“My beloved is brighter than the sun,
Put in the heavens, my only one.
Placed the hearts upon the earth
To watch the sun’s daily run.”
∼ Hafez, Rubaiyat 08
When you think of Iran many things cross your mind, Persian empire, history, art, architecture, politics and, last but not least, sanctions. But let’s face it, how many plan a romantic city break? Well, if you don’t, you obviously haven’t been to Shiraz.
Capital of the Fars region, Shiraz exudes passion around every corner, and this is not the only reason why, should I resume my expat lifestyle for one year, this might well be my number one choice. With the imposing presence of the mausoleums of two of Iran’s most cherished poets, Hafez and Saadi, here literature and romance are key to a blissful way of living. After all, it’s not without reason that it’s known as the city of poets and nightingales.
Friendly and very much relaxed, Shirazis seem to hold the secret to a life made of little to no stress, and the city sure never fails to convey a sense of creativity and courtship, with poetry inevitably ruling everywhere, from the poets’ mausoleums to widespread fleeting flirtatious moments.
Surprised and pleased by the lack of traffic, my friend Madi and I asked a taxi driver the reason of such serenity, and his answer was quite educational: “We do it for tourists, so they can visit the city peacefully. They roam around and we sleep.” As a matter of fact, Shirazis’ approach turned out quite handy, and wandering around without the usual mental traffic of the big city was definitely more pleasant and productive.
As soon as we arrived, what struck me was the burst of flowers and bright colors you can enjoy everywhere, in the streets and in the city’s many green oases, such as the beautiful Narenjestan Garden, typical Persian-style gardening that hosts the mesmerizing Mirror Hall.
“I put my arms around your waist,
A lover’s embrace to taste.
From your resolve it’s obvious
All my efforts will go to waste.”
∼ Hafez, Rubaiyat 05
It might really be the soul of the two poets fluttering in the air, but the atmosphere in Shiraz does inspire poetry and courtship, and this is precisely what I think I saw in the park next to Karim Khan Palace as soon as the sun’s last light flecked the surrounding hills. Girls chattering and hinting at nearby boys playing macho-football, families picnicking and relaxing after a day of not-so-hard work, and pupils reading and studying on the grass rather than on a colorless desk.
After a scrumptious lunch at Haft Khan restaurant (17 Jomhoori Blv., Shiraz, tel. +98 71 1227 0000) and an almost-scholarly visit to Hafez and Saadi mausoleums, we found fit for the ambiance to join the crowd and lie down on the greenery of the park of Karim Khan Palace, pretending to be locals but really peering at them over the top of our camera lenses.
Probably when you think about romantic city breaks the cities that more likely come to your mind are Paris, Venice or Rome, but seriously, when you read these kinds of quotes
“Love sometimes wants to do us a great favor: hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.” ∼ Hafez
what else can you wish for?
Below some more photos I took in charming Shiraz, as usual I hope I will inspire you to take some trips or to do some more research of your own.