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Iran... Highlights of Ancient &Modern Persia

September 14 to October 05, 2019

Iran is home to a quite breathless mix of spectacular madrassas, exquisite mosques and some of the most wonderful examples of Islamic architecture in the world. Everywhere you look, the magnificence of 2,500 years of history lies all around you. Ancient Persia has been the seat of many civilizations and unique contributions in poetry, art, architecture, science and history. Many of Iran’s achievers have contributed to our modern world. Most of the country’s archaeological gems are well preserved and portray a rich historical heritage. Your tour will not only explore ancient ruins and colorful cities but also exotic bazaars and old baths. Marvel at ancient monuments and beautifully tiled mosques. Stroll through medieval bazaars that remain much as they were centuries ago. Stop to visit local nomadic tribes when driving across the vast country. Your journey will take you to Yazd the center of Zoroastrian culture, to Shiraz city of poets which has had major Jewish and Christian communities and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Isfahan, and Persepolis. Come and discover Iran, a repository of grand relics and ruins.

This abbreviated version of our itinerary does not begin to do justice to the many wonderful sights we experienced on this fabulous tour, nor to the delicious Persian cuisine. – Michael A. Rea

Per person sharing in double occupancy (air and land from JFK): $7,595.00
Single Supplement: $950.00   

Led by Prof. Yalda Razmahang, Archaeologist & Iranian Studies expert

Credit for not using our included airfare $750.00

Price based on a group size minimum of 6 and maximum of 12 participants

Your tour does not include

  • Airport taxes, security charges and fuel surcharges (estimated at $540.00).

  • Airfare from cities other than New York City (price differs depending on gateway city).

  • Iran visa (Cost is currently $160.00 - subject to change)

  • Passport should not include any Israeli stamps.

  • Items of a personal nature (camera fees at sites, laundry, phone calls, emails, excess luggage, etc.)

  • Travel protection insurance.

  • Transfers if not arriving/departing on scheduled flights/tour dates.

  • Dayroom or overnights necessitated by changes in airline schedules.

Your tour includes

  • Airfare from JFK (and some select East Coast cities).

  • Deluxe and First class properties in most cities & one or two hotels superior tourist class in smaller towns for few nights.

  • All meals (Full-board) as specified in the itinerary: (B-breakfast, L-lunch and D-dinner).

  • All tours as per itinerary including entrance fees and high qualified English speaking guide throughout the trip.

  • Transfers/transportation by large comfortable modern A/C vehicle during the whole tour.

  • A bottle of mineral water per passenger per day on touring days plus juice, coffee and tea on board the bus.

  • All local taxes and service charges on included items.

  • Tipping to guide, drivers, porters, hotel and restaurant staff.

Trip Grade:

II Active - Some hikes, slightly more demanding walks at or to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some long bus rides.

Lodging Level:

**** Luxury – Mostly large hotels, typical western standard with ample venues & full amenities. (4- 5 stars) while in couple of smaller cities we use 3 star hotels which are simple but adequate and clean.

Trip Grade: Moderately-Rigorous Touring

We will be covering great distances by road during this journey. The roads are very good and the air-conditioned bus very comfortable. You will often be served cold water, tea and fruits along the way. We will make several rest stops (some will not be five star bathrooms and others will be in the beautiful wilderness). It is important to recognize the exhausting nature of some of the long driving days as well as some of the site visits where you might have to climb on uneven terrain and do some walks. Also, it is our responsibility to inform you that despite the immense progress in standard of accommodations over the last years, you might still encounter minor annoyances, such as leaky plumbing fixtures, or hot water interruptions in hotels. This will necessitate a flexible, tolerant attitude and a sense of humor. Women will be required to wear loose, ankle-length dresses with long sleeves or pants and tunic and have their hair covered with a scarf or shawl at all times when outside their hotel rooms.

About your lecturer: Yalda Razmahang is an Iranian-born American who lives in Iraq. She currently serves as an adjunct lecturer at the American University of Iraq where she teaches Art History and World History. She obtained her B.A and M.A in Archaeology from the University of Tehran. Then she pursued and completed another Master’s degree from the University of Lyon in France in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology, where she is now a Ph. D. candidate. She has an international diploma from AFTA (Australian Federation of Travel Agents) and she holds Iranian tour Leader’s certification. Yalda participated in a few excavations in Iran at Gohar Tepe, Beshahr as well as Chogha Dowsar in Susa. Additionally, she worked at Tehran National Museum as a Guide and Museum’s Education Supervisor for 5 years. In 2011 she also worked as a Research Assistant, for the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago and gave several papers in various conferences from 2016-2018 on Digitalization and the protection of ancient sites. Being so well rounded and experienced not only in the field of archaeology but also in the business of tourism, Yalda is the ideal scholar that can lead this special tour to Iran.

