An Ultimate Armchair Travel Guide to Iran

If you’re a lover of art, culture, and history, then you’re in for a treat. Iran, also known as Persia, is a country that is steeped in rich heritage and possesses a plethora of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

From the bustling metropolis of Tehran to the tranquil gardens of Shiraz, Iran offers a diverse range of experiences that are sure to satisfy any traveler’s wanderlust. This Middle Eastern nation boasts a magnificent collection of ancient ruins, exquisite Islamic architecture, and breathtaking natural wonders.

I can assure you that Iran is a destination that will leave you spellbound. In this armchair travel guide, we’ll take you on a journey through this fascinating country, providing you with all the information you need to plan your dream trip.

So, sit back, relax, and let us transport you to the land of poets, philosophers, and Persian carpets. Whether you’re an armchair traveler or planning your next adventure, this guide will give you a glimpse into the magic of Iran.

Movies About Iran

A Separation (2011) directed by Asghar Farhadi

I must say that Asghar Farhadi’s masterpiece “A Separation” is an exquisite portrayal of Iranian society that allows the viewer to virtually travel to Iran and immerse themselves in its rich cultural and societal complexities.

At its core, the film is a poignant and emotionally charged tale of a family torn apart by their differing views on marriage, religion, and tradition. Through Farhadi’s masterful direction and the impeccable performances of the cast, we are presented with a deeply humanistic exploration of the struggle for justice and the consequences of our actions.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is its vivid depiction of the everyday life of Iranian families, which includes their customs, values, and beliefs. We get a glimpse of the inner workings of the Iranian judicial system, the cultural norms around gender roles and family dynamics, and the importance of religion and morality in Iranian society. The film offers a nuanced and sensitive portrayal of the complexities of Iranian life, and Farhadi’s skillful direction allows the viewer to experience it firsthand.

Through this film, I feel as though I have been transported to Iran and gained an understanding of its people, culture, and traditions. Overall, “A Separation” is a truly remarkable film that transcends cultural boundaries and offers a universal exploration of human emotions and relationships, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to experience the power of Iranian cinema.

This Is Not a Film (2011) directed by Mojtaba Mirtahmasb & Jafar Panahi

I must say that “This Is Not a Film” is an exceptional cinematic masterpiece that takes us on a thought-provoking journey to the heart of Iran. Directed by Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi, this documentary film is a poignant testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of oppression.

The movie was shot during a time of great turmoil in Iran, when Jafar Panahi, a renowned filmmaker, was placed under house arrest and banned from making films for 20 years by the Iranian government. Despite these restrictions, Panahi was determined to continue his work as a filmmaker, and this documentary captures his tenacious spirit as he attempts to make a film in secret.

What is truly remarkable about “This Is Not a Film” is its ability to transport us to Iran and give us an intimate glimpse into the daily struggles of Iranian filmmakers. Through the lens of Panahi’s camera, we witness the beauty and complexity of Iranian society, and gain a deeper understanding of the political and social challenges faced by its people.

In particular, the film sheds light on the issue of censorship in Iran, and the ways in which creative expression is often suppressed by the government. By watching “This Is Not a Film,” we are able to gain a more nuanced understanding of Iranian culture and politics, and to empathize with the struggles of its people.

Offside (2006) directed by Jafar Panahi

Offside is a powerful and poignant film that captures the essence of Iranian society, particularly its attitude towards women and their participation in public life. The film takes place on the day of a crucial World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Bahrain, where the Iranian government has imposed a strict ban on women attending the stadium. However, this does not stop a group of passionate female football fans from trying to sneak into the stadium, with some of them even disguising themselves as men.

As the women attempt to navigate the various security checkpoints and evade the watchful eye of the authorities, they bond over their shared love for the beautiful game and their determination to support their national team. Along the way, they engage in lively debates about gender inequality and the restrictions placed upon them by their society, highlighting the deeply ingrained cultural norms that continue to limit the freedom and agency of Iranian women.

What truly sets Offside apart is its authentic portrayal of Iranian life and culture, which allows the viewer to immerse themselves in the rich and complex world of this fascinating country. From the bustling streets of Tehran to the vibrant atmosphere of the stadium, the film captures the sights, sounds, and spirit of Iran with remarkable precision, bringing to life the unique character of its people and their struggles.

As someone who has not yet had the opportunity to visit Iran in person, watching Offside provided me with a rare and valuable glimpse into the country’s rich cultural heritage and its ongoing struggle for social justice and equality. Through the eyes of the film’s characters, I was able to experience the joy, passion, and resilience of the Iranian people, and gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities and contradictions of their society.

