This is the homeland of Orthodox Iranians. The Holy Shrine of Emam Reza is highly revered. For women travellers, a chador is required to visit the Holy Shrine. The chador is the all encompassing black robe, covering you from head to foot. It is possible to rent one and your guide will advise.
Non-Muslims are able to visit most of the site with the exception of the actual shrine. Each year thousands of pilgrims visit to touch or kiss the cage which houses the tomb box. Due to the flights between Mashad and Shiraz being overbooked regularly, we will fly via Tehran to Shiraz and depending on flight schedules we may have some time in the afternoon for relaxing in the fabulous city of Shiraz which was once the capital of Iran, and synonymous with learning, nightingales, poetry, roses and at one time, wine.
We visit Persepolis where a comprehensive tour is provided bringing to life the history of this magnificent ruin. Ruler of the largest empire the world had ever seen, Darius I started constructing the great metropolis to serve as a summer capital in around 512BC. Subsequent Achaemenian kings, including Xerxes I, added their own palaces over the next 150 years. Sited on a vast platform above the plains, Persepolis is not a subtle monument. The Great Porch of Xerxes, flanked by winged bulls of stone, leads you into a massive ruined complex of royal palaces, halls, courts and apartments covered with inscriptions and carvings. A stunning wall of detailed bas-reliefs represents thousands of envoys from as far away as Ethiopia and Armenia, India and Cappadocia, bearing gifts to their almighty ruler. A good three hours is needed to explore Persepolis. A short drive away is the four impressive burial tombs of Darius and his successors, Naghsh-e Rostam, which have been hewn from the rock. There is also a fire temple at the site (or so they believe) – that dates back to Achaemenian times. Returning to Shiraz, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
We overnight in Shiraz.