Global Exchange Reality Tours - vacations and travel

Iran: Ancient Civilizations and Contemporary Culture

Iran, Middle East

from $3,300* per person 15 Days September
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Global Exchange Reality Tours 12 people max
  • Tehran airport, iran
  • Culture & Nature trips
During this time of heightened US tensions with Iran and a backdrop of zero diplomacy for over 30 years, it has become even more important for Americans to educate themselves, and provide a counter balance to the United States' demonization of the country and people. Learn the complex facets of Iranian history, culture and the context of US-Iran relations.

Engage with Iranians as they go about their daily lives, and hear their hopes and fears for the future. Observe that despite censorship and social repression, Iranians continue to advance and struggle towards change.

Join Global Exchange Reality Tours as a citizen diplomat to do what our governments cannot do, create people-to-people ties. The Citizens Diplomacy Reality Tour to Iran will give participants a chance to see inside this much-maligned nation and gain first-hand experience of the effects of the political policies of both the United States and Iran.

Participants will have a chance to put a human face on this ongoing political dispute and help facilitate understanding and respect between people of different nations. Read a past participant's article about her experience in Iran.

Locations visited/nearby

Iran, Middle East

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DAY 01:  Late evening arrivals in Tehran
Pre-booked rooms at hotel in Tehran for immediate check in on arrival.

DAY 02: Continue with possible arrivals in Tehran
Early morning arrival at IKA; meet and transfer to Ferdowsi Hotel; morning at rest, after lunch visit the  fabulous State’s Jewels Museum, housed in the vaults of the Central Bank of Iran, displaying the most dazzling and priceless collection of jewels and gems in the world. Also visit the 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). Return to the Ferdowsi Hotel for overnight stay.

Further visits in Tehran to include Iran’s National Museum (Archaeological only  - Islamic Museum is currently under renovation), displaying an authenticated collection of pre-historic and ancient artifacts with pottery dating back to 6-7 millennium B.C.; the Abguineh (Glass & Ceramics) Museum, with a valuable collection of pre-Islamic and Islamic glass and ceramics, beautifully displayed and located in an elegant early 20th-century mansion, and the Carpet Museum, with an extensive collection of old and new Persian carpets and rugs from the major carpet-weaving centers of Iran. O/N Ferdowsi Hotel.

In the morning transfer to the domestic airport for flight to Yazd by, subject to confirmation, IR294 – 10:00/11:15, upon arrival in Yazd transfer to Laleh Golshan Hotel for check-in and lunch. Then after a short rest we will have an afternoon tour of Yazd to see the Amir Chahkmagh Sq., the Water Museum and the Bazzar; dinner at Traditional Hammam-e-Khan Restaurant, O/N  Laleh Golshan hotel.

Full day sightseeing in Yazd, the center for Iran’s small Zoroastrian community, who seeking refuge from the invading Arabs found a safe haven within its fortified walls. On this day you will visit one of the two Zoroastrian abandoned Towers of Silence (Dakhma), dating back to the 17th century, where until some 40-50 years ago the dead were carried and left to decompose and be devoured by birds; and the active Zoroastrian Fire Temple, the fire of which has been burning for about 1500 years. Among Yazd’s Islamic sites is the Friday Mosque (1324 A.D.) with the highest portal and minarets in Iran. Other notable Islamic monuments in Yazd are the Seljuk shrine dedicated to the Twelve Shi’ite Imams; and Ziaieyeh Theological School, known as Zendan-e-Eskander or Alexandar’s Prison. There are, also, many beautiful old houses in Yazd, among them the Dowlat-Abad Garden, with an 18th century feudal hexagonal house. O/N stay at Laleh Golshan Hotel.
In the morning drive to Shiraz, with a stop at Abarkuh, a charming desert town where the Friday Mosque is visited, and have tea under the shade of a 4000-year old cypress tree, continue to Shiraz for O/N stay at Park Sa'adi Hotel.

