Tourism Services Getting to know Iran better

Welcome to the land of wonders, Iran

For years Iran has been a mystery and full of secrets for tourists. However, after they travel to Iran, they stunned and fascinated by the beauty of the historical, cultural and spiritual landscapes of Iran. Perhaps one of the reasons for this, is that Iran is being ranked 10th in the archaeological and historical attractions, and being 5th in natural attractions in the world.Various monuments, including mosques, houses, palaces and traditional markets with unique architecture and beautiful design will definitely surprise you.Every town and village in the country has its own unique handicrafts, you can find fine cashmere and silk hand-woven in Yazd, encountered by Ghalamzani, Khatam Kari and tiled design in Jame mosque in Isfahan and become interested in Tabriz by unique Carpets with different designs.By having a climate with four seasons it is possible for tourists to Ski in Dizin and Shemshak during fall and winter, while swimming at the same time in the Persian Gulf.In Iran you will meet people with diffeent ethnicity, cultures and religious, you will also experience great hospitality by Iranian.
The history of Iran, commonly known as Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia and Egypt in the west to the borders of Ancient India and Syr Darya in the east, and from the Caucasus and the Eurasian Steppe in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the south.The southwestern part of the Iranian plateau participated in the wider Ancient near East with Elam, from the Early Bronze Age. The Persian Empire (Persia) proper begins in the Iron Age, following the influx of Iranian peoples. Iranian people gave rise to the Medes, the Achaemenids, the Parthians, and the Sasanians during the classical antiquity.
Once a major empire of superpower proportions, having conquered far and wide, Iran has endured invasions too, by Greeks, Arabs, Turks, and Mongols. Iran has continually reasserted its national identity throughout the centuries and has developed as a distinct political and cultural entity.Iran is home to one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 4000 BC. The Medes unified Iran as a nation and empire in 625 BC. The Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC), founded by Cyrus the Great, was the first of the Persian empires to rule from the Balkans to North Africa and also Central Asia from their capital in Persis (Persepolis). They were succeeded by the Seleucid Empire, Parthians and Sasanians who governed Iran for almost 1,000 years, and would put Iran once again as the leading powers in the world, only this time amongst their arch rival, the Roman Empire and the successive Byzantine EmpireIn general history of Iran divided into two parts: before and after Islam Islam is divided.
Pre-Islamic civilizations:

The Elamite Empire 2500 - 644 BCE
The Median Empire 728 - 550 BCE
The Achaemenid Empire 550 - 330 BCE
Seleucid Empire 306 - c.150 BCE
The Parthian Empire 247 BCE - 224 CE
The Sassanid Empire 224 - 642 CE

Post-Islamic dynasties:

Islamic Conquest, 636 CE
Saffarid Dynasty, 861 - 900 CE
Samanid Dynasty, 819 - 999 CE
Turks and Mongols, 10th - 15th century CE
Ziyarids Dynasty, 927 - 1043 CE
Ghaznavid Dynasty, 962 - 1186 CE
Ismailieh (Assassins), 11th century CE
Safavid Empire, 1502 – 1736 CE
Afsharid Dynasty, 1736 – 1757 CE
Zand Dynasty, 1757 – 1794 CE
Qajar Dynasty, 1794 – 1925 CE
Pahlavi Dynasty, 1925 – 1979 CE
Islamic Revolution of 1979 CE
Iran is subdivided into thirty one provinces, each governed from a local center, usually the largest local city, which is called the capital of that province. The provincial authority is headed by a Governor-General, who is appointed by the Minister of the Interior subject to approval of the cabinet.
