Iran with its beautiful mosques, madrassas, palaces, bazaars, and its breathtaking landscapes is a paradise for photo enthusiasts and photographers. In this article, I will show you my best photos of Iran.
For several years already, I wanted to travel to Iran, but at the latest after my travels along the Chinese Silk Road, through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, the country moved to the top of my travel bucket list. In September 2019, I fulfilled this dream and I am very happy that I have been there. Iran is a beautiful country with impressive monuments, stunning landscapes, and incredibly hospitable, curious and open-minded locals. From this trip, I brought numerous beautiful photos of which I will show you the best in this blog post.
Together with locals in Isfahan
My trip through Iran started and ended in the capital Tehran which is located in the north of the country. From there, my journey took me to the desert city of Yazd, to the Zein-o-Din caravanserai on the edge of the Lut desert, to Kerman, to the small towns of Rayen and Mahan, to Shiraz, to the ancient ruined cities of Persepolis and Pasargadae and the rock-cut tombs of Naqsh-e Rostam, to Isfahan, to the mountain village of Abyāneh and to Kashan.
Tehran – the Skyline in front of the Alborz Mountains
I spent almost three days in the Iranian capital Tehran, which is located in the north of the country, around 200 kilometers from the Caspian Sea. With almost nine million inhabitants, Tehran is the largest city in the country and offers numerous sights with the Golestan Palace, the National Jewel Museum, the Grand Bazaar, the Iranian National Museum, the Freedom Tower, also known as Azadi Tower, and the former US embassy. The Tehran Metro, with which you can get through the city quickly, comfortably and inexpensively, is an experience in itself and worth at least one ride. The most beautiful view of the Tehran skyline in front of the Alborz Mountains awaits you on the Tabiat bridge.
View of the Skyline of Tehran in front of the Alborz Mountains from the Tabiat Bridge
Tile ornaments in the Golestan Palace
Side view of the Azadi Tower in Tehran
Yazd – overwhelming Hospitality in the Desert City
Yazd is just over 600 kilometres southwest of Tehran and also offers numerous photo opportunities such as the Friday Mosque (Masjed-e Jameh), the historic old town with its mud brick alleys, the city’s bazaar and the Amir Chakhmaq complex. You will have a fantastic view over the rooftops of Yazd from one of the many rooftop cafes in the old town. Since I was in Yazd during the Ashura festival, not only the Zoroastrian fire temple Atash-e Behram, which I had planned to visit, but also numerous other sights and most cafes and restaurants were closed. Instead, I had the opportunity to attend a ceremony and a parade which were both held on the occasion of the Ashura festival. On this holiday, the Shia Muslims commemorate the third Imam Hussein, who was killed in the Battle of Karbala. During the Ashura festival, locals in the old town and elsewhere in Yazd offer rose water, tea, soup, sweets, fruit and bread to passersby. I experienced this overwhelming hospitality not only on this holiday and not only in Yazd but during my whole journey through Iran.
Yazd from above with a wind tower and the Friday Mosque
Mud brick alleys in the old town of Yazd
Iranian Hospitality in the Old Town of Yazd
The Landscape surrounding the Desert City
Not only Yazd but also the landscape around the desert city has its own, very special charm, even if it is barren and there is only little vegetation. The mud brick villages and the Towers of Silence near Yazd, which are embedded in this desert landscape, are absolutely worth seeing and you should definitely visit them if you spend a few days in Yazd.
The Towers of Silence near Yazd
Landscape around Yazd
Caravanserai Zein-o-Din – Sunset on the edge of Lut Desert
The caravanserai Zein-o-Din is located on the edge of the Lut desert on the old Silk Road and is a traditional accommodation, of which there were numerous along the ancient historical trade route in Central Asia and Iran a few hundred years ago. Although I missed the sunrise there, I could watch a beautiful sunset from the roof terrace of the caravanserai.
The Caravanserai Zein-o-Din on the edge of the Desert Lut
The Landscape around the Caravanserai Zein-o-Din
Sunset, seen from the roof terrace of the Caravanserai Zein-o-Din
Kerman – Local Atmosphere in the Ganjali Khan Complex
The beautiful Ganjali Khan complex with its picturesque courtyard, mosque, caravanserai, hammam, and covered bazaar is one of Kerman’s most beautiful and significant attractions, a city which is located 370 kilometres southeast of Yazd in the province of the same name. Here, the locals I met in the bazaar were much more conservatively dressed than in other parts of Iran and thus looked more exotic than the Iranians in the rest of the country. Kerman also has a fire temple, which I visited instead of the fire temple in Yazd.
Bazaar in Kerman
Courtyard of the Ganjali Khan Complex
If you are in Kerman, you should definitely take a day trip to the mud brick fortress in Rayen, about 100 kilometres southeast of Kerman. The Shah Nematollah Vali Shrine in the village of Mahan, just over 35 kilometres away from Kerman, and the nearby Shahzadeh Garden are also worth a visit.
