The outside of this terracotta colored circular tower would never give away their very purpose – ancient guano factories. The inside is intriguing, a dazzle of geometrical patterns, a maze of corridors, floors and levels that make you feel lost easily. But the birds feel comfortable and clean. Each one has its small cubicle and when sitting on the roosts, the droppings fall straight onto the floor. All this is still intact, but only a few odd pigeons reside here now. Nothing compared to the 4.000 pigeons that would live in each of those once 300 towers. Nowadays, only a couple of these guano producers are left. Continue Reading →
The truly sad story about Esfahan is the dried up Zayandeh River. Its riverbed does not even show a small puddle, making beautiful old bridges like Se-O-Se Pool Bridge rest in a dire-looking flat terrain of gravel. Why is that? The precious liquid is diverted upriver, around the area of Yazd, watering pistachio farms and used for making tiles (the desert sand providing unlimited material to do so) in the many factories around Yazd. Of course the lack of rain has added to the problem. Continue Reading →
Iranians love taking photos of themselves, their family, famous sights and above all of foreigners. This reminded of our travel through southwestern China where Gilles became the photographic object of desire of young Chinese women. In India Heidi was frequently asked to pose with large families. What a blessing to have such freedom in an Islamic country where it can be truly touchy to take pictures, especially of women. Continue Reading →
Esfahan has them all. In the past Esfahan had the largest Jewish community of Iran. Today about 25.000 Jews still live in larger cities and have rejected generous financial offers by Israel to move to the Promised Land. Continue Reading →
The Place To Go Out In Esfahan
The Armenian Quarter, Julfa, is where we ended up staying in Esfahan, by sheer incident. All the hotels closer to the center were booked, only the Julfa Hotel had rooms. How lucky we were! This neighborhood has an almost Mediterranean flair: small alleys all lined with trees, cafés and chic restaurants. Throngs of young people stroll the sidewalks and the girls are super stylish, dress elegantly and are so very pretty. Trendy clothes shops that would never make you guess of where you are. Obviously Iranians dress – especially women – very differently in private. Continue Reading →
This was love at first sight! Islamic architecture of its finest and a refined urban flair. What left an equally everlasting imprint in our memory was the friendliness and openness we were received with in this town. Hardly anybody passed without giving us a smile, the braver ones whispered a shy “Hello”, “How are you?” or “Welcome to Esfahan”, while passing by. Quite a few stopped to ask how we liked Iran and their city. We also heard brave remarks like: we are not like our government. Continue Reading →
Pasargadae & Naqsh-e-Rostam
Pasargadae is where it all started – the large Achaemenid Empire with Cyrus (580 – 529 BC) as its first king. He founded Persia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes – the Medes and the Persians. And it is his tomb we came to see. We had the place pretty much to ourselves: not many tourists find their way here, although it is not that far from Persepolis. Continue Reading →
2.500 years ago this place most likely held the greatest wealth on earth. The treasury of the Achaemenidean kings Darius and Xerxes measured the size two soccer fields. Giant palaces, adorned with remarkable masonry work retell of the glory and power.
Then came Alexander the Great and burned the place to the ground. He had the foresight to order 10.000 mules and 100 camels to be brought to Persepolis to carry away the bounty. Continue Reading →
If you think of the tasty wine of that same name, forget it. Until the Islamic Revolution in the early 1970s, this fine beverage was eagerly consumed in Iran. Nowadays only the grapes are for sale. This does not mean the very wine of the name ceased to exist. Local farmers still produce small quantities for themselves, rumors say.
Nevertheless Shiraz has other sights to pride itself, lush gardens and the tombs of famous Shirazi. Flying in from Teheran we saw nothing but barren mountains without any vegetation, with patches of green in the flat terrain. Continue Reading →
Holding on to a bottle of Jim Beam when boarding a plane would draw attention in any airport of this world. Doing so on the flight from Istanbul to Teheran gave us a sense of bad omen. The Iranian guy dropped in the seat behind us and nobody seemed to be bothered. Continue Reading →