Modern history

According to Encyclopædia Britannica, in 1908 there were thirty five administrative divisions in Persia, as follows:Provinces: 1. Arabistan and Bakhtiari, 2. Astarabad and Gurgan, 3. Azerbaijan, 4. Fars, 5. Gerrus, 6. Gilan and Talish, 7. Hamadan, 8. Irak, 9. Isfahan, 10. Kashan, 11.Kazvin, 12. Kerman and Baluchistan, 13. Kermanshah, 14. Kamseh, 15. Khar, 16. Khorasan, 17. Kum, 18. Kurdistan, 19. Luristan and Burujird, 20. Mazandaran, 21. Nehavend, Malayir and Kamereh, 22. Savah, 23. Samnan and Damghan, 24. Shahrud and Bostam, 25. Teheran, 26. Zerend and Bagdadi Shahsevens.Until 1950, Iran was divided into twelve provinces: Ardalan, Azerbaijan, Baluchestan, Fars, Gilan, Araq-e Ajam, Khorasan, Khuzestan, Kerman, Larestan, Lorestan, and Mazandaran.In 1950, Iran was reorganized to form ten numbered provinces with subordinate governorates: Gilan; Mazandaran; East Azerbaijan; West Azerbaijan; Kermanshah; Khuzestan; Fars; Kerman; Khorasan; Isfahan.From 1960 to 1981 the governorates were raised to provincial statusone by one. Since then several new provinces have been created, most recently in 2004 when the province of Khorasan was split into three new provinces as well as splitting of the new Alborz Province from Teheran province in 2010.

Iran has an arid and semiarid climate with subtropical areas along the coasts. There are four seasons: spring, summer, a brief autumn, and winter. The central deserts and Persian Gulf coast are especially hot in summer, with some of the world's highest recorded temperatures occurring in the desert. The average annual temperature in northern Iran is 10°C (50°F). The average annual temperature in southern Iran is between 25°C and 30°C (77°F and 86°F). Iran's climate is dry, except for belts of high humidity along the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf. Strong seasonal winds often whip up dust and sandstorms.Iran's average annual precipitation is 27 centimeters (11 inches) during non-drought years. Less than 14 percent of the land receives more than 52 percent of the precipitation. The most rainfall occurs along the Caspian Sea shore, past the Elburz range. For the most part, the rains arrive in the winter, when snow also affects the mountainous regions. In some areas, no precipitation occurs for long periods of timeSudden storms with heavy rains a few times per year may provide those regions with their entire annual rainfall.

Iran with 1,648,195 Km2 (636,375 mi2) area, is one of the 20 largest countries worldwide. 
The country is located in South-West Asia with border to Armenia, Azerbaijan (the Nakhichevan Republic) and Turkmenistan in 
North, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in East, Iraq and Turkey in West.
In addition to these countries, through the Persian Gulf Iran is neighbor to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arabic Emirates.
 Mountains of Iran
Some 55% of Iran’s land area consists of mountains and mountain plateaus which divided into 4 main areas as Alburz, Zagros, Central Iran and East of Iran. 
Iran’s tallest summit is Damavand in Alborz Mountain, standing 5,610 meters above sea level. 
Its summit was first reached in 1837 by a group of European by Supervision of Tyler Thompson.
 According to Iranian Tourism Organization documents it was reached by group of Iranian in 1857 by supervision of Colonel Mohammad Sadegh Khan Qajar.
1. Alburz, Elburz or Elborz, is a mountain range in northern Iran that stretches from the border of Azerbaijan along the western and entire southern coast of the Caspian Sea
 and finally runs northeast and merges into the Aladagh Mountains in the northern parts of Khorasan.
2. The Zagros Mountain range stretches south and west from the borders of Turkey and Russia to the Persian Gulf,
 and is Iran's largest mountain range (but not the highest which are The Alborz), rising in the western half of the country and along the northern border.
3. There are uninterrupted altitudes in central Iran. Some of them are connected to the Alborz or the Zagros. 
They can mainly be categorized into “Qahrud” and “Banan” mountains. “Qahrud”, which are longer and higher, start from around Kashan and the south of Tehran to Kerman.
“Banan” are the continuation of the former one to “Makran” area in Sistan and Baluchestan province.  At these ranges, “Shir kuh” near Yazd is 4075m ASL.
The central part of Iran is a very significant region as far as minerals are concerned. 
There is a little rainfall during year, sudden changes in weather, strong winds, a few permanent rivers and flood producing rivers in this region.
4. The Mountains in the East extended from Khorasan to Sistan and Baluchestan provinces, that can be categorized into three major zones:
1. “Jaam” in south Khorasan, is generally extended in E-W direction.
2. “Qaen ” to the south of “Jaam”, includes “Ahangaran” peak, 2877m ASL.
3. “Makran” is extended from “Zabol” to “Bam Posht” at Sistan and Baluchestan province. 
