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The most beautiful sites in Iran:

Ali Sadr

Discovered in the 1950s, the natural cave of Ali Sadr is reputed to be the most beautiful in Iran. It can be visited by boat, allowing you to discover magnificent rooms dotted with stalactites.


Ardabil, today a city of 500,000 inhabitants, is said to have been founded in the 5th century under the Sassanid dynasty. Destroyed by the Mongols in 1120, it was chosen as a spiritual center by Safi al-Din, founder of a Sufi order. One of his distant descendants, Shah Ismâil I founded the Safavid dynasty there. Ardabil, center of carpet creation, was long renowned for its silk market. The impressive funerary complex whose heart is made up of the tomb of Safi al-Din fully justifies the stop in the city.

Bam (Arg-e Bam)

The city of Bam was probably founded during the Parthian period but, for the most part, it dates back to the Safavid era (1501 – 1732) before the earthquake of December 26, 2003 destroyed it. This set, the largest built in adobe in the world (18 hectares), is the subject of a major restoration. In 2013, UNESCO even removed Bam from the list of sites in danger, considering that the site was stabilized and now healthy. It is open for visits again.

Bisutun (or Behistun)

The mountain of Bisutun hosts on its sides magnificent Achaemenid bas-reliefs retracing the exploits of Darius I. Numerous remains from the Seleucid, Parthian and Sassanid periods enrich the site.

Center, Abyaneh

Abyâneh is a traditional village nestled on the side of a beautiful valley. Its inhabitants still wear colorful clothes that contrast with the black ambient Iranian women… The very picturesque village will reveal all its charms to those who take the time to discover it…

The most beautiful sites in Iran:

Center, Ardakan

Located on the edge of the desert, Ardakân is a village still equipped with old quarters, a Friday mosque and a Safavid caravanserai. It is close to an important Zoroastrian holy place (Chak Chak or Pir-e Sabz), the object of an annual pilgrimage.


Center, Ardestan

Ardestan has a Friday mosque from the 9th century, one of the oldest of Persian plan.


Center, Bishapur

Bishapur is one of the most important Sasanian cities in Iran. It was Shapur I who founded it in 266, giving it the name of “Veh Shapur” (the beautiful city of Shapur) becoming, by deformation, Bishâpur. The city is obviously marked by this king whose palace we will visit, in particular, and, to the north, magnificent bas-reliefs all to his glory and that of his successors…


Center, Dasht-e Kavir

The Dasht-e Kavir (salt desert) covers 25,000 km². It is bordered to the north by the Alborz Mountains and to the south by the Dasht-e Lut. It is a desert of sand and rocks which has salt marshes.

Center, Esfahan (Isfahan)

With its 2 million inhabitants, Esfahân is one of the first cities in Iran. The historic center, whose heart is the Royal Square (Meydân-e Shâh), has a multitude of mosques, minarets, palaces, bridges, caravanserais, madrassas which are all architectural masterpieces. Pierre Loti marveled at the sight of its domes and minarets “in blue tones, so powerful and so rare that one thinks of fine stones, of sapphire palaces, of unrealizable splendors of magic” . An absolute must!


Center, Fahraj

Located about thirty km from Yazd, Fahraj has one of the oldest mosques in Iran (8th – 10th centuries). There is even a Sasanian influence.


Center, Kashan

City of 300,000 inhabitants, Kâshân was founded under the Sassanid dynasty (3rd – 7th centuries). Shah Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty (16th – 18th century) brought it to its peak by enriching it with palaces, gardens and bazaars. A center of ceramic production since the 12th century, Kâshân gave its name to the Persian word (kâshi) for ceramic tiles. Among the marvels to discover: the Fin garden, sumptuous patrician houses (Borudjerdi, Tabâtabâi, Abbâsiân, Ameri), the Friday mosques, Meydân, the Aqâ Bozorg mosque-madrassa and the bazaar with its caravanserais and its hammam…


Center, Meybod

Meybod surely had its heyday in the past. There is an imposing citadel and neighborhoods that are now ruined. Two exceptional monuments deserve attention: a dovecote and an icehouse. In the latter, ice harvested in winter was stored and kept for several months. The egg-shaped interior of the cooler is quite spectacular!


