Iran | Private Journey
IRAN | PRIVATE JOURNEY
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Join Cross Cultural Journeys on an odyssey to the Republic of Iran, commonly called Persia by the West. A multicultural nation with many ethnic and linguistic groups (mostly Shi'ites), this ancient country straddles Eurasia, Western Asia, the Caspian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Already a crossroads culture of great geo-strategic significance, Iran has endured invasions by the Greeks, Arabs, Turks and Mongols. Meet indigenous communities from the Zagross Mountains; Nomadic tribes near Tehran; Armenian Christians, and the people of remote Abyaneh, who have kept their traditions, dialect and costumes intact for hundreds of years.
One of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations, Persia was once a major empire of superpower proportions. It played a vital role in the Islamic Golden Age, producing hundreds of influential scientists, scholars, artists, and thinkers. Let us introduce you to our network of off-the-beaten-track locations and peoples, who care deeply about celebrating and sharing the artistic, architectural, religious and intellectual traditions of Iran through the lens of an unique cultural identity.
Day 1 | Tehran Evening arrival in Tehran, meet the guide, transfer to the hotel. Check into hotel. Tehran – Ferdousy Hotel Suite
Day 2 | Tehran After our buffet breakfast we’ll begin a morning tour of Golestan Palace Complex, the former residence and working office and ceremonial center of the Qajar (19th century) and Pahlavi kings (Shahs) with its painting galleries and mirrored palaces, which after Islamic revolution in 1979 the palaces were changed into various museums. Here, we will visit galleries and palaces which includes: Talare Ayeneh (Mirror Hall), Emarate Badgir, Shamsolemareh, Kakhe Abyaz. Lunch in a local restaurant, and Jewelry museum (possibly the best in the world, open: Sat. to Tue.), back to visit Tehran grand Bazaar and Shah (Imam) mosque, back to the hotel for rest. Tehran – Ferdousy Hotel Suite
Day 3 | Tehran Today’s city tour includes a glance at Iran’s bustling capital of twelve million people. Morning visit to Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art; this museum is allocated to modern living arts in the country, each time we visit we see something new. It also has a rich collection of Western modern art gallery with a rotation of what is on display to the public. Continue to the Archeological (National) Museum for a visit to its pre-Islamic section where we find items from the 12th millennium B.C., pre-historic, Median, Achamenid, Selucid, Parthian, Sassanid up to the Islamic era. The next gallery is where you find the wonderful artifacts from early Islamic period until 19th century. Following our buffet lunch, we’ll begin an afternoon tour of Sa’ad Abad Palace Complex, the former residence and working office of the Pahlavi kings (Shahs). After the Islamic revolution in 1979, the palaces were converted to museums. Walking through the hills of this huge complex of palaces you’ll feel the difference in temperature between here and the main city. Back to the hotel to rest. Tehran – Ferdousy Hotel Suite
Day 4 | Tehran Today we head north of Tehran to visit another Qajar and Pahlavi kings residence in the Niyavaran Palace Museum which consists of several buildings and monuments including: Ahmad Shah and Saheb Qaraniyeh Palaces. Now that we have visited the living quarters of the Shahs, it is worthwhile to have a look at the Imam Khomenei’s residence in the Jamaran neighborhood. Here you will see the difference and feel the power of Ayatollah Khomeini or any ruling spiritual leader. Next visit SAVAK’s anti-regime prison, Iran Ebrat Museum. This is the place where the Shah’s opponents were tortured to death. Continue to have a glance at the ex-US Embassy, which is now called the Den of Espionage, where the hostage takers published books about the US diplomat activities in Iran and the region. We drive to the south again to stroll in the Train Station at the end of Valiasr Avenue and then visit the Main Post Office on Sa’di Street, if time permits and it’s still open at that time. Back to the hotel to rest and pack for tomorrow’s departure.Tehran – Ferdousy Hotel Suite
Day 5 | Tehran-Kerman by air. Transfer to Mehrabad domestic airport inside the city to fly to Kerman. Upon arrival in Kerman, take a tour that includes: Bag-e Harandi (Archaeology Museum and Traditional Musical Instruments Museum), Kerman National Library. Visit the 14th century Jame' mosque, the 17th century Ganj Ali Khan Bath-house & Museum, Ganjalikhan carevansari, Coin mint museum, Ganjalikhan water cistern, the paintings and tileworks of Vakil traditional tea house within the bustling Bazar-e Sartasari. At the end of the day the Museum of the Holy Defense is the last site to see, then hotel check-in. Kerman - Kerman Pars Hotel Suite
