Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Iranian pottery, labor of love.

  Iranian Pottery has been a fabulous art done in this country since 8000 BC according to the remarkable earthen dishes and statuettes excavated in different ancient cities like Sialk in central Iran, Susa in southern Iran, Marlik in northern Iran and Jiroft in eastern Iran.

  Khayyam, the great Iranian poet, mathematician and philosopher has used the words potter, pottery workshop and pot as the symbols of God, the universe and human in his meaningful poems, indicating that this art has its own place in Iranian culture.
  Today, in cities of Iran many people are still busy with pottery as their job or as an entertainment. In Laleh-jin, a city in Hamedan province, hundreds of earthen dishes, glazed in different colors, are produced every day. In Meibod which is a desert city near Yazd, the pottery dishes are ornamented with beautiful patterns like the sun, little birds and fish and in Sistan va Baluchistan potter women paint geometric and abstracted patterns on their pottery dishes. In other provinces like Qom, Minab, Shahreza, and Bandar-Abbas you can find people who are busy with pottery, too. 

  In all of the mentioned cities you can visit Iranian pottery workshops, see different earthen dishes and you can even sit at the back of a pottery wheel and experience this relaxing art that has accompanied mankind during millenniums.

  Uppersia travel is willing to be in charge of required arrangements so that you can visit traditional pottery workshops and experience Iranian pottery.

A tourist visiting a pottery workshop in Iran

"Matin Abad", a nice eco-lodge in deserts of Iran.

  “Matin Abad co-lodge” was founded by some tourism managers in 2008. This eco-lodge is located in the middle of desert and sand dunes, 45 kilometers away from Kashan. Protecting the nature and promoting sustainable tourism has been the main reason for founding “Matin Abad”. 70 percent of the required energy in this Eco lodge is provided by the sunlight and the managers are focused on classifying and recycling the waste in order to protect the environment.

  The central building is constructed like the caravansarais, built in deserts of Iran many years ago. There are 7 rooms available in the main building, decorated like old Iranian houses with comfortable beds and mattresses and 20 tents around the caravanserai building, suitable for accommodation during both winter and summer because of the traditional heating and cooling systems embedded in them. The tents are simply decorated with traditional objects like kilims and old cushions. 13 small rooms called “Koumeh” are built in the area with brick walls and domed roofs, representing the old houses in the desert. 

Different activities are available in “Matin Abad Eco-lodge”:

 Going through the heart of this endless desert and exploring Karkas peak and the stunning sand dunes on a bicycle or on foot.
Camel back riding in the vast desert that is so exciting and fun especially when the camel walks up and down on the dunes.
Using available telescopes for exploring the amazing night sky with millions of stars and meteorites and learning about astronomy.

The delicious Iranian cuisines served in “Matin Abad” are so healthy and some of the ingredients are from the organic farm located by this eco-lodge. 

Tourists enjoying the beautiful desert.

Spending night in cozy tents of "Matin Abad".

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gonbad- e Qabus, high as sky!

Gonbad-e Qabus is a historical tomb-tower in a city of the same name, located in Golestan province in the Northeast of Iran. This monument which is known as the highest brick tower in the world has been constructed in 1006 AD, ordered by “Qabus ibn Vashmgir” who has been one of the kings of Ziyari emperor who ruled Jorjan city, a center of art and science. This city was ruined by Mongols and Gonbad- e Qabus is the only monument remaining. The conical dome of this monument represents architectural and cultural exchange between the Central Asian people and ancient Iranians.

Some inscriptions are done on the high walls in Kufic and they show religious verses and phrases about “Qabus ibn Vashmgir” owning this great tomb-tower. Some say that this monument had been built as tomb for the king and his body had been kept in a glass coffin, in the tomb-tower.

This tomb-tower, which is 53 meters high, is built based on decagon form with a conical dome, the walls are 3 meters thick, made with non-glazed baked bricks and the whole monument is constructed based on the Golden ratio, which shows the high intelligence of the Iranian architects in geometry and aesthetics. Gonbad-e Qabus has been registered in UNESCO’s list as a world heritage site, almost 1000 years after it has been built, on 2012.

This Architecture masterpiece is one of most interesting attractions you might see in Iran.

"Gonbad- e Qabus" is the highest brick tower in the world.

Monday, August 29, 2016

"Turkmen eco-lodge"

  In 2009 a couple restored a cottage in Golestan province (northern Iran) and converted it into an eco-lodge. This little rural house, located near Golestan National Park is named “Turkmen eco-lodge”.

  The main reason for founding this eco-lodge has been protecting Golestan National Park and introducing it to tourists besides providing a great place for them, so that they can learn about the flora and fauna and meet Turkmen people, living in Golestan province.

  Turkmen eco-lodge is decorated with beautiful felt rugs, kilims and cushions, made by the residents and the tourists get the chance to experience their traditional and simple lifestyle.

