DAY 01: ARRIVAL TEHRAN
DAY 02: TEHRAN
Full-day visit to some of Tehran’s major museums: the National Museum, displaying an authenticated collection of pre-historic and ancient artifacts and pottery dating from the 6-7 millennium B.C.; the Abguineh Museum with its treasures of pre-Islamic and Islamic glass and ceramics, beautifully displayed in an elegant early 20th-century mansion; the Carpet Museum, with an extensive collection of old and new Persian carpets and rugs from all over Iran. (N.B. these museums are closed on Mondays). Hotel for xx nights.
DAY 03: TEHRAN-QAZVIN-HAMADAN
Drive to Hamadan, stopping in Qazvin to visit the glittering shrine of Shahzadeh Hussain (a Shi’ite Saint), and the extensive Friday Mosque of Qazvin; continue to Hamadan, and start sightseeing with visits to the Tomb of Esther & Mordecai, a major Jewish pilgrimage center, the 12th century Alavyan Tomb Tower, the Tomb of Avicenna (died in 1034), Iran’s celebrated philosopher/scientist/physician; finishing with a visit to Ganjnameh, the cuneiform inscriptions by Darius I, and his son Xerxes, carved on the mountain face.Hotel for x night.
DAY 04: HAMADAN-KERMANSHAH
Further visits in Hamadan and drive to Kermanshah via Kangavar a small town dating back to 200 B.C. half-way between Hamadan and Kermanshah. In Kangavar visit the Temple of Anahita, the Goddess of Water and Fertility; stop in Bisotun to see the Achaemenid inscriptions and bas-reliefs depicting Darius I facing the nine rebel kings, whom the Achaemenid ruler suppressed when he came to power. On arrival in Kermanshah, and after lunch, visit several important Sassanian bas-reliefs at Tagh-e-Bostan, some inside a cave, depicting royal hunting scenes and the investiture of the Sassanian kings, including the gigantic equestrian statue of Khosrow II (AD 591-628), mounted on his favorite charger Shabdiz. Hotel for x night.
DAY 05: KERMANSHAH-AHWAZ
Drive to Ahwaz, via Islam Abad Gharb and through the Province of Ilam, visiting remains of the Sassanian Bridge at Pol-e-Dokhtar; on to Ahwaz and, time-permitting, divert to Shushtar, a small town perched on limestone cliffs above the Karun River, whose past can be traced through a remarkable series of interconnecting channels, dams, bridges and water mills. Hotel for xx night.
DAY 06: AHWAZ/EXCURSION TO CHOGHA ZANBIL & SUSA
Full-day excursion to Chogha-Zanbil, to visit the ziggurat built by Untash Gal, King of Elam, about 1250 B.C., the massive man-made mound was the focal point of his city of Dur Untashi, and was dedicated to the great god Inshushinak, ‘Lord of Susa’, symbolized by the form of a bull; continue and visit Haft-Tappeh or Seven Mounds (Elamite Necropolis) whose discovery in the 1960’s has filled one of the less well-documented periods in Elamite history; and Susa, the site of one of the oldest civilizations in Western Asia, dating back to 5,000 B.C. and the remains of Achaemenian palaces, plus the nearby Tomb of Biblical Prophet Daniel.
DAY 07: AHWAZ-SHIRAZ
Drive to Shiraz, en-route visit Bishapur, remains of the Sassanian city built by Shapur 1st (241-273 A.D.), the second Sassanian king. The building complex includes a central chamber, a large courtyard which had been covered with impressive mosaics, plus the remains of a temple dedicated to Anahita, the Goddess of Water and Fertility; on either side of a narrow gorge, there are also six Sassanian rock-reliefs at Tang-e-Chogan, commemorating Shapur’s victories over the Romans and other adversaries. Hotel for xxx nights.
DAY 08: SHIRAZ
Full day city tour of Shiraz to visit some of the famous gardens of this city of “roses and nightingales”, including the Eram Garden, the tomb of Iran’s greatest lyric poets, Hafez and Sa’adi; the pink tiled 19th-century Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, the Arg-e-Karim Khan (18th-century citadel), the Madrassa Khan (Theological School), to have interaction with teachers and students, the Qajar-period Narenjestan Garden/House, the Vakil Bazaar of Shiraz (Bazaar is closed on Fridays), and the Holy Shrine of Shah-e-Cheragh (not open to non-Moslems and can only be seen from outside); overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 09: SHIRAZ/EXCURSION TO PERSEPOLIS & NAGHSH-E-ROSTAM
Full day excursion to Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the Ancient World, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings with remains of the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, and its famous bas-reliefs, depicting kings and courtiers and gift-bearing representatives of tributary nations of the Persian Empire; also visit Naghsh-e-Rostam to see Ka’be-Zardosht (fire temple/sanctuary), and Royal Tombs (also Achaemenid); plus seven magnificent Sassanian rock-reliefs (including Shapur the First’s famous victory over Roman Emperor Valerian); and Naghsh-e-Rajab, a nearby grotto with several more Sassanian reliefs; return to Shiraz for overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 10: SHIRAZ-YAZD
Drive to Yazd, en-route visit Pasargadae, the site of the simple, but impressive, tomb and remains of the palaces of Cyrus the Great (the Founder of the Persian Empire); also stop over at the small desert town of Abarkuh to see the 4000-year old Cypress tree; continue to Yazd; general city tour and visit the Maidan-e-Mirchachmagh (main square). Hotel for x night.
Day 11: YAZD – NA’IN – ISFAHAN
Morning visits in Yazd, home to Iran’s small Zoroastrian community. Visit of the Temple of fire, a modern building where a hearth has been burning for over a thousand years. Visit of the Friday Mosque, 1324 A.D. boasting the highest portal and minarets in Iran. Walk through the old Fahadan quarter and visit the Dowlat-Abad Garden, with its 18th century hexagonal house. In the afternoon leave for Isfahan with a stop half-way in the desert town of Na’in to visit the 10th century Friday Mosque, and the 17th century Pirnia House – ethnographic museum (closed Mondays) and stroll through the old part of the town. Arrival Isfahan. Hotel for xxx nights.
Day 12, ISFAHAN
Visit of the Chehel Soutoun Palace, so-called 40 columns and the Armenian quarter with its Cathedral and Museum. Lunch in this area. In the afternoon, visit of Friday Mosque. In the night, it is Isfahan by night with its illuminated monuments.
Day 13, ISFAHAN
Discovery of the wonders of Isfahan, one-time capital of Persia. A real jewel of architecture, often called the Florence of the Orient, with its cascades of blue, yellow and green mosaics, and its remarkable Naghsheh – Jahan square. Visits of the Royal Palace, the Imam Mosque, a magnificent example of Iranian mosques with four ivans, and the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and to the east of the square a mosque without minarets of unique beauty, earlier called the Woman’s mosque. Free time for a visit of the Bazaar at the end of the afternoon.
Day 14, ISFAHAN – ABYANEH – KASHAN – TEHRAN
Departure to Kashan, via Abyaneh, At Kashan, visit of Bagh-e-Fin, a traditional Persian garden, visit of the Taba-Tabai, residence of a 19th century merchant , the archeological site of Sialk Hill and the Agha Bozorg Mosque. Arrival in Tehran and check-in at hotel for x nights
Day 15: DAY 15: DEPARTURE TEHRAN
Transfer to IKA airport for flight departure