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Iran - more officially, the Islamic Republic of Iran - is a nation situated in the Middle East bordered by Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Iraq (to name a few). Once the mighty kingdom of Persia - an ancient superpower that controlled much of the Middle East - Iran today retains remnants of its glorious past with immense ruins of magnificent ancient structures, massive historic tombs and countless artefacts preserved in its museums available for the discerning tourist to have a glimpse into its historic heyday.

The second-largest country in the Middle East, Iran has an area of more than a million square kilometres of mountains, plains, salt deserts and much more. Unforgiving though the natural landscape may be, the region that makes up Iran has actually supported human life since the Stone Age and was one of the major centres of ancient civilisation.

Misunderstood though Iran may be today, the country still calls to the discerning tourist to discover its treasure trove of attractions hidden under generalised labelling of the country and its people.

Getting around Iran

For tourists planning on doing long-distance trips within Iran, travelling by air will be your best bet as domestic flights are reliable, readily available and surprisingly cheap. Long-distance buses are also available at great prices, but these are often very slow and might not be worth the little in cost-savings.

Getting around within the cities is much easier - buses and shared or private taxis are easily available on the street. In Iran the shared taxi system is more common than hiring a private taxi, so if you wish for your driver to go straight to your destination without picking up other passengers along the way be sure to say ‘Darbast’ after you board.

What to see and do

One of Iran’s most iconic sites, the Persepolis (also known as the city of Persians) was once the capital of the ancient Achaemenid Empire. Constructed on a terrace half-artificial and half-natural, the massive Persepolis compound consists of a complex of ancient palaces and once hosted countless magnificent ceremonies - including the reception of kings, spectacular festivals of the Empire and more - on top of acting as a sort of city hall for the historic kingdom. Founded by King Darius but finished by his future generations, the Persepolis was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 due to its incredible architectural and archaeological value. Features of the Persepolis include immense ceremonial halls, magnificent flights of stairs, sculpted friezes, enormous winged bulls and more, making it one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites and architectural wonders.

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