of Fars province, city of poets, wine and flowers
Shiraz is the capital of Fars province, one of the most
beautiful, historical cities in the world. Farsi
(Persian or Parsi) the language of Ancient Fars (Pars),
has become the official language of Iran (Persia).
Shiraz with more than 850,000 inhabitants situated in
southwestern Iran, in the inland around 200 km from the
Persian Gulf, at an elevation of 1,800 metres above sea
Different people have lived in the Fars province such as
the Aryans, the Samis and the Turks, who worked together
to form the Iranian culture.
The first Capital of Fars, some 2500 years ago, was
Pasargad. It was also the capital of Achaemenid King
Cyrus the Great. The ceremonial capital of his
successor, Darius I (or Darius the Great), and his son
Xerxes, was Persepolis. Today, only the ruins of these
two capitals remain. Stakhr was another capital of Fars.
It was established by the Sassanids and lasted until
Shiraz finally assumed the role of the regional capital.
Shiraz is also the birthplace and resting place of the
great Persian poets Hafez and Saadi. There are two
remarkable monuments in Shiraz. One is dedicated to
Hafez, the master of Persian lyrical poetry. The other
one is dedicated to Sa'adi, the author of the famous
Golestan, a book of sonnets called the Garden of Roses.
According to Islamic historians, Shiraz came into
existence only after the Arab conquest of Iran. The Arab
invasion, in fact, contributed to its importance and by
the 13th century, Shiraz had grown into one the largest
and most popular Islamic cities of the era. Shiraz lies
spread out like an immense garden on a green plain at
the foot of the Tang Allah-o-Akbar Mountains.
The most interesting buildings in Shiraz are located in
the old part of the town. Among them are about a dozen
mosques, some with bulb- shaped domes, and others with
pear shaped domes and cupolas. These mosques are mostly
scattered in among the old houses.
The Masjid-e-Vakil (the Regent Mosque) has an impressive
portal containing faience panels in floral designs with
various shades and colors on each side. 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. Vakil Bazaar, which is close by, was built by
Karim Khan Zand. Here silversmiths and jewelers still
apply their trades of exquisite inlay work. Persian
carpets and other traditional Persian handicrafts may
also be purchased in the Vakil Bazaar.
About 50 km. Northwest of Shiraz, at the foot of the
rahmat Mountains, one encounters the vast platform and
remains of Persepolis, the grand ceremonial Capital
built by Darius I (Darius the Great) and his successors
some 2500 years ago. Archeologists are still combing
through the debris and ashes that have covered
Persepolis since Alexander the Great destroyed it in 330
BC. Most of the structures have already been revealed.
Pasargad is located about 77 km away from Persepolis. It
was built by Cyrus the Great. Among the interesting
sites at Pasargad is a stone platform 80 m. long and 18
m. wide. It is believed to have been the foundation of a
palace. Close by are the ruins of a building called the
Prison of Solomon which was probably a fire temple.
The most important monument in Pasargad is undoubtedly
the tomb of Cyrus the Great. It has seven broad steps
leading to the sepulcher, which measures 534m. in length
by 531m in width and has a low and narrow entrance. When
Alexander the Great looted and destroyed Persepolis, he
paid a visit to the tomb of Cyrus. It is recorded that
he commanded Aristobulus, one of his warriors, to enter
the monument. Inside he found a golden bed, a table set
with drinking vessels, a gold coffin, some ornaments
studded with precious stones and an inscription of the
tomb, which reads:
"Passer-by, I am Cyrus the Great, I have given the
Persians an empire and I have ruled over Asia.
So do not envy me for this tomb."