Center, Nain

Nâ’in is known for its Friday mosque, one of the oldest in Iran, founded under the Abbasids then remodeled under the Seljuks in the 11th century; its octagonal minaret dates back to the tenth century. A magnificent 16th century Safavid house (Pirniâ) can be visited nearby.


Center, Naqsh-e Rostam

Located a few kilometers from Persepolis, the site of Naqsh-e Rostam is a rocky outcrop that houses the tombs of the Achaemenid rulers carved into the cliff. A few centuries later, the Sassanids had bas-reliefs engraved in their military glory. In particular, Shapur I will be seen there on his horse dominating the defeated Emperor of Rome, Valerian, on his knees in front of him… It is also a site which, through its few buildings, displays its Zoroastrian character.


Center, Natanz

Natanz is distinguished by its mosque from the Ilkhânid period (13th – 14th centuries) which includes a sumptuous portal of khânqâh (convent of dervishes) with blue and turquoise ceramics as well as a Sufi mausoleum with an elegant cupola lined with muqarnas. Behind this complex we can see the remains of a Sassanid fire temple (Chahâr tâq).


Center, Neyriz

Neyriz, located not far from the Salt Lake, is proud of its old Friday mosque dating from the 10th century with a magnificent mirhab.


Center, Pasargadae

After defeating the Medes in the 6th century BC, Cyrus II decided to create Pasargadae in the heart of the cradle of Persia. There are only ruins that are not very legible. On the other hand, the tomb of Cyrus imposes itself clearly on the eye. A quick stop will be a light but moving halt in front of this place where the greatest monarch on earth for his time was buried.


Center, Persepolis

Persepolis, the city of the Persians in Greek, was the economic and administrative center of the Achaemenid Empire. It was entirely dedicated to the celebration of the Zoroastrian festival of Nowruz on the occasion of the New Year. Its construction dates back to Darius I (522 – 486 BC). Persepolis sank under the fire of the fire ordered by Alexander in 330 BC who extorted its treasures. The fabulous bas-reliefs on the wall of the staircase leading to the Apadana (throne room) give us an idea of ​​the immense wealth accumulated thanks to the offerings that all the people “of the earth” deposited at the feet of the sovereign. .

Center, Sarvestan

We will stop at Sarvestan to discover an interesting 13th-14th century mausoleum as well as a Sassanid palace, a few kilometers away.

Center, Shiraz

Shiraz is today an industrial and university city (its Faculty of Medicine is the most famous in Iran). It probably began to exist during the Sassanid era and became, during the Islamic period, a center of Sufic theology and poetry. After several natural and warlike destructions, Shiraz was modeled in the 18th century by Karim Khan who gave it its current appearance. Many monuments are to be discovered. We will dwell on particular monuments such as the Citadel of the Regent (Arg-e Karim Khan), a sumptuous hammam as well as the tombs of Hâfez and Saadi, two immense poets, both objects of a true worship on the part of Iranians.

Center, Yazd

Yazd was a caravan crossroads at the crossroads of trade and travel. Located in the center of Iran, at an altitude of more than 1200 m and at the gates of the desert, this city is a high place of Zoroastrianism. There is the temple of fire whose flame is said to have been nourished for more than 1,500 years without interruption. There are also two towers of silence, a place where the bodies of the deceased were exposed to the voracity of birds of prey so that their decomposition would not soil the land of the living… It is also a place where it is good to walk in a traditional setting amid magnificent mosques and mausoleums.

Chogha Zanbil (ziggurat)

The Choghâ Zambil ziggurat is the major architectural vestige of the Elamite civilization and one of the best preserved. It was built by the Elamite king Untash-Napirisha (1345 – 1305 BC).

Dasht-e Lut

The most beautiful sites in Iran:

The Dashet-e Lut (Desert of the Void) extends south of the Dasht-Kavir over 50,000 km². It is one of the hottest places in the world.