The highest peak in this region is called “Taftan”, a burned-out volcano, which stands in the SE of Iran with an altitude of 4050m ASL.

 Deserts of Iran
Iran is situated in a high-altitude plateau surrounded by connected ranges of mountains. The well-known deserts of Iran are at two major regions: 1)  Dasht-e-Kavir, and 2) Kavir-e-Lut. They are both some of the most arid and maybe hottest areas of their kinds in the world.
1. Kvīr Desert, Persian Dasht-e Kavīr, also spelled Dasht-i Kavīr,  great salt desert of central Iran. Located in a basin southeast of the Elburz Mountains, it is approximately 240 miles (390 km) wide. The desert is distinguished by salt crust, caused by the almost rainless climate and intense surface evaporation, lying over treacherous, quicksandlike salt marshes that are almost uninhabited. Settlements are found only in the surrounding mountain ranges.
2. Lūt Desert, Persian Dasht-e Lūt, also spelled Dasht-i Lūt,  desert in eastern Iran. It stretches about 200 miles (320 km) from northwest to southeast and is about 100 miles (160 km) wide. In the east a great massif of dunes and sand rises, while in the west an extensive area of high ridges is separated by wind-swept corridors. In its lowest, salt-filled depression—less than 1,000 feet (300 metres) above sea level—the summer heat and low humidity are believed to be unsurpassed anywhere.
Forest area of Iran
Having forests with an area of nearly 12.4 mil ha (7.4% of the country total area), it has various geographic conditions, producing different forests of various tree and shrub species and production capacity in different edapho- climatic conditions. Iran is divided into vegetational regions as follows:
1. Hyrcanian (Caspian) region:
The region that covers an area with 1,925,125 ha, extends throughout the south coast of Caspian Sea and northern part of the country. It has high production capacity due to humid temperate climate and suitable soil. Hyrcanian forests extend for 800 km in length. 
2. Arasbaran region
The region with an area of 164,000 ha are situated in north - west of Iran and east Azarbaijan province has cold and semi - humid climate. The region has an important role in soil conservation, regulation of hydrology of surface and underground water, wildlife protection, biological diversity and supplying fuelwood requirements.
3. Irano - Touranian region
The region covers an area of about 3,452,775 ha with dry and mainly cold climate in winter. They are situated in Khorasan, Azarbaijan, Markazi and westem Provinces. Regardig to topographical conditions and diversity of species, the region is divided into plain and mountainous sub - regions.
In mountainous sub-region the juniperus polycar species are developed .The sub- region has dry and cold climate, temperate summer and the annual precipitation is about 4000 mm. The plain sub- region is dominated by desert climate and hot summer. Its main species are:
4. Zagrosian region:
The region extends throughout the zagros mountain in the west and south - west of Iran, west Azarbaijan, Kordistan, Kermanshah, Lorestan, Fars, Charmahal & Bakhtiyari, Yasouj and north of Khozistan.
Zagrosian region with an area of about 4,749,000 ha has semi - arid climate and temperate winter. It also has high importance in soil conservation, regulation of hydrology of surface and underground water and exploitation of by - products. The large rivers such as Karun,Karkhe and Zayandehroud originate from these forests.
5. Persian Gulf and Omanian region
The region with an area of 2,130,000 ha extends throughout southern parts of the country in Khosiztan, Boushehr, Hormozgan and Sistan- Baluchistan provinces. They are dominated by sub-equatrial climate. 
Seas & Lakes of Iran
1. The Caspian Sea: The Caspian Sea, which is the largest landlocked body of water in the world (424,240 sq. km.), lies some 85 feet below the sea level. It is comparatively shallow, and for some centuries has been slowly shrinking in size. Its salt content is considerably less than that of the oceans and though it abounds with fish, its shelly coasts do not offer any good natural harbours, and sudden and violent storms make it dangerous for small boats. The important ports on the Caspian coast are: Bandar Anzali, Noshahr, and Bandar Turkman.
2. The Persian Gulf: the shallow marginal part of the Indian Ocean that lies between the Arabian Peninsula and south-east Iran. The sea has an area of 240,000 square kilometres. Its length is 990 kilometres, and its width varies from a maximum of 338 kilometres to a minimum of 55 kilometres in the Strait of Hormuz. It is bordered on the north, north-east and east by Iran, on the north-west by Iraq and Kuwait, on the west and south-west by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, and on the south and south-east by the United Arab Emirates and partly Oman. The term Persian Gulf is often used to refer not only proper to the Persian Gulf but also to its outlets, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, which open into the Arabian Sea.
