Shiraz was our first stop with the turquoise tour. The city had so many beautiful architectural gems & delicious food. It instantly made its way to the top of my "favourite places" list.
Shiraz had the best Iranian food that I have ever eaten in Iran and abroad hands down. That was my fifth visit to Iran and the Shirazi food made my eyes pop. It wasn't just the standard kebabs and rice. They had many specialty dishes with fresh ingredients and the right amount of spices. Dinning in restaurants is a thing in Shiraz more so than the rest of Iran so the food was cooked with such care. People were very kind and laid back.
The main architectural sites we visited were Madrasa Khan, Nasir Almulk Mosque ( Pink Mosque) and Hafiz Tomb.
Madrasa Khan was the first stop and the beauty of the patterns was overwhelming. It is dated to 1024. Time was not very kind to this madrasa and its gardens. Some parts were destroyed with war and earthquakes. Some of the tile work has been restored, but if you go and look at both tile works you will be able to tell instantly which is the old and which is the new. I am afraid they have not done a convincing imitation of the original.
Nasir Almulk Mosque ( Pink Mosque)
This is one of the most photographed and Facebooked about mosques. I did not realise that at a time. It is known for its dancing pink lights that are reflected from the stained glass doors. I was recently told a story that resonated with me about the lights. It was put up there as a treat for true believers who wake up early for the morning prayers and make it to the mosque at the time because the reflected pattern are in their fullest elegance in earlier morning hours. It was constructed between 1293 and 1305. Many of the geometric patterns there are based on the five pointed stars. The biomorphic patterns are mostly about pink flowers that are directly stylised from nature.
Hafiz Tomb is the burial site of the famous 14th Century Persian poet, Hafiz. I know it's considered as some sort of cemetery in definition, but it is a place for hope and love. It was filled with young and old lovers, families and group of friends. It is a place of remembering a great poet that spoke about love in mystical ways. When you enter you are welcomed with men holding birds. Those men are the ones who predict your future "faal" -for a small fee of course-. The cool thing about this is that the bird chooses a card for you. It is the most generic piece of paper ever and written in Farsi.
I found the place and the atmosphere to be soothing and comfortable. We sat there and read poetry from Hafiz and pondered over the beautifully composed words. We even took turns to open the poetry book "diwan" to see which verse we got. That is something that Persians do for "faal" as well.
Note: we stayed at the beautiful Karim Khan Hotel and it was wonderful. Across from the hotel, there is a small traditional restaurant that served the most delicious dishes.