A very good friend of mine is a native of Iran and asked me to visit her during the summer holiday. I know this sounds naive, but prior to my visit, all I had in my mind were pictures of war. It turns out that I was not the only one. My family and friends were extremely worried about me when they heard of my plans. I decided to travel there regardless and, as I uncovered the beauty of the country, realized that those sorts of prejudices have blinded too many pairs of eyes. Iran is majestic.

I began my research and realized quickly that I would not be able to see the whole of the country in just twelve days. As such, I changed my focus to the central and southern regions because I was steadfast in my will to see the desert.

I met my friend in Tehran and we headed to Isfahan. From there we drove south to Yazd and the Kavir desert, then to Shiraz, and at last back to Tehran. It was a very long road trip but travelling with locals was really fun and I’m exceptionally grateful to have had my friend along for the journey.

These are a selection of my photos from my trip. I hope that they can both represent the beauty of Iran and help others open their eyes, too. From the bustling city of Tehran and the grandeur of the mosques in Isfahan to the eerily peaceful Towers of Silence of the Zoroastrians in Yazd; from my first desert and camel experiences in Kavir to the beautiful ruins of Persepolis – I am eternally thankful that I chose to visit Iran and so grateful to my friend and her family for hosting me.

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Imam Square or “Half of the World” in Isfahan, the world’s second largest square after Tiananmen Square in China. It was once a polo field.

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The door prior to entering Chehelsotoon. You’ll face this posh glass-made ceiling before entering the golden-shaded painted room inside the building.

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One of the VIP rooms in Malekotojjar, now a historical restaurant and hotel in Yazd. It was the house of a very rich carpet merchant 340 years ago. This room, made of gold, was for his second wife.

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Built by a rich merchant, this is the beautiful mirrored porch of Qavam House, located within the Eram Garden in Shiraz.

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On our way from Shiraz to Tehran, we managed to visit Abyaneh, a very old historical red village near Isfahan. The soil and houses are red because of the red soil in the mountainous region. The women here still wear the traditional colorful clothes of Iran.

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Standing under the Azadi Tower (Freedom Tower), the symbol of Tehran, built approximately 40 years ago.

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We headed to Kavir at 3 a.m one morning. We were guided with a flashlight to the closest highest dune. Barefoot and cold, we sat still, gazed at the stars, and welcomed the sunrise.

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Exploring the Imam Mosque, we sat on the carpets inside the sanctuary. I took a moment to look up, stay still and observe the details of the dome. Suddenly, I felt very small.

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A close-up of the honeycombed ceiling of one of the mosques in Imam Square, Isfahan. So intricate and exquisite. The ceilings are all hand-painted. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

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This is Chehelsotoon, which means “40 columns”. When you look at the building from its front side, its 20 columns are reflected in the pond in front of the building. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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The 6th floor of Ali Qhapoo Palace in Imam Square, Isfahan is the music hall. The holes in the ceilings and walls represent instruments. This architecture enhances the room’s acoustics, resulting in a high quality, non-returning sound


Words and Photos: Winna Lim