A cozy room in "Turkmen eco-lodge", decorated with local handicrafts.
There are different activities that tourists can join in different seasons of the year, during their accommodation for two nights in “Turkmen eco-lodge”:

Joining the local guide for a full day trekking, or having a camping night on the highlands of Golestan National Park, are suggested as adventurous activities during spring, summer and autumn.

Visiting Persian leopards that mate during winter, tracking animal signs on snow and photographing the fabulous snowy landscapes of Golestan National Park are exciting activities during winter. By the way, visiting felt-making workshops and learning how these nice carpets are done is a cultural attraction that shouldn't be missed in this Eco lodge. 

“Turkman eco-lodge” has won the international “To Do” award for promoting sustainable tourism in 2014.

Tourists enjoying the trekking tour on the heights of Golestan National Park.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mashq square

   “Mashq square” or Parade square is one of Tehran’s historical squares. This area has been a vast military square, with approximately 400 meters width and 400 meter length and a casern at the center, where the army could do maneuvers and military exercises in front of the king.
  This field was founded during Qajar era, while Fath-ali shah was the king (1797-1834 (and it got developed during Naser-eddin shah’s kingdom. A high brick wall and governmental buildings were constructed around the field. In 1922 the former municipality of Tehran changed this military field  into a big garden and park and the title “Mashq square" changed to “Bagh-melli” (national garden).
Today, “Mashq square” is considered as a collection of historical monuments and museums, giving visitors an overview about Iran’s political and social situation during Qajar era. Some of them will be mentioned in the following:
 National gate (sardar-e-bagh-melli): This monument is famous because of its interesting constructional and external design, which is a combination of Iranian and European architecture with tile works showing Persian eslimi margins, paintings and religious verses in white, yellow, pink and Persian blue on top of the arc. This gate used to be the city symbol for Tehran before Azadi tower.
  National jewelry museum: A treasurable collection of most valuable Iranian jewelries, related to different eras like Safavid, Afshar, Qajar and Pahlavi is kept in this museum. Jewelry pieces like Naderi paisley, a marvelous piece of diamond named Daryaye-nour (a bright sea), the jewel globe and Farah Pahlavi’s crown are some of the most precious objects available in National jewelry museum.
  Tehran post and communication museum: First Iranian postage stamps that were printed during Qajar era and 7300 more stamps from Iran and countries, horse carts used in delivering mails, first telegraph sets and first telephones are kept in this museum.
  Iran’s national museum: It is known as the most important museum of Iran, including The Ancient Museum of Iran and The  Islamic Museum of Iran. 300,000 objects, including pottery vessels, metal objects, textile remains, coins and rare books, dating back to ancient and Islamic era are kept in National museum of Iran.
  Most of Iran tours, Operated by Uppersia travel are started in Tehran, which is known as the city of museums. So you will have the time for visiting this historical square in Tehran, during your Iran tour.
Iran's national museum.
The beautiful entrance gate of "bagh-melli".

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Zagros, land of rise and falls.

  When it comes to mountain climbing in Iran, Zagros is the big one. Zagros is a very vast mountain range which is extended about 1600 kilometers, from north-west of Iran and even borders of eastern Turkey and northern Iraq to the south-east of Iran. The highest point is Dena area with a peak about 4,409 meters high, located in middle Zagros. So, Dena is very popular among mountain climbers, adventurers and nature lovers. Visitors usually start their climbing or adventurous trip from a town named Si-sakht which is a town in “kohgiluyeh and boyir-Ahmad” province, surrounded by Zagros peaks with a beautiful wild nature. After few hour of driving from both Shiraz and Isfahan you can reach this town.

  Now you just have to choose what you desire to have in this unlimited nature:

  Staying in Si-sakht, renting a rural house and enjoying the fresh sky and weather, strolling in alleys and gardens full of apple, peach and walnut trees with the background of Zagros heights, covered with snow during four seasons of the year.

  Having a great camping experience on the gentle slopes, covered by oak and wild almond trees. Maybe you would like to get a little higher and more acquainted with the wild mountains. There is a lake named “kooh-gol” on a mountain that can be reached by about an hour of not tough mountain climbing. You can set up your tent around this small lake and have an unforgettable camping night. 
The nature of Zagros range's foothills.
  You need more adventure? If you are a professional mountain climber, climbing groups are available in Si-sakht most of the times and you can join them for an exciting hiking tour in Dena area. They are escorted by a local guide and equipped with technical climbing tools and suits.
"Kooh gol" lake, on the heights.
  There are three main ways to reach Dena ridge: 

  Northern route: You should Start the way from Khafr (the historical city in Semirom, Isfahan), and climb Kay-khosro canyon, up to the ridge.
  Eastern route: The way starts from Si-Sakht, entering Bijan col. You can reach different peaks of the ridge, including “Sichanli” and “Howz daal”, passing Bijan col.

  Southern route: This route starts from Si-Sakht and enters “Boz kosh” canyon which means goat killer due to the steep slope! The route finishes on the “Howz daal” peak.