The Cow (1969) directed by Daryush Mehrjui

The Cow (1969) directed by Daryush Mehrjui is a masterpiece of Iranian cinema and a poignant reflection of the human condition. The film tells the story of a poor villager named Masht Hassan, who is deeply attached to his beloved cow. When the cow suddenly dies, Masht Hassan falls into a deep depression and begins to act as though the cow is still alive, leading to a series of tragic and deeply moving events.

The Cow is a powerful film that showcases the complexities of life in rural Iran, and allows the viewer to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, and emotions of a place and culture that is both foreign and fascinating. The film’s stunning cinematography captures the stark beauty of the Iranian countryside, while the performances of the actors bring the characters and their struggles to life with an authenticity that is both raw and relatable.

One of the reasons why The Cow is such an effective window into Iranian culture is because it explores universal themes of love, loss, and the struggle to find meaning in a world that can be cruel and unforgiving. As such, the film speaks to the human experience in a way that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries, allowing viewers from all walks of life to connect with its powerful message.

Bashu, The Little Stranger (1989) directed by Bahram Beizai

Bashu, The Little Stranger is a deeply moving film that explores the complexities of identity, humanity, and the human condition. Directed by the visionary Iranian filmmaker Bahram Beizai, this movie takes viewers on a powerful journey through the Iranian landscape and its culture.

The story centers around Bashu, a young boy who has been displaced by war and must find his way to safety in a new land. As he travels through the Iranian countryside, he encounters a range of characters who help him navigate the challenges of his new life. Along the way, Bashu learns about the customs and traditions of Iran, as well as the deep-seated cultural divides that exist within the country.

One of the most compelling aspects of this film is the way it allows viewers to virtually travel to Iran and experience the richness of its culture. From the stunning landscapes to the vibrant customs and traditions, Bashu, The Little Stranger immerses audiences in the beauty and complexity of Iran. Through the eyes of Bashu, viewers gain a deep understanding of the struggles and triumphs of the Iranian people, and the ways in which their culture has evolved over time.

Books About Iran

Shahnameh (1010) by Abolqasem Ferdowsi

Shahnameh, also known as The Book of Kings, is a masterpiece of Persian literature that chronicles the mythical and historical past of Iran from the beginning of time to the Arab conquest of the Persian Empire in the 7th century. The book is divided into three parts: mythical, heroic, and historical.

Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh is a cultural treasure trove that immerses readers in the vibrant and colorful world of ancient Persia. The book provides a fascinating window into the customs, beliefs, and values of the Iranian people through the ages. It is a rich source of Persian mythology and folklore, presenting a dazzling array of epic heroes, powerful gods and goddesses, and magical creatures.

Reading Shahnameh is like taking a journey through time and space, allowing you to virtually travel to Iran and experience its culture and history. The book takes you on a mesmerizing odyssey through the millennia, offering insights into the social, political, and religious developments of Iran, as well as its art, music, and literature.

As you read the Shahnameh, you will be captivated by the tales of legendary kings and heroes, such as the warrior prince Rostam, who single-handedly defeats dragons and demons to protect his homeland. You will also meet the wise and just King Jamshid, who builds the city of Persepolis and introduces the Persian people to the arts of civilization.

The Blind Owl (1936) by Sadegh Hedayat

The Blind Owl is a haunting and deeply introspective novel by the Iranian writer Sadegh Hedayat, published in 1936. The book is a mesmerizing journey into the dark and mysterious psyche of a troubled protagonist, who is grappling with his inner demons, haunted by his past, and struggling to make sense of his existence.

Reading this book feels like embarking on a surreal and mesmerizing journey to the heart of Iran, its culture, and its people. Hedayat’s vivid descriptions of the landscapes, the architecture, the music, and the customs of Iran, evoke a sense of nostalgia and melancholy, taking the reader on a virtual tour of this fascinating and complex country.

What I found most striking about The Blind Owl is the way it blurs the line between reality and imagination, between the conscious and the unconscious, and between sanity and madness. Through its haunting imagery and its dense and poetic prose, the novel invites the reader to explore the darkest corners of the human mind and to question the very nature of reality.

I would highly recommend The Blind Owl to anyone who is interested in exploring the complexities of Iranian culture and literature. Hedayat’s masterful storytelling, his unique perspective, and his profound insights into the human condition make this novel a true masterpiece of modern literature, and a valuable window into the rich and fascinating world of Iran.

