbhole in the back. The Ney has a range of two and a half octaves. The upper end is covered by a short brass cylinder, which is anchored in the tiny space between the upper incisive of the player. Sound is produced when a stream of air is directed by the tongue toward the opening of the instrument. In this way, sound is produced behind the upper teeth, inside the mouth, which gives the Ney a distinct timbre than that of the sound produced by the lips on the outside of the mouth.
The most popular percussion instrument in Persian music today is a goblet drum known as the Tonbak. The Tonbak is a large wooden instrument with a goatskin head. Unlike other goblet drums, this drum has a much more squared-off shape and produces lower-pitched and softer tones due to its size and skin being put on with less tension. Other names for this drum are Donbak, Tombak and Zarb. Maybe the name Zarb has its origins in the Arabic word Darb, meaning to strike, as mentioned above. The other names have a more interesting origin. The two main strokes played on this drum are known as Ton, for a bass tone played in the center of the drum head, and Bak, for a treble tone played on or near the rim. Combining the terms results in the name Ton-Bak. It is highly likely that the American name Dumbek is derived from one of the Persian names.
Daf is one of the most ancient frame drums in Asia and North Africa. As a Persian instrument, in 20th century, it is considered as a Sufi instrument to be played in Khanghah-s during Zikr ceremony. Daf has recently become very popular and it has been integrated into Persian music successfully.
Tanbour with the ancient name tambour is the very ancient long necked lute of Persia, though even today it is played in Persia (Iran), particularly in Kermanshah city that is the center of Kermanshahan province of Iran. According to three sculptures found in Susa of Iran, the history of tanbour goes back to 1500 BC. Tanbour has a larger sound-box than Persian Setar, usually has two or three strings and is played by all fingers of the hand. The structure is related to Persian Dotar, but the style of playing is different from Dotar and Setar. It is very popular of the western areas of today Persia (Iran), though recently some famous musicians like Shahram Nazeri have used this instrument in classical music of Iran. Apparently, it is related to Tanbura and Tampura of India that are respectively played in North Indian and South Indian classical music. Other spellings for Tanbour: Tanboor, Tanbur, Tambour, Tamboor, Tambur.
5. Persian Handicrafts:
.Iranian Termeh (weaving special table cloths),
.Persian Embroidery (Broderi dzi),
.Zaridozi (decorating fabrics by sewing with golden stitches).
Stone and Mosaic:
.Ceramic and mosaic works,
6. Traditional Pastries:
Each city of Iran, has its own kind of pastries. For instance, "Yookhe" from Shiraz, "Ghavoot" and "Kolompeh" from Kerman, "Ghotab" and "Baghlava" from YAzd, "Gaz" and "Sohan" from Isfahan, and so many other traditional pastries which you can taste, and even bring to your family and friends as souvenirs from Iran.
GOLDASHT, Iran — On the shores of the Caspian Sea, an ambitious project is under way to produce a pricey delicacy that could boost Iran’s economy as sanctions ease: caviar.
Iran, once the world’s biggest exporter of the luxury food, sold more than 40 tons of sturgeon eggs in 2000. Exports plunged to just 1 ton last year due to dwindling fish stocks and economic sanctions imposed by world powers in response to Iran’s nuclear program.
After Tehran struck a landmark deal this summer to curb its nuclear ambitions in exchange for lifting sanctions — including those on caviar — some in Iran are now counting on a revival in exports of the exclusive eggs.
For any guidance or ordering to buy a souvenir, please refer to “Online Souvenir Shopping Service” at “Other Services” part.
What are Iranian traditional domestic cuisines?
_Kebab (has many different types)
These are the most famous ones, but there are in fact, too many other local cuisines belong to different cities of Iran which can not be mentioned here because of limitation of the text.
What are the special events, celebrations and festivals in Iran?
Iran is home to people of different religions and ethnicities. Each community, neighborhood or province has its own set of festivities and celebrations. While many of these are happy occasions, some are somber and solemn observances. Here we will introduce you some of the special events in Iran:
Nowruz meaning 'New Day' is a festival which dates back 3000 years to when King Jamshed called astrologers and declared that 21st March, the day that the sun leaves Pisces, the twelfth sign of the zodiac and enters into Aries, the very first zodiac sign would be the day when his kingdom would celebrate 'New Year'. It has been celebrated with pomp and fervor ever since.
