Shiraz, City of Poets and Flowers

Shiraz, City of  Poets and Flowers
Shiraz, City of  Poets and Flowers

Shiraz, capital of Fars province, is one of the most beautiful, historical cities in the world. With over 850,000 inhabitants, the city is situated in southwestern Iran, 200 km inland from the Persian Gulf, at an elevation of 1,800 meters above sea level.

After the Sassanid capital Istakhr was captured and plundered by Arab hordes, the greatness of Istakhr declined, and new nearby metropolis of Shiraz grew in prominence, until the Buyid dynasty (945–1055) made Shiraz their capital, building mosques, palaces, a library and an extended city wall.

But long before the golden days of Istakhr and Shiraz, there existed other capitals in the land. Pasargad served as the seat of Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great who was not much of seat-dweller.

Later the Achaemenid capital moved to Persepolis, some 77 km away, where Darius the Great and his son Xerxes took their time and built a city too luxurious to survive.

Today, the magnificent remnants of the erstwhile capitals stand in surrounding plains of Shiraz, while, there in the city, many elegant monuments came into existence during its cultural prosperity.

Shiraz has been inhabited by various peoples such as Aryans, Semites, and Turks, each leaving a considerable share on the Iranian culture. It is the birthplace and resting place of great Persian poets Hafez, master of Persian lyrical poetry; and Sa’di, author of the book Golestan ‘flower garden’, a famous compilation of sonnets.

The most charming buildings in Shiraz are located in the old part of the city, where there are dozens of mosques with bulb-shaped and pear-shaped domes and cupolas, all adjoined by houses manifesting history and tradition.

  Bazaar Vakil

Hundreds of vendors are housed in Bazaar Vakil, where there are old shops, beautiful courtyards, caravanserais, and bath-houses. Here, silversmiths and jewelers still offer their exquisite inlay works. All sorts of Persian rugs, spices, copper handicrafts and antiques can be found in the bazaar.

  Masjid Vakil

Masjid Vakil ‘regent’s mosque’ was built during the Zand period, between 1751 and 1773, and restored during the Qajar period in the 19th century. It has an impressive portal adorned with faience panels in floral designs. The northern iwan (verandah) is decorated with shrubs and flowers, mainly rose bushes. The ceiling in mihrab chamber (altar) is covered with small cupolas resting on twisted columns.


The mausoleum of Shah-Cheragh in Ahmadi square is a glittering masterpiece of architecture and tilework. Its expansive courtyard is a great place to sit and take in the bulbous blue-tiled dome and dazzling gold-topped minarets.

  Shrine of Ali ibn Hamzeh (AS)

North of the old bridge of Ali-ibn-Hamzeh near Isfahan gate, lies the tomb of Amir Ali, a nephew of the one entombed in Shah-Cheragh. The highlights of the shrine include the eye-catching bulbous dome, dazzling mirror-work, stained glass windows, and an intricate, ancient wooden door. The tombstones around the courtyard are another characteristic feature of the shrine.

  Masjid Nasir-ol-Molk

One of the most elegant and photographed mosques in southern Iran is Masjid Nasir-ol-Molk in Lotf-Ali-Kahn street. Its tiling is colored in an unusually deep shade of blue. There are some particularly fine muqarnas in the smallish outer portal and in the northern iwan, but the stained glass, carved pillars and polychrome faience of the winter prayer hall are the most eye-catching features.

  Arg-e Karim Khan

Shohada square in the city center is dominated by the high walls of the fortress Arg-e Karim Khan, and its high circular towers. The walls are ornamented with brickwork. Each 12m wall is 3 meters thick at the base and 2.8 meters at the top.

The design of the fortress combines military and residential architecture, for it was the home of Karim Khan and the military center of the dynasty.

The southeastern tower has a noticeable lean, having subsided onto the underground cistern that served as a bathhouse. Inside the fortress is a large, open courtyard with citrus trees and a pool.

After the fall of the Qajar dynasty the fortress was converted into a prison and the paintings were plastered over. In 1971 it was passed to Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

According to Cultural Heritage News Agency, the renovation of the citadel started in 1977. Today, the fortress is an anthropology museum.