3. Oman Sea: 
situated at the south of Iran, connects the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean. With an approximate area of 903,000 km? the Oman Sea is surrounded by Iran and Pakistan at the north, Deccan peninsula at the east and Arabia peninsula at the west.

Persian art and architecture reflects a 5,000-year-old cultural tradition. Throughout its development, Persian artistic achievement has normally been imperial in nature, with impressive majestic monuments or associated with royal patronage in book illustration. Countless artists have produced some of the most beautiful works ever created, and contributed to the Persian artistic heritage that is known throughout the world. The most famous of Persian art includes Persian Carpet, Miniature, Pottery & Ceramics, Tile-work, Ghalam-zani (Metal-work), Khatam-kari and Mina-kari
Persian Carpet 
Persian Carpet is an essential part of Iranian art and culture. Carpet-weaving is undoubtedly one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian dates back to the Ancient Persia (c.500 BC). The art of carpet weaving in Iran has its roots in the culture and customs of its people and their instinctive feelings. 
Weavers mix elegant patterns with a myriad of colors. The Iranian carpet is similar to the Persian garden: full of florae, birds, and beasts. The colors are usually made from wild flowers, and are rich in colors such as burgundy, navy blue, and accents of ivory.
The bright and pure coloring of the Persian miniature is one of its most striking features. Normally all the pigments used are mineral-based ones which keep their bright colors very well if kept in proper conditions, the main exception being silver, mostly used to depict water, which will oxidize to a rough-edged black over time. The conventions of Persian miniatures changed slowly; faces are normally youthful and seen in three-quarters view, with a plump rounded lower face better suited to portraying typical Central Asian or Chinese features than those of most Persians.
Lighting is even, without shadows or chiaroscuro. Walls and other surfaces are shown either frontally, or as at (to modern eyes) an angle of about 45 degrees, often giving the modern viewer the unintended impression that a building is (say) hexagonal in plan. Buildings are often shown in complex views, mixing interior views through windows or 'cutaways' with exterior views of other parts of a facade. Costumes and architecture are always those of the time.
Pottery & Ceramics 
Pottery making in the Iranian Plateau dates back to the Early Neolithic Age (7th millennium BCE) with the production of unglazed wares. Later wares were made from earthenware clays with a layer of white slip. They were covered by transparent lead glazes and colors were added with oxides. Persian ceramics matured with time into more elaborate styles and techniques.
During the 9th century under the Abbasid ruler ship, additional styles and techniques were adopted and refined, later evolving into even more elaborate and exquisite forms. The use of cobalt blue dates to this period, as does the use of other metallic oxides, such as copper, to produce blues and greens. Potters at this time were also experimenting with slip decorations, and were able to control the liquid slip to create elaborate and intricate decorations. Colors such as manganese purple, tomato red, olive green, yellow and brown were applied to the surface and then covered with a transparent glaze, creating a glossy and smooth finish.
The 11th century brought dramatic changes to the ceramic industry, influenced by Chinese porcelain ware. For a time Persian potters had tried to imitate the Chinese potter's porcelain ware, but they were unsuccessful because they lacked kaolin, fine clay used for the production of porcelain. With the introduction of the Frit Ware, however, Persian potters were able to produce the smooth surface they sought. This new clay body was composed of white clay, powdered glass and quartz. Its soft consistency facilitated the use of new techniques such as engraving, piercing and molding.
By the 12th century, Persian ceramic styles were well established and they set the standards for further innovations and conventions. In the 13th century, however, ceramics took an abrupt turn with the Mongol conquest, and for a time, pottery production halted. Wares made during the Mongol occupation are called Il Kanid wares, referring to the ruling dynasty. In the 14th century the arts revived again, with the invasion of the Timur, under whose rule new centers of pottery production appeared. Kirman became one of the main centers (see map above).
The control of the Iberian peninsula and the fall of Granada in 1492, added polychrome pottery to the colorful spectrum of Persian ceramic styles.
