THE ADDRESS Magazine Summer 2014 - Page 423

Photo: Anisha Shah Shiraz, city of love Ah, Shiraz, the city of romance, poetry, literature and wine. One could easily spend a week or a lifetime in Shiraz. I have 3 days and head straight to Vakil Bazaar. The deeper one ventures, the more rewarding it becomes, revealing hidden caravanserais, bath-houses and hundreds of time-worn shops. The bazaar is an intoxicating maze. Buy Shiraz-specialty hand-painted boxes, loose incense and saffron and cinnamon bark. The bazaar was Karim Khan’s ambition to make Shiraz a lasting trading centre. Wide vaulted brick avenues are highlight legacies of Zand architecture. Marvel at multiple entrances, considered portals to a dream world of Persian cliché; catch glimpses of copper twinkle in the odd ray of light; antique incense burners whose heavy smoke encumbers the air of this romantic fabled city. I meet groups of girls convened over hijab stalls, deciphering fabrics and colours. Several mosques skirt the periphery. Shiraz is also known as the city of flowers. Appropriately, a group of schoolboys wander over to give me a beautiful flower in the Unesco world heritage Eram Gardens. Given as a gesture of welcome and respect, it embodies everything I come to learn of Iranians. Eram Gardens or ‘Bagh e-Eram’ is thought to have been built by an Arab King who wanted to compete with paradise. ‘Eram’ is Arabic for heaven. Verdant grounds, scented flowers and vivid colours such as a carpet of Persian buttercup, ensure aesthetic pleasures all around. Find the 3,000-year-old Cypress tree, ‘sarv-e nāz’. Whilst visiting again on my second day, I meet secondary schoolgirls painting scenes of nature and primary schoolgirls on a visit wrapped in pretty pink hijabs and the sweetest chorus of wide smiles. Ancient empire, Persepolis Name one single famous reason to visit Iran and Persepolis will be the answer. The most famous archaeological site of Iran and the world is an hour’s drive from Shiraz. ‘Takht e-Jamshid,’ as locals know it ((is 650 kilometres south of capital Tehran.)) was once the richest city on Earth, the largest empire in the world and treasure trove capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Darius 1 in 518BC. The focal Apadana royal palace was once laden with gold, silver, ivory and gemstones, and is surrounded by the Treasury, royal tombs and Council Hall. It’s from here that Xerxes planned war against Greece. Alexander the Great invaded Persepolis in 330 BCE, causing a damaging fire. But, today’s ruins remain breathtakingly impressive on a global scale, so much so that Unesco designated this a world heritage site in 1979. Get bird’s eye views over the vast site from 423