At the height of the Silk Road, Persia played a key roll in the trade of Chinese Silk and goods that made it along the famous trade route. Iran’s position between Central Asia and the Middle East made it the main link in the road, with a number of feeder routes that also networked across the country.
Iran’s position has also seen various cultures and conquerors come and go, turning it into a civilization that is diverse and sophisticated. Its vibrant history is echoed in the numerous palaces, temples and blue-domed mosques and madrasahs that arose with the advent of Islam.
Iran might have an image problem in the Western media, but it’s a country rich with ancient history from the ancient city of Persepolis over to its varied and beautiful natural landscapes.
Iran borders Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Tehran is Iran’s current capital, and while it may not have the historic beauty of its older cities, it’s a chaotic and dynamic.
Esfahan is one of the most beautiful cities in the Islamic world with blue tiled buildings, expansive bazaar and lush gardens. The city is a testimony to the wonders of the country’s Persian past and a must see for anyone visiting Iran and one of the important cities on the historic Silk Road.
Tabriz was once the brief capital of Iran, and is the provincial capital of the region known as “Iranian Azerbaijan”. It’s a welcoming city, and a good stopping point for travelers coming in and out of the Caucasus.
Eat & drink
Fragrant Rice is a staple in Iranian cuisine. It is boiled and then steamed, colored and spiced with saffron and other spice. It can sometimes make a main course when flavored, like “shirin polo”, which gets its aroma from orange zest, young cherries and honey glazed carrots.
Chelo Kabab is a typical dish that comes in a number of varieties. It often takes form of a grilled skewer of meat that is served on a bed of rice with a selection of condiments. You can tailor your rice to your taste by adding butter, tomatoes, and even a local sour spice called “somagh”. Some eateries even give you a raw egg yolk to add to it. You’ll find the locals use raw onion or fresh basil to cleanse the palate in between bites.
Iranian Soups are a core part of the local cuisine, and make up a meal in their own right. The vegetarian “ash reshteh” is the most popular variety, made up from thick noodles, herbs, chickpeas, and topped with fried onions and yogurt.
Doogh is a local drink made from yogurt, salt and water and is very refreshing in the summer heat.
Persepolis is an ancient Persian city that was once the ceremonial capital in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The ruined city is one of the wonders of the country, demonstrating the level of skill found in Achaemenid’s empire.
The Citadel of Bam is over 2000 years old and appears to have been stopped in time. The impressive citadel houses towers, a mosque and fortifications.
Nagsh-i-Jahan Square in the downtown Esfahan is one of the Silk Road’s most beautiful squares on the Silk Road marking the entrance to the city bazaar.