Cultural Tours

Abgin tours of Iran offer a wide variety of cultural, sporting and trekking adventures in one of the most physically and culturally diverse countries in the world. To the western traveler who has grown up in a culture shaped by Greece and Rome, Iran offers a completely different cultural perspective, one which from the 6 century BC to the 15' century AD shaped the styles, languages, cultures and beliefs of Central Asia, much of the Middle East, and the Indian sub-continent. Conquest by Alexander the Great, the Arabs, Turks and Mongols, spread Iranian culture and courtly ideals throughout Asia as the invading hordes became themselves acculturated by Persia's sophisticated linguistic. religious. artistic. and administrative traditions. It was Persian polity that enabled the Arab, Turkic and Mongol nomadic invaders to make the leap from nomadism to sedentary statehood. Travelers to Iran will be introduced to Persia's great historic continuities by Abgin's experts. You will find yourself learning a new and extremely important cultural language that, along with those of the Mediterranean and China, has shaped vast swathes of global culture.

What will you see in Iran? Throughout the country are archaeological sites, age-old villages and the beautiful shrines of ancient cultures shaped by the meeting of the peoples of the great Eurasian steppe with the Ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia. Your journey to the past climaxes in the stately ruins of the city of Darius and Xerxes, Persepolis, whose architecture and veritable ’Louvre’ of monumental sculpture fused elements of subject cultures of the great Achaemenid empire - Greek, Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Central Asian.

The empires of the nomadic Parthians and the great Sasanians succeeded the Achaemenid Empire, after a Macedonian interlude. The Parthians linked the great empires of the east - China and the Kushan Empire - in a trade system (the Silk Route) with Rome and Egypt in the west. The Sasanians were the political and cultural competitor and equal of the Byzantines. Not least of Persia's wonders of this period is the invention of the domed fire temple, which was later to influence mosques and shrines from Esfahan's great Friday Mosque to India's Taj Mahal.

When the Arabs brought Islam to Persia in the seventh century AD they were, in turn, conquered by Persian culture. So were the Turks and Mongols. The physical manifestations of these interactions are multitude and magnificent. Abgin tours will introduce you to lovely tiled architecture, precious miniatures, extraordinary gardens, exquisite poetry, rich carpets and a mellifluous language that was the hallmark of (Persian) courtliness from the Moghul to the Ottoman empires and which entranced early European travelers to this great land. Persia became the 'bench mark' of high culture from the Bosphorus to the borders of China. Charismatic rulers such as Shah Abbas built beautiful cities like Esfahan, the eastern equivalent of Paris, Rome and Istanbul.

This rich cultural tradition, forged by interactions between ancient civilizations, the message of Islam, and Turko-Mongolian culture, is set against one of the world's most dramatic landscapes of high mountain ranges and vast deserts. Then there is the continuing vernacular tradition of Iran, seen in extraordinary mud-brick buildings like citadels, ice houses, wind-towers and qanats, the long underground channels which tap ground water from the mountains and carry it out into the desert. Nomadic carpets, fine music, varied cuisine (like chicken in pomegranate sauce) and a thousand other elements of popular tradition will enrich your experience of this dramatic and cultured country. Iran, however, is not only a country of the past. A vital contemporary musical and literary tradition complements the extraordinary flowering of cinema with which foreigners have become familiar. You will be amazed by the varied cultural activity of this lively country that is exploring new cultural forms much as it has done throughout its long history.

If you feel the gaping hole in your knowledge of world history, let Abgin tours enrich your knowledge and your life in this beautiful and dramatic country.

Different Tours/Different Duration

Abgin cultural tours are of different durations to cater for different needs. We have consulted with our American and Australian colleagues to isolate the key elements in Iranian cultural traditions so that if you are pressed for time, you will still gain a broad yet detailed overview of the country and its history. If you have longer, there are carefully stepped programs, which introduce interesting variants upon these core traditions. The shortest program visits key cities, which contributed vitally to present Iranian culture. Longer programs enrich this vital strain with experiences of ever-greater complexity.

Pars (8 Days): visits three great cities, Shiraz, Isfahan and Tehran, each of which contributed vital components to Persian history. Shiraz is associated with two of the world's most wonderful poets: Hafiz and Saadi. Nearby are two vast cities in which Persian culture was born: Pasargadae and Persepolis. Here you encounter stunning remains of cities, which at times surpassed ancient Athens. The vast sculptural programs of Persepolis depict the people of the Ancient world in a style whose refinement equals the sculptures of the Parthenon. Naghsh-e Rostam, near Persepolis, has monumental tombs carved into the living rock. They are of the grandeur of Petra. The ancient Achaemendis and Sasanians established Persian identity and tradition. This influenced the culture of the Seljuks who made Isfahsn their capital in the eleventh century and inspired the wonderful city projects of the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas. Isfahan is therefore the heir to persepolis. In this lovely city you will witness an incomparable architectural heritage, which made the city the wonder of its time. Tehran, on the other hand, is a large bustling city with museums in which you can see fine archaeological exhibits, stunning miniatures, refined pottery, an excellent collection of courtly and nomadic carpets, and what must be the world's richest jewellery collection.

