Saturday, October 18, 2008

6-10 October – Northwestern Iran

Passing the border from Turkey to Iran (at Bazargan) took about three hours. The Iranian border control process would make an interesting topic for a PhD degree in inefficiency. Anyway, our vehicle was not searched, we were not asked to pay any diesel tax, and there were no bad surprises. So we were very happy and excited (and a little bit tired) when we rolled into Iran. However, Nina already thinks that her mandatory headscarf is itching…

Iran is a very big country, and distances are long. We drove south along the western shore of Lake Orumyieh. Our first tourist stop was Takht-e Soleiman. In the 3rd century AD, it was called Azergoshnasb and was the spiritual center of Persia during the time when Zoroastrianism was the state religion. There is a crater lake in the middle of scattered ruins, surrounded by a city wall.

Our next stop was Taq-e Bostan outside Kermanshah. We admired the beautiful Sassanian bas-relief carvings from the 4th century AD.

Close to Kermanshah is the town of Bisotun where we looked at some even older bas-relief carvings, from the 6th century BC (Achaemenid period). This time the reliefs were very high up on the rock face, surrounded by texts in three lost languages. It is quite amazing how well preserved these carvings are after so many years.

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