THE ADDRESS Magazine Summer 2014 - Page 427

caravanserais, two-table teahouses and peripheral markets. Of the four monuments bordering Imam Square, the understated 16th century Lotfollah mosque is unusual in its lack of minarets or central courtyard, as it was created for ladies of the harem. Long shielded from the public eye, the interiors remained a mystery. There’s no mistaking the measures taken by Sheikh Lotfollah, a religious prayer leader Imam, to make this exquisite for the ladies. Crescent marble, complex mosaics, cream-and-blue tiework and calligraphic montages are world-famed. The dome is 13m wide and engulfed in an intricate lattice tilework, converging in a peacock at the apex. Unesco awarded this world heritage status as an urban phenomenon of space amidst the tightly parcelled Persian city. My favourite spot to spend time in Esfehan is the now uber-trendy Armenian Quarter. The museum attached to Vank cathedral is the best place to learn about the bloodied Armenian genocide and history of Armenians in Iran. They flourished in commerce and education under Reza Shah and Mohammed Reza Shah in the 19th century. Vank cathedral draws gasps, embellished ceiling to floor in vibrant vivid murals and frescoes depicting Christianity. Afterwards, wander to Café Ani, a hub for young creatives who convene over the best coffees in town. Restaurants, cafes and boutique shops here are unique and eclectic in this Greenwich Village feel. Here, I meet a group of new-age Tehranis who’re artists, poets, musicians and actors. Learning first-hand their hopes for the future of expressionism for Iranians, an all-pervading sense of optimism appears. But then, they are actors. Memoirs of Iran Iran is a deeply polarized nation due to its political governance. But the hospitality and warmth of the Iranians is legendary and their fierce pride of place admirable. Travel here is an once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that’ll remain with any traveller forever. NEED-TO-KNOW: My Iran itinerary was tailor made by specialist travel agency ‘Travel The Unknown’ who offers group tours and private tours to Iran. Photo: Anisha Shah Anisha Shah is a luxury and emerging destinations travel journalist. Her background as a BBC TV and radio news reporter, combined with a longstanding love affair with travel, sees her first on the scene of new and exciting travel hot spots. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Yahoo Travel and Prestige Asia. Follow Anisha on Twitter: @anishahbbc. 427