Day 6 |Kerman An excursion to Bam and Rayen citadels to visit the largest mud-brick citadel in the world in Arg-e Bam, back to the Sassanid Rayen citadel, on the way back you will visit the town of Mahan and the 15th century Shah Ne'mat ollah Vali Sufi shrine, and 19th century Baghe Shazdeh (prince garden).Kerman - Kerman Pars Hotel Suite
Day 7 | Kerman-Yazd Drive to Yazd (4 hours - 369 kms.) En route, we can have a glimpse at the unique 17th century caravanserai, the miracle of desert en-route called Zeynoddin. Then, pass by Shemsh caravanserai, and just before arriving in Yazd, we’ll have a glance at the village of Saryazd and its interesting ancient deposit system, a unique site in the world and two Caravanserais, arrive at Yazd. Safaeieh Hotel Suite
Day 8 | Yazd Yazd is considered as having very studious and religious people and is also a center of Zoroastrian culture in Iran. Our first visit here is in Dakhmeh, the “Tower of Silence”—a circular, raised structure used to expose their dead, much like the traditional Tibetan “sky burial.” Then we’ll visit the Zoroastrian fire-temple. Still in use today, it holds a fire that has been kept alight continuously since 470 A.D.! On to explore the 15th-century Mirchakhmaq Square and the façade of the old Bazaar of Yazd, Water Museum, followed by a visit to the remains of Masjedeh vakhte -o sa at, then the 14th century Jame’ mosque. Yazd mosques are very well known for their high and lofty minarets and you can find the tallest one on the Jame’ mosque. Then visit the 14th century Seyyed Roknoddin holy shrine. From here, we’ll stroll through the spiral back alleys of the old quarters of the city, visiting the prison of Alexander, the 12-Imam mosque, and Lariha traditional House. Built in 1286, Lariha House was built as a house for a fabric merchant. Lunch; then onto visit an 18th-century public bath-house (Hamm-e Khan), recently converted into a traditional Persian restaurant. The 18th-century Dowlat Abad garden and its lofty wind tower (badgir) is another wonder of Yazd that we’ll visit today. Wind towers, also referred to as wind trappers or ventilation towers, are an inseparable part of the architecture of central and southern Iran, and have provided natural air conditioning in this hot climate for thousands of years. The wind tower in this garden stands almost 110 feet tall, and is considered an architectural masterpiece. We’ll experience first-hand how one can be deeply in harmony with nature. Bazaar-e Bozurk is the last place to do our window-shopping before returning to the hotel. Safaeieh Hotel Suite
Day 9 | Yazd-Isfahan Drive from Yazd to Isfahan (4 hours - 323 kms). En route visit Meybod to see the spectacular Meybod Ice Housel; such a luxury of desert life to have cold water in summer time; a 17th century caravanserai, and the unique example of Chapar Khaneh, the ancient post office system originating from the time of Dariush the Great in the 6th century B.C.; and the town’s citadel Nar Qale. Then continue to Na’in for a visit an early Islamic period Jame’ mosque (from the outside only) which was an ancient Hebraic settlement. Take a short walk around the town citadel; have lunch and continue to visit nearby Balabad Carevansarai and the Ghanat ancient underground water system in Persia. Arrive in Isfahan, hotel check-in. Abbasi Hotel, Cheshmandaz room
Day 10 | Isfahan Isfahan (also spelled Esfahan) is a wonderful and colorful city filled with Islamic art and architecture. Twice it has been the capital of Iran, most recently in the 16th and 17th centuries under Shah Abbas the Great. The Persians called it Nesf-e-Jahan (half the world), meaning that to see it was to see half the world. Our tour begins with the Vank Cathedral, also known as the Church of the Saintly Sisters, which belongs to the Armenian Christians who came to this area in the early 17th century by the order of Shah Abbas the Great. In addition to the cathedral, it houses a museum, a historic printing press, and a large library which includes the first book printed in Iran, as well as an array of Armenian textiles. From here we’ll drive to the Sio-Se-Pol and Khajou bridges, Pol-e Shahrestan, Pol-e Chubi and then to Chehel-Sotoun Palace, where we view large frescoes depicting court life, counterbalanced by miniature paintings of the 17th-century Safavid dynasty, and the Decorative Arts Museum of Iran to feel the real feeling of Persian art. Later we’ll visit the Jame’ mosque where you can study and enjoy the thousand-year history of art and architecture of the Islamic world in Iran. At the end of the day we’ll have some time to watch the beauty of a Persian carpet show in a fantastic carpet shop. Adjoining to the Abbasi hotel we have the chance to view the 17th century functioning Madraseh-ye Chahar Bagh. Abbasi Hotel, Cheshmandaz room
