With earliest settlement by the Aryan tribes about 3500 years ago, Iran is one of the oldest cradles of the human civilization. Throughout Iran’s history, despite the fact that there were numerous devastating invasions and occupations in the territory, several kingdoms such as Cyrus and Darius helped shape Iran as a distinct political and cultural entity. At the glory of these empires, magnificent architects and builders were brought back to erect architectural masterpieces like palaces, monuments and ceremonial complexes leaving numerous archeological treasures. Series of reforms were made by Darius I to strengthen the ruling of the Achaemenid Empire. To symbolize the power of the rulers, four capitals were kept including a grand palatial complex newly built in Persepolis (Takht-eJamshid) for formal ceremonies, festive celebrations and receptions of delegations from the vassal nations; Ecbatana for summer hideaway; Babylon for winter and Susa for spring. After Alexander the Great conquered Persia, the palaces were sacked and royal treasures taken away. Destroyed and abandoned, Persepolis was rediscovered at the beginning of the 17th century as the most impressive and extensive archaeological site in Iran, displaying the finest examples of Achaemenian carvings.
Middle East was divided into two large empires in ancient time, with the western part under Roman whereas the eastern part under Greek and latter Roman to become Persia. Due to the ethnic wars, colonization and cultural exchange, under the influence of Greek and Roman, different religions gradually developed from polytheistic to monotheistic, dominating by two major religions namely Christianity and Muslim. After Christianity flourished, Muslim over-whelmed the area in the 7th century up till now due to the special traditions among the Jewish, Persian and Greek.
The name Persia or Persis derived from a province situated south-west of Iran and near the east coast of Persian Bay called Fars or Pars. As the local dialect of this province was widely spoken by the Persians and so it (Farsi) becomes their official language. In 1935, the country’s name was changed to Iran, derived directly from Aryan (meaning “of noble origin”).
The relics in Iran are wonderful combinations of Ancient Greek, Egypt and Mongol arts and crafts, which are notable historical and cultural heritage. Nowadays, Iran is still filled with strong Islamic atmosphere of ancient Persia. Tehran, its capital, is the artistic centre of West Asia. Its historical sites are classical architectural masterpieces. Isfahan, meaning half of the world, is the hometown for Shiite sect of Islam with magnificent mosques and palatial architectures everywhere. In the hustle and bustle bazaars, colourful and special local arts and crafts are made in front of you at the traditional workshops and then displayed in varieties. Shiraz is famous for its poets and paintings.
Iran used to be called Persia, a name derived from Fars province where the Aryan tribes had settled. In 1935, Reza Shah had the country’s name changed to Iran, derived directly from Aryan (meaning “of noble origin”). In 1979, the country was officially named Islamic Republic of Iran.
Known as a Middle Eastern country, Iran is located in West Asia with neighbouring countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to the north; Turkey and Iraq to the west, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east. To the south, it is bordered by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Its capital, Tehran, is not just the biggest city in Iran, but also the political, cultural, commercial and industrial centre of the nation. Iran is rich in natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur. It is the second-largest oil producer and exporter in OPEC after Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s long and intriguing history has made the country a mystery one. The fascinating Persian Empire and the rise and fall of the glorious kingdoms have amazed both archaeologists and explorers. Currently there are over 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iran, including the world-renowned Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire during 550 BC – 330 BC. Destroyed and abandoned, Persepolis was rediscovered at the beginning of the 17th century as the most impressive and extensive archaeological site in Iran, displaying the finest examples of Achaemenian carvings.