No Ruz, Tehran and Kashan

(March 2016)

We landed in Tehran! We step into Iranian soil, worried for not being covered enough, not to get attention… But that girl and this other one and that one don’t have their head fully covered. But we cover.

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This is how our trip to Iran starts, worried because besides what you’ve read and heard that there is no point over obsessing and that the country is more relaxed than what they are telling us, you don’t want to get in trouble.

We had two days to visit Tehran, surrounded by its high mountains. We arrived on no Ruz’s Eve (Persian New Year), the biggest celebration in the country and the reason why absolutely everything is closed. If we had to compare it to something it would be like Western Christmas, it’s all about family and you get ready to eat, there are many traditions and you would see everything ready to sell the Haft Seen (things that start with the Farsi letter -s-). As we arrived we were told that the city was empty: no traffic but nothing open either. And that the country itself stops officially the first 5 days of the New Year (following a sun calendar and living in 1395) but basically the first two weeks.

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So, what would we visit if everything was close? Not the bazaar, not many of the museums. So with our guides and hosts in the capital we visited a local market and the first mosque, the first moment of Iranian solidarity when with our clumsiness a woman helped us to put the chador to enter the mosque. And then the mountain! And the Midal Tower, what a view, what a huge city. It’s so good that it’s empty!!

In our search to look for something that would be open we got to the bazaar: closed. but the Golestan Palace was open so we got in. This building complex has an entry fee and then another one for every building you visit. A total of a million rials if you want to visit it all, or if it’s open (25€), but of course not everything was open…. So we visited the Mirror Hall (the only one opened) finished in 1877 and used for coronations and royal weddings; and the common areas. Everything sparkles and is reflected in the small mirrors, the green gardens, the kids running around… And from there to Shahr park, where people greeted for the new year.

And who goes to Tehran and doesn’t visit the American Embassy, today called the US  Den of Espionage? The building only opens a few days around the year (not during No Ruz) and has so much history behind it! And that is why we visited, even if it was only in the distance.

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On our way to Esfahan, we stopped in Kashan,  a small city in between two big ones  which has one of the best examples of Persian gardens, but as we were in a rush we couldn’t see it. It was also partially closed Kashan’s bazaar, but we could visit the traditional houses that are now some sort of museum.

Khan-e Tabatabei was built in 1880 and has three sections: a family area, an exterior and guest house and the service area. The small crystals, the moldings, the infinity doors make the area a maze; a small palace in the middle of the city.

The other house, Khan-e Abbasian  has six buildings in different levels and a big courtyard. It looked simpler than the first one, but had so much potential, we liked the first one better.

And now we finish, but we must first thank Itziar for her hospitality and the tour; thanks also to her friends Albert, Francisco and Santiago for taken us in. See you in Esfahan, so many surprises await us.

All the pictures and videos of Iran are in the Gallery if you want to read about other places in the country just check out our Iran section

 

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