All I needed was half an hour. Think vast, whole families, sets – not lonely individual items. Dazzling to the eye, cool to touch, flawless. A stunning collection, each piece with its own individual story to tell. Priceless. There remained but one important question; how to quietly switch the alarms off. A visit to the sensational National Jewels Museum in Tehran is an absolute eye watering must and sets the standard for further exploration in Iran.
Travelling south through the arid desert we continued to Kerman in the foothills of the Hezar mountains before reaching Shiraz. This is the place to learn the language of poets, in a region once also famous for wine. Today, you will be offered a refreshing “near beer” but nothing more alcoholic than this.
Our onward journey took us some 70km north east of Shiraz to the ancient ruined UNESCO city of Persepolis. Here we were transported back to the rise – and eventual fall – of the highly successful Archaeminid Empire with exquisite reliefs and fine examples of their stunning architecture. This was once the ceremonial capital of the Archaeminid Empire. The landscape has changed over thousands of years and where Royals once hunted in forests protected from invaders by mountains, now there is desert. Be prepared for the heat.
Although black chadors are still the preferred dress for some, the modern women of Iran are chic and colourful. They have a keen eye for fashion, which they adapt where necessary; often pushing the boundaries of the required dress code.
Ancient Persia was one of the great powers of years gone by. With the cultural revolution of 1979 The Islamic Republic of Iran was born and their doors were effectively shut to visitors. There followed many years when Iran was largely cut off from tourism and closed to westerners. This is changing – the door to Iran and its great wealth of culture is temptingly ajar. Plan well in advance and you will be warmly welcomed.