Festival of Fire (Chaharshanbeh Souri ):
If Navroz is the Persian equivalent of Easter, Chaharshanbe Souri in many ways is the equivalent of Halloween. The event is celebrated on the eve of Navroz. Chahar-Shanbeh means Wednesday and Souri means both 'Red' and 'Celebration'. In this “red celebration” which takes place on the last Wednesday of the solar calendar, people go out and make bush fires and keep them burning till the next morning. This is symbolic of burning all that was bad pain, unhappiness, sickness and worry and looking forward to a new beginning. Taking place annually on the last Wednesday of December, the Festival of Fire sees bonfires sprouting up in various public areas and parks. People jump over the burning cinders and shout, “Give me your red color and take back sickly pallor," which is a purification ritual. Many Iranians believe their ancestors’ spirits visit during the last few days of the year.
Tirgan is celebrated by people in the Mazandaran province on the evening of the twelfth day of the fourth month of their own calendar. Tirgan is a celebration born out of the legend of Arash, the legendary bowman who shot an arrow to indicate the borderline between Iran and Turan but died soon after, drained of all his energy. People come together to eat traditional Iranian food, drink lots of sherbets and tea and participate in drama, reciting poetry and singing.
Mehr is the name of the Sun Goddess and the seventh month of the Iranian calendar. The Mehrgan festival celebrated by the Zoroastrian people of Kerman is an occasion to celebrate harvest by sacrificing a sheep or chicken and feasting on it.
Celebrated on the 21st or 22nd of September, the Yalda festival celebrates the longest night of the year, at the end of which light triumphs over darkness. The following day is the day of harvest and the beginning of the rest period, a time for family to converge at the home of the oldest member and indulge in a spread of Iranian food, summer fruits and an array of nuts while reciting poetry and catching up with what is happening in each other's lives celebrated on the longest night of year which generally falls somewhere in the middle of December, this festival marks the defeat of evil. Iranians will eat melon, which is thought to ward off illness and visitors will find many restaurants serving dishes that involve the fruit.
Sadeh meaning "emergence" is a non-religious celebration observed by people of all faiths and is celebrated on the 10th day of Bahman. People set up huge bonfires outside cities and eat special soup (aash), fruits and nuts.
Once in a year, Zoroastrians from across the globe head to Pir-e-Chak-Chak, a pilgrim site 62 km north east of Yazd. The festival is an occasion to pray, mingle and entertain for everyone.
Qara Kelisa, an ancient church near Maku, West Azerbaijan province in Iran is a pilgrim site for the Armenians who head here in mid August every year. Qara Kelisa is a three day fiesta marked by color, music, dancing, and horse riding and, of course, feasting on a sumptuous spread.
Moharrum, the first month of the Islamic calendar is a somber event marking the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Imam of the Shia Muslims. An occasion when people gather in mosques, mausoleums and Imambargahs to mourn the Holy Imam and all those who were martyred with him in Kerbala, Iraq. Dressed in black, people beat their chests and lament the tragedy of Kerbala while clerics narrate instances from the tragedy. Aashura, the 10th day of Moharrum, the day of martyrdom is marked by rallies and processions of mourners. Taking place in February every year, the Ashoura Festival celebrates the martyrdom of Husayn in Ali, grandson of Muhammad. This is a time for Shia Muslims to show their devotion. The event includes self-mutilation and flagellation, such as cutting parts of the body, which are viewed as barbaric by some.
Carpet Washing in Mashhad:
The people of Mashad-e Ardehal and Kashan converge at a nearby spring to wash the carpets of the shrine of Imam Reza (AS), the eighth Imam of the Shiite Twelvers.
Lielat Al Mi’raj
An important day for Muslims in February or March is remembered for when the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. It is one of the most significant days on the Islamic calendar and celebrated with night prayers and illuminated buildings.