Persian Gulf, Hengam Island

Located off the southern coast of Qeshm, Hengam is surrounded by spectacular soft coral reefs popular with divers. The island is also famous for its fauna: its birds, its gazelles and its dolphins.

Persian Gulf, Island of Hormuz

Small island in the Strait of Hormuz where the car is practically banned. A few modest dwellings. Usually the excursion is from Bandar Abbas, or the neighboring island of Qeshm. The interior of the island offers a rugged landscape of rocks and volcanic soils of varying colors. On the coast, beautiful beaches alternate with impressive cliffs.

Persian Gulf, Kish Island

The island of Kish was, for centuries, one of the most important commercial centers of the Persian Gulf. Today it is a duty-free zone where wealthy Iranians come to shop, and lead a more open dolce vita than on the mainland… The island is more pleasant to visit in winter. We will discover with interest the ruins of the ancient city of Harireh (13th-14th centuries).

Persian Gulf, Qeshm Island

It is the largest of the islands in the Gulf, lined with mangroves, beautiful beaches and traditional Bandari villages. The island is known for its geological richness: canyons, hills, caves and valleys, most of which are protected by UNESCO. The island is home to a beautiful fauna: birds, reptiles, dolphins, turtles.


Called Ecbatane in Antiquity, Hamadan was founded by the Medes (VIIIth – VIth century BC) and became their capital. Conquered by Cyrus II, it was then that of the Achaemenids (6th – 4th century BC). Resort for the sovereigns and important commercial relay between Mesopotamia and the East, it then suffered many devastations (Arabs in 644, Daylamites, Alides, Turcomans, Seljuks, Mongols…). Most of its buildings are from the Qadjar period. Presence of two beautiful funerary towers, one square, the Gombad-e Alavian, the other dodecagonal with a pyramidal conical dome, the Bordj-e Qorbân (13th-14th centuries). The famous medical philosopher Avicenna died in Hamadan in 1037.


Kandovân is the most beautiful and interesting of the villages in the region. As in Cappadocia, several houses are carved into cones of volcanic tuff.


Founded, it seems, under the Sassanid dynasty, Kerman was for a long time, because of its remoteness on the edge of the Lut desert, a refuge for Zoroastrians. A prosperous commercial city, relay of the Silk Road, it was therefore the object of successive desires (Mongolian, Timurid, Uzbek, Baloch, Afghan…). It is particularly known for its carpets. Bazaar, mosques, mausoleums, hammams, caravanserais from the essentially Safavid and Qadjar periods dot this city of more than 600,000 inhabitants.



Kermânshâh (900,000 inhabitants) is on the road that linked Babylon to Ecbatane in antiquity and Baghdad to Hamadân in Islamic times. It is a relay for pilgrims who go to the tombs of Imams Ali and Hosseyn in Najaf and Karbala. There are mainly buildings from the Qajar era and, in particular, the Tekiyeh (theatre) Moaven ol-Molk, intended for the representation of the ta’ziyehs (theatrical drama celebrating the martyrdom of Hosseyn in Karbala). To the north of the city, we will visit with interest two Sassanid iwans carved into the rock and decorated in bas-reliefs.



Mahan is worth visiting for at least two reasons. One is spiritual, since there is the mausoleum of the founder of one of the most important mystical brotherhoods, a descendant of the Ve Shiite Imam. This mausoleum was founded in 1437, enlarged and restored by the Safavids in the 17th century and then by the Qadjars in the 19th century. The other, for pure pleasure, with the garden of Shâzâdeh designed under the Qadjars. One of the most beautiful gardens in Iran.


Maragheh was known from the 13th century for its astronomical observatory, the largest in the Muslim world. It is now very ruined. On the other hand, four funerary towers deserve all our attention, the Gonbad-e Sorkh (the red tomb), the Gonbad-e Kabud (the blue tomb) and the Gonbad-e Khâhar-e Hulagu (XII), as well as the Gonbad- e Ghaffariyeh (14th century).


