05 May 2017

Impressions and Images of Iran: The City of Qazvin

After Shiraz, I flew to Tehran. But I didn't stay in Tehran; rather, I went to the bus station and took a short bus ride to go to the northwest, heading to Qazvin. I figured I still had some days left and so I could still go exploring another area of the country before I needed to head back to Tehran to catch my flight home. So to Qazvin I went, and stayed there for 2 nights. It would be my base to explore the Alamut Valley. Ashura (a Shia Muslim festival) was coming up, and I was timing it such that I would be in the countryside so that I wouldn't be hampered as much.

Qazvin is located about 150 kilometers away from Tehran, and was an ancient capital of the Persian empire. It was founded by Shapur I during the 3rd century AD, but also later blossomed when the capital was transferred here from Tabriz. Nowadays it is a small town (compared to Tehran), and is a good launching base for excursions to the Alamut Valley, which is what I did. There are also a smattering of minor sights within the town, so I took one afternoon checking them out.

The building you see above is the Chehel Sotun, or the former royal palace. It is relatively small compared to the ones in Isfahan, but it has the general design, with pavilions, balconies, and tall slender pillars. The interior now functions as a calligraphy museum, as apparently Qazvin is known for its calligraphy as well.

Another area of the city I explored was the bazaar. Surprisingly, the bazaar here is quiet, but then again, it may be the case that it was quiet simply because Ashura was coming up, and people were away. Ashura is a religious celebration centered around the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, so it actually is a sad event. The whole country shuts down pretty much. Anyway, I will write about that more later.

Anyway, as you can see, the bazaar in Qazvin is made of brick, and there are plenty of workshops and artisans and craftsmen who have shops here. This was actually a good place to buy souvenirs, except I didn't get any. Instead, I just spent a few hours idling away wandering around the bazaars, seeing what's behind a door, turning a corner, and so forth. It's an interesting way to discover the city.

So, that was Qazvin. My next post brings me high in the mountains, as I go hiking in the Alamut Valley. Stay tuned.


  1. Was there any sale pressure at the bazaar? I have mixed feeling about these places, it's always interesting to check out but I absolutely hate the "look, look!" pressure (cf. China...)

    1. Zhu,

      Absolutely no pressure! The Iranians are a proud people, in my opinion, and they might try once, but they do take no for an answer. If you refuse, they understand that and won't push you again. It was my experience in all the bazaars I have visited, including in Isfahan, which sees the most tourists.