Arg-e Karim Khan
Dating from the Zand dynasty (1750AD), the Citadel of Karim Khan Zand has been both a fortress and a prison in the past, but since the Iranian revolution it has been a museum. It is square in shape with the corners marked by four towers, each 14m high. One of these towers - the most photographed - leans at an angle as the result of repeated earthquake damage. It is open daily from 8am to 4pm (7pm in Summer).
The Naranjestan-e-Ghavam building was built between 1879 and 1886 and was used as an audience hall for non-family members. The Governor of the Court of Fars lived there during the Qajar period. Between 1969 and 1979 the building was owned by Professor Arthur Pope, a famous archaeologist, who later presented the property to the University of Shiraz who now manage the site. Set in formal gardens, the building and walls are decorated in tiles. Inside the building are rooms with tiled walls, hand-painted ceilings and antique furniture. The small museum in the basement contains items from Pope's collection, including photographs and slides. The entrance fee is 30 000 Rials - approx 3 Euros.
Persepolis was built by the Archaemenid kings of ancient Persia - Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes - in the mid-first millenium BC. It was conceived as a ceremonial site used just once a year for celebrating the Persian new year, which falls on 21st March (the spring equinox). At the peak of the strength of the Persian Empire, representatives of nations throughout the Middle East and Asia would be summoned to Persepolis for the New Year to pay 'tribute' (i.e. taxes) to the Emperor. The site is one of the most important of the ancient world and was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1979. It was also featured in Dan Cruickshank's TV series 'Around the World in 80 Treasures'. Visitors can see the remains of several large monumental buildings, grand and highly decorated staircases, many doorways and other remnants. There are three tombs in the hills behind the site which offer excellent panoramic views. Entrance to the site is 5000 rials (approx. 30 pence or 50 Euro cents) with a further charge of 5000 rials for the small museum in the re-constructed harem. The site is open year round and has an enormous car park.
Shiraz is known throughout Iran as the city of poets and there is no poet more loved by the local people than Hafez. The poet and folk-hero's tomb is engraved with his verses and is set under a canopy within landscaped gardens near the Ruknabad River. His shrine was built in 1773 by Karim Khan and is a popular place with local and national visitors. There is a large tea house where visitors can take a drink and smoke a waterpipe and maybe try the specialty vermicelli ice-cream. There is also a library and people come to stroll through the gardens, sit by one of the two pools and read poetry, or perhaps toss a coin in the pool and make a wish. Admission is from 8 am to 9.30 pm and costs just 3000 rials (approx 20 pence or 30 euro cents).
This archeological site is also one of Iran's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Pasargad was the first of the great Persian cities to be built by Cyrus the Great, the founder of the ancient empire of Persia who chose this location for the first great city of the Archaemenid dynasty. Cyrus built a grand and luxurious city, but today all that remains are a few old ruins and Cyrus's own tomb - a massive structure that now stands at the entrance to the site. Entrance fees are less than £1. Clean toilets and a ticket office are almost all the available facilities, although there is running water and space for picnics.
The Zoroastrian Fire Temple in Yazd welcomes visitors - both Zoroastrian or Parsi pilgrims and tourists alike. The sacred fire at the Yazd Ateshkadeh has been burning since 470 AD and is tended by elderly gentlemen whose job it is to make sure that it never goes out. The temple is open to the public from 7-11 am and 5-7 pm from Saturday to Thursday. However, if it's closed, visitors should ask around and the locals will probably find someone to open it if necessary. There are many signs giving information about the site and to help visitors understand what they are seeing.