Soaking up the curious sights of the bazaar and the atmosphere of the beautifully restored caravanserai in the heart of it all, sipping chai and sampling the sugar-covered rosewater sweet of Shiraz, is all part of a stay in this welcoming city. But we’ve seen a lot more than tearooms in the short time we’ve been here.
Be prepared to be dazzled…
Armagh-E Shah-E Cheragh: a spectacular example of Iran’s interior design skills. Dominating the centre of Shiraz, the beautiful shrine holds within its walls a haven from the bustling activity of the neighbouring bazaar. We spent a few minutes soaking up the atmosphere in the sheltered courtyard watching the locals carrying out their ablutions and preparing to enter the shrine, home to the King the Light: Sayyed mir Ahmed, one of Imam Reza’s 17 brothers, the opposite corner of the courtyard holds two more brothers in a similarly decadent building.
I was nervous as I approached the door to the actual shrine. I guess this is one of the downsides to being the only female on the trip. But once inside… wow! Welcomed by a room of curious smiles, my open mouth must have given me away – if my amateur chador-wrapping and skin colour didn’t. Light reigned, as tiny mirrored tiles covered every surface. And while shimmering white light dances continuously across the scene, soft murmuring filled the room made up of prayer, readings, mothers singing to their children, girls gossiping. This is a place where women enjoy each other’s company and indulge in their own rituals away from the male world outside. I felt at home here. Safe. A woman among women.
I was honoured to be welcome here.