View Tour Itinerary

Sat-Sun, Sep 14-15
USA to Tabriz

Leave the USA on Saturday arriving very early the third day (first hours of Sep 16 with TK flight) into Tabriz and transfer to your hotel.

Monday, Sep 16

After late breakfast, Excursion to visit St. Stepanos Church (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which is one of the oldest and most beautiful Armenian churches in the area (10-12 century A.D), it is located in the green valley of Darreh Sham at the far western frontier of Iran next to the border with Azerbaijan. Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Sep 17

Full day sightseeing in Tabriz to visit the Blue Mosque, known in the world as the Turquoise of Islam, and Azerbaijan Museum, displaying a fine collection of per-historic and historic artifacts found in the area; and drive by the 13th century Arg-e Alishah, which was originally a magnificent Friday Mosque, but turned into a fortress in the 19th century; then visit the Constitution House, Poets Cemetery (Maghbarat-ol-Shoa’ara), also visit the extensive and interesting Tabriz Bazaar (UNESCO site) and the El-Goli Park, O/N at hotel. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Sep 18
Tabriz - Zanjan

After breakfast, drive to Zanjan and visit Kandovan Village, The troglodyte homes, excavated inside volcanic rocks and tuffs similar to dwellings in the Turkish region of Cappadocia, are locally called "Karaan". Karaans were cut into the Lahars (volcanic mudflow or debris flow) of Mount Sahand, afterwards check in your hotel in Zanjan for overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Sep 19
Zanjan - Tehran

Depart Zanjan to Tehran; visit en route Soltaniye, known for its mausoleum of the Mongol Sultan Oljeitu Khodabande, which has one of the largest domes in the world. Admire this UNESCO World Heritage site’s magnificent 14th-century tomb tower. Arriving at Tehran, transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Sep 20

After breakfast, start your full-day visits in Tehran including Golestan Palace/Museum Complex, the former residence of the 19th early 20th century Qajar Kings of Iran, with several museums including the Marble Throne Room, and the Emarat-e-Badgir (Wind Catcher Building), Iran’s National Museum: the Archaeological, displaying an authenticated collection of pre-historic and ancient artifacts with pottery dating back to 6-7 millennium B.C.; and the Islamic with a unique collection of artifacts manuscripts, silver and bronze objects and tiles from different post-Islamic periods in Iran, displayed on three floors. If the time will permit we may visit the Abguineh Museum (also named the Glass & Ceramics Museum), a valuable collection of pre-Islamic and Islamic glass and ceramics. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Sep 21
Tehran - Hamadan

Drive to Hamadan via Qazvin and visit the holy shrine of Shahzadeh Hussain. Continue to Hamadan, the capital of the Median Empire in the 7th century B.C., and the summer capital of the Achaemenid kings in the 5th century B.C. Visits include Ganjnameh, the inscriptions by Darius I, and his son, Xerxes, carved on the rocks of the mountain, the tomb of Avicenna, Iran’s celebrated philosopher/scientist/physician, whose prescriptions are still used by Western and Iranian medical universities and the Stone Lion, an intriguing statue believed to date from the Hellenistic Period when Alexander invaded Iran, supposedly, made to honor his slain general. Arrive in Hamadan for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Sunday, Sep 22
Hamadan - Kermanshah

Start your morning with visiting the Tomb of Esther & Mordecai, a major Jewish pilgrimage center, the 12th century Alavyan Tomb Tower, and then drive to Kermanshah, via Kangavar, a small town dating back to 200 BC., to visit the Temple of Anahita, goddess of water and fertility. Continue to Bisutun; see texts that helped in the deciphering of the cuneiform script. The 400 foot high inscription carved into the cliff side has been recently restored and under restoration for several years. On arrival in Kermanshah visit the important Sassanian reliefs at Tagh-e-Bostan, depicting royal hunting scenes and the investiture of the Sassanian kings. Transfer to Parsian hotel or similar fro check in, dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Monday, Sep 23
Kermanshah - Dezful