Full day city tour of Shiraz to visit some of the famous gardens of this city of “roses and nightingales”, including the Eram Garden, the tomb of Iran’s greatest lyric poets, Hafez and Sa'adi; the pink tiled 19th-century Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, the Arg-e-Karim Khan (18th-century citadel), the Madrassa Khan (Theological School), to have interaction with teachers and students, the Qajar-period Narenjestan Garden/House, the Vakil Bazaar of Shiraz, and the Holy Shrine of Shah-e-Cheragh (not open to non-Moslems and can only be seen from outside). O/N Park Sa'adi Hotel.
Full day excursion to Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the Ancient World, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings with remains of the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, and its famous bas-reliefs, depicting kings and courtiers and gift-bearing representatives of tributary nations of the Persian Empire; also visit Naghsh-e-Rostam to see Ka’be-Zardosht (fire temple/sanctuary), and Royal Tombs (also Achaemenid); plus seven magnificent Sassanian rock-reliefs (including Shapur the First’s famous victory over Roman Emperor Valerian); and Naghsh-e-Rajab, a nearby grotto with more Sassanid reliefs; return to Shiraz for dinner and O/N stay at Park Sa'adi Hotel.

Drive to Isfahan, enroute visit Pasargadae, the site of the simple, but impressive, tomb and remains of the palaces of Cyrus the Great (the Founder of the Persian Empire); also visit an old Safavid Caravanserai. Continue to Isfahan for O/N stay at Ali-Qapu Hotel.

Full day tour of the beautiful city of Isfahan, the 17th century capital of the Safavids, referred to as Nesf-e-Jahan (Half of the World) in Safavid sources, to visit the famous bridges of Shahrestan/Khajou/Sio-se-pol, the Armenian Quarter with several churches, including the important Cathedral of Vank; in the afternoon visit one of the world’s grandest squares, the Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan, with several sites (the Ali-Qapu Palace with its enchanting music rooms and balcony overlooking the Maidan, from where the Safavid Kings watched polo games, and two of Islamic world’s greatest mosques – the Sheikh Lotfollah and the Imam – with magnificent architecture and tilework), finishing with a visit to the Qeisarieh Bazaar with hundreds of shops displaying the arts and handicrafts for which Isfahan is world-famous, O/N Ali-Qapu Hotel.

Another full day sightseeing of Isfahan to visit the magnificent Friday Mosque, with the famous Uljaitu Mihrab (Prayer Niche) of the Il-Khanid period. The Friday Mosque is considered a museum of a thousand years of Persian religious architecture and is truly one of the world’s greatest mosques. Also visit the Harun-e-Velayat Shrine and the Ali Minaret. From here drive to the Chehel Sotun Palace, built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century; its twenty wooden columns reflected in the surface of the pool give rise to its name ‘The Palace of Forty Columns’. Final stop of the day is at the Hasht Behesht pavilion built in 1670 by Shah Solayman and known as the Pavilion of Eight Paradises or the Palace of Nightingales. This small, but intricate, building is set amongst tree-lined alleys, a reflecting pool and water rills; return to the Maidan for further visits to the bazaar and shops; O/N Ali-Qapu Hotel.

A short excursion to visit the Atashgah (Fire Temple), entailing a steep walk up the hill, and the Menar Jonban (Shaking Minarets); also visit the newly-restored Hammam-e-Aliqoli Khan, dating to late Safavid period, with magnificent tiles and paintings, now turned into an ethnographic museum to display the customs and rituals of bathhouses in the old days. In the afternoon return to the Maidan for walk about and interaction with local people for whom the Maidan is a favorite outing place. O/N Ali-Qapu Hotel.

Morning drive to Tehran, first visit Abyaneh, an ancient and picturesque village, and an Iranian Cultural Heritage site, continue to Kashan for lunch and 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 Borujerdi House with its beautiful stucco dome and inlaid mirror work, with some of the best examples of existing “badgirs” (wind-catchers); on to Tehran, and visit the Mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, O/N stay at Ferdowsi Hotel.

Spend the day on further visits in Tehran to include the Sa’ad Abad Palace Museum/ Complex (the residence of the ex-Royal Family of Iran); the several palaces of the complex, all located on beautiful and extensive grounds, have now been converted into museums and include the White and Green Palaces and several painting museums. Afternoon free for last minute shopping or at leisure. O/N Ferdowsi Hotel.
Early morning transfers to airport for departure flight.

O/N = overnight

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