The city is the capital of Fars province, located at the southwest of Iran at an altitude of 1543 m above sea level. Shiraz is surrounded by mountains in all directions and has got a moderate climate. A seasonal river called Khoshk (dry) crossing the city helps it against probable flood caused by the sudden rain outpouring largely in a short period of time.
With a population of approximately 1,840,000 in 2011, it is ranked sixth among Iranian large cities. It has industries producing cement, fertilizers, sugar, wood, textile, rugs, etc. It has got a major oil refinery and is a major center for electronic industries.
History of Shiraz
As you’d like to learn more about the history of the city before you visit Shiraz, here is a brief review of what has been happening at this city:
In Elamites’ cuneiform inscriptions, the name of Shiraz has been mentioned around 2000 BC. There are more indications of life in and around Shiraz according to the unearthed findings from the historical mounds at this part of Iran. Some of them even go back to 7000 years ago.
In Achaemenian era, the people traveling from Susa to Persepolis and Pasargadae had to go through Shiraz. The last Parthian king, had control over this city and in Sassanian era, Shiraz was between Bishapur and Gur (today’s Firooz Abad), the two Sassanian capital cities.
Istakhr, the most famous city in Fars province found its higher prominence long time before Shiraz. It stood against Arab invaders in 7th century. Once conquered and devastated by Arabs, Shiraz reputation began to grow and continued under several rulers and historical eras. Several local dynasties ruled there such as Buwahids, Seljuks and Kharazmshahids before the Mongols’ invasion.
During Ilkhanids and Timurids,when Chengiz Khan and Timur attacked Iran, Shiraz managed to escape destruction. In 14th century, as a result of scholars and artists’ encouragement, Shiraz turned into a center for the artists and men of pen. Some of the most famous Iranian poets are from Shiraz such as Hafez and Sa’dy.
After this period Shiraz had a lot of ups and downs. During rises, the population grew as it was a safe place to live. On the contrary, when attacked the inhabitants left the city. A prosperous time for Shiraz after several disturbances was the time when Karmkhan-e-Zand came to power and declared Shiraz his capital. He built a royal district with a fortress and a mosque together with one of the finest bazaars of Iran that is still charming. Although after him, Shiraz lost its power and turned into a provincial capital city and Agha Mohammad Khan established Qajar dynasty and destroyed part of the city to take revenge from the Zand rulers, the city maintained its prosperity anyway it could.
Visit Shiraz Attractions Inside the City
There are several sights to see inside and outside Shiraz. First, let’s take a look at Shiraz tourist attractions worth visiting inside the city:
Tomb of Hafez (Hafezieh): This is the burial place of Hafez, the well-known Iranian poet of 14th century whose ghazal poems are still considered the best in their genre.
Tomb of Sa’dy (Sa’dieh): This is the burial place of Sa’dy, the most prominent poet of Iran second only after Ferdosy in using the Persian Language. His direct words and beautiful literary works in prose and poetry has attracted lot of Persian speaking people inside and outside Iran.
Vakil Mosque: It has been built in mid 18th century by the order of Karimkhan e Zand. The mosque has got two large eyvans with beautiful tile works.
Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque: It is a local mosque with unique decoration particularly at its columned prayer hall where stain glass windows let the light through in the morning.
Atiq Jame Mosque: This is one of the very old mosques still standing in Iran. Its original construction time dates back to 9th century although more restoration and redecoration has been applied to it later in Seljuk and Safavid eras.
Vakil Bazaar: Built by the order of Karimkhan e Zand as part of the entire royal district, it is still a very attractive bazaar specially at its Saraye Moshir courtyard and set of handicraft shops around it.
Vakil Bath: This public bathhouse has been built as part of the same royal district constructed by the order of Karimkhan e Zand. It is now a museum of Fars Province rugs and woven items.
Shah e Cheraq & other Shrines: There are several shrines in Shiraz these days and several of them are being incorporated into a shrine compound. Shah e Cheraq is the largest, which is the burial place of Seyed Mir Ahmad, brother of Imam Reza (6th Imam of Siites).
Arg-e-Karimkhani: It is obviously named after its builder as a citadel in the same royal district as other monuments were constructed. This citadel was served as his residential building with a private bath in it.
Pars Museum (Nazar Garden): This is a small octagonal mansion in the middle of Nazar Garden and part of the royal project. The building was used for official ceremonies and meetings by Karimkhan.
Eram Garden: This is a typical Persian Garden,which is much older than the Qajar house in the middle of it. The garden itself dates back to approximately Seljuk period. Today it is a botanic garden under University of Shiraz.
AfifAbad Garden: This is another beautiful Persian Garden turned into a historic weaponry museum. There is an interesting tea house at its garden with fantastic teahouse-style paintings.
Qavam House: This was the court of the supreme judge of Shiraz in 19th century. The mirror works and European-style paintings in its house, planned as a Persian Garden, has made it a beautiful little place to visit.
Zinat-ol-Molk House: This house has been the residence of the supreme judge, Qavam. There are beautiful plaster work and mirror work decoration with Persian dignitaries’ wax statue museum in the underground.
Qoran Gate: The construction of this entrance gate of Shiraz goes back to Buwahid era, approximately 1000 years ago. It has been restored several times, but a small chamber with a large volume of Qoran was added to the top of it at Karimkhan e Zand period.
Visit Shiraz Attractions outside the City
By driving to three different directions, you will be able to visit some of Shiraz tourist attractions that are the world-class sights worth visiting during your stay in Shiraz. All of them date back to pre-Islam period.
Persepolis: This unique ceremonial palace compound started to be constructed at the time of Darius the Great and continued to be expanded until the fall of Achaemenians. Persepolis is a World Heritage Site at the north of Shiraz with several palaces, three rock tombs and a museum of the artifacts discovered at the same area. It is located 65 km north of Shiraz.
Naqsh-e-Rostam: This is a sight 3km away from Persepolis, which was first used in 2nd millennium BC by Elamites for their rock reliefs. Four Achaemnian kings are buried here and several Sassanian rock reliefs are carved on the face of the mountains. A unique Achaemenian building is still standing in front of the perpendicular cliffs.
Naqsh-e-Rajab: It is located between Persepolis and Naqsh-e-Rostam with 3 rock reliefs of Sassanians carved on the lower part of the mountains.
Palace of Ardeshir: This is a unique building constructed by Ardeshir, the founder of Sassanian dynasty in 3rd century. The first examples of dome building can be found at this palace. It is located almost at 120km south east of Shiraz.
Ancient City of Bishapur: This is an ancient city built by Roman slaves and engineers under Sasssanians and is partly standing where several buildings can be visited such as an Anahita Temple, Shapur Palace, Valerian dungeon. It is approximately 150 km south west of Shiraz.
Tang e Chogan Reliefs: They are opposite the ancient city of Bishapur and represent some of the most eye-catching reliefs of Sassanians recording major historical triumphant moments of Iranians history against Romans and Arabs.