Isfanan is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 km south of Iran, and is Iran's third largest city. Isfahan is located on the main north–south and east–west routes crossing Iran, and used to be one of the largest cities in the world. It is placed in the lush plain of the Zayandeh river at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range.
It flourished from 1050 to 1722, especially in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Today the city still retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Islamic architecture, with mosques and minarets, many boulevards, palaces and covered bridges. No wonder that it is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Isfahan was long noted for its fine carpets and silver filigree. In these days fine carpets, handicrafts, textiles and steel are still produced. The climate in Isfahan is dry, because it is situated at 1590 metres above sea level on the eastern side of the Zagros Mountains. Summers are hot in daytime, but nights can be pleasant, because of the low humidity. During the winter days are mild, but nights can be very cold.
Islamic Republic of Iran
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Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the Roodkhaneye Khoshk (Dry River) river. Shiraz has been a regional centre for over a thousand years. It is considered to be one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia. It is the capital of Fars Province and it is the fifth most populated city in Iran. The climate in Shiraz is moderate.
Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature and flowers. It became a leading centre of arts and letters through the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. It is also considered to be a city of gardens by many Iranians, because of its many gardens and fruit trees. Two famous Iranian poets, Hafez and Saadi, are from Shiraz. It was a capital of Persia during the Zand dynasty from 1750 until 1781 and a short time during the Saffarid period. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Shiraz was re-established as a capital of Iranian Art and Culture. Industries in the city are metalwork, wood products, textile products, sugar, cement production and rugs. Shiraz also has a major oil refinery. The famous historic site Persepolis is situated about 60 km to northeast of Shiraz. Shiraz has had important Christian and Jewish communities.
Yazd is a centre of Zoroastrian culture and is the capital of Yazd province, located 270 km southeast of Isfahan and about 700 km from Tehran. Yazd is an architecturally unique city, because it is surrounded by desert. It is the driest major city in Iran, with only about 60 millimetres of rain in a year, and it is also hottest north of Persian Gulf. The temperature is often 40 degrees Celsius and even at night the temperature is uncomfortable. In winter the weather is mild and sunny, but in the mornings the temperatures can fall below zero. Jameh mosque of Yazd is an example of finest Persian mosaics and excellent architecture and its minarets are the highest in Iran. In Yazd there is also a Fire Temple, which has had a fire continuously alight since 470 AD. It is a heritage of Zoroastrianism, like the Tower of Silence, which is outside the city.
The geographical features of this region have made Yazd resist the devastations of the Mongols and modern urbanisation, and have made people develop special architectural styles. In the older part of the city most houses are built of mud-bricks and have domed roofs. These materials served as insulation, preventing heat from passing through.
Marco Polo visited Yazd on his way to China and called it the "good and noble city of Yazd". The reputation of the citizens for honesty and hard work remains undiminished today. Yazd was an important stop on the international caravan routes to Central Asia and India, because it is centred in the heart of Iran between the Kavir and Lut desert. The city was famous for silk brocade, which can still be found, even if the traditional weavers find it difficult to compete with modern factory clothes.