Tehran International Puppet Theatre Festival
This Iranian festival takes place every two years and attracts leading puppeteers from all over the world to Tehran. Dating back to 1989, participants have included acts from Germany, Canada, Austria, and England. Although event dates vary, it usually takes place in June.
Tehran Book Fair:
The Tehran Book Fair is one of the leading publishing events in the region. It takes place annually in May or June and attracts roughly five million visitors and thousands of domestic and international publishers. It is one of the pre-eminent book events in the Middle East and Asia, and usually takes place on the Grand Prayer Grounds in Tehran, a special venue for visitors to pick up rare and out-of-print literature.
Tehran International Short Film Festival
The Tehran International Short Film Festival has been taking place every year in October or November since 1983. It is a wonderful opportunity to see contemporary Iranian artistic talent. Movies are screened at various venues in Tehran, usually in the Mellat Cinema Complex.
Pomegranate Festival in Iran:
The festival is taking place at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Grand Prayer Grounds (Mosalla), and some other cities of Iran as well, to promote the consumption of pomegranates. “The nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit, grows in the gardens of paradise, according to the Qur’an, and has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religious,” the festival website says. Pomegranate juice and fruit is used in Iranian dishes, and skins have been used to color wool and silk in the carpet industry. The festival is hosted by the Tehran Municipality to show foods and handicrafts related to the fruit, which is indigenous to Iran.
Festival of Rose and Rose Water:
Every year during the second half of May, festival of Rose and Rose Water is being held in Kashan. Many people from different parts of the country and abroad visit Kashan, the hub of Mohammadi Rose in Iran.
The season for picking rose and preparing rosewater is from early May to mid-June.
In early May, the scent of rose spreads over different areas of Kashan, such as Qamsar Joshqan Qali, Barzak and Niasar. The ceremony for making rosewater in Kashan attracts many tourists. Every day, some 80,000 people tour various cities of Kashan for this traditional ceremony.
The arrival of tourists in the districts of Kashan has a positive impact on the region’s economy.
Rose water is made from a very sweet smelling kind of rose and is used in various traditional dishes and sweets. It is also used as a perfume among Muslims. Although some modern mechanized factories are constructed, but still a large part of this, let say industry, is done traditionally. And this traditional rose water production which is established at homes or gardens attracts tourists to Kashan. Historical monuments and architecture of Kashan adds to the popularity of this festival too. The people of Ghamsar collect roses, boil them in special pots and collect their water in beautiful containers. It is a pride for the city that each year, the most sacred place on earth, Ka’aba (Mecca), is washed with rose water from Ghamsar. The ancient city of Ghamsar is like a shining star on the central Iranian desert. Surrounding mountains encircle it like a ring and protect its rose gardens against the heat of the desert. The environment of this garden city, the shade of trees and sound of flowing water in addition to music of birds and nightingales and fragrance of roses, has created an incredible milieu on the side of the desert. The garden city of Ghamsar is a patch of Paradise which becomes colorful as the spring begins. Its beauty is doubled when rose water ceremony commences and its hospitable people play host to millions of people who love nature and rose water of Ghamsar. Mohammadi Rose (Rosa damascene or Damask rose) is among the most important roses in the world and among the most famous plants. Because of its extraordinary fragrance and diversity, this flower is planted in many parts of the world. The flower has applications in food, medicine and perfume industries.
Production of rosewater in Iran dates back to over 2,500 years. At present, Mohammadi Rose is produced in Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, India, Ukraine, the US, Canada, France, Britain and Japan. The first four countries are pioneers in the production of this flower. In Iran, Mohammadi Rose grows in the provinces of Fars, Kerman, Isfahan as well as East and West Azarbaijan. The red rose, or Mohammadi rose, is further divided into seven groups: French red flower, wild rose, tea flower, miniature red flower, Bengalese red flower, and Iranian red flower.
