Travelling to Iran is really rewarding, especially if you like meeting people. Iranian hospitality is one of the characteristics of its people and it really surprises the western traveller since the image we have in the West of Iran is usually an image of a dark, fundamentalist country. We should never confuse the people and their governments. Iranian people are warm-hearted , very kind and interested in foreigners. In general they are cultured people who love poetry. The tombs of some poets are considered shrines and everybody visits them.
We visited the country during the celebration of No-Ruz which is on the 21 March, the first day of Spring. It’s a Zoroastrian festival , a pre-Islamic celebration of the New Year. It’s a family celebration and many people take a fortnight holiday to travel around and visit the most important sights. Tehran is empty whereas the other places we visited were really crowded with Iranian families camping and having their picnics. Sometimes you may think that there are too many people around but on the other hand it is an excellent opportunity to get to know the people and their traditions.
Situated between the East and the West, Iran surprises in many ways, especially for its amazing archaeological sites and religious, civil and popular architecture. We should remember that Iran was the cradle of many ancient civilizations, Persepolis being a breathtaking example of its greatness.
Along with sightseeing another very positive aspect to enjoy is its gastronomy and of course its bazaars full of handicrafts and of course the well known carpets. For centuries Iran was crossed by the caravans of the silk road and that obviously had a great influence on the making of the Persian carpets. Since Iran is a very big country with many ethnic groups there are very different kinds. Some of the most simple and beautiful are made by tribeswomen and they are very different from the image we have of a classic Persian carpet.
Black on black : Iran revisited . Ana Briongos. Lonely Planet. Personal account of a travel writer who lived as a student in the Shah’s Teheran and since then has been back many times and it’s very familiar with what’s going on.
Persepolis. Marjani Satrapi. A comic book that is very useful to understand the transition from the old regime to the days of the Islamic revolution, seen from the point of view of a young female student.
Shah of shahs. Ryszard Kapuscinski. Brillant analysis that helps you to understand the fall of the Shah and the triumph of the revolution.