Shiraz was the capital for some time and is well-known and famous for poets such as: Sa'di and Hafez who lived and died there. Most of the tourists who traveled through this city wrote a lot about it. It is believed that Shiraz is habitable, beautiful, centre of science and civilization with pleasant weather and good natured people.
History has proved that Shiraz has been habitable since Achaemenid period. In Omavie period, Estakhr city become less important and Shiraz began to develop. The most splendid period was during the Safavid and especially Zand era, due to the extra attention of Karim Khan and Lotfali Khan to this city.
Shiraz, with an area of over 220 sq. klm and a population of 973,161 (1992) is the centre of Fars Province and is located in a green plain, at the foot of Allaho Akbar Mountain, at an elevation of 1540m.
It is 481 klm to Isfahan, 895 klm to Tehran, 320 klm to Boushehr by road and 688 klm to Tehran by air. There is an international airport with daily and weekly flights to the other cities and the countries in southern margin of Persian Gulf.
Here are some important attractions of Shiraz:
Arg Karim khan
Bishapur; Tang-e Chogan
Passargade, Tomb of Cyrus the Great
Persepolis, the Gate of all Nations
Arg Karim khan
Karim Khan was the founder of the Zand dynasty that ruled Iran from 1750 to 1779.As one of the advocates of the development of Iran, he chose Shiraz as his capital during the Zand period that the city witnessed the peak of its prosperity. In this period, many buildings including mosques, water reservoirs, citadels, bazaars and caravan-saries were built, many of which are still standing and useful in Shiraz. Arg-e Karim Khani or the citadel of Karim Khan is one of these major buildings in Shiraz attracting thousands of visitors and tourists every year. It is in fact the largest and the most outstanding complex of land era.
The citadel has been the political center of Karim Khan and his successors. Arg, as is locally called or citadel is an Iranian large residential area crenellated with tall walls and round-shaped towers. Citadels were normally the residences of kings, local governors, military commanders or other dignitaries needing to live in a secure and guarded place. Arg-e Karim Khani being the fascinating residence and the political headquarters of Karim Khan continued to preserve its importance throughout the Zand era and even afterwards. As a triumph of architecture, it is located at the central part area of the city. It used to have many annexed buildings, but at present only the citadel has been left for security and defense purposes.
Bishapur; Tang-e Chogan
Shapur, or Bishapur, the Sassanian capital, lies north of the old road from Shiraz to Boushehr about fifteen miles beyond Kazerun. The ruins of Bishapur stand near the mouth of a gorge. Just above one's head, four of Shapur's six masterpieces of Sassanian art are chiseled on the cliff face. The physical effort involved in getting a view of them is, however, so intense that any prejudices formed in advance are likely to be wrenched well out of the system before we encounter them face to face. They stand high on the rock, above a water channel which has been constructed in part of the rock face. The first carving (proceeding up the left side of the valley) represents a triumph over the Romans. The scene is portrayed in four registers on a concave wall. The figures are more numerous than on any other Sassanian panel, but most of them are less than life-size. In the middle of the third panel an enormous Shapur on horseback looks down on two diminutive Romans, one standing and one kneeling, as well as on a corpse, while a cherub -the first example in Sassanian sculpture and clearly attributable to Western influence-floats overhead. The second relief portrays Bahram II receiving the submission of an Arab tribe, led like the tributaries at Persepolis by a Persian usher and followed by horses and camels. This panel has been badly defaced by an old water channel. Herzfeld suggests it may have been deliberately cut by Narseh, Bahram's successor and rival. This too is the work of Bahram I and is considered by both Herzfeld and Ghirshman as the high point of Sassanian rock carving. The scene, the investiture of Bahram I, is familiar, but the symmetry has softened, there is great variety of relief, and the portrayal of figures is more realistic. The inscription says that the monarch is Narseh, but Herzfeld has proved the fake -Narseh has written his name over Bahram's. The fourth relief on the west bank is of Shapur II, and is in a clumsier style. The King is seated in the center, wearing a double crown, his legs wide apart, and his left hand on his sword, and his right holding a lance. On the left above, is a row of courtiers; below, Persian soldiers with the King's horse. On the right are chained and wounded prisoners, a bearded gentleman with his back to the audience balancing a decapitated head in each hand, and other characters including a boy riding a diminutive elephant. On the other side of the valley are two carvings, which are far more accessible. The first is a combination piece: Shapur I, is at once being invested by Ahura Mazda and receiving the submission of a Roman Emperor probably Philip the Arab who was defeated in 244, two years after Shapur's coronation and during the period when he reigned jointly with his father Ardeshir. The panel is unhappily badly damaged, but both the facial expression and the posture of the fallen Emperor are well portrayed. The second and last of the Bishapur relief's is a panel in two registers, with Shapur receiving Valerian's submission in a larger compartment centered between the two. The composition as a whole is stiff and unconvincing. The track past the last two bas-reliefs ascends the valley above the gorge. Where it widens, about four miles upstream, a series of caves can be seen at the summit of the flat-topped ridge to the left. In one of these, whose sides have been planned to receive relief's which were never begun, stands a giant statue of Shapur I carved from a stalactite.