Through the centuries, Persian potters have responded to the demands and changes brought by political turmoil by adopting and refining newly introduced forms and blending them into their own culture. This innovative attitude has survived through time and influenced many other cultures around the world.
Archaeological excavations revealed glazed bricks in addition to the glazed pottery in Chogha Zanbil, Susa, and other ancient sites in Iran. Mosaic making technique and industry - compositing small colored stones in a geometric pattern and with various beautiful designs - reached its peak of progress and development at this time. The cup found in Marlik excavations is an excellent and complete example. This mosaic cup, made of combination of colorful stones with double-wall design, is called “thousand-flowers” in technical term and is equal to fretwork in terms of work quality.
Some samples of tile industry were related to Achaemenid palace and dated back to 400 BC were found in Susa and are now available in Louver museums.
Decoration remained from Achaemenid shows the use of colorful glazed and painted bricks. The bodies of Susa and Persepolis structures are arranged with such a combination. Two interesting examples of this type of tile, known as “Lions and Shooters,” were obtained in Susa. The decorative tiles were also used to make inscriptions. The original color of tiles context of Achaemenid period was often yellow, green, and brown and the glaze over bricks was made of baked stucco and soil.
After the spread of Islam, the tile art gradually became one of the most important decorating and covering factors for stability of various structures, particularly the religious buildings. From early Islamic period, Iranian tile-setters and tile-makers, like other Iranian artists, have been pioneers. According to Islamic historians, they took their various methods of tile art to as far as conquered countries, namely Spain.
Tile work is a pleasant way of architectural decorating in all Islamic lands. Development of tiles began from small colored external elements in brick facades and led to entire cover of historical monuments in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries AD.
In decorations of the first centuries of Islamic architecture, turquoise and azure colored tiles were common and widely used along with unglazed bricks. In this period, tile was initially used to decorate the upper part of minarets and to highlight the religious statements for readability. But it gradually made its way to decoration of buildings: geometric designs with symmetric flower-plants were mixed in the context and transparent colors were gradually used.
Iranian artists created a type of “moaragh” (streaky) tile through combining different-colored tiles and mixing adobes of simple and monochromatic tiles of pre-Islamic era with diverse colors and making a type of “seven colors” tile. Moreover, they combined simple tiles with brick and plaster and made a type of tile called “Moaghal” (stronghold). Therefore, from the eleventh century, few constructions can be seen that have not been decorated through one of the mentioned three methods or with various colored tiles.
In the Safavid period, tile craft reached its peak of progress so that the tile-works of Shah Abbas time in Isfahan are still unique in terms of beauty and color stability. An example of this tile-work is present in Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque in Isfahan which is the world’s most beautiful moaragh.
Safavid mosques and schools are generally decorated with a cover of tiles both inside and outside. While the use of moaragh tiles was ongoing, Shah Abbas, who was hasty to see his incomplete religious buildings, encouraged the use of seven colors tile rapid technique.
In the Safavid era, seven colors tile was largely used in Isfahan’s palaces and installing rectangular tiles inside large frames created exquisite scenes with portrait elements and different personalities.
But oral education and transmission of traditional arts within families or guilds have resulted in elimination of many innovative traditional techniques of tile-setting or tile-work in present time.
The tile is still beautiful and valuable. But nowadays in Iran, the use of traditional tiles is limited to religious monuments or those buildings that insist to pretend traditional. Most of what is built is an imitation of past monuments in a lower level and a trace of creativity can be hardly seen. Spread of Western culture in the native culture and the resulting historical discontinuity has led tile, as a traditional element, not to properly link and function with modern architecture and is mostly considered as a museum issue.
Ghalam-zani (Metal-work) 
Engraving (Ghalam Zani) is the art of carving superb designs on various metals such as copper, brass, silver and gold. Isfahan is the main centre for engraving. The artistic works of this course made by the artists are the glorious and undeniable indication of previous metal work of Iran especially in Isfahan. The historical discoveries belong to the ancient times as the Sassanide (700AD), the Seljuk (100 AD) and the Safavid (1600 AD) dynasties indicate a few of the outstanding metal work periods. Resuming this art is due to the diligent attempts of the Late Ostad Mohammad Oraizi and the Late Ostad Mohammad Taghi Zufan during the past eighty years, which has been led to creating hundreds of outstanding and distinguished metal engravings. 