Masuleh is one of the most beautiful Iranian traditional villages. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The most beautiful sites in Iran:

North East, Damghan

Created under the Sassanids (3rd – 7th centuries), the city of Dâmghân suffered the devastations of the Mongols, Timurids, Uzbeks and Afghans. However, it has preserved remarkable monuments such as the Târikhâneh mosque (8th century), one of the only great mosques that remain from the beginnings of Islam in Iran, the Friday mosque from the Seljuk period and the brick funeral tower Pir -e Alamdar (1027).


Northeast, Kalat

Kalât is located in the heart of a mountainous region, accessible by a road with often extraordinary landscapes. The main point of interest is the octagonal Khorshid (“Sun”) Palace, built by Nader Shah.


Northeast, Mashhad

Mashhad is the first holy city of the country whose history begins in 809. It is especially venerated for its tomb of Ali al-Reza, the 8th Shiite imam who died here. After experiencing violent Ghuzz, Mongol and then Uzbek vicissitudes, Mashhad became the most important Shiite center with the Safavids. It now attracts between 15 and 20 million pilgrims a year. The main notable site is the vast sacred complex surrounding the tomb of Imam Reza. The Gonbad-e Sabz (the green dome), built by Shah Abbas in 1603, the tomb of Khwâdjeh Rabi (17th century) and the royal mosque (1451) also deserve our attention.


Northeast, Neishabur

City built by the Sassanids, founded by Chapour 1st, rebuilt by Chapour II. We see especially the garden-mausoleums of Omar Khayyam (poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer) and Farid-Al Din Attar (philosopher, poet, writer)


Northeast, Semnan

Located between the mountains of Alborz and Dasht-e Kavir, Semnân, 170,000 inhabitants, was founded under the Sassanids (III-VII centuries). We will see the Friday mosque (from the Seljuk, Timurid then Safavid periods), the Imam Khomeini mosque-madrassa (19th century), the Hazrat hammam (Timurid, restored under the Qadjars), the imposing Arg-e Semnân portal (Qadjar ) and, 5 km away, the fortress of Sâru.


Northeast, Tus

Of Tus, probably an ancient Achaemenid city, only vestiges of the Islamic city abandoned in the 15th century remain. There is also a 12th century mausoleum (Haruniyeh). Tus is also the birthplace of Ferdowsi (10th-11th centuries), the author of the “Book of Kings” recounting the gesture of the rulers of ancient Persia.


West, Saint Stephanos (monastery)

The monastery of Saint Stephanos, located near the town of Jolfâ, was founded in the 10th century. It was the subject of multiple enlargements and restorations between the 16th and 19th centuries. This monastery is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


West, Saint Thaddée (monastery)

The Saint Thaddée monastery is dedicated to the one who first evangelized the region and died there as a martyr. The site has existed since at least the 5th century and underwent restorations and enlargements between the 13th and 19th centuries. It is the subject of an annual pilgrimage in July and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Halfway between Bam and Kermân, Rayen is a well-preserved medieval mud-brick citadel of 2,000 m². Located at the top of a hill, it would be from the Sassanid period.


Tehran area, Alamut

Alamut, perched at an altitude of 1800 meters in the Alborz, overlooks a grandiose valley. The history of this castle has been linked since the 12th century to the Nizarites, a Shiite Ismaili sect, more commonly known as the Assassins. In 1256 the Mongols put an end to the Nizarite domination.


Tehran area, Qal’eh Rudhkan

Fearsome Seljuk fortress perched on a steep, wooded Alborz ridge. Its ascent (difficult but shady) requires frequent stops through beautiful forests and mossy streams. Rest points are provided throughout the climb. The reward is at the end of the effort!


Tehran region, Qazvin

Qazvin, today 500,000 inhabitants, was, for a time, chosen as the capital of the Safavids in the 16th century. You will find there a heritage commensurate with the historical importance of this city: a Friday mosque, founded, it is said, by Harun al-Rashid in the 8th century, the mosque of the Prophet (16th century), the Imâmzâdeh Hosseyn containing the tomb of a son of Imam Reza (founded in the 14th-15th centuries), the hosseyniyeh Aminiha (19th century), the Heydariyeh madrassa (12th century), the mausoleum of Mustafawi (14th century). You will also discover gates, palaces, bazaar and caravanserai built throughout the prestigious history of this now dormant city…


Tehran area, Qom

Qom, 1,100,000 inhabitants, has been a place of Shiism since at least the 9th century when Fatima, sister of the 8th Imam, died and was buried there. In the 16th century, the Safavids imposing Shiism on Iran built the mausoleum of Fatima, the main center of interest of the city. Alas, this one is not accessible to non-Muslims. Imam Khomeini taught in Qom which then became a ferment of resistance to the Pahlavi dynasty.


