With a possibility of thawing in Iranian–American relations, soon enough Americans may be able to visit all of Iran’s amazing national treasures. There’s so much to see!
1. Gate of all Nations
The Gate of All Nations was built by the Persian Emperor Xerxes as an entrance into the royal capital of Persepolis in the 5th century B.C.
2. The Ruins of Persepolis
Persepolis was the ancient Persian capital from the 6th to 4th century B.C. Extensive ruins of the city remain to this day.
3. Naqsh-e Rostam
Although looted by Alexander the Great, these tombs are the final resting place of a series of Persian emperors. They’re also believed to be the burial site of the Persian hero Rostam.
4. Khajoo Bridge
The Khajoo in Isfahan spans the Zayandeh River and dates to 1650. It also functions as a building in and of itself.
5. Vank Armenian Cathedral
The Vank Cathedral is one of the first cathedrals built in Isfahan’s Armenian quarter. It is a perfect display of Armenian Orthodox art and architecture.
6. Jameh Mosque
The Jameh Mosque dates to the 12th century, and has been in continuous use since then. Its minarets are the tallest in Iran.
Set by the Caspian Sea, Masouleh is a terraced village dating to the 10th century A.D. The city is know for its fogginess and green mountain setting.
Kharanaq is a tiny mud brick village outside the city of Yazd. A number of the houses are believed to be 1,000 years old and the area has been continuously inhabited for at least 4,000 years.
9. Golestan Palace
A World Heritage Site and the oldest building in Tehran, Golestan Palace has been built in stages since the 15th century.
10. Tombs of Esther and Mordechai
The Jewish Biblical heroes Esther and Mordechai are buried in Hamadan, Iran. Their grave is an important place of pilgrimage for Iranian Jews.
11. Tabriz’s Bazaar Complez
The Bazaar of Tabriz is amongst the oldest and largest in the world. It’s also a prime spot to buy rugs, jewelry, and clothing, or to meet the locals.
12. Tower of Silence
Before the coming of Islam to Iran, the majority of the population was Zoroastrian. Zoroastrians never buried their dead, but instead left them exposed to the elements in Towers of Silence.
13. Chak Chak Temple
Chak Chak is a pilgrimage site for Zoroastrians, and is the holiest of the mountain shrines. The man-made grotto is flanked by massive bronze doors.
14. Amir Chakhmaq Complex
The Amir Chakhmaq Complex is the largest single building in Iran. It was built to be perfectly symmetrical, and the oldest part of the building is over 600 years old.
15. Zein-o-Din Caravansarai
The Zein-o-Din Caravansarai was originally built in the 16th century to aid travelers and merchants along the Silk Road. Today it has been refurbished and still functions as an inn.
16. Azadi Tower
The Azadi Tower, or Freedom Tower, marks the western entrance into Tehran. It was built in 1971 and is the symbol of Iran’s capital.
17. Nasr al-Mulk Mosque
The Nasr al-Mulk Mosque was completed in 1888. It is known for its extensive use of colored glass and bright facades.
18. The Tomb of Firdowsi
Firdowsi, in the 11th century, is largely credited with saving the Persian language from being replaced by Arabic by writing the epic story The Shahname entirely in Persian. His tomb is a pace of extreme cultural pride.
19. The Tomb of Hafez
Hafez is the Iranian equivalent of Shakespeare, if everyone in the English speaking world treated Shakespeare as a rock star. His tomb is a major pilgrimage point, and is beautifully kept.
20. Chehel Sotoun Pavilion
Chehel Sotoun, literally “Forty Columns,” was used as a reception point for foreign dignitaries. Now you can frolic through it as you remember it’s also a UNESCO site.
21. Imam Square
Imam Square, a UNESCO site, dates from the 17th century. It is a massive square surrounded by three mosques.
22. Abanyeh Village
Abanyeh Village is a historic mud brick village. It is completely authentic, and little modern additions have been added to it.
23. Soleyman-tange Dam
The Soleyman-tange Dam lies close to the Caspian sea, surrounded by forested mountains.
24. Dasht-e Kavir, Desert of Salt
Dasht-e Kavir, or desert of salt, is a sparsely inhabited, but savagely beautiful, plateau in the center of the country.
25. Alamut Valley, Birthplace of the Assassins
Alamut Valley was once home to Fort Alamut, birthplace and home of the Assassins. The fort was destroyed by the Mongol invasion in the 12th century, but the ruins still remain.