Shams-od Din Mohammad, known as Hafez-who knew the Koran by heart-was born round about 1320 at Shiraz and died in 1389 in his native town, to which he was deeply attached. At the Hafez mausoleum steps lead to an open gallery above a flowered courtyard, in the middle of which, beneath a dais resting on columns, is the tomb of the poet. On the tomb stone some of his famous Ghazals are inscribed. Today his tomb has virtually become a shrine. The cupola, covered inside with mosaic faience of wonderful designs, is very like a dervish's turban. The alabaster tombstone and four central columns of the colonnade alone belong to the reign of Karim Khan Zand.
Not far from Persepolis, there are three rock reliefs of the Sassanian period carved in the Kuh-e Rahmat. The first relief shows the Investiture of Ardashir I (224-241) who is receiving the crown adorned with large ribbons –the symbol of royalty-from the god Ahura Mazda. Behind the king is his son, Shapur I, and a page holding a fan. On the right of the god, under a canopy, are the queen and a lady-in-waiting, and two children are shown between the king and the god. On the left of this relief is the picture of a beardless dignitary who is holding up his right hand as a sign of respect; beside him is an inscription in Pahlavi. The second relief shows King Shapur I (241-272) on horseback. He is followed by a group of nobles and a procession of foot-soldiers. One of the four figures in the front row is king Hormuzd I, the heir-apparent. The third relief shows the Investiture of Shapur1.Both the king and the god Ahura Mazda, who is giving him the royal symbol, are on horseback. On the breast of the royal horse there is an inscription in Sassanian Pahlavi and in Greek.
On the mountainside in Naqshe Rostam, 7 km. to the Persepolis, the Achaemenian necropolis consists of four rock tombs cut in to the cliff sides. These datefromthe5th and 4th centuries B.C. and the most famous is the tomb of Darius I the Great (reigned 552-486 B.C.). From left to right the four rock tombs cut high in to the Kuh-e Hosain are dedicated to Xerxes (or Artaxerxes I), Darius the Great, Arraxerxes I (or Xerxes), and Darius II. Darius the Greta's Tomb is larger than the others. In all the tombs, there can be seen the Achaemenian king's figure, seated on the throne, in the state of adoration. Behind him stand the king's closer courtier sand the throne is born ebyre presentatives of conquered nations, who bear it upon their hands and shoulders. Facing the king, carvings representing Ahura Mazda and the Sacred Fire are to be seen. Figures carved lower down and under the four royal tombs in clude:
1-T he figure of Nersi the Sassanian king, receiving the royal emblem and ring from Anahita, The figure also includes a man behind Nersi, and a child, standing in the midd le.
2-Thescenecarvedbeneath the tomb of Darius the Great comprises two figures, of which the upper is believed to be that of Bahram II in combat.
3- The third carving represents the victory of Shapur lover the Roman emperor Valerian, and has, in addition, a long inscription in Pahlavi script, giving the name and titles of Shapur, as well as an account of his battles and his efforts in supporting the Zoroastrian creed.
4- The scene of Hormuz II's victory over his foes
5- A scene depicting Bahram II's victory, with the royal flag shown behind the king.
6-Scenes depicting the religious ceremonies of the Elamite period, together with the figures of Bahram II, his queen and the crown prince.
7- A figure shown Ardeshir Babakan in the state of receiving the royal ring and emblem from Ahura Mazda.
Nor is this all, for there are the remains of an Elamite carving, showing the site was used (probably for religious purposes) before Darius, twin fire altars, and a square stone building, popularly known as the Cube of Zoroaster, the purpose of which has given rise to livelier archaeological controversy than any other structure in Iran. The Cube of Zoroaster (Ka'beh Zardusht) stands some fifty yards back from the rock-face, opposite the tomb of Darius II. It is built of massive blocks of white stone, measures eight yards square, and is nearly forty feet high. On three sides the upper face of the building is relieved from monotony by six slabs of black stone false windows, while on the fourth side a stairway, partly ruined, leads to a massive doorway which gives access to the only room in the interior of the building. The lower walls bear inscriptions in Pahlavi and Greek, which date from Sassanian times. The construction is immensely sturdy, the proportions exquisite. There is no doubt that the Cube was built in the Achaemenian period, probably in the time of Darius; the ruins of a building of similar construction and proportions are to be found at Passargade.
