Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran - Hafez Tomb

Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran – Hafez Tomb
Photo by Ondrej Zvacek via Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Shiraz is one of the biggest cities, and the center of Fars province with moderate weather. The city was originally placed where today the Abu Nasr Castle is located, but was moved to the current location couple of decades after the advent of Islam in the country. Shiraz becomes popular when Estakhr, one of the ancient capitals of Iran is destroyed, and becomes a capital in the ruling of Safarid, Buyid, and Zand dynasties. Geographically, Shiraz is located in the southern hills of Zagros, and enjoys fertile soil and good weather, which makes it a suitable place for farming and herding. It was also on the path of caravans that went to Boushehr port.

The first time that the name of Shiraz comes to attention is on the Elamite tablets aging around 2000 years. There is a city named Tizares that was probably pronounce Sirajis in Old Persian, and was later turned to Shiraz as a result of change in phonetics. This name is also seen on the pottery remained from Sassanid time.

Shiraz’s proximity to the cities of Yazd, Kerman, Khuzestan, Isfahan, and the Persian Gulf made the city a suitable place for the Arab’s Army to make a base there. With the turning of Iranian to Islam, the city of Estakhr that was the main city of the area, and a reminder of the defeated empire lost its place and Shiraz replace it. When Safarid chose the place as their capital, Shiraz became even more popular. It was in this time that the first Jameh Mosque of the city was built.

In the 10th and 11th century, Buyid chose Shiraz as their center and built mosque, palace, library and new irrigation system. They believed in Shiite sect of Islam, but were lenient toward the Sunni Caliph and mostly submitted to him. The Buyid were supportive of other religions; on one occasion that a group attacked Zoroastrians, the Buyid ruler ordered their severe punishment.

Around two centuries later that the Atabakan ruled Shiraz, the Mongol attack happened. With the negotiations done by the rulers, the Mongols didn’t destroy the city, and accepted tribute. Although Shiraz was saved from the Mongol attack, the rest of the country weren’t, and therefore, after the war many people immigrated to Shiraz. The City was also saved from the Tamerlane’s attack which again helped with its popularity.

In the Safavid time, the whole country improved, but the already developed city of Shiraz was caught between the conflicts of Sunni and Shiite leaders. Shah Ismail that was a Shiite himself murdered many of Sunni leaders. The peaceful life of the city was disturbed, but that didn’t stop the rulers from adding constructs and further developing Shiraz. Unlike the previous two deadly wars, Shiraz couldn’t avoid the Afghan’s attack. It is said that the city was surrounded for months and thousands of people lost their life. The attack ended the Safavid Dynasty.

With Nader Shah on the throne, many of the Afghan’s destructions were reconstructed. The loss of central power and balance, however led to rebellions by small tribal leaders that had founded the perfect opportunity to rise to power. Nader Shah defeated all the oppositions and once again the country found semblance of central power.
Shiraz saw many ups and downs, it was destroyed and remade by different kings, but the prime time of the city is experienced in the Zand Era. Karim Khan chose Shiraz as his capital and many constructs were made including the Vakil Bazaar, Vakil Bathhouse, Vakil Mosque, Karim Khan Citadel, and houses for the Lak and Lor soldiers of