The intricate process of creating each and every piece requires extensive skill, talent, and patience extended by the artists. Numerous tools and materials, such as chisels, hand-made instruments, hammers, etc. are utilized by the artisans to emboss and engrave the most detailed and complex of designs on the various types of metals. Different scenes from nature, animal and human shapes, flower and plant patterns, hunting grounds, etc., are some of the many aesthetic images hand-portrayed and carved on many kinds of Ghalam Zani pieces. Application of heat, waxes, dyes, sanding and polishing materials are some of the other processes used in creating these masterpieces. The enchanting Ghalam Zani handicrafts are made in the shape of decorative trays, plates, vases, pitchers, etc. This magnificent art has a long history dating back to more than several thousand years ago. Excavated Ghalam Zani artifacts belonging to the Sassanian, Saljoughi, and Safavid eras are currently displayed at various museums around the world.
There is no evidence to determine the exact date of Khatam-Kari however the oldest available samples of Khatam-Kari art belong to Safavid period. Even though, other countries such as Syria and Lebanon produce some artworks including Monabat resemble to Khatam but the cradle of this art is Iran and it is supposed that Khatam originated from Shiraz. The left relics of Safavid period certify that this art has been in demand in that time.
Khatam was used for inlaying the doors of palaces, Quran racks and chairs. The famous case placed in Imam Ali’s shrine is one of the masterpieces of Khatam art done by Shiraz masters and has been left from Safavid age. Another example of Khatam is some parts of the Monabat Case of Sheikh Safi
al-Din’s Shrine in Ardebil.
Esfahan city has been the main center of Khatam working in Safavid period but, then it became popular in Shiraz. It was used to produce some objects such as: Backgammon board, Chess board, Quran rack, Frames and small boxes. Khatam Kari is the art of decorating wooden surfaces with small mosaic like veneers in the form of triangles made of different woods. The more ordered and finer triangles, the more exquisite Khatam! The finesse of original materials makes the work more valuable. Khatam masters use such a different original woods rarely used in other artistic branches. These materials include: Areca wood, Ebony, the wood of Citron Tree, Jujube wood, camel, horse and cow bones, and also ivory, seashell, cuprous, brass, silver and golden (in some cases) wires.
The art of Minakari or Enamelling is called miniature of fire as well as the decoration of metal and tile with mina glaze. Mina is the feminine form of Minoo in Persian, meaning heaven and refers to the Azure colour of heaven. The Iranian craftsmen of Sasanied era invented this art and Mongols spreaded it to India and other countries. French tourist, Jean Chardin, who toured Iran during the Safavid rule, made a reference to an enamel work of Isfahan, which comprised a pattern of birds and animals on a floral background in light blue, green, yellow and red.
In a scientific approach, enamel (or vitreous enamel or porcelain enamel in US English) is defined as the colorful result of fusing powdered glass to a substrate by firing, usually between 750 and 850 degrees Celsius. The paintings or patterns used for enamel works in Iran are traditional designs depending on the taste and preferences of the artist. In the Iranian version of enameling, copper and silver are the most dominant metals used. There are also special tools used in this ancient artistic endeavor such as furnace, pliers, press machine, brush and so on.
Enamel working and decorating metals with colorful and baked coats is one of the distinguished courses of art in Isfahan. Mina is defined as some sort of glasslike colored coat which can be stabilized by heat on different metals particularly copper. Although this course is of abundant use industrially for producing metal and hygienic dishes, it has been paid high attention by painters, goldsmiths and metal engravers since long times ago. 
Some documents indicate that throughout the Islamic civilization of and during the Seljuk, Safavid and Zand dynasties there have been outstanding enameled dishes and materials. Most of the enameled dishes related to the past belong to the Qajar dynasty between the years 1810–1890 AD. There have also remained some earrings. Bangles, boxes, water pipe heads, vases, and golden dishes with beautiful paintings in blue and green colors from that time, Afterwards, fifty years of stagnation caused by the World War I and the social revolution followed. However, again the enamel red color, having been prepared, this art was fostered from the quantity and quality points of view through the attempts bestowed by Ostad Shokrollah Sani'e zadeh, the outstanding painter of Isfahan in 1935 and up to then for forty years.
