Category Archives: Iran

In Europe we are quite used to history being intertwined with our present and future. We shop in heritage buildings, visit towns with ancient city walls and don’t always take the time to appreciate it. It isn’t until we visit a place that’s missing this history that we realise what we’ve got. Yet when we are abroad tend to seek out the history of foreign places. Rarely have I experienced history, as in Zein-O-Din caravanserai. Until the 1500s the silk road was a major network of trading route running from East to West, or China to Europe. People travelled in caravans and traded goods along the way. But they also exchanged their cultures, like art, religion and language, and unfortunately also disease. A caravan travelled on a familiar path and would pass on their goods at certain transfer points and then pick up things to take the other way. Along…

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After a beautiful morning exploring the ruins of Persepolis, we were filling our bellies and processing all the beauty at local buffet restaurant. We had just finished our after-lunch tea when our tour leader said it was time to go. Whereas we were usually pretty relaxed since we had a small group, our leader was now a bit agitated when some people browsed at the book shop a bit too long. He urged us to make our purchases and get on the bus. Something was up. Once we were on our way back to the city of Shiraz, our tour leader explained what was happening. The Iranian government had increased the petrol prices by 200% overnight and the people were not happy. All over the country people had taken to the streets to protest and we weren’t sure if we could reach Shiraz. As we drove in the direction of…

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Around 550BC Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire. He first defeated the Medes and from there the empire grew conquest by conquest. It became larger than any empire had been before. Cyrus himself built a palace at Pasargadae. His successors preferred other locations. Darius I founded a new capital in Persepolis and an equally large city in Susa. Persepolis was great in summer and mostly a ceremonial place. When the snow came, the administration moved to Susa. The best preserved of the ancient cities in Iran is Persepolis. It’s a super interesting place to visit. I’d read a small book about it and when our guide took us around, I remembered many of the passages. There is so much history behind these pillars and walls. We entered and climbed up the big staircase. This whole city is build on a plateau. It’s hard to imagine what it must have…

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Zoroastrianism is a religion I had never heard of until I went to Iran. And yet it influenced many of the worlds main religions, like Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It is one of the oldest religions still practised and the oldest one believing in one god: Ahura Mazda. It became more widespread during the Achaemenid empire, founded by Cyrus the Great. Zoroastrians believe in good thoughts, good words and good deeds. At the end of your life you’ll be judged based on that. While we were in Yazd we learned about the Zoroastrians and visited some of their important places. We saw two towers of silence, the old place for funerals. The four elements are sacred and when a person dies, the body is tainted by evil and cannot be burned or put into the ground. Therefore the Zoroastrians had their own rituals. They built towers on top of hills.…

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Before our plane landed, a warning sounded over the speakers: “We strongly recommend you to wear a head scarf before exiting the plane.” I felt uncomfortable, constantly checking if it was still on my head as I walked to the terminal. I as nervous because I didn’t have a visa yet. I had wanted to have a visa, but the only procedure rejected me with a phrase in Persian that obviously wasn’t very helpful. When I entered the visum lounge, I only saw a guy and a couple. I started filling in a tiny piece of paper. Then a lady came to take my paper. She took my passport, checked my insurance and told me to sit down. Then a big group of French people entered. They had done some pre-work and just had to pay. They were out of there in no time! Not long after, the couple and…

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