Sunday, October 14

Turkey-Iran, Day Twenty: The Persian Empire

Another day and another early start - this time to backtrack the way we came in order to pick up what are probably the crown jewels of South-Central Iran, if not the whole country.

Pasargadae is one of those places that you haven't heard of until you actually visit. The main sight is the alleged tomb of Cyrus, although it's said that it's not as authentic as it's said to be. The rest of the complex has more than enough genuine history to make up for any potential false advertising and at the very least a visit to Pasargadae makes for a apt prologue for the day's activities.

Next up we have the Naqsh-e Rustam, or perhaps as it's more likely to be known, the necropolis. A clear step up from Pasargadae in terms of explicit views, this is a compact sight that still packs a punch as you learn about the history of the Persian kings buried there, and even the subsequent Arab rulers who followed. And once again, it serves as an appetiser for what will clearly be the main meal of the day.

For me, Persepolis was one of the clear hits of my trip so far. Nothing did as much to throw us back to the time of the Achaemenids - 500 or so BC - as this ceremonial temple complex did. We spent much more time than we were expecting to just walking around the ruin and hiking up to the elevated tombs on the hillside. Some say you can spend a whole day there soaking it up, but for me even a few hours was more than enough to get the point.

The evening brought us back to Shiraz where we mopped up the twin tombs of Saadi and Hafez, with a bonus stop off at the Ali Ibn Hamza Shrine.

Mosque #44: Ali Ibn Hamza Shrine

We decided to walk back to the hotel ourselves, where we stopped off for some night shots of the Arg of Karim Khan before a well earned dinner.

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