What are Iran’s most beautiful cities?
With such a large territory and different cultures, Iran has a multitude of cities that are quite different from each other, in terms of architecture and atmosphere.
If you ask travellers, most of them name of Shiraz as the most beautiful city they visited in Iran. Part of the “classic road” to visit Iran, Shiraz is located in the south of the country, in the Fars region. It’s one of the most delicate cities of Iran, known as the city of gardens: Eram Garden (Unesco), Shapoori Garden, Naranjestan Qavam Garden, and Jahan Nama Garden… these green spaces make the city particularly beautiful in Spring when roses and other flowers bloom. Around Nowruz, in early March, the whole city gets wrapped in the scent of the orange blossom.
Shiraz also is famous for its pleasant and liberal atmosphere, with many cafes and other places to hang out. Furthermore, there are many historical places in Shiraz that are among Iran’s must-sees: The Pink Mosque (Nasir ol Molk), Hafez and Saadi Tombs, and the Vakil Complex (Bazaar, Hammam, and Mosque). It is also near Iran’s most famous sightseeing: Persepolis.
For centuries, Isfahan has been nicknamed “Half of the world” by the ancient travellers that wrote about its beauties in their travel books. They indeed considered that Isfahan contains no less than half the beauties of the world! Still today, Isfahan is a true living museum and simply walking in the alleys of the bazaar or on Naqshe Jahan Square is a delight for the eyes. The city is a vitrine of the Safavid’s reign. It was made the capital of Persia under Shah Abbas the Great in 1587, who ordered to build most of the architectural wonders the visitors can now admire in Isfahan: palaces, mosques, gardens, bridges…
The most famous sightseeings are located in Naqshe Jahan Square, itself a Unesco world heritage: The Shah Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace and the Bazaar. But Isfahan also has many other places that are architectural beauties such as the palaces of Chehel Sotoon Palace and Hasht Behesht, and the Vank Cathedral a stunning Armenian church.
For many European travellers, Yazd is the highlight of their trip to Iran. Because this abode city, whose historic city center is entirely listed as a Unesco world heritage, brings the traveller’s mind to the stories of the 1001 nights. Its small abode streets create an intriguing labyrinth that brings visitors to unsuspected wonders.
From the many rooftops of the city, where pretty cafes were created, one can admire the breathtaking view over the city and its hundreds of windtowers. Yazd is indeed famous for its windtowers, which tallest in the world can be admired at Dowlat Abad Garden. At night, Yazd also has a completely enchanting atmosphere that makes it easily earn its place among Iran’s most beautiful cities.
Less than a 3hour road away from Tehran is Kashan, a small city that holds many hidden gems. At the gateway of the desert, its small historic city center somehow reminds Yazd with its abode walls. But the jewels of Kashan are its historical houses: Tabatabaei House, Borujerdi House, Ameri House and Abbasi House are among the most famous, but there are plenty of other splendid houses hidden behind modest doors. These richly decorated houses belonged to merchants of the Silk Road era. They all have unique architecture and interior design that makes the visitor feels like traveling in time.
In May, Kashan dresses up in pink for the Rose Water Festival which is held every year in Kashan and small villages around. Tonnes of Mohammadi roses leaves are distillate to extract the most delicate rosewater, later sold and used to make some of the world’s most famous perfumes.
The capital city of Eastern Azerbaijan province, in the northwest of Iran, is often named among Iran’s most beautiful cities. Surrounded by green mountains and covered by snow during winter, Tabriz offers a very unique atmosphere.
Tabriz’s jewel is its historical bazaar, one of the oldest in the Middle East and a Unesco world heritage. As an ancient city of the Silk Road, Tabriz has many beautiful historical monuments dating back from the Ilkhanid, Safavid and Qajar dynasties. The Blue Mosque, built in 1465, is one of them, as well as the Arg-e Alieshah but also the Armenian Monastery located in Tabriz’s surroundings.
Less famous than the cities of the Classic Road or even Tabriz, Bushehr is yet a pretty city that deserves its place among Iran’s most beautiful cities. It’s one of these out of the beaten path destinations that surprises many visitors. Located in the southwest of Iran, Bushehr is one of the main ports of the Persian Gulf.
With a long history of sea trade, Bushehr was once a prosperous city. It has a singular architecture, with white mansions and buildings decorated with wood, stone and stucco. An architectural style that is typical of Bushehr and creates very picturesque scenery in the small white alleys with walls covered by pink bougainvillea.
It may be surprising to find Tehran among Iran’s most beautiful cities. After all, Iran’s capital city has quite a chaotic architecture, traffic and is unfortunately famous for its pollution. Yet, Tehran can be a beautiful city for the visitor that takes the time to discover it.
Enclosed by the mountains in the north, Tehran has many green boulevards and parks where it’s pleasant to walk. Moreover, Tehran also has plenty of beautiful historical buildings such as the Golestan Palace (Unesco), Saad Abad Palace, Niavaran Palace and the buildings of Bagh Melli, which gives it a unique atmosphere.
Daisy Lorenzi is a French writer and traveler who felt in love with Iran after visiting the country. In 2018, she decided to settle in Tehran and has been living in Iran since. She currently lives on Qeshm island, in the Persian Gulf.