8 Days (Pars)

  1. Arrival Tehran
  2. Tehran
  3. Tehran-Shiraz
  4. Exc.Persepolis
  5. Shiraz-Isfahan
  6. Isfahan
  7. Isfahan-Tehran
  8. Departure

Naghsh-e Jahan (12 days): introduces interesting new elements to the core itinerary. In particular, you visit two beautiful oasis cities, standing on the edge of one of the world's greatest deserts. Here you will see a fascinating vernacular architecture of Qanats, wind towers, ice- houses and make an unforgettable visit to Yazd's Zoroastrian 'Towers of Silence'. Between these cities you also visit beautiful caravanserai, built by the Safavids to promote trade and pilgrimage. Everywhere there are teahouses, which have played a key role in Persian cultural life for eons.

12 Days (Naghsh-e-Jahan)

  1. Arrival Tehran
  2. Tehran-Kerman
  3. Kerman-Yazd
  4. Yazd
  5. Yazd-Shiraz
  6. Shiraz
  7. Shiraz-Isfahan
  8. Isfahan
  9. Isfahan
  10. Isfahan-Tehran
  11. Tehran
  12. Departure

Ziggurat (15 days): takes you back to the times before the Persians, when the Elamites competed for control of this region with Mesopotamian civilization such as Babylonians and Assyrians. You visit the extraordinary Ziggurat at Choga Zanbil, evoking the great cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt, Susa, where the great Achaemenid king Darius built a vast palace and where the biblical hero Daniel has his shrine. You also visit Shushtar, with its fascinating Sasanian water mills, still functioning after over a millennium. On your way to Shiraz, you visit the great Sasanian palace complex of Bishapur, with its vast rock sculptures emulating Achaemenid Naghsh-e Rostam.

15 Days (Ziggurat)

  1. Tehran-Ahwaz
  2. Ahwaz
  3. Ahwaz-Shiraz
  4. Shiraz
  5. Shiraz
  6. Shiraz-Kerman
  7. Kerman
  8. Kerman-Yazd
  9. Yazd
  10. Yazd- Isfahan
  11. Isfahan
  12. Isfahan
  13. Isfahan- Tehran
  14. Tehran
  15. Departure

Abgin presents two more tours, built upon the itineraries above. One of these has met extraordinary success with Australia's premier educational tour company, Australians Studying Abroad. These tours visit all the places described above, but also include the culture of Iran's great mountain ranges, the Alborz and the Zagros.

The magic of Persia (21 days): adds the Caspian Sea coast, Ardebil, Tabriz and Maraghe. Ardebil's lovely shrine is the equal of Samarkand- and was inspired by Timur's great city. Tabriz and Maragheh were Mongol Capitals. In Soltanieh you will see one of the world's greatest-and least known-tombs. Here, in the early fourteenth century the Mongol khan, Oljaitu built a grand tomb, which equals the works of Michelangelo and Sinan in majesty and power. This tomb, which has few equals before the Taj Mahal (which was designed by an Iranian), used a double dome one hundred years before Brunelleschi 'invented' it in Florence Cathedral!

21 Days (1) (Magic of Persia)

  1. Arrival Tehran
  2. Tehran
  3. Tehran-Masouleh-Anzali
  4. Anzali-Ardebil-Tabriz
  5. Tabriz
  6. Tabriz Exc.-Maragheh-Kandovan
  7. Tabriz-Zanjan
  8. Zanjan-Ahwaz (By air, via Tehran)
  9. Ahwaz Exc. Susa / Shushtar
  10. Ahwaz-Shiraz
  11. Shiraz Exc. Persepolis / Naghsh-e Rostam
  12. Shiraz (city tour)
  13. Shiraz-Kerman
  14. Kerman Exc.Mahan, Rayen Citadel
  15. Kerman-Yazd
  16. Yazd
  17. Yazd-Isfahan
  18. Isfahan
  19. Isfahan
  20. Isfahan-Kashan-Tehran
  21. Departure

Ecbatana (21 days): maintains the core initnerary but offers a variant upon 'The Magic of Persia'. You follow the majestic Zagros mountain range south to Susa. This vast range gave birth to some of the world's oldest civilizations but has also been a home to two of Iran's many people, the Lurs and the Kurds. Hamadan was the capital of the Medes, who created the first Iranian kingdom, which inspired the Achaemendis. For millennia it was also a great emporium, a key city on the Silk Road between China and Central Asia and the oasis trading cities of the Middle East. This tour introduces wonderful mountain scenery, which will provide startling contrasts to oasis cities like Kerman and Yazd.

21 Days (2) (Ecbatana)

  1. Arrival Tehran
  2. Tehran-Anzali / Exc. Masouleh
  3. Anzali-Ardabil
  4. Ardabil-Tabriz
  5. Tabriz-Maragheh
  6. Maragheh-Takab-Sanandaj
  7. Sanandaj-Kermanshah-Hamadan
  8. Hamadan-Ahwaz
  9. Ahwaz
  10. Ahwaz-Shiraz
  11. Shiraz
  12. Shiraz
  13. Shiraz-Kerman
  14. Kerman Exc. Rayen
  15. Kerman-Yazd
  16. Yazd
  17. Yazd-Isfahan
  18. Isfahan
  19. Isfahan
  20. Isfahan-Tehran
  21. Departure