Persepolis (2000) by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is a poignant memoir that chronicles the experiences of the author, Marjane Satrapi, growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Through her black-and-white illustrations and deeply personal narrative, Satrapi invites readers on a journey through the tumultuous events that shaped her childhood and the lives of countless Iranians.

What sets Persepolis apart from other books that touch on the same subject matter is the intimate and relatable lens through which Satrapi tells her story. By sharing her own memories and struggles, she offers a unique perspective on the complex social, political, and cultural forces that shaped Iran during this transformative period.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the book is the way it allows readers to virtually travel to Iran. Through Satrapi’s vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds, and flavors of her home country, readers are transported to a place that may be unfamiliar to them. The book offers a richly textured portrait of Iranian life that is both informative and deeply moving.

In addition to its educational value, Persepolis is a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Despite the many challenges she faces, Satrapi never loses her sense of humor, her curiosity, or her compassion for others. Her story is a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit and a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope.

The Story of Leyla and Majnun (1192) by Nizami Ganjavi

The Story of Leyla and Majnun by Nizami Ganjavi is a masterpiece of Persian literature that captures the essence of love, longing, and devotion. The book tells the tragic story of two lovers, Leyla and Majnun, who are torn apart by societal norms and ultimately die without being united in life.

I find that reading this book allows me to virtually travel to Iran and immerse myself in the rich cultural heritage of the region. Nizami’s poetic language and vivid descriptions of the landscape, architecture, and customs of the time transport me to a world of beauty and wonder.

Moreover, the book offers insights into the social and cultural norms of medieval Iran, including the role of religion, gender, and class in shaping society. Through the story of Leyla and Majnun, we see how love can be both a source of joy and a cause of great suffering, as it challenges the established norms and expectations of the society.

Daiey Jan Napoleon (1973) by Iraj Pezeshkzad

“Daiey Jan Napoleon” is a delightful novel that takes the reader on a whimsical journey through the streets and alleys of Iran. The novel is set in the early 20th century and revolves around the life of a young boy named Qeysar, who has a wild imagination and a passion for storytelling.

The story is full of colorful characters and vivid descriptions of Iranian culture and traditions. From the bustling markets of Tehran to the lush gardens of Isfahan, the novel allows the reader to virtually travel to Iran and experience its rich history and vibrant culture.

One of the most charming aspects of the book is its use of humor and satire to explore the social and political issues of the time. The author has a keen eye for the absurdities of life, and his witty observations provide a unique perspective on Iranian society.

A Music Playlist to Virtually Travel to Iran

This playlist features a diverse range of Iranian music that can transport you to the beautiful country of Iran, even if you are physically far away.

The first song on the playlist is “Nedaye Eshgh” by Mohammad Reza Shajarian, which is a classic Persian love song. With its soulful vocals and traditional instruments, this song captures the essence of Iranian music and culture.

Next on the list is “Banoo” by Sima Bina, a renowned Iranian folk singer. The song has a lively beat and is full of energy, making it a perfect representation of the vibrant and colorful culture of Iran.

“Mohsen Namjoo’s “Zolf” is a contemporary fusion of traditional and modern Iranian music. The song features a unique blend of rock and traditional Iranian instruments, and its poetic lyrics are filled with social commentary and satire.

“Mahtab” by Vigen Derderian is a romantic ballad that captures the essence of Iranian poetry and literature. The song’s soft melody and soulful vocals make it a perfect representation of the Iranian music tradition.

“Mahkloogh” by Googoodh is a fun and upbeat song that features a fusion of Iranian and Western musical styles. The song’s catchy melody and energetic rhythm will make you want to dance and sing along.

“Soghati” by Hayedeh is a nostalgic and emotional song that reflects on the beauty of Iranian culture and its traditions. The song’s haunting melody and poignant lyrics are sure to touch your heart.

“Koodakaneh” by Farhad is a playful and cheerful song that celebrates the innocence and joy of childhood. The song’s joyful lyrics and cheerful melody are a perfect representation of the playful side of Iranian music.

“Afsoongar” by Arian Band is a modern Iranian pop song with a catchy beat and lively rhythm. The song’s upbeat melody and fun lyrics make it a perfect representation of the contemporary music scene in Iran.

Lastly, “Beni Beni” by Niyaz is a fusion of Iranian and Middle Eastern musical styles. The song’s haunting melody and ethereal vocals will transport you to a world of mysticism and spirituality.

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