Tehran region, Ramsar

It is a resort town, plunging its feet into the Caspian Sea. The landscape is green. It can be appreciated from a cable car that climbs the foothills of the Alborz. The former summer residence of Reza Shah, surrounded by a beautiful enclosed garden, served as a framework for the signing of the Ramsar Convention (1971), an international treaty for the protection of wetlands.


Tehran area, Tehran

Tehran, a city of more than 8 million inhabitants, became the capital of Iran in 1786 under the Qajar dynasty. Without being of great beauty, Tehran unfolds at an altitude of more than 1000 m at the foot of the spectacular Alborz Mountains and conceals several sumptuous palaces (Golestan Palace, the palaces of Sa’d Abad, the Niâvarân Palace) as well as many museums including the unmissable Archaeological Museum (Irân Bâstân) and Glass and Ceramics Museum (Abgineh).



Sanandadj, 400,000 inhabitants, a prosperous city under the Safavids, was ransacked in the 18th century. It has a curiosity with its mosque which, it is said, received on its walls two thirds of the Koran in calligraphy! Two bridges, one Safavid, the other Qadjar, located outside the city, as well as the palatial house of Khosrow Abad (17th-19th centuries) also deserve attention.


Shushtar (historic hydraulic system)

The hydraulic system of Shushtar was undertaken under Darius I in the 5th century BC. J.-C. It allowed the irrigation of agricultural land. The UNESCO protected area includes the Salasel Castle, the Kolah-Farangi Tower and the Band-e Kaisar Dam Bridge.



Not far from Zandjân, Soltâniyeh (the city of the Sultan) remains the most beautiful testimony of the Mongol presence in Iran. We will see the mausoleum of Uldjâitu built by him at the beginning of the 14th century then restored by the Safavid king Tahmâsp I (16th century). This mausoleum is particularly remarkable for its dome 25.50m in diameter and 50m in height, often compared to that of Florence Cathedral built by Brunelleschi 100 years later… The mausoleums of Chalabi Oghli (14th century) and of the poet Molla Hassan Kashi (16th century) are also worth a visit.



Susa, founded at the beginning of the 4th millennium BC, is unquestionably one of the oldest cities of Humanity. After being under Elamite domination for a long time, it became the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Darius I. Susa was then conquered by Alexander the Great, then dominated by the Seleucids and then the Parthians. The inevitable decline of the city begins in the Sassanid period. Today, there are only ruins that are not very legible and rather reserved for specialists.



Tabriz, 1,600,000 inhabitants, was probably founded during the Sassanid era. It quickly became an important commercial center but was also the object of multiple covetousness which earned it many vicissitudes. Its geographical location makes it a cosmopolitan city where Armenians, Turks, Persians, Russians rub shoulders… The major monument is unquestionably the Blue Mosque with its mosaic decoration of enamelled ceramics, one of the most beautiful in Islamic art. We will also visit Eboli Park, begun in the 14th century and renovated under the Qadjars, the Friday Mosque (Seljukid, Ilkhanid and Safavid periods), the bazaar, once described by the painter Chardin during his stay in Persia.


Takht-e Suleyman

Occupied since the Achaemenid period, Takht-e Suleymân is one of the most sacred places in Sassanid Iran. This Zoroastrian site, perched on a 20m high plateau, is made up of an oval enclosure 1,200m high, equipped with two gates and thirty-eight round towers. Takht-e Suleyman was destroyed by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius in 624.



From Zandjan, 400,000 inhabitants, we will visit its Friday mosque and its bazaar from the Qadjar era.