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Persian Design at the Jameh Mosque – Yazd, Iran

Inside the Jameh Mosque in Yazd, Iran

Yazd, a historically Zoroastrian town and a sort of desert outpost that took in people fleeing persecution and wars in other parts of the country, is one of our favorite cities in Iran. Its old city is almost entirely built in brown-red adobe clay, helping to blend it into the surrounding desert landscape and to keep its building interiors cool.

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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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The Fairy Chimneys of Kandovan, Iran

The Kandovan fairy chimneys in northwestern Iran.

Upon hearing the news of the recent earthquakes near Tabriz in Northwest Iran, my mind went immediately to the time we spent in that region last November. This includes a day trip from Tabriz to the village of Kandovan where people live in fairy chimneys, caves made from volcanic ash deposited thousands of years ago.

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Midnight Express: Iran to Turkey by Train

Inside an Iranian Train, Tehran to Istanbul

Iran is again catching its share of headlines. So it seemed as good a time as any to share the story of our exit from the country — hopping a train en route from Tehran across the border to Turkey, then all the way to Istanbul. One of the finest and most surprising segments of our around-the-world journey.

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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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Disco Ball Mosque – Shiraz, Iran

Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh in Shiraz, Iran.

I'm going to show you something like you've never seen before.

Our guide, just before entering the Shāh Chérāgh Mosque.

The Shāh-é-Chérāgh Mosque. It's a mausoleum, a funerary, one of the many places of worship and pilgrimage in Iran.   But this one looks like a giant disco ball turned inside out. 

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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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Persepolis: Ancient Persia, Modern Lessons

Although Persepolis is one of Iran’s top archeological and tourist sites, I was careful to keep my expectations in check before visiting. After all, what would remain of the 2,500 year-old capital of the Achaemenid Empire? Amidst crumbled columns, I found great detail that blew me away and a surprising connection to the present.

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