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Hafez' mausoleum on his Memorial Day

Shiraz is known as the poetic capital of Persia, because two of the greatest poets of the world, Hafez (1324-1391) and Sa'di (1209-1291), come from this city. Sa'di, the traveler saw a great part of the world before he finally settled in Shiraz, where he died. Hafez on the other hand, except for one very short journey, never even left his city.

So it's logical we start our stay in Shiraz with a visit to their mausolea. At the mausoleum of Sa'di it is unnervingly quiet, the door is open but there's nobody there. We discover why when we arrive at the mausoleum of Hafez. Today, it happens to be Hafez Memorial Day and every Iranian who loves poetry has come here to commemorate the great poet while reading, reciting or listening to some of his poems.

For us, this is a very strange experience. We can't imagine so many young people would come to a Vondel Day in Holland. Iranians must truly love their poetry. Our Iranian guide Shervin surprises us, he recites a beautiful poem of Sa'di, by heart.

When it's almost dark, we go to the Shrine of Shah Cheragh. This is the tomb of Seyed Amir Ahmad, the brother of Imam Reza, the 8th Imam. The outside of the Shrine looks absolutely fabulous in the dark. The Shrine is a Holy Place and an important place for pilgrimage, but it is open to non-Muslims, as long as you ask permission first and under the condition that women wear a chador. We are even allowed to look inside, where a service is going on. We see a lot of grief come out, men throw themselves against the tomb, women are crying, and there are people praying everywhere. While at the same time a little boy is walking around serving tea. This service is something we have never seen in our lives, still a little bit shaken we leave for our hotel. The next morning, we go back to the Shrine, but it doesn't have the magic anymore it had in the dark.

Shah Cheragh has something magical

The gate of the Shah Cheragh has beautiful tilework

The palace in the Gardens of Paradise

Schoolchildren and their teacher

For a while we look at the palace, the we walk a bit through the garden and finally we settle on a bench to watch the schoolchildren play. At first, we feel a bit like one of the sights of Shiraz, but after ten minutes the kids get used to us and things calm down.

Bagh- Eram translates as Garden of Paradise. This is a large garden with a wonderful looking palace in it. The mosaics on the walls of the palace tell stories about the life of Shah Abbas the Great, who is recognizable by his big moustache.

That is ... we thought it was Shah Abbas. You know, a guy on a horse with a big moustache, that must be Abbas. Well, actually this is Naser o'Din Shah Qajar, as Kamran wrote us.

NOT Shah Abbas the Great

We sit here for almost an hour, then it's time to become active again. But first, lunch! Who was it that suggested a 'light snack' at the Homa Hotel?
After lunch we visit one of Shiraz' merchant houses, called the Naranjestan Estate. This house was built purely for the multiple glory of the merchant, and it shows. We know Iranians love tiled mirrors, but this seems a bit overdone. But after a few minutes you get used to this extravaganza. We even started to like it.

An abundance of tiled mirrors

Spices at the bazaar

When visiting time is over, we head for the bazaar. Pieter promised his mother to take some real Iranian cloth with him, so we spend almost an hour comparing the wares and prices of the different shops and another hour bargaining for a good price.

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