Christmas is a popular holiday in Iran
Travel information about Iran
Form of government: Islamic Republic
Residents: 81,800,269 (as of 2018)
Time shift: Central European Time (CET) + 2 hours and 30 minutes (the time difference is also retained during European summer time).
Iran borders the Caspian Sea and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in the north, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east, the Persian Gulf in the south, Iraq and Turkey in the west. The main part of the country is formed by the Iranian highlands, in which almost all of the larger cities are located.
Area: 1,648,000 km².
Administrative structure: 28 provinces, 172 governorates, 499 districts.
History and politics
The Persians inhabited what is now Iran since the eighth century BC. Under King Darius I (521-486 BC), the Persian Empire with its capital Persepolis was a powerful state. It split up into individual empires and was only reunited as the "New Persian Empire" in the third century AD. In 642 the Arabs conquered the country, which nonetheless retained its unity until the Mongols destroyed everything in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 16th century, Persia, the capital being first Tabriz, then Isfahan, developed into a major power in the Near East. In 1925, with Tehran as the capital, it was renamed from "Persia" to "Iran". Subsequently, a pro-Western modernization brought economic and social reforms as well as the industrialization of the country. Oil brought money into the country - and the decline in oil revenues sparked several riots. In 1979 the Islamic Republic was founded under the religious Shiite leader Ayatollah Khomeini, which is still a form of government today. The First Gulf War against Iraq began in 1980 and ended in 1988. The successors of Khomeini (he himself died in 1989) continue to pursue his goals, albeit a little more moderately.
The country is striving to build a modern and liberal economy, including the privatization of state-owned companies. Almost all key industries are nationalized, small and medium-sized enterprises are privately run. The natural resources are plentiful: there is crude oil and natural gas, but also iron and copper, lead and zinc, chromium and manganese ores. The petroleum and petrochemicals are the largest industrial sectors. Over 80 percent of export revenues are generated from oil exports. Other important branches of industry are the metal and automotive industries. Just under 10 percent of the country's area is used as arable land. The food produced in Iran is not enough to supply its own population. In addition to wheat, rice and barley, sugar beets, pistachios and melons are also grown; also dates and tea.
Large parts of Iran show lush subtropical vegetation. Every now and then you can find pure deciduous forests. In the highlands there are mainly deciduous and dry forests, while around half of the land area is desert or semi-desert - partly overgrown with bushes.
In the mountains you can still find bears and leopards, further up in the mountain regions also mouflons and ibexes. Gazelles are still at home in the deserts and steppes. There are small rodents all over the country, but also snakes. The numerous bird species that can be found in Iran include seagulls and partridges as well as pelicans and flamingos, falcons and pheasants.
Tehran has been the country's capital since 1796. It's built in a modern way; Concrete architecture predominates. The city's archaeological museum is very well organized. The cuneiform tablets of King Darius I are particularly interesting there, they are gold and silver plates on which something can be read about the abundance of power of this king and the limits of his empire. They were found during excavations in Persepolis. The Golestan Palace contains the Imperial Museum. There are many precious objects to see, including the famous peacock throne, which has stood here since 1739 and is still used at coronations.
Shiraz is one of the most beautiful cities in Iran. It became famous for its garden culture, which is good for the mild climate. This is how the city got the name "Garden of Persia". The abundance of flowers is unimaginably great. Roses in particular grow here. There are vineyards on the mountains around the city. Before the revolution, when winemaking was not yet banned, Shiraz wine was popular across Iran. Two of the great poets who sang about Shiraz are buried here - each has their mausoleum a little outside the city: Hafiz, who lived from 1320 to 1398 and Saadi, who was born in 1184 and died in 1282. The province of Fars, whose capital is Shiraz, represents the heartland of ancient Persia. Two powerful Persian royal families come from this province: the Achaemenids and the Sassanids. In the Pars Museum, an octagonal pavilion, you can learn a lot about the area and these dynasties. "Masdjid-i-Djomeh", the Friday Mosque, which was built in the ninth century, is one of the oldest buildings in the city. In the middle of the arcaded courtyard of the mosque is a small building that is a replica of the Kaaba of Mecca. The "Masdjid Now" means "New Mosque" in German, but it is also one of the oldest mosques in the city because it dates from the beginning of the 13th century. On the main street is the "Qale-i-Karim Khan", the castle of Karim Khan Zand with its semicircular corner towers. Karim was once the governor of Shiraz and had the "Masdjid Vakil" built next to the castle. The most beautiful thing about the mosque is the southern arched hall, which was built over an area of 50 by 100 m. Its 48 columns have spiral hoop patterns. "Bazar Now" and "Bazar Vakil" are at the foot of the respective mosque. In the Vakil Bazaar you can see many workshops where silver and mosaic craftsmen work.
