Iran is a wonderful country, with a rich history and culture plus very tasty food. It has an ancient history and centuries of customs and traditions. But what makes Iran unique? And what non-Iranian tourists who visited Iran have to say about Iran and the Iranian people? Join us to learn about the intriguing things you never knew about Iran and Iranians.
- 1. 1. Iranian Food
- 2. 2. Polo Game Is Originally Persian
- 3. 3. The Land of Aryans
- 4. 4. Iranian People Had Not Been Muslims
- 5. 5. Persian Carpet
- 6. 6. Taarof
- 7. 7. Valuable Exports
- 8. 8. The Land of Poetry
- 9. 9. Persian Cat
- 10. 10. Home of Many Ethnics
- 11. 11. Women’s Hijab
- 12. 12. Iran Is Not All Desert
- 13. 13. Iran Is Safe
- 14. Final Words
1. Iranian Food
You can not compare Iranian food to anything. Iranian food is a combination of Middle Eastern, Greek, and Indian food. In addition, it is the perfect combination of everything. And you can have meat, rice, beans, and vegetables in one meal. Iranians are in favor of meat. But they also enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables. And they usually drink their favorite beverage, black tea, after a meal.
The food variety and the taste are like nothing you’ve ever experienced. If you are no fan of tea, don’t worry at all, they have a huge range of local desserts you can choose among. And you might like to hear that Rasht, the capital city of Gilan Province, has made it into UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network for its gastronomy (the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food).
2. Polo Game Is Originally Persian
The Ancient Persians called the game Chogan. Due to its popularity among Iranian kings and nobles, it is known as the game of kings. The name Chogan is derived from the name of the wood they used in the game to hit the ball. The game initially was kind of a military men’s game, in which they showed off the talents of their war horses.
There are some famous polo fields in Iran but all of them have gone through a lot of changes and most of them are not a real fields to play the game. The most popular ones are Naghshe-Jahan Square in Isfahan and Sabzeh-Meydan Park in Rasht.
3. The Land of Aryans
“Iran” means “land of Aryans”. Aryan is a term that Iranian use as an ethnic label. They also use it as a linguistic, cultural, and religious reference to describe the Iranian people.
Iranian people are so proud of their ancient ancestors, The great Cirus, and his great empire, Achaemenid. He became a king in 530 BC and now after all these millennia people admire and love him. Dandamayev, the great historian, says about him:
“Cyrus was the most popular king of Persia. And the founder of a worldwide empire. Cyrus seems to have respected the traditions and religions of the conquered lands. The Persians considered him their father. The clergymen of Babylon called him Marduk. The Jews considered him the Messiah sent by Jehovah. And the Greeks saw him as a great conqueror and a wise politician. Moreover, in the eyes’ of Xerxes, he was an ideal ruler.”
4. Iranian People Had Not Been Muslims
Arabs invaded Persia in the 7th century, during the Sassanid Dynasty. Before the Islamic conquest of Persia, Iranians were Zoroastrians. That’s why a lot of the Iranian traditions like Nowruz, Chahar shanbeh Soori, and Yald Night have Zoroastrian roots.
5. Persian Carpet
Although Persian carpet does not fly, its design, durability, and construction are truly magical. Iranian people have been weaving carpets for more than 2,500 years. Iranian carpets are Iran’s second-largest export after oil.
Iranian people use Taarof as a sign of politeness. What does taarof really mean? It means people say some sentences that they don’t really mean it. And they believe it is a kind of paying respect to the one they are talking to. For instance, if you are in a restaurant with some Iranian friend and they offer you to be their guest they are just trying to be polite. Unless they say it more than two times. More than two times, you can be sure they really mean it.
7. Valuable Exports
Other than oil and gas exports, Iran is a leading exporter of the best caviar, the best saffron, the best pistachio, and the best rugs in the world. The black gold, caviar, is the gift of sturgeon fish living in the heart of the Caspian Sea. The red gold, saffron is the gift of the semi-dry lands of Khorasan province. And Pistachio is the favor of Rafsanjan farms, in Kerman province.
We talked about Persian carpets but it is interesting to know that the weavers leave some imperfections to support their own belief that says; only God can create perfection. This magnificent art belongs to Fars province. And it is listed as the Iranian intangible cultural heritage in UNESCO.
8. The Land of Poetry
It’s not only The Great Cirus that Iranian people are so much proud of. They adore their poets as much. Visiting their poet’s mausoleums is a must-see on their to-do list. They visit their beloved poets to pay their respect and read some of their poems. The most popular ones are Hafiz and Saadi in Shiraz, Khayyam in Neyshabour, and ّFerdowsi in Tus. They also honor Rumi so much but unfortunately, his tomb is not inside Iran’s borders anymore.
9. Persian Cat
As the name reveals Persian cat is originally Iranian. These cats lived in the mountains of Iran. And it’s for the same reason, they have long and thick silky hair. It kept them warm. Italian merchants brought the first Persian cat to Europe in the 17th century. Today, this cat is one of the most popular cat breeds in the world.
10. Home of Many Ethnics
Different ethnicities live in Iran and they are not few at all. Azeri Turks, Mazandaranis, Gilaks, Kurds, Lurs, Baloch people, Turkmens, Arabs, Afro-Iranians, and Armenians are the most known ethnics. Besides, there are even some famous nomadic tribes such as the Bakhtiari-s and Qashqai-s. Despite the diversity, these are the minority. The majority of people in Iran are Persians. And the official language of the country is Persian.
Each of these ethnicities is concentrated in a different region of the country. They have their own traditions, outfits, and language. And this variety is kind of amazing.
11. Women’s Hijab
It is right that in Iran women need to wear hijab and even you need to respect their dress code when traveling to the country. But it doesn’t mean they even have to cover their face when they come out or they are so limited and are not allowed to do anything. It’s totally reverse women are so active in Iran’s society. There are a lot of women studying in universities, working high-rank jobs and so. Iran has also great female athletes in different sports who have won Olympic medals.
12. Iran Is Not All Desert
Unfortunately, some imagine that Iran is a desert where people ride camels to move from one place to another. If you want the truth Iran is a big country and blessed with four seasons at the same time in different parts of the country. While people are skiing in Tehran, some others are swimming on the shores of southern islands in the Persian Gulf. From dense forests to the hottest spot on the earth, from high mount chains to the green plains Iran has it all.
And despite what some think, Iran is a developed country. Where people care a lot about what they eat, what they ride, and what they wear. And they care about education a lot especially women. It is interesting that educated women outnumber educated men.
13. Iran Is Safe
Unfortunately, because of political reasons, the media tries to show Iran as a violent and dangerous country. But if you ask anyone who has been in Iran even once they will assure you, despite what the media has to say, Iran is a very safe country to travel even as a solo female traveler. People are unbelievably kind and they go out of their way to help you if you need it.
There is a lot more intriguing stuff you will love to know about Iran and Iranian people. A short trip to Iran will convince you that you need to come and visit again. And that’s because of the whole awesome natural, cultural, and historical attractions you will find in Iran. Above all, the hospitality and delicious food will make you miss Iran a lot!
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Pasargad, Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Varzaneh Desert, Isfahan, Iran
Chelgerd, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, Iran
Shahdad Kalouts, Shahdad, Kerman Province, Iran