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Impressions of Iran

Iran is not an easy country to travel in, but it is most certainly very rewarding, doing away with some clichés, the door wide open for an encounter with plenty of welcoming people who crave for contact with foreigners, an encounter also with one of the richest and most fascinating pages of world history and culture.

Who has never heard about Persepolis, the capital of a mighty empire which bridged the geographical and cultural gap between the Mediterranean and the Orient, many centuries before Marco Polo got the credit for it? And who has never with amazement seen the images of Isfahan’s magnificent blue-tiled domes and minarets and the lush Persian gardens of Shiraz?

But there is much more: the impressing remnants of an elaborate and dignified pre-Islamic religion following the teachings of Zoroaster, the splendid contribution of poets and scholars to medieval world literature and science, the architectural and artistic heritage of consecutive dynasties who ruled over Iran, some of them of ethnically Persian descent, some rather of Turkic Azeri or even Kurdish origin. It all underscores how much Persia, or Iran, has throughout history always been at the cross-roads of international exchange, not only for trade, but maybe more importantly for ideas and cultural vision.

 

This is the richly endowed past we come across while travelling through this country and while meeting many gentle people, eager to preserve their centuries old traditions and simultaneously impatient for a connection to the globe’s modernity.

 

* Scanned Slides, 1999

Before visiting the place of your choice:

Isfahan would not be a major city in Iran if there were not somewhere on the outskirts a Zoroastrian Fire Temple, an adobe structure in ruins, but a strong testimony to the distant past of Persia, with the culture of an elaborate and optimistic religion of respect for all elements of nature and the purifying strength of fire, a religion also of struggle between good and evil, the former bound to have the upper hand. Zarathustra was definitely a philosopher, and not a common pyromancer, and he still has followers, in Iran, but mainly in India.

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