Rayen Fortress southeast of Kerman
Shiraz was the southernmost point of my stay in Iran and, along with Isfahan, is one of the places that every traveller to Iran will probably visit. The city offers several sights such as the Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque – also known as the pink mosque -, the Vakil Mosque and the Vakil Bazaar, the Shah Cheragh Shrine, the mausoleums of Hafez and Saadi, the Eram Garden (Bāgh-e Eram), the Naranjestan Garden (Bāgh-e Narendschestan) and the Zinat-ol-Molk House.
Shah Cheragh Shrine
The ruins of Persepolis, Persia’s first residence city, are among the most important sights in Iran. They are located about 60 kilometers northeast of Shiraz and can be visited on a day trip. Persepolis was built between 520 and 465 BC initially by Dareios I and then by Xerxes I and destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. The partially restored, still very impressive remains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Persepolis offers so much that you can easily spend half a day or a whole day there.
The ancient ruined city Persepolis from above
Sculpture of a Homa Bird
Naqsh-e Rostam – Rock Tombs of ancient Persian Kings
You should not miss the archaeological site Naqsh-e Rostam with the four rock tombs of the ancient Persian great kings Dareios I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Dareios II. The complex is about six kilometers from Persepolis and you can, for example, visit it on the way back from Persepolis to Shiraz.
Three of the four rock tombs at Naqsh-e Rostam
Alongside Persepolis and Susa, Pasargadae is the second of three old Persian residence cities and, like Persepolis, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pasargadae was built between 559 and 525 BC and is, therefore, older than Persepolis. Also, with 300 hectares the complex is significantly larger than Persepolis with 12.5 hectares. You can visit Pasargadae on a day trip to Persepolis and Naqsh-e Rostam or, as I did, on the way to Isfahan. Due to the short time I had there and the vastness of the ruined city, I was unfortunately only able to visit the tomb of Kyros II in the so-called sacred district, but the large lobby of Kyros II and the ruins of the palaces must also be very impressive.
Tomb of Kyros II
Isfahan – Half the World
A visit to Isfahan (Esfahan) is certainly the highlight of any trip to Iran, and indeed the palaces, mosques, and arcades are absolutely magical. According to a Persian saying, Isfahan is “half the world” (“Esfahan nesf-e jahan”). The most important and probably the most beautiful attraction in the city is Imam Square (called Meydan-e Naqsh-e Jahan or Meydan-e Imam) with the Shah Mosque (Masjed-e Shah), the Sheikh Lotfollāh Mosque (Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfollāh), the Ali Qapu Palace (Kakh-e Ali Qapu) and the arcades of Bazar-e Bozorg, in which you will feel as if you are in a fairy tale of a thousand and one nights. But also the Friday Mosque (Masjed-e Jameh), the Armenian quarter with the Vank Cathedral (Kelisa-ye Vank), the Si-o-se Pol Bridge, the Khaju Bridge (Pol-e Chādschu), the Hascht-Behesht Palace (Kakh-e Hast Behesht) in the Nightingale Garden and the Chehel Sotun Palace should not be missed. The latter, like Imam Square and the Friday Mosque of Isfahan, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Shah Mosque on Imam Square at night
Si-o-se Pol Bridge
Chehel Sotun Palace
The picturesque mountain village of Abyāneh in the Karkas Mountains is characterized by the knee-length skirts and the rose veils of the female population and its red mud houses, which is why it is also known as the Red Village. Abyāneh is located almost 90 kilometres southwest of Kashan at an altitude of 2500 metres. You can enjoy a beautiful view of the village from the opposite hill, which you can reach on a walk. Other attractions of Abyāneh include the Zoroastrian Fire Temple, three Sassanid forts, eight mosques and the houses of Nader Shah Afschar and Nayeb Hossein Kaschi from the time of the Qajars.
View of the mountain village Abyāneh from the opposite hill
Mud Houses in the alleys of Abyāneh
Kashan is located almost 250 kilometres south of Tehran at the foot of the Kuhrud Mountains and borders the central Iranian desert. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I was only able to visit the city briefly on the way back from Abyāneh to Tehran, so that I could only visit the Khane-ye Borujerdi Merchant House and the Fin Garden (Bagh-e Fin), which is considered to be the most beautiful garden in Iran and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With the Agha Bozorg Mosque (Masjed-e Agha Bozorg), the Hamam-e Soltan Mir Ahmad, the Sheybani Gallery, the Khane-ye Abbasian, Khane-ye Ameriha, and Khaneh-ye Tabatabai Merchant Houses, and the local bazaar Kashan offers further sights that are supposed to be very nice so that you should plan at least two or even three days for a stay in the city.
Khane-ye Borujerdi Merchant House
The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan – my best photo of Iran
The Sheikh Lotfollāh Mosque on Imam Square in Isfahan with its ornate walls and tiles and the giant dome, which is not only impressive from the outside but also from the inside, is considered to be one of the most beautiful Iranian mosques, if not worldwide. I took this photo from the balcony of the Ali Qapu Palace and it is certainly one of my best photos, if not my most beautiful picture of Iran.
Sheikh Lotfollāh Mosque in Isfahan
These are my best photos of Iran. Have you been or would you like to travel there? Which photo do you like most?
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