The Hidden Peacock at Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque – Isfahan, Iran

Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque in Esfahan, Iran.

If you look up, at just the right time, you'll see a peacock on the ceiling,” our guide, Javad, explained as he walked us under the gilded and tiled dome of Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran.

We craned our necks, searching for just the right angle. With the aid of sunlight passing through a nearby window, an image of a peacock — previously unseen, now tail shimmering — was revealed to us brush strokes. Intermittent cries of “Oh!” indicated when everyone in the room “got it.”

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Persian Carpets in Tabriz Bazaar, the World’s Largest Covered Market

Tabriz Bazaar, a UNESCO site and largest covered bazaar in the world.

An Iranian carpet, especially one from Tabriz, is worth more than gold.

— Our Iranian guide gives us an economics lesson in the old carpet section of the Tabriz bazaar.

The largest bazaar in the Middle East. The world's largest covered market. A UNESCO World Heritage site. That's the Tabriz bazaar. And deep inside, old men, purveyors of grand old Persian Azerbaijani carpets, drink tea, smoke qalyan, and stay open only four hours a day. Voices are low, relationships are being formed — and deals are being made.

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Traveling to Iran as Americans: All You Need to Know

Traveling to Iran as an American citizen may sound complicated and dangerous. It’s not. We’re here to dispel the myths and answer the questions piling up in our inbox about visas, safety, and other concerns based on our visit to Iran.

Our aim in the following Q&A is to answer actual reader queries and to help demystify the process of traveling to Iran, especially for Americans.

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Iran: A Poem to the People

This is a story of a woman I met on a train in Iran and a letter she wrote to me — a letter I now read through tears.

My heart sank as I watched the news from Iran this morning, scenes of the British Embassy being charged by an angry mob in Tehran. It saddens me – angers me, really – that narrow groups like this who define the world’s perception of Iran and the Iranian people are in reality such a small percentage of the country's population.

My experience tells me they are the outliers, yet circumstances conspire to convince us on the outside to see them as the norm.

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