Passargade, Tomb of Cyrus the Great
Cyrus died in529 during a campaign on the frontier of the Oxus and was buried in his capital PasargadaeinFars.Pasargadaeissome70km. North of Persepolis and is easily accessible by the asphalted Isfahan road. The site of Passargade is approached by a large alley, shaded by large trees that bears left and, after crossing the river Polvar, lead directly to the Tomb of Cyrus. Composed of two distinct elements, a gabled tomb chamber and a majestic plinth of six receding tiers, its original height approached 10.7 m. behind a low entrance, once secured by double-leaved doors, a short passage-way leads to a plain, rectangular tomb chamber3.2m. Long and 2.2 m. wide northeast of the tomb again, the entrance to what was once the walled Palace area is still marked by the remains of a monumental Gatehouse. With only its formidable column bases left to indicate its original lofty proportions, much its most striking feature is the unique four-winged figure that still stands almost intact on a single doorjamb. Wearing a royal Elamite robe that reaches almost to the ground and the divine triple-ate crown of Egypt, this gave faced figure remains an enigma, regarded by some as a guardian demon and by other as an exceptional portrait of Cyrus himself. The Audience Hall exhibits even more important features that distinguish the palaces at Passargade from those at Persepolis. The ground plan demonstrates the usual preference for oblong rather than square units; the few surviving parts of the superstructure –a single, tapered columns from the great hypostyle hall and three antae -illustrate a characteristic contrast in elevation between the tall central hall and its surrounding porticoes; and throughout the building one finds that carefully balanced useofblackandwhitestonethatissuchahall-markofPasargadae.Asingleantain the south-east corner –like another in the same corner of the Presidential Palace-still bears atrilingualinscription,inOldPersian,ElamiteandBabylonian,saying"I,Cyrus, the King, an Achaemenian (built this)", while the surviving door jambs depict composite monsters or else groups of animals being led to a place of sacrifice.
Unfortunately, nothing now survives of the imaginative bull, horseand lion-headed capitals that once surmounted the principal columns, 13 m. above the floor of the main hall. Some 100 yards to the north-west of the Pavilion, the denuded central hall of the Presidential Palace still speaks for the extraordinary balance and beauty of early Achaemenian architecture. Continuing north wards, still within the limits of the walled Palace area, one comes to the façade of a squarest one tower that was once identical in size and shape with the Ka'beh Zardusht at Naqshe Rostam. Known today as Zendan-e Solaiman, this much damaged structure has been variously interpreted as a fire temple. Further north again ,the whole site is dominated by the great stone platform, known as Takhte Madare Solaiman, that thrusts out from the western face of the Talle Takht, Composed of unusually large limestone blocks, the facade of the platform rises in 16 coursestoaheightofwellover43 feet. Unique in Achaemenian architecture, its wide rusticated joins give it a striking, ornamental appearance. Deep holes show where metal clamps one strengthened each horizontal course, while a closer inspection reveals the existence of many different "mason's marks" on the rougher, less finished blocks.
Persepolis, the Gate of all Nations
It is known that the gate was built by Xerxes, the son of Darius, 11-0111 the inscription incised on its lateral stone in three languages of Elamite, Babylonian and Persian. In this inscription, the power of the empire, and the blessing of the god of Ahura Mazda are mentioned, and the gate itself is referred to as the Gate of All Nations. The gate originally formed a square chamber surrounded by the roof and walls supported by four stone columns, and at present, two of the column sands the lateral stones of the front and back doorways only remain. The stairway of the great terrace leads one to this formal gate supported by two human-headed winged bulls carved on the stones. It is guarded at east and west by vast bull-like colossi akin to the bull figures of Assyria. The entrance is through the western doorway. Winged bulls guarding each entrance to the Gate stand on a pedestal more than a meter high and are themselves over five meters high. Beyond this point the delegations went straight on, turning right at the Gate-House and thence into the Throne Hall whereas the Medes and Persians turned right across to the Apadana, through the Tripylon and finally into the Throne Hall.
One of the biggest places to visit is the garden, where the tomb of Saadi is located. Saadi is the Persian Iranian poet, writer and philosopher who was born and died in the 13th century in Shiraz.
He is supposed to be a great lyric poet second only to Hafez. All in all; he is one of the great names in Iranian literature.
Saadi was a great traveler too. He spent many years wandering from the Middle East and North Africa to India. He finally settled in Shiraz where he composed his two major works. Those are Golestan (garden of roses) and Boostan (the Orchard). These two books are so popular among the Iranians those poems or phrases of them are daily quoted by millions of Iranian speaking people around the world. In 1291 AD, Saadi was buried near Hafez; nevertheless, his tomb with a turquoise-blue dome has been totally rebuilt in 1952.
The Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz is one of the best of the late Zand era monuments. The bazaar is located in the city center and has always been the business quarter. It comprises arched alcoves with wide platforms in between, and seventy-four high and well-proportioned arches sustaining the roof, and there is a high doomed crossing where the east and west bazaars diverge from the main bazaar. Several of the main arches, and a number of intervening alcoves of the Vakil Bazaar, which were used as shops, were demolished when the Zand avenue was extended eastwards. Here silversmiths and jewelers still ply their trades, and exquisite inlay work, Iranian carpets, tribal hand-woven items, and other traditional Iranian handicrafts may be purchased. At the bottom of the Vakil Bazaar is the Moshir Serai, which was built in typical courtyard plan, with rooms on two levels, and orange trees and a pool in the center.
The Vakil Mosque is especially famous for its large prayer hall, 75 rn.longand36 m. wide, covered with small cupolas resting on forty-eight twisted columns cut out of one single block of stone. The portal shows traces ofseveral19th-centuryrepairs; on each side are faience panels with floral designs in various shades which creates an exquisite effect. The mosque has two iwans. The north iwan is faced with naturalistic decorations, festoons of stylized plants and flowers.