Shiraz was one of the most important cities in the medieval Islamic world and was the Iranian capital during the Zand dynasty (1747-79), when many of its most beautiful buildings were built or restored. Through its many artists and scholars, Shiraz has been synonymous with learning, nightingales, poetry, roses and, at one time, wine.
Today Shiraz is a relaxed, cultivated city, with wide tree-lined avenues and enough monuments, gardens and mosques to keep most visitors happy for several days. The university here is one of Iran’s finest, and you’ll come across lots of students eager to speak English. Highlights include the restful tomb and garden of Hafez, a celebrated poet; the Shah-Cheragh mausoleum, an important Shi’ite place of pilgrimage which attracts hordes of supplicants; the Pars Museum, which contains Zand dynasty relics; and the delightful Eram garden, where the 19th century Ghajar palace lies alongside a pretty pool.
There are plenty of hotels to suit all budgets in Shiraz, most of them clustered near Zand, the main boulevard. This is also the area to nose out a good feed, from inexpensive kebabs and burgers to more swanky sitdown affairs. Shiraz is nearly 900km (560mi) south of Tehran. It’s a great place to start or finish your trip to Iran and is well serviced by international and domestic flights. The airport lies 8km (5mi) south-east of the city centre. Buses run from Shiraz to Tehran and other major towns; shared taxis run occasionally to Esfahan.