The greatest master of enameling of Isfahan is Shokrollah Sanizadeh, whose ancestor was a renowned painter. One of the invaluable works of this master was used for printing a stamp for commemorating Iranian handicrafts in 2008-9 and registered as national heritage. The original objet d’art is being kept at the Museum of Traditional Arts and Handicrafts. Among the distinguished students of Sanizadeh, one could refer to Gholamhossein Feizollahi, who is dexterous in designing beautiful patterns. There are quite a few artists in Isfahan who produce enamels that are very exquisite. There is great demand for these works, because of its artistic value and relatively low price. These artists present their works in Chahar-Bagh Street and the vicinity of Naqsh-e Jahan Square.
Flying is the most convenient way to cover long distances in Iran with domestic flights being surprisingly affordable.
As a vast country travelling by air from one city to another will allow you to fit more into your trip. There are lots of airline companies serving the most significant cities. Tickets should be booked well in advance if you want to take advantage of the more affordable flights.
Travelling by train through Iran is generally more comfortable and faster than speed-limited buses. The rail network is comprised of three main trunks. The first stretches east to west across the north of the country linking the Turkish and Turkmenistan borders via Tabriz, Tehran and Mashhad. The second and third extend south of Tehran but split at Qom. One line connects to the Persian Gulf via Ahvaz and Arak, while the other traverses the country's centre linking Kashan, Yazd and Kerman.
Domestic bus travel in Iran is very popular and long-distance buses are surprisingly comfortable. Bus connections are frequent and reliable, with various levels of comfort available. Journeys can be lengthy, so it is good to board well prepared.
Taxis are available in all cities and usually come in the form of private and shared taxis, with the latter being cheaper. They usually run straight lines between major squares and streets, and their set rates are dictated by the local governments. Drivers of shared taxis pick up 4 people that they go the same destination. If you are in hurry you can rent the taxi privately. Just tell the driver your destination and negotiate the price before departure.
 Sports and athletic exercises were among the most fundamental daily pursuits of the people in Ancient Iran. The society attached special status to sportsmen who thanks to their physical strength and courage, defended their family and homeland when the need arose.
They were welcomed everywhere with much enthusiasm, the people took much pride in their sportsmen and praised and admired them for their courageous deeds.
According to their religious teaching, the Iranian Zoroastrians in their prayers sought first the beauties of heaven and then physical strength and mental power. They believed in a healthy and powerful body.
The ancient Iranians attached spiritual meaning to their spoils activities which they modeled on their weapons. Even the Mages (religious sages) while engaging in prayers in their temples held a mace in their hands, not unlike the British bishops who hung swords on their belts.
Avesta, the sacred book of the ancient religions of Iran glorifies the champions and sportsmen as much, if not more than saints and men of God. The older generation made arrangements for the ancient narratives and epics to be read to the young either from books or from those who had learned them from their elders.
This tradition has survived until today and outlived the rest of ages. Thus, even today, it can be observed that among the tribes and in the tea houses storytelling is practiced with the same enthusiasm as it was in bygone ages.
The extent to which the Iranians were interested in their heroes and champions is revealed, among other things, by the fact that in the Persian language there are over 30 words to label the concept of a hero or champion.
In Ancient Iran, youths under 24 years of age received thorough training in the sport of their time which included miming, horsemanship, polo, dart throwing, wrestling, boxing, archery, and fencing. They were taught under conditions of severe hardship so that when the need arose they could endure the adverse conditions of war such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, heat, cold, etc.

Popular sports in Iran

1. Football Football is the most popular sport in Iran. Iran has been able to reach the FIFA World Cup four times (1978, 1998, 2006 and 2014), won the AFC Asian Cup three times (1968, 1972 and 1976), and four times has reached to gold medal at the Asian Games (1974, 1990, 1998 and 2002).Particularly in the past 10 years, with the launch of Iran's Premier Football League, considerable progress has been made. Some Iranian players now play in major European leagues, and some Iranian clubs have hired European players or coaches.
Iranian clubs (Esteghlal and Pas) have three times won the Asian Club Championship (1970, 1991, 1993), but the last championship of an Iranian team at AFC Champions League dated back to the 1992-1993 season.