Out of all rose species, the Iranian red flower or Mohammadi flower is unique and most botanists have opined that it has been first planted in Iran and then taken to other countries. Experts maintain that Ghamsar has been a place for producing flower and rose water since a long time ago. Some believe that under Malekshah the Seljuk, when Miyandeh Mosque of Ghamsar was built, representative of an East Roman officials picked some roses from the slopes of Kouh Asbi mountain near Ghamsar and took them to Damascus (which was called Damask in those times) to be grown. This is why Iranian red flower is sometimes called Damask rose in English. Although production of plant essences has a long history in Iran, but traditional rose water production machines were used to produce rose water for commercial purposes. Before that, rose water was produced through small distillation equipment for local uses. Anyway, production of rose water has been in vogue since ancient time and has sometimes led to prosperity of copper, glass making and packaging industries. Most of the local product is exported to other parts of the country and, therefore, despite most handicrafts, it has held its ground in contemporary times and has constantly improved in terms of quality and quantity. Another outcome of that situation was spread of the industry to neighboring villages of Ghamsar and even to other provinces during past decades. The emphasis put on Ghamsar is due to high quality of its rose water which results from natural conditions of the city.
The city has been and still is the main production center for the highest quality rose water as a result of its natural and climatic conditions. According to a study carried out by professors of Tehran University, the essence of Mohammadi flower of Ghamsar and the subsequent rose water has a concentration of 35 mg per 100 ml or 350 ppm, which makes it the finest and highest quality rose water in Iran and even in the world.
Equipment used for extraction of rose water in Ghamsar is nearly traditional and has hardly changed over the years. They include:
1. A copper pot with a capacity of 120-150 liters;
2. A big clay pot, which has not been replaced by the copper pot and is used to cover the pot. A major advantage of clay pot was that it did not burn the fragrance of the flower;
3. A copper pitcher with handle and a capacity of about 30-40 liters which is put in cold water, so that flower streams are turned into liquid;
4. Four wooden canes which are attached to each other to connect the pot to the pitcher; today, they use aluminum pipes instead of those canes;
5. A water pool where liquefaction is done; and
6. Heating equipment under the copper pot which is usually fed by oil or diesel fuel. In the past they used wood and bushes to warm it up.
First the copper pot is put on an oven made from bricks and cement or stones and mud. The heating agent is put below it. Then up to 30 kg of rose petals are poured into the pot and 80 liters of water is added. The pot is then covered and a heavy weight is put over it to control steam pressure. Probable holes and cracks are covered with a mortar made of the remnants of boil flowers and bread dough to prevent loss of steam.
Instead of weight and dough, they use elastic washers, screws and levers. The copper pitcher is put into the water and is kept in place by a ladder, or more recently, by cast iron pipes, so that, it will not rise to the surface of the water. Then canes or aluminum pipes are inserted into the pot, on the one side, and into the pitcher, on the other side and they wrap it in a piece of fabric with a cotton ball, so that, water would not penetrate into the pitcher. Water or any other foreign object will ruin the rose water. Now, everything is ready. They kindle the oven to boil the pot. At that time, rose water and water steam progress in the pipe as far as the angle. From there, rose water steam continues toward the pitcher and is liquidated due to low temperature of environment. It takes about 4 hours before a pitcher full of rose water (40 liters) is obtained. When they pour the rose water into the bottle, they wait for it to cool down. Then they rub some oil on the bottle. The waste collected at the bottom of the pot, which is called “Bongol”, is used to feed livestock and is also dried to be used as fuel in winter or as fertilizer for gardens.