Day 11 | Isfahan We’ll begin another fascinating day with a walk in the harem garden of the 17th-century Hasht Behesht (Eight Paradises) Palace, where the family of the king used to live. You’ll be enchanted by the peaceful sound of water fountains and birds throughout the garden. A short walk leads us to Naqshe-Jahan (Royal) Square, the second largest square in the world. At present, it is locally called Meidan Emam. The square was an entertainment site and the main polo ground for the Safavid kings, the first place in the world where polo was played at night. You can imagine the neighing of the horses, struggling and pushed to the limit and the roaring applause of the crowds. The eternal eyewitness to these games and parades is Ali-Qapu Palace, with a large platform from which the court boasted the power of their king. Crossing the square, we’ll visit Sheikh Lotfollah, the first ladies’ mosque in the Islamic world. It was a place where women of the court used to come via the underground tunnel to say their prayers in privacy. Inside the dome, we’ll find a magnificent mixture of calligraphy and tiles, with a peaceful ambience created by the soft lighting system. As we depart the ladies’ mosque, you can window-shop your way through the covered bazaar on your way to the Masjed-e Shah (Imam Mosque in Meidan Emam). Shah Abbas built this mosque, his own glorious Jame’ of Abbasi. It is a main gathering place, especially on Fridays, containing an ocean of blue tile work that embodies a spirit of peace and tranquility, with a pool in the center of the courtyard. We’ll relax and meditate for a while, followed by taking a cup of tea at a traditional Sufi teahouse. Abbasi Hotel, Cheshmandaz room
Day 12 | Isfahan-Shiraz by air After the hotel check-out we start with Hammam-e Ali Gholi Agha, a 17th century traditional bath-house. Visit one of the Pigeon Towers, which were built in the Esfahan area in the 16th & 17th centuries. The pigeons were domesticated not for their meat (pigeon is especially revered in Islam), but rather for their droppings, which the locals collected and used to fertilize melon and cucumber fields. Continue to Takht-e Foulad Cemetery, the fifth most important ancient cemetery of the Islamic word. You may find the burial places of some very prominent scientist and a good example of old cemeteries in Iran. Although there were two important Jame mosques in Esfahan, one can find many other historical ones, which the Hakim Mosque is, a very good example. It was originally built in 10th century, repaired and rebuilt under supervision of the special physician, Shah Abbas. Then visit the Martyrs Shrines. During the Islamic revolution in 1979 and the 8-years Iraqi war against Iran many people lost their lives for the cause of defending their principles and mother land. Many are buried here in this public cemetery. Over the course of time, Muslims and Jews have lived together which it has been crystalized in the pilgrimage both pay to the holy mausoleums such as Emamzadeh Ismail and Isaiah holy shrines (a Jewish prophet). We know that in the 11th and 12th centuries during the Seljuq period, Esfahan was prosperous and as all Iranian powerful rulers, Seljuq kings built Imam Ali Square, the second largest square in the world. From here, we will visit Harun Velayat Shrine, and Ali Minaret. Drive to Isfahan Airport (30 kms.) to fly to Shiraz, arrive at Shiraz, hotel check-in. Grand Shiraz Hotel – City View room
Day 13 | Shiraz Shiraz was once famed for its vineyards of Shiraz grapes, and known as the “City of Poets, Roses and Nightingales”. Today we start our city tour, including the 19th century Eram garden, 17th century Khan theological school, colorful nomadic bazaar of Haji, and Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh, the burial place of brother of 8th Imam of Shia as the third holiest religious site in Iran. Then continue to the 19th century Nasir ol Molk mosque, known as the pink mosque, and Narenjestan Qavam & Khan-e-ye Zinat ol-Molk, the residence of the 19th century governor of Shiraz. At the end of the day we’ll visit the Qur’an Gate and Aramgah Khjuye Kermani. Grand Shiraz Hotel – City View room
Day 14 | Shiraz Today may very well be the highlight of our trip, with an excursion to the 6th century B.C . Pasargadae, the first Persian (Achamenid) capital and the battle-field against the Medes. The next stop will be Persepolis, the ancient ceremonial capital of Achaemenids, 30 miles from the city. Just a few miles northwest of Persepolis, visit the royal necropolis in Naqsh-e Rostam and a few Sassanid high-relieves called Naqshe Rajab. Persepolis was home of the King of Kings for over 200 years. It is consisted of the remains of several monumental buildings including the Gate of All Nations, Palace of 100 Columns, Palace of Darius, Xerxes’ Palace, Central Palace, and Apadana Palace. Lunch in a local restaurant (Nest of Peacock Restaurant) and relax before returning to Shiraz. In Shiraz first visit the tomb of the famous Iranian poet, Saadi and then have a free time in the 18th-century colorful, traditional Vakil Bazaar. Here you’ll find textiles, spices, copper handicrafts, and antiques. We’ll end in Saray-e Moshir, an urban caravanserai at the south entrance of the bazaar that now functions as an exhibition space for Iranian handicrafts. Grand Shiraz Hotel – City View room
