Just sixty kilometers ride separate us from the city of Shiraz, so, we hit the road in order to enjoy every majesty of this city cradle of poetry, rosettes, gardens of the Persian culture. It was built at the foot of the Zagros mountains. We enter through the Qur’an Gate, where two copies of handwritten Sacred Qur’an were kept (now preserved in a museum). Tradition was that all travelers crossed underneath the sacred texts before journey, would be protected from any unforeseen event: we are not Muslims and not superstitious, but … you never know, we might as well try 😉
We reach the hotel and make check in so as not to waste any time in the afternoon and try to use our time as best as possible. We take our stuff into our bedrooms, and then, ready to go: destination, Madrasa Khan. It is an ancient Koranic Theological school built in 1615, which in time has undergone several destructions and remodeling due to numerous earthquakes, but still, maintains a particularly mystical charm. Within the inside part, the walls are covered with pink and yellow floral tiles which are typical of Shiraz and embrace a silent, spiritual garden, perfectly groomed and immersed in silence broken only by the singing of birds. We decide to go and visit one of the magnificent gardens of the city, choosing the Edem, which means Eden. One shouldn’t be surprised! It is a true botanical paradise famous for its cypresses and roses: the great variety is amazing, going from the different colors you can find, as it is unbelievable is the penetrating scent they stem! The scent it emanates is now forgotten and found only in the perfume essences and oils.
It is almost two o’clock, and since Ramadan has just started the only places where we can have lunch (also for being respectful) are the international hotels: luckily ours is one of those! So, we go back to the hotel for a short break, and then we go for a walk and head to Vakij, the most famous and colorful bazaars of the city. It was created almost three centuries ago; it was the will of its rulers to make this city one of the nation’s most important shopping centers. There are over 200 crafts, clothing and spices shops within large passageways and brick ceilings. As usual, it is delightful and fascinating going around and walking through shops and stands and being tempted by some local shopping! Right next to one of its entrances there is the Vakij mosque. Beautifully decorated with majolica tiles with floral and arabesque subjects, a large courtyard and a picturesque prayer room, surely different from those visited so far, typified by a vaulted ceiling held by 48 columns.
Next stop at the Karim Khan citadel which has now become a museum. For centuries, it represented one of the strongest images of the country built as part of a complex during the Zand dynasty. In shape, it resembles a medieval fortress: the walls surrounding it are really impressive and worthy of an important past.
We take a look here and there, a “forced” haircut for Filippo and back to the hotel.
Tomorrow we will resume our journey