After breakfast, drive via Pol-e-Dokhtar to see the remains of the Sassanian Bridge then continue leaving the Iranian Plateau and rolling down into Mesopotamia, onto Susa (Soush or Shush) which is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was also the favorite residence of the Persian king Darius, plus we can visit the nearby Tomb of Biblical Prophet Daniel; drive to Dezful for overnight stay. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Sep 24
Dezful – Shuhstar – Ahwaz

Drive to Shushtar, a large town perched on limestone cliffs above a tributary of the Karun River, continue to Chogha-Zanbil, to visit the ziggurat built by Untash Gal, King of Elam, then head to Haft-Tappeh or Seven Mounds (Elamite Necropolis) whose discovery in the 1960’s has filled one of the less well-documented periods in Elamite history; drive to Ahwaz for overnight. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Sep 25
Ahwaz - Shiraz

Drive to Shiraz enroute visit Bishapur, remains of the Sassanian city built by Shapur 1st. The building complex includes a central chamber, a large courtyard which had been covered with impressive mosaics. Continue to Shiraz for dinner and overnight stay. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Sep 26

Explore Shiraz, known as the city of “Roses and Nightingales” for its famous gardens. Visit the residential citadel of Karim Khan of the Zand Dynasty. Visit the 9th century Friday mosque, the most interesting and oldest of the buildings in Shiraz. After lunch we have a chance to visit a nomadic carpet workshop/gallery where you can shop or just learn about tribal rugs. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Sep 27
Shiraz (Persepolis)

Full Day exploring the city of Persepolis with a visit to Persepolis, the magnificent springtime capital city of the ancient Persian empire, with its spectacular reliefs and towering columns, visit the rock-cut tombs of Persian kings at Naghsh-e Rostam and the Sassanian reliefs at Naghsh-e Rajab. Return to your hotel in Shiraz for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Sep 28
Shiraz – Yazd

Head to Yazd, visiting en route Pasargadae, the site of the impressive tomb of Cyrus the Great (founder of the Persian Empire), and the remains of his palaces and royal gardens and Abarkouh one of the ancient Iranian cities and was built on the foot of a nearby mountain. Arrive in Yazd and transfer to Moshir Garden hotel or similar for check in, dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Sunday, Sep 29

Visit the Zoroastrian Sacred places, the eternal Fire Temple, the tombs perched atop the hill and the funerary Tower of Silence. Then drive to Kharanagh village, a deserted mud-brick town with its alleys, baths, and minaret (reminiscent of Bam, which was destroyed by the 2003 earthquake) and also visit a local fabric and tile workshop in the afternoon. Return to Yazd for your overnight. (B,L,D)

Monday, Sep 30
Yazd - Isfahan

Half day city tour of Yazd, after lunch drive to Isfahan via Naei with a stop at the city of Maybod, sees the ancient Sasanian Castle of Narin Ghale. Continue to Isfahan and transfer to Abbasi hotel or similar for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Oct 01

Enjoy a full day sightseeing in Isfahan and visit the palace of Chehel-Sotun (the Forty Columns) set in a beautiful park, and the vank church. In the afternoon, head to visit Hasht Behesht and some art workshops to see paintings and the old bridges built during the rule of Shah Abbas the Great. Dinner and overnight at your hotel. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Oct 02

After breakfast, head to visit Imam Square and Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah mosque with its magnificent architecture and tile work, Aliqapu Palace, and Friday mosque & Bazaar. Return to hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Oct 03
Isfahan - Kashan

Morning drive to Kashan, en-route stop over at the charming town of Natanz to visit a beautiful Islamic complex (Mosque/Monastery/Tomb of Sheikh Abdol Samad Isfahani), visit the historical garden of Fin which was first planted during the Safavid period and kept alive with water from the nearby Sulaimanieh Spring. This beautiful garden was expanded by the Zand and Qajar monarchs, with many open pavilions added. You will also visit a fine example of a 19th century merchant residence known as Taba-Tabai House with its beautiful stucco dome and inlaid mirror work, with some of the best examples of existing “badgirs” (wind-catchers); Sleep in a beautiful boutique hotel in Kashan. Afterwards head to visit Bazaar of Kashan (B,L,D)

Friday, Oct 04

After breakfast, visit Agha Bozorg Mosque and Tepe Sialk. After lunch head towards Tehran Airport, en-route visit Qom, Iran’s second holiest city after Mashhad, and view Imam Khoneini’s tomb. Stay overnight at Novotel Airport Hotel. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Oct 05
Tehran - USA

Early morning walk to the Airport terminal for your flight back home.

We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed