Tehran: the revival of the Persian capital
Links with this country rich in history are being renewed due to the softening of geopolitical relations. Discover the landmarks of Persia and the Iranians' incomparable sense of hospitality.
After several years of retreat into itself, Tehran is reopening to tourism. It's a just homecoming in reality, because Iran has always been a country appreciated by intellectuals and art lovers. During the Age of Enlightenment, eminent philosophers like Voltaire and Montesquieu were already singing its praises.
With 19 listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites—more than countries such as Greece, Thailand, or Turkey—Iran has great appeal for cultural travellers. They will be dazzled by the fabulous Golestan Palace, a Qajar masterpiece in Tehran; the ancient city of Persepolis, founded by Darius I in 518 BC and partially destroyed by the conquest of Alexander the Great; and the monumental Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, the ‘blue city', which is also called ‘half the world' in Persian.
The sophistication of the Iranians is reflected through their meticulous craftsmanship in arts such as marquetry, miniatures, ceramics, and carpet weaving. You may discover all of these in the labyrinthine streets of the bazaars, the many museums in Tehran, or in the former palaces of the Safavid, Qajar, and Pahlavi dynasties. But the people are also particularly fond of poetry, and, in Iran, everyone worships the great classical poets Ferdowsi, Hafez, and Saadi.
Two and a half times the size of France, Iran was once traversed by caravans. Today, the ancient Silk Roads provide the opportunity to enjoy beautiful desert landscapes and to sleep in old caravanserais, such as the wonderful Abbasi Hotel in Isfahan or Zein-o-Din in Yazd. While many of its cities are of breathtaking ‘Persian' beauty, Tehran surprises with its very modern architecture. It is the vibrant heart of the country where a third of the population is under 25. On weekends, locals meet here in malls, in the numerous parks of the city centre, or at the ski resorts closest to the capital, animated by an air of freedom.