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The recent détente between the West and Iran has once again opened up a fascinating and culturally important country to the curious traveller. Officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iran is still the treasure trove of historic sites that existed in the years of Persia and centuries before.
This may be a country where politics and religion are impossible to ignore but the wealth of history that awaits and the chance to learn, in situ, as to how it has found its place in the 21st century should be a magnet for anyone with even a passing interest in the machinations of the Middle East.
The Persian civilisation is one of the oldest on earth and there are many reminders of that great history scattered around the country. But it is probably Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire and one of the world’s most magnificent ancient sites, that is the most famous. Founded by Darius I in 518 BC and still remarkably well preserved, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
Tehran, the capital, is a modern metropolis but retains a mystical and other-worldliness aura, boasting a number of stunning mosques, palaces belonging to the Pahlavi dynasty and many museums. Other major cities are Shiraz and Isfahan, important medieval Islamic centres with many beautiful buildings exhibiting superb architecture with cool blue mosaics. Both cities have a relaxed atmosphere with abundant monuments, mosques and gardens.
Weather & Climate
Major cities like Tehran, Isfahan and Tabriz have seasons broadly equivalent to those in Mediterranean Europe.
When to go
It is hotter from April to October so lightweight clothing is advised if visiting during those months. From November to March the temperature drops slightly so mediumweight clothing is preferred.