Once upon a time, I never thought about traveling to Iran. How should I? The only information I had so far, was Mullahs here, Terrorist there and the enemies of the ´West´ everywhere. But, for my own luck, I participated in a Seminar about Iran at University. Finally, by that, I had the opportunity to Travel to Iran.
Let me tell you what made my Travel to Iran so special and unique.
It was at a random time on my travel through Iran, in the city of Shiraz. I arrived in Shiraz in early morning. The city made me quickly realize that Shiraz feels different. The streets are wider, the people a little bit more relaxed (don’t think people in Iran are not relaxed) and in general, the city felt just inviting.
Food in Shiraz
My first experience there, breakfast. At a shop in the streets, I met a very nice guy who was selling a not really inviting yellow mash. Believe me, when you travel through Iran you should taste all the stuff they serve, even when it is not looking very delicious. At the end it is. However, this one was Halim. A meal out of wheat, oil, onion, salt, cinnamon optional sugar, and the most important lamb. If you’re vegan, really ask about the lamb because you will not see it inside the meal! Anyway, I really enjoyed it and this one was the perfect start to explore the city.
When to Visit Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque
The first destination was the ´Nasir-ol-molk´ (Pink Mosque) mosque. A very beautiful Mosque with the attraction of the colorful windows. To enjoy the windows, come in the morning time. The light is more beautiful in the morning and afternoon, but if you do not come early, the crowds will fill up the mosque and it is not easy for you to make the picture you want to have. Everyone wants these pictures for their Instagram-account.
Let’s Visit Shah Cheragh Mosque
Nevertheless, the most interesting and unique part for me came suddenly. After the ´Nasir-ol-molk´ mosque, I explored the nearby bazaar and nearly passed the ´Shah Cheragh´ Mosque. My first thought was, “really? One more mosque? Shall I really enter this, or not?” especially because they had security control in front of it. Actually, I was curious enough to enter. It was worth it.
The guys and women at the entrances (entrances are separated) are very nice and helpful. The mosque itself is much bigger than I thought. It has an inviting and architectural beautiful frontcourt and the inside was very special. Inside the ´Shah Cheragh´ are the very beautiful and sacred shrines of the two brothers of the eighth Shia Imam, Imam Reza, which is buried in Mashhad. In addition, the volunteer service of the mosque is providing very helpful information and guidance through the area. This guide is indispensable, you have to have a guide, very helpful.
Unexpected in Shiraz
The whole situation was very calm. A crowded holy place where you can learn a lot about Shia religion and enjoy your time. I was convinced by my decision.
However, suddenly, the air became different. You remember a moment when you recognize something is going to happen, but you cannot see or imagine what, you just feel the air heating up. That was the moment. After a short time, a big train of people entered the front door inside the mosque. ´Hussein, Hussein´ shouting from their lips and hitting their breasts in a special move with the rhythm.
My random day in Shiraz was also the last day of mourning. The 40th Day and 3rd mourning event after the death of a person in Shia Islam. This day, the Death of Imam Hussein at the battle of Karbala. This event was steamrolling.
A Shia Ritual in Shah Cheragh
Guys hitting their breast on one side, women crying on the other side. People waving a lot of flags in the yard, combined with staged castigate drama and singing and praying. I totally did not expect that and no one told me before. Therefore, I stayed a while and watched that whole procedure, all the time with my mouth open. For the first time in my life, I saw such an intensive and beautiful event, a special Shia ritual. I was glad that I made the decision to enter this mosque and just explored something, which was new to me. I will never forget my random day in Shiraz.
At last, let me tell you if you do not hesitate and just explore, every day can be like this on your travel through Iran. Just do it.