Like all other sports, adequate football facilities are limited in Iran. Iran's largest football stadium is the Azadi Stadium, with a seating capacity of 100,000. Home Stadium of Esteghlal and Perspolis (Most Popular Iranian Clubs) and where that national matches are held.
 2. Basketball
In basketball, Iran has a particularly strong national team, and a professional league, with competitive players in Asia. The clubs have begun hiring strong foreign players and coaches into their roster. The national team participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, finishing 1-3. They competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, thanks to their gold medal in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship, their first ever continental crown. The first ever Iranian NBA-player is Hamed Haddadi.
3. Weightlifting
Strength sports like weightlifting, powerlifting and bodybuilding have always held favor among Iranians and with the recent success of world record-holding super-heavyweight lifter Hossein Reza Zadeh, or Sidney Olympics gold medalist, Hossein Tavakoli, the sport has been returned to a rather high status.
 4. Skiing
Iran is home to numerous mountainous regions, many of which are suitable for skiing, and snowboarding and are gaining increasing popularity among foreign visitors.
Skiing began in Iran in 1938 through the efforts of two German railway engineers. Today, 13 ski resorts operate in Iran, the most famous being Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak. All are within one to three hours traveling time of Tehran. Potentially suitable terrain can also be found in Lorestan, Mazandaran, and other provinces.
The Tochal resort is the world's fifth-highest ski resort at over 3,730 m at its highest Seventh station. The resort was completed in 1976 shortly before the overthrow of the Shah. It is only 15 minutes away from Tehran's northern districts, and operates seven months a year. Here, one must first ride the 8 km (5.0 mi) long gondola lift which covers a huge vertical. The Seventh station has three slopes. The resort's longest slope is the south side U shaped slope which goes from the Seventh station to Fifth station. The other two slopes are located on the north side of the Seventh station. Here, there are two parallel chair ski lifts that go up to 3,900 m near Tochal's peak (at 4,000 m), rising higher than the gondola Seventh station stations. This altitude is said to be higher than any of the European resorts.
From the Tochal peak, one has a spectacular view of the Alborz range, including the 5,610 metres (18,406 ft) high Mount Damavand, a dormant volcano.
At the bottom of the lifts in a valley behind the Tochal peak is Tochal hotel, located at 3,500 m altitude. From there a T lift takes skiers up the 3,800 metres of Shahneshin peak, where the third slope of Tochal is.
 5. Hiking and climbing
Hikers flock to trails like Tangeh Savashi which leads to several waterfalls in a remote part of the Alborz range.
Due to the wealth of mountains, climbing sports are widely popular in Iran. Both the Zagros and Alborz ranges provide plenty of opportunities for the novice and advanced alike.
Hiking and trekking enthusiasts find opportunities in locations like Alamut and Tangeh Savashi to enjoy the rustic surroundings, as well as a relatively challenging climb.
 6. Martial arts
Martial arts have gained popularity in Iran in the past 20 years. Kyokushin, shotokan, wushu, and taekwondo are the most popular. One can find a dojo from almost every martial arts style in Iran, with large numbers of followers. The Kung Fu To'a originated in Iran, though banned after the Iranian Revolution.
 7. Volleyball
In volleyball, Iran has a national team, and a professional league. The Iran national volleyball team is among the strongest teams in the world, and the Iranian Youth and Junior (Under-19 and Under-21) national teams are among the top three strongest teams in the world, winning medals in Boys' U19 Volleyball World Championship and Men's U21 Volleyball World Championship in recent years. In the 2007 Men's U21 Volleyball World Championship, the Iranians were successful at earning a bronze medal. Also, in late August 2007, the Iran national under-19 volleyball team surprised many by winning the gold medal in the Volleyball World Championship in Mexico, after beating France and China in the semi-finals and finals respectively and marking the first such international gold medal for an Iranian team sport.
 8. Futsal
Futsal is practiced both at the amateur and professional level, partly because of lacking suitable soccer fields. The Iran national futsal team, that presently is the fourth strongest national team after Brazil, Spain and Italy according to the FIFA Rankings.
This team has won the AFC Futsal Championship nine times out of the ten times held and reached five times to FIFA Futsal World Cup. Iran also has a nationwide Super Futsal League.
 9. Tennis
The tennis entertainer Mansour Bahrami is Iranian, as well as his tennis partner Ramin Raziyani.

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