Revealing The Secret City

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Middle East » Iran » North » Tehran
March 21st 2008
Published: May 30th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

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Heralding SpringHeralding SpringHeralding Spring

Lavendar bundles drape city walls
We are the flute, our music is all Thine;
We are the mountains echoing only Thee;
And movest to defeat or victory;
Lions emblazoned high on flags unfurled-
They wind invisible sweeps us through the world.

-Rumi, The Unseen Power

Hidden from the West behind a curtain of contemporary politics lies a land of indescibable beauty. To draw back that curtain is to enter into a palace of splendor, where chivalry echos through the palaces and statues, where snow-capped mountains breath crisp life into the air of the city. This is the land of the mystic poets, Hafiz and Rumi. This is the place where tall trees arch the roadways, where the scent of rosewater and saffron might perfume an afternoon walk. As curling, leaflike window-coverings lace houses, and the tiny lights of Darband, the city in the mountain, spiral around the ancient rocks toward the moonlit night, you might think you have stepped into a mythical land. Surprise - this is Iran, Persia, the Jewel of the East you didn't hear about on the five o'clock news.

The photographs you see here are taken at the beginning of Spring. In keeping with ancient tradition, the first day
Snowcapped MountainsSnowcapped MountainsSnowcapped Mountains

Mount Damavand overlooks Tehran, and the Alborz Mountains wind northward to the Caspian Sea
of Spring is the New Year in Iran or Nowruz. The celebration of the arrival of Spring is evident everywhere, where shopkeepers display hyacinths, greenery, goldfish in bowls, and other traditional symbols of Spring. As has been done in Persia for an age, each family collects seven (haft) items that begin with S (seen) and places them on a table (the "haft-seen") for the New Year. One item is a container of sprouted greenery that on the thirteenth day is cast to the wind to grow. Before so doing, you must tie two of the sprouts in a knot, known as marrying. It is this tradition from whence the saying "tie the knot" with which we are all familliar came from.

A sampling of photographs from our magnificent journey are provided, and more of the story is to follow, including our journey through the mountains, so stay tuned.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Cherry Blossoms and CyprusCherry Blossoms and Cyprus
Cherry Blossoms and Cyprus

Are beginning their season against the backdrop of Mount Damavand
Darband from AboveDarband from Above
Darband from Above

While seated and dining high above in Darband
Darband, City of The MountainDarband, City of The Mountain
Darband, City of The Mountain

Winding around the natural walls of the ancient mountain are the shimmering lights of Darband
Full Moon at DarbandFull Moon at Darband
Full Moon at Darband

The full moon glints sapphire rays over the rocks of Darband
Pastel GlowPastel Glow
Pastel Glow

A candlelight haft-seen in Tehran at night
Haft Seen Haft Seen
Haft Seen

An oudoor shop sells seven items that begin with S to adorn New Year tables
Goldfish Goldfish

A vendor sells goldfish for Nowruz (New Year) symbolic of the coming of Spring.

Sambol, or hyacinth, graces every Haft-Seen at the coming of Spring.
Tehran RoadsTehran Roads
Tehran Roads

Mount Damavand is the ubiquitous backdrop in the city scenery
Glinting MirrorsGlinting Mirrors
Glinting Mirrors

Are a feature of the old palaces and a traditional form of Persian art
Knight of OldKnight of Old
Knight of Old

A statue of a Persian Knight at the former Shah's palace

Are the curling patterns around windows and rails throughout the city

...and intricate artwork frame this entryway.

A resturant wall depicts Rostam, a mythical character who slays a lion
Lion MosaicLion Mosaic
Lion Mosaic

At Golestan Palace, the kingly lion evidences this ageless symbol of Iran

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