A tour of Shiraz

Essay by hamed7 June 2004

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Shiraz is known as the poetic capital of Persia, because two of the greatest poets of the world, Hafez (1324-1391) and Sa'di (1209-1291), come from this city. Sa'di, the traveler, was born in Baghdad and saw a great part of the world before he finally settled in Shiraz, where he died. Hafez on the other hand, was born in Shiraz and, except for one very short journey, never even left his city.

So it's logical we start our stay in Shiraz with a visit to their mausolea. At the mausoleum of Sa'di it is unnervingly quiet, the door is open but there's nobody there. We discover why when we arrive at the mausoleum of Hafez. Today, it happens to be Hafez Memorial Day and every Iranian who loves poetry has come here to commemorate the great poet while reading, reciting or listening to some of his poems.

For us, this is a very strange experience.

We can't imagine so many young people would come to a Vondel Day in Holland. Iranians must truly love their poetry. Our Iranian guide Shervin surprises us, he recites a beautiful poem of Sa'di, by heart.

When it's almost dark, we go to the Shrine of Shah Cheragh. This is the tomb of Seyed Amir Ahmad, the brother of Imam Reza, the 8th Imam. The outside of the Shrine looks absolutely fabulous in the dark. The Shrine is a Holy Place and an important place for pilgrimage, but it is open to non-Muslims, as long as you ask permission first and under the condition that women wear a chador. We are even allowed to look inside, where a service is going on. We see a lot of grief come out, men throw themselves against the tomb, women are crying, and there are people praying everywhere.