Here, south of Tehran, is the Fatima Mosque. Fatima-e-Massume, the sister of Imam Reza, is buried in it. The mosque, which is completely decorated on the outside with strictly geometric, but lavishly ornamented ceramic mosaics, is a masterpiece of Islamic art. Bam In the province of Kerman, the Sassanids built a fortified settlement of adobe bricks between the 3rd and 5th centuries. In the 10th century, the Arg-é-Bam citadel was built, which with its protruding towers was the symbol of Bam. On December 26, 2003, the city was devastated by an earthquake, killing more than 30,000 people. A year later, the citadel, which was almost completely destroyed, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, which is also intended to secure its reconstruction.
The palace complex, the center of the city, extended over an area of 300 by 450 m. Originally, Persepolis was intended as a fortress. But then Darius turned Persepolis into a royal city. The entire huge palace complex, including the surrounding city, was taken over by the troops of Alexander the Great in 330 BC. completely destroyed. Much has since been excavated, uncovered and partially restored. You enter the terrace today through the treasure house, which was rightly named at the time, because after the conquest by Alexander, over 3,000 camels carried devices made of gold and silver, valuable robes and jewelry from this building. You can see the Harem of Xerxes, which now houses the Persepolis Museum with many excavated pieces. The throne hall and the large reception hall are also worth seeing, as are the stables in which the royal horses were housed. All the buildings - including the Darius Palace and the Palace of Artaxerxes - are impressive in size.
Tabriz is the capital of Azerbeidjan Province and one of the largest cities in Iran. It was founded in the 8th century by Zobeiyde, the wife of the caliph Harun ar Rashid, who wanted to relax there in the mountain air. It later became the seat of the Mongolian khans who ruled Persia for over a century. At that time the Al Ischa mosque was built, on the ruins of which the Tabriz Citadel now stands. It is a huge building, of which only three side walls have been preserved. However, these rise at heights of 40 m. The massive brick complex can be seen from afar. Another ruin is Masdjid-i-Kabud, the blue mosque. It was built in the 15th century and unfortunately destroyed by an earthquake. But even its remains show that it must have been one of the most beautiful buildings in the Orient. Isfahan In Isfahan there are dozens of remarkable, mostly very artistically executed buildings from the period between the 15th and 17th centuries. The Masdjid-i-Sha originated in the 17th century. It is one of the most impressive mosques in the Orient. Its four minarets reach a height of 48 m and 52 m respectively, the dome even 54 m. It rises, adorned with faience, above the central hall. The artistic, very colorful, yet harmonious mosaic works are overwhelmingly beautiful. All minarets and the dome, as well as some other buildings belonging to the mosque, are clad inside and outside with mosaic stones. The color blue predominates; there are also an infinite number of flower and tendril ornaments. A second gem of Persian architecture and stylish faience mosaics is the Masdjid-i-Lutfollah. It also dates from the 17th century, but has no minarets. Nevertheless, the building, the entire square interior of which is decorated with ornaments, is a masterpiece. Opposite the Lutfollah Mosque is the "High Gate", the "Ali Kapu", which was once the entrance to the imperial palace. The gate carries a balcony from which the ruler and his guests could watch games and parades.
Yazd is the capital of the province of the same name and is located on the edge of the Kavir Desert at an altitude of 1,215 m. It is one of the oldest cities in Iran. The old town of Yazd is a maze of small alleys and covered passages, it consists mainly of adobe buildings. Everywhere on the roofs there are wind towers, the badgires, which provide a little cooling in the desert city in the hot summer. An old town house, the Khan-e Lari, has been restored and can be visited. The Friday Mosque with the highest double minaret in the whole country is also well worth seeing. Another special feature are the covered bazaars, which testify to the great importance of the city as a trading center. Yazd was the center of the Zoroastrians during the Sassanid period.
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