If you are looking for more places to visit in Iran, don't forget to include Shiraz. Homeland of Persian civilization and capital of Fars Province, Shiraz is the city of poets and nightingales. Here you will walk around jasmine-scented streets, you will test Iranians' knack for romance and you will visit the immortal vestiges left by Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great.
Shiraz (Persian: شیراز) is a city in south-western Iran. It is the capital of the province of Fars.
Shiraz was the capital of Persia under the Zand dynasty from 1750 until 1794, when the Qajars moved the capital to Tehran. With Ispahan and Tehran, Shiraz is today one of the three cultural and artistic capitals of Iran.
Shiraz is located in a plain at an altitude of 1,486 m, at the foot of the Zagros mountains:
The city of Shiraz is crossed by a dry river, sometimes fed water in the winter. This river flows into the lake of Maharloo, a salt lake.
Shiraz has an area of 340 km2 and is thus, by area, the third largest city in Iran after Tehran and Machhad. The city is 919 km from Tehran.
Shiraz has a population of 1,204,882 people in 2006 and is the sixth most populous city in Iran.
Shiraz has a semi-arid continental climate with an annual average of 17.6 ° C and an annual rainfall of only 305 mm. The winter is quite rainy, the most watered month being January with 79.8 mm of rain. However in summer Shiraz does not receive the slightest drop of rain. Summer temperatures can be hot, while in winter freezing is possible.
Origin of the name
The Elamite name of the city was written Tiraziš, as evidenced by the Elamite clay tablets found at Persepolis. Phonetically, this can be interpreted by / tiracis / or / ciracis /. This name became / širajiš / in old Persian, through the changes in time, the name became شیراز, Šīrāz, in modern Persian. The name Shiraz also appears on seals of clay found in Qasr-i Abu Nasr, a Sassanid ruin to the east of the city.
From Antiquity to the Seventh Century
The province of Fars hosts three capitals of Persian history. The ruins of Persepolis, about 2500 years old, are located 60 km northeast of Shiraz and testify to the past grandeur of the Achaemenid Empire. Persepolis, Firouzabad and Pasargades are close witnesses of this ancient civilization.
Human settlements existed in Shiraz during the Sassanid period, as it is written (p. 126 of Hudud ul-'alam min al-mashriq ila al-maghrib, where two fire temples and a fortress called "Shahmobad" are reported. Hamdollah Mostowfi also verified the existence of pre-Islamic installations in Shiraz in his Nozhat ol-Qolub, p. 112. Shiraz, as a city, began to grow in the seventh century when the power of the regional capital, Istakhr, was broken by the Arabs. The city is also home to adventurous traders who founded or took possession of countless counters and towns on the East African coast. The cultural contribution of the Shirazis has influenced the Swahili culture in a not inconsiderable way.
Chronology until 1945
The major events during and after the Islamic conquest of Iran are:
- 640-653: Fars fall into the hands of Omar's armies. Shiraz in 641. Estakhr in 653.
- 1387: Shiraz is occupied for a short time by Tamerlane.
- 1393: Tamerlane occupies Shiraz for the second time.
- 1630: a flood destroyed much of the city.
- 1668: another flood affects Shiraz.
- 1724: Shiraz is sacked by the Afghan invaders.
- 1750: Shiraz became the capital of the Zand dynasty. Many of the famous buildings are built or restored at this time.
- 1794: end of the Zand dynasty and the status of capital of Shiraz.
- 1824: an earthquake destroyed the districts of the city.
- 1844: A young merchant named Seyyed 'Ali-Mohammed Shirazi founded Bababis, a millenarian and reformist religious movement that separated from Islam and played a major role in the Persian constitutional revolution despite the persecution of Islam by the political and religious authorities.
- 1853: a violent earthquake hit Shiraz, but many important buildings are spared.
- 1910: Shiraz pogrom. The Jewish quarter is plundered, twelve dead, fifty wounded and 260 houses destroyed.
- 1945: Opening of the University of Shiraz.
During the Pahlavi period, the Shah spent large sums of money at Shiraz in order to revive the greatness of Achaemenian Persia. The 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire and the strong investments in Pahlavi University were among the projects put in place for this purpose, making Shiraz a dominant status among Iranian cities in the late 1970s.
Shiraz is also an important military center. Its strategic position in the mountains protects it. It is close to the Persian Gulf, the southern borders with Arabia and west with Iraq, and oil fields. An air military base is practically in the city. The position of the city has made it difficult to access through the ages, protecting it from invading armies, wars and sparing most of the old constructions of the city and its surroundings. In recent history, the city found itself a challenge for the British in the early 1900s and for the Allies during the Second World War. Nomadic tribes like the Qashqai have always been ferociously independent. They represented major military challenges to their detractors, including the British Empire as well as the Pahlavi regime or the current Islamic Republic. These tribes of Turkish origin continue today to live in a traditional way, performing a ritual migration twice a year. They spend the winter months at the foot of the Zagros Mountains closer to the Persian Gulf and move their villages to the mountains or high plateaus during the summer months.