  The famous peaks on Dena ridge, suitable for professional climbing are:

“Sichanli”: 4120 meters                                     eastern and western “Hara”: 4310 and 4300
“Howzdaal”: 4360 meters                                 “Maash”: 4300 meters

“Korsoumi”: 4260 meters                                   “Bon rood”: 4250 meters

“Bijan2” (also called the sky tower): 4435 meters     

“Bijan3” (also called Ghaash mastan): 4450 meters

“Mourgol”: 4420 meters

  During your climbing tour in Zagros you will be amazed with incredible landscapes of rivers flowing through the valleys, springs like “cheshme-mishi” and different waterfalls. This amazing nature is territory to many different animals like brown bear, antelope, panther, Persian squirrel, partridges and etc. Unique types of plants like wild red tulips and cypress trees are existing in this area which is a heaven to mountain climbers and nature lovers. 

  You can just request for mountain climbing tours in Zagros and go for packing your trekking suits! Uppersia will do the rest and arrange your adventures tour.

Young people enjoying their vacations on the Zagros heights.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Susa, home to ancient emperors.

  Susa is located in south-west of Iran and it is known as one of the oldest cities in the world, founded 4000 years BC. According to the ancient documents, Susa has achieved urban planning and architectural design during Elamite, Achaemenid, Ashkanid, Sasanid and Islamic era. The ancient area of Susa, including Apadana (Achaemenid palace), Susa Jaame mosque and Islamic monuments, Acropolis hills and the French castle has been registered in UNESCO’s world heritage list in 2015. 

Susa during Elimate era:

  Traveling to Susa will take you back to 2700 BC, when it was chosen as the Capital of Elamite emperor, which has been a civilized and long standing emperor because of their high intelligence and the suitable climate of Susa that led to agriculture and animal husbandry. Some of remaining heritages, referring to Elamite era in Susa, are:

1. The remains of Susa, including artificial mounds, excavated 200 years ago.

The remains of Susa dating back to Elamite era.
2. The most important heritage dating back to Elamite era in Susa is “Choqazanbil” temple. This great monument has been constructed in 5 overlapping floors for worshiping “Inshoushinak”, the Elamite god. Today only 3 floors are remaining. There are some stone benches in front of this giant temple that were the place for sacrificing for the god. “Choqazanbil” is the oldest monument in Iran and the first world heritage of Iran that have been inscribed by UNESCO.

"Choqazanbil", the temple for worshiping Elimate god.

Susa during Achaemenid era:

 Achaemenid Empire, also called the first Iranian Empire, was founded by Cyrus the great king, on 550 BC and Susa was chosen as a residence for winter. There are some heritages in Susa that belong to Achaemenid era:

1. Daniel was a holy prophet, prisoned in Babel. There is a tale about Danial, being locked in the lions' cage, but the lions didn’t hurt him due to his holy spirit and that’s why he was called a prophet. Then he got rescued by Cyrus, the Achaemenid king. Daniel was able to predict and foresee and he was a trusted man in Achaemenid Emperor. Daniel the prophet passed away in Iran and got buried in Susa. His tomb is very popular among attractions of Susa because of the great architecture of the tomb with a conical dome and the interesting life story of Daniel the prophet.

Tomb of Daniel the prophet with a cronical dome.

2.  “Apadana” palace was built in Susa on 521 BC, ordered by the king Darius. The walls of this glamorous palace were made of adobes, ornamented with glazed bricks and the pillars (22 meters high) were made of stone. The ruins of this great palace are now available in Susa, including the pedestals and statues of two-head horses.

A two-head horse statue in Apadana palace in Susa.

 Susa during Ashkanid era:

 According to the inscriptions and the coins found in Susa, related to Ashkanid era, this city has been an economic center for trading merchandise through Karoun (Ulai River). Some samples of these coins, inscriptions, and many more ancient objects related to different centuries in this city, are now available in the museum of Susa established on 1966.

Susa during Sasanid era:

During Sasanid era, Susa was a center for trading silk and an educational center named “Jondi shapour” was founded in this city which is known as the oldest university of Iran. The rebellion in the city, which was happened during Sasanid era, was suppressed by Shapour II (The Sasanid king) with an army riding elephants but it led to the destruction of Susa.

Susa during Islamic era:

 Susa was once again an alive city in Islamic era but lost its glory when Ahvaz was chosen as the capital of Khuzestan province.

In 1897 a castle was constructed in city by French archaeologist (Jean-Mari de Morgan), who had come to Iran for archeological exploration and excavation in Susa. This castle is similar to medieval monuments in France and some of the glazed bricks of “Apadana” palace and adobes of “Choqazanbil” were used in constructing this castle.

The castle made by french archaeologists.

Today, Susa is not a political or economic center anymore and not the capital of any emperor but it is busy with hosting thousands of tourist every year, showing them the up and rises during 6000 years of rich civilization.
Visiting Khuzestan province and Sua, this ancient city, in recommended during November to April, because of the climate that goes so mild and cool. Uppersia is available for arranging your winter tour to southern Iran.