Day 15 | Shiraz-Ahwaz by air Morning check-out and visit of tomb of the poet Hafez, the 18th century reception palace of Karim Khan Zand and a small museum in Bagh-e Nazar (Pars Museum). Walking around we’ll visit Arg-e Karim Khan and Hammam-e Vakil both from the 18th century. Then transfer to Shiraz Airport (8 kms.) Fly to Ahwaz. Hotel check-in, then evening stroll alongside the Karoun river. Ahwaz - Ahwaz Pars Hotel Suite
Day 16 | Ahwaz Drive north to Shush (120 kms. – 1.5 hours) to visit: The archaeological site of Susa (Shush), a UNESCO site and the capital of ancient Elamite civilization. Susa history dates back to at least 6000 years ago. The next visit, Chateau de Morgan, which was built to protect the French scientists working on the excavation at the site in the late 19th century (if open). The important historical mound of Susa embodies the ruins of Palace of Darius. Visit Shush Museum and then walk beside the river to the Tomb of Daniel, the prophet who is respected both by Muslims and Jews. Later, we drive to visit the 2nd millennium BC, Elamite site of Tchogha Zanbil ziggurat (UNESCO site). After lunch, drive east to Shushtar (34 kms) to visit: Shushtar Watermills (A Historical Hydraulic System) (UNESCO site), Pol-e Shadorvan, Qal’eh Salosel and Jame’ mosque, Back to Ahwaz, and an evening stroll in the local fish and fruit market. Ahwaz - Ahwaz Pars Hotel Suite
Day 17 | Ahwaz-Tabriz by air via Tehran Morning transfer to Ahvaz Airport (10 kms) to fly to Tabriz via Tehran. Upon arrival in Tabriz we start our city tour which includes: the old Bazaar (UNESCO site), Azarbayjan Museum, the Kara Qoyunlu 15th century Blue (Kabud) mosque which was built by the order of Shah Jahan, then the 12th century AD, Armenian St. Mary’s Church described by Marco Polo on his way to China. Then visit the Arg-e Tabriz (Arge Alishah), the remnants of a big unfinished 14th-century mausoleum, the Municipality Palace, and the Qajar Museum in Amir Nezam House, a 19th century building. At the end of the day we will rest and relax in small lake and park of El-Golu. Tabriz - Tabriz El-Goli Pars Hotel Suite
Day 18 | Tabriz-Jolfa Drive to the border town of Jolfa with Nakhjavan (Republic of Azerbaijan) to visit: Armenian remote Sohrul Church near Tabriz, then the original 7th century Saint Stephanos Monastery, and Shepards chapel which was built in 16th century and rebuilt in 1836. Then drive to the historic ruins of Asiab Kharabeh (broken watermill) and a waterfall, back to Jolfa, Jolfa Tourist Inn
Day 19 | Jolfa-Tehran Return to Tehran and fly home.
INCLUDED: Accommodations (first class hotels or best available); in-country ground and air transportation; all meals; English speaking National Guide; CCJ trip leader; guest speakers; all entrance fees; tips for baggage at airports, hotels, meals, locals guides; preparation materials; personalized luggage tags; bottled water on the bus.
NOT INCLUDED: International flight to/from Tehran; tips for National Guide, drivers; visa and passport fees; departure tax; travel insurance (strongly recommended, info will be sent upon registration). A tourist visa is required to travel to Iran. CCJ will send Information after registration.
Please note that you cannot have an Israeli visa or stamp in your passport. If you do, you must get either a second passport or a new passport. If this is the case, please let us know immediately.
Saied “Hadi” Haji Hadi , a native of Iran, always dreamed of traveling and interacting with other cultures. He started his career as an air traffic controller, including three years of education in the United States. After 20 years, Hadi completed a tour guide course, and traded in his sky-watching days for tour guiding in his home country.
Now, after 26 years in tourism, he has led over 325 tours for Western groups, along with a position of leadership as Chairman of the Iranian Tour Guide Association (ITGA) for six years. Aside from leading tours, he spends considerable time exploring the nooks and crannies of Iran and other parts of the world. Hadi keeps up his passion for the skies by collecting war-bird planes, building and flying RC model aircraft, and seeking out aviation museums abroad. A diligent student of cultures and of life, Hadi is a warm and incredibly knowledgeable resource, the perfect person to impart understanding of Iranian culture on this cultural odyssey.
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