10 Things You Didn't Know About Iran

Posted by Crooked Compass

Iran – a deeply fascinating country with an incredibly rich history. Dating back to many millennia B.C, ancient Persia has something for everyone. From the history buffs, to the architectural fascinators, from nature lovers to religious seekers. A far cry from the usual hassle western travellers receive in other Islamic countries, you will be absolutely taken aback as to how easy Iran is to travel through. You don’t get stared at, you don’t get hassled, you don’t have 5 men at a time asking you to come and look at their carpet shop or offering x number of camels for you to be their bride. You are a guest in the local Persian’s country and don’t they make you feel welcome!

Sitting with the locals inside a mosque in Esfahan | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass
Sitting with the locals inside a mosque in Esfahan | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass

Never before have I been to a country where so many people just want to simply chat. Practice their English, understand why you have chosen to come to their country and sincerely ask your opinion on their country and if you would come back again to visit another time. This conversation starter happens on average about 5 times a day if not more in larger cities. The locals want to hear about your country as well. They invite for tea and offer you hulva without any expectation of you purchasing something. Iran is truly unique as a tourism destination. There is no-where like it.

Incredible landscapes of Lar National Park | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass
Incredible landscapes of Lar National Park | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass

Keen to learn more? Here we share 10 things with you that you didn’t know about Iran.

Iran has Ice Houses

Before refrigerators were invented, you needed to get creative with how you kept things cool. Iran invented the Ice house. A colonical shaped building where they stored ice during the winter. Inside this egg shaped dome, the dwelling went underground into chambers. During the winter months, ice would carried here and stored packed with hay for insulation. The result was ice that remained frozen for many months - sometimes until the following winter, ensuring there was enough ice for the summer months! Ingenious!

A former Ice House | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass
A former Ice House | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass

Iran cools its buildings with Wind Towers

Iran’s skyline in its ancient cities are pierced with wind towers. Tall rectangular structures, fluted with channels to capture the incoming air. The air is then drawn down a chamber, circulated over a pool of water below to add a cooling element and re-circulated around the dwelling. Old school air con – no electricity needed. Brilliant!

The tall structures are Wind Towers | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass
The tall structures are Wind Towers | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass

No Call to Prayer (or very quietly if you do hear it)

Despite being an Islamic country, you will notice the eerie silence of no call to prayer. Unlike other Islamic countries, there is no 4am wake up call here to chant the Quran. Yes, it does exist in a handful of cities dotted around the country, but often the volume is quite low and almost unheard.

The Pink Mosque, Shiraz, No call to prayer here | Photo credit: Crooked Compass
The Pink Mosque, Shiraz, No call to prayer here | Photo credit: Crooked Compass

Wearing the Hijab is part of the culture and has nothing to do with religion.

Coming from the western world, we hear and see things like ‘ban the burqa’ but in all honesty, does our population actually know what they are talking about? Just because someone has a hijia on their head, it does not always mean it is associated with religion. Another misconception in our world. The Hijab is a compulsory head scarf which must be worn by law in Iran. It is purely a dress code law. As soon as Iranian women board a plane, the hijab is off. If it were to be worn for religious reasons, no hair would be showing and it would be sealed tightly around the face – not loosely worn on the head.

t is compulsory to wear a Hiajb in Iran | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass
It is compulsory to wear a Hiajb in Iran | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass

Iran is pronounced II-ran not Eye-ran.

This is one thing you can guarantee you will be corrected on – pronouncing the name of the country correctly. The I in Iran is pronounced like ii as is in the ii at the end of Hawaii. Be respectful and learn to pronounce where you are going properly. This small gesture goes a long way. Iranians are sensitive about their country.

A boy on a donkey in Lar National Park | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass
A boy on a donkey in Lar National Park | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass

Iran is green and covered in wildflowers

Just because it sits at the crossroads of central Asia and the Middle East, does not mean the country is a sparse desert. Sure, sections of it are, but what most people do not realise is that many of the mountain ranges actually sit on natural water tables keeping the mountains lush, green and verdant. In Spring and early Summer, wildflowers carpet these green mountains.

Wildflowers in bloom, Lar National Park, Iran | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass
Wildflowers in bloom, Lar National Park, Iran | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass

Iran has an extensive nomadic population

Despite its populous and incredible cities, beyond the infrastructure, Iran is still home to many pastoral nomads who move with their cattle. Living in tents made of goat hair, these nomads live off the land, drinking from natural springs and foraging for fresh herbs, moving on in the cooler climates to lower pastures.

Living the nomad life in Iran | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass
Living the nomad life in Iran | Photo Credit: Crooked Compass

Caravanserai

Located along the old Silk Road trade route, Iran is scattered with thousands of old caravanserai in various stages of deterioration. To explore some of these caravanserai is incredible and transports you back in time to the days of Marco Polo. Some have been lovingly restored and converted into hotels. Yes, you can actually stay in a former caravanserai!

Zein-o-Din Caravanserai Hotel, Yazd
Zein-o-Din Caravanserai Hotel, Yazd

Want to explore more of Iran? Check out our range of small group tours or contact our team to chat further about which journey is best suited for you!