If you’re interested in walking and like to discover places on your own and if you are eager to discover a part of Shiraz's history this is the best. On this walking tour of Shiraz, you will enjoy the monuments which are located in the center of the city. They usually belong to Zand and Qajar dynasties (18th and 19th centuries).
One of the few castles in Iran that has survived and you can see them. When you’re in Iran, you rarely can see a citadel like this. A huge size citadel in quality and shape in the center of a city. This is a rectangular brick-made fortress that is made by the order of Karim Khan the most famous king of the Zand Dynasty. It holds different parts like the entrance door, the vestibule, The garden that covers more than 80% of the yard, a paved courtyard with marble stone, the main Rooms of Karim khan Citadel, a Private bath, the large wind catcher, the attractive wax statues revive the setting inside the court of Karim Khan where he met with officials and ruled over the territories under his domination. The embellishment of the frescoes on the walls and ceilings are fabulous examples of how Zandese art energized official and unofficial buildings from this period. A combination of gold leaf with relatively dark red colors was used to give an elegant taste to the interior walls of royal buildings.
Your next attraction in your walking tour is a pedestrian way in the vicinity of Nazar garden that connects to an elegant octagonal building. This mansion used to be called Kolah Farangy (foreign hat) building too because it seemed to be like what people used to know as a foreign hat. It has been converted into what is called Pars Museum today. The Nazar Garden is one of the largest and oldest gardens of Shiraz during the Safavid rule (1501–1722). Karim Khan the most famous king of the Zand dynasty (1750–1794) ordered to the building of an octagon structure in it. This monument had been used to receive and entertain foreign guests and ambassadors and hold official ceremonies. Now, it is changed into one of the smallest and most beautiful museums in Shiraz with some of the fascinating watercolor paintings of Suratgar-e-Shirazy, the well-known Zand period artist, on display here. There are beautiful calligraphic styles on old Qorans, spells, etc with high levels of artistic value. Also, some very interesting armors and cold weapons (daggers and swords) are on display.
After Nazar Garden and in the vicinity of Vakil Bazaar, a wide street by the name Taleghani st leads you to Vakil Mosque. The eye-catching beauties of this mosque, like striking glazed tiles, and the wall decorations bearing beautiful floral patterns attract you from afar. After passing across a wide-open courtyard, you will enter the Southern Shabestan where a columned hall is hidden behind its tall entrance portal. Masjed-e Vakil is especially famous for its large prayer hall (75 meters long, 36 meters wide), it is generously covered with a dome on forty-eight twisted columns cut out of one single block of stone. These pillars are so monochromatic that you will immediately notice the tiled ceiling leading you from the entrance to the mihrab. It is founded in 1751 and 1779, by the order, of Karim Khan Zand.
Iranian baths, a masterpiece of Iranian architecture
The bathroom is one of the non-religious and public buildings in Iranian architecture that has a special place. The construction of public buildings, especially baths, was common in different periods. At all times, empires tried to increase their popularity by creating public and private buildings while creating prosperity. Vakil Bathhouse with a very short distance from Vakil Mosque is one of the buildings of the Zand period that has been built by the order of Karim Khan not only for the welfare and comfort of the people but also to attract them. Now, it has changed to a museum, with wax sculptures depicting the lifestyle of that period's people.
Visiting the old Bazaars will complete your cultural tour. Where you can get to know the cultures and subcultures of society and enjoy them while you are talking with the people. Thus your walking tour of Shiraz without going to its bazaar isn’t complete. Just go back to the main street of Pars Museum toward the East and walk a bit further in the same direction to get to the main entrance of the bazaar. The Vakil Bazaar is divided into two-part Northern and Southern. The Southern part starts with colorful shops and an aromatic atmosphere that will make you intoxicated. So many thanks to the herb shops at the beginning of its passageway. But the Northern one is the section where most of the local people go shopping. It has its own charm as well. spend more time here if you have time, you may want to explore this one as well.
Very high-arched ceilings cover Vakil Bazaar and have the beautiful architecture of the Zand era. This Bazaar holds different Iranian Architect elements like Courtyards, Chaharsoo, caravanserais, bathhouses, and old shops which all are decorated with the best architectural arts of the Zand and Qajar periods. One of the best Carevanseray of this Bazaar is called Sara-ye-Moshir. An astonishing set of stores offering Iranian traditional handicrafts from carpets to enamel works, from inlaid woodworks to copper-made items, etc. This part of the market is very famous and distinguishable due to the existence of a swimming pool in the middle of it and offering all kinds of tile works and wood and copper industries.
Your tour is now over.
You have lost a lot of energy since you have used all your senses to see such beauties. Now it's time for a gastronomy tour. You can use the restaurants around the bazaar that all offer Persian delicious meals or Sarai Mehr Restaurant, one of the best choices for lunch.
This restaurant is located in Sara-ye-Moshir. It has an ambiance like the Iranian old tearooms. Persian dishes like kebabs, stews, and Dizi, would be your best choice. The food is delicious and your dining experience will keep you in the same traditional ambiance of the past. You can feel yourself eating during the Zand period!
The half-day tour ends here!
This walking tour is very attractive to most tourists. You will appreciate it and feel that you saw a part of Iran in the 18th and 19th centuries. You will be so immersed in the local culture that you may forget that this country has changed! I am sure you will have a strong impression of the tapping as well as the traditional Iranian way of life today. So take this half-day walking tour of Shiraz and get to know what's out there.