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Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations,beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BC. It was first unified by the Iranian Medes in the seventh century BC, and reached its greatest extent during the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great in the sixth century BC, stretching from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, becoming a larger empire than previously ever existed in the world.The Iranian realm fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, but reemerged shortly after as the Parthian Empire, followed by the Sasanian Empire, which became a leading world power for the next four centuries.
Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century AD, ultimately leading to the displacement of the indigenous faiths of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism with Islam. Iran made major contributions to the Islamic Golden Age that followed, producing many influential figures in art and science. After two centuries, a period of various native Muslim dynasties began, which were later conquered by the Turks and the Mongols.
The rise of the Safavids in the 15th century led to the reestablishment of a unified Iranian state and national identity, which followed the country’s conversion to Shia Islam, marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history.
The country’s rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the third-largest number in Asia and eleventh-largest in the world. Iran is a multicultural country comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, the largest being Persians (61%), Azeris (16%), Kurds (10%), and Lur (6%).

Historically, Iran has been referred to as Persia by the West, due mainly to the writings of Greek historians who called Iran Persis (Greek: Περσίς), meaning “land of the Persians”. As the most extensive interactions the Ancient Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term persisted, even long after the Persian rule in Greece. However, Persis (Old Persian: Pārśa; Modern Persian: Pārse) was originally referred to a region settled by Persians in the west shore of Lake Urmia, in the ninth century BC. The settlement was then shifted to the southern end of the Zagros Mountains, and is today defined as Fars Province.

In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, Iran.

Historically, early Iranian religions such as the Proto-Iranic religion and the subsequent Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism were the dominant religions in Iran, particularly during the Median, Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian eras. This changed after the fall of the Sasanian Empire by the centuries-long Islamization that followed the Muslim Conquest of Iran. Iran was predominantly Sunni until the conversion of the country to Shia Islam by the order of the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century.

Today, Twelver Shia Islam is the official state religion, to which about 90% to 95% of the population adhere. About 4% to 8% of the population are Sunni Muslims, mainly Kurds and Baloches. The remaining 2% are non-Muslim religious minorities, including Christians, Jews, Bahais, Mandeans, Yezidis, Yarsanis, and Zoroastrians.

Judaism has a long history in Iran, dating back to the Achaemenid Conquest of Babylonia. about 8,756 to 25,000Jewish people live in Iran. Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel.

Around 250,000 to 370,000 Christians reside in Iran, and Christianity is the country’s largest recognized minority religion. Most are of Armenian background, as well as a sizable minority of Assyrians.

Iran is divided into five regions with thirty one provinces (ostān),each governed by an appointed governor (ostāndār). The provinces are divided into counties , and subdivided into districts (baxš) and sub-districts (dehestān).
Tehran, with a population of around 8.8 million (2016 census), is the capital and largest city of Iran. It is an economical and cultural center, and is the hub of the country’s communication and transport network.

The country’s second most populous city, Mashhad, has a population of around 3.3 million (2016 census), and is capital of the province of Razavi Khorasan (mashhad). Being the site of the Imam Reza Shrine, it is a holy city in Shia Islam. About 15 to 20 million pilgrims visit the shrine every year.

Isfahan has a population of around 2.2 million (2016 census), and is Iran’s third most populous city. It is the capital of the province of Isfahan, and was also the third capital of the Safavid Empire. It is home to a wide variety of historical sites, including the famous Shah Square, Siosepol, and the churches at the Armenian district of New Julfa. It is also home to the world’s seventh-largest shopping mall, Isfahan City Center.

The fourth most populous city of Iran, Karaj, has a population of around 1.9 million (2016 census). It is the capital of the province of Alborz, and is situated 20 km west of Tehran, at the foot of the Alborz mountain range. It is a major industrial city in Iran, with large factories producing sugar, textiles, wire, and alcohol.

With a population of around 1.7 million (2016 census), Tabriz is the fifth most populous city of Iran, and had been the second most populous until the late 1960s. It was the first capital of the Safavid Empire, and is now the capital of the province of East Azerbaijan. It is also considered the country’s second major industrial city (after Tehran).

Shiraz, with a population of around 1.8 million (2016 census), is Iran’s sixth most populous city. It is the capital of the province of Fars, and was also the capital of Iran under the reign of the Zand dynasty. It is located near the ruins of Persepolis and Pasargadae, two of the four capitals of the Achaemenid Empire.


The earliest attested cultures in Iran date back to the Lower Paleolithic. Owing to its geopolitical position, Iran has influenced cultures as far as Greece and Italy to the west, Russia to the north, the Arabian Peninsula to the south, and south and east Asia to the east.

The art of Iran encompasses many disciplines, including architecture, stonemasonry, metalworking, weaving, pottery, painting, and calligraphy. Iranian works of art show a great variety in style, in different regions and periods.[ The art of the Medes remains obscure, but has been theoretically attributed to the Scythian style.The Achaemenids borrowed heavily from the art of their neighboring civilizations, but produced a synthesis of a unique style, with an eclectic architecture remaining at sites such as Persepolis and Pasargadae. Greek iconography was imported by the Seleucids, followed by the recombination of Hellenistic and earlier Near Eastern elements in the art of the Parthians, with remains such as the Temple of Anahita and the Statue of the Parthian Nobleman. By the time of the Sasanians, Iranian art came across a general renaissance. Although of unclear development, Sasanian art was highly influential, and spread into far regions. Taq-e-Bostan, Taq-e-Kasra, Naqsh-e-Rostam, and the Shapur-Khwast Castle are among the surviving monuments from the Sasanian period.

During the Middle Ages, Sasanian art played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asian medieval art, which carried forward to the Islamic world, and much of what later became known as Islamic learning—including medicine, architecture, philosophy, philology, and literature—were of Sasanian basis.

The Safavid era is known as the Golden Age of Iranian art, and Safavid works of art show a far more unitary development than in any other period, as part of a political evolution that reunified Iran as a cultural entity. Safavid art exerted noticeable influences upon the neighboring Ottomans, the Mughals, and the Deccans, and was also influential through its fashion and garden architecture on 11th–17th-century Europe.

IRAN Hotels, Hostels, GuestHouse

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Negaar Varzaneh Traditiona

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