Iran is one of those countries where issues concerning religion and the modern world confront you at all turns and compel you to consider your own stance. It is impossible to return from a visit and not feel that, while seeing magnificent historic architecture and evidence of ancient civilisations, you have also been witnessing history in the making.

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Iran is the birthplace of one of the greatest civilisations of the world, home to breathtaking landscapes and geographic contrasts. Travel to Esfahan and wander around the magnificent Naqsh-e Jahan Square with its most splendid mosques and bazaars, visit the jewel-like gardens of Shiraz drowning in exotic flower scents, and crown your holiday with a trip to Persepolis, Iran’s most impressive historical heritage from Ancient Persia.

Iran is equally a fantastic ski holiday destination. The Alborz Mountains with the highest peak in the Middle East – Damavand – offer excellent slopes and accommodation. And before leaving, make sure to take a break in a lively café and enjoy the friendliness and warmth of the Iranian people, who will make your trip to Iran unforgettable.

Hilary Smith (introduction written by updater of the fifth edition, Maria Oleynik)

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