From Shiraz, city of poets and roses, to Persepolis and Yazd



From Isfahan we drive to Shiraz, the city of roses most famous for its poet Hafez. Together with the Koran, a book of Hafez' poems belongs to the inventory of every household. Hafez described Shiraz as place of love, filled with the smell of roses and the chirps of nightingales. His masterpiece, the divan, even inspired Goethe to write his masterpiece called 'fernoestlicher diwan'. In the garden of Hafez' mausoleum, one of the most important ones in Iran, we do what all the thousands of visitors who come here every day do: to recite his poems and read in his books.

About 40 km outside Shiraz is the old achaemenidic residence Persepolis, which was built around 500 B.C. by Darius the Great. The ruins which where excavated in the forties by German archaeologists, exclusively served as a sacred place of ceremonies. On the 21st of March every year, representatives of all people under the reign of the Achaemenidic ruler came here to honor their king of kings, as Darius used to call himself. They came as far as from Greece, Babylon and Ethiopia. The people with their gifts are depicted in detail on an immense relief that was found almost intact. Persepolis was later destroyed by Alexander the Great (332 B.C.) and the Arabs, however many of the buildings are well preserved and have been reconstructed. The site is of unique value to historians and archaeologists as it offers insight into the life of this highly developed civilization. Inscriptions in cuneiform script in old Persian, babylonic and elamic scripts allowed scientists to decipher these languages and reconstruct much of history of the time. Nearby Persepolis lie the cave graves of the kings Kyros and its successors Kambyses and Xerxes. These built their graves high into the rocks where their balsamed bodied were kept. The religion prevailing at that time was the faith of Zarathustra, and so we find a fire temple next to the grave (see more about Zarathustra)