During the whole process, the flame should be steady and mild. In better words, the longer the distillation period and the steadier the flame, the higher would be quality of the end product. The water poured into the pot should be measured accurately to be proportionate to the weight of flower petals. Ghamsar is the breeding ground for the finest and the most exquisite Mohammadi flowers and has the best traditions and methods for production of rose water. It is also the first place where industrial production of rose water has begun and there are many workshops in the city which produce rose water. The first rose water production plant in Iran was established in Ghamsar in 1974-75 after studies were conducted by Bulgarian experts. It was built on the outskirts of Ghamsar (at 15th kilometer of Ghamsar – Kashan road). The second rose water production plant was established at the entrance of Ghamsar city and is called Golriz. The cooperative company of rose water producers of Ghamsar has established a plant at industrial park of Ghamsar in order to solve the problem of pasteurizing traditional rose water, which was the main hurdle on the way of production and sales of rose water. Behin Golab Company of Ghamsar is another example of industrial rose water production plants in the city and more plants will be launched soon. Due to containing tannin, gallic acid, essence, fatty acids, pigments and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), petals of Mohammadi flower are used not only for production of rose water and essence, but for production of rose petal jam. Since a long time ago, this plant was used in traditional medicine to treat various diseases including chronic diarrhea, rheumatic pains, blood abnormalities, and sore throat. The part of the flower, which is used to produce rose water and essence, is petals. Boiled petals of Mohammadi flower are alkaline and constitute a good remedy for stress, flatulence, and abdominal colic. The boiled petals are also used to fight depression and to treat palpitation, insomnia, ordinary and bloody diarrhea, sickness, and inflammation. In the past, rose water was used in traditional Iranian medicine to treat rheumatic heart disease, to strengthen gastric nerves, and to treat some forms of headache and sickness.
For further information and reservation, please refer to “Special Events” in “Announcements & News” part.
What is the dress code in Iran? Are women supposed to have Hijab?
The main worry for female travelers to Iran is regard to wearing Hijab or Islamic customs but let us make it more clear for you.
In modern Iran the Islamic dress code for ladies is very different to the other Arabic and Islamic countries! The ladies should follow some modern Islamic costumes in public (this is not about your private space). Basically, the rules are quite simple: for men, no short pants or extreme short sleeve and tight shirts. For women, head and half part of the hair must be covered, and it is also necessary to wear something loose to cover the body.
1. It’s a false belief that women face limitation in the color of their clothing. It has been seen in many guides (*Lonely Planet*Cough*) and through the media. This is utter nonsense. There are absolutely no restrictions in color when it comes to the dress code. While unfortunately there is tendency for dark colored clothing in Iranian women, something that is not appreciated at all. So if you’re into colors, bring them along. They are probably the best idea during summer. Any variety of colors may be worn.
2. While on mountain and nature tours, it is advised to wear comfortable clothes with light colors.
3. Burqas (Veil) are not an Iranian thing. This is another misconception seen in the media or in films about Iran. You will see women wearing black Chadors but chances you’ll see someone with a veil is almost zero in Iran. It’s just not in the culture, no matter how much someone might be conservative.
4. The heavy make-up situation! Unfortunately there is gravitation towards heavy make-up in Iranian women. The fact is you’ll see many women wearing layers of make-up on a daily basis.
5. Sandals & painted nails are just fine. Sandals and open toes are perfectly fine for both women and men. You’ll see a lot of girls wearing slippers or sandals in the summer. Whether you’ve got painted nails on your fingers or your toes, you’d be just fine.
Our Company also provides suitable clothes for all the tourists in order to use in Iran. Please refer to “Other Services”, “Tailored Clothing for Women” part.
Do Iranians speak English?
In Iran, English is considered as a foreign language not a second language. But most of the people specially the young ones are dominated to English and they are eager to improve their speaking ability.
What are emergency numbers in Iran?
Medical emergency: 115
What is the internet access like in Iran?
You'll be able to access the Internet in Iran's cities, with many major hotels and cafes having Internet access. Except little lack of access in rural and remote areas.
What is the Iranian currency? And where can one exchange money?
The Iranian official currency is Rial. You may come across the word Toman in Iran. 10 IR = 1 Toman. Everyone is using this word instead of Rials except for some special cases.
Do not change money on the street, as this practice is illegal in Iran. Money can be exchanged at the airport on arrival or at banks and exchange offices (“sarrafi”) throughout the country. Banks are open from Sunday to Wednesday, 07:30 to 16:00; Thursdays, 07:30 to 12:00; and closed on Fridays. U.S. dollars, Euro, British Pounds, Japanese Yen and many more can be easily exchanged, but the exchange rates are not fixed and must be checked with banks.
Is it possible to pay by Credit Card?
Visa and Master card are not accepted in Iran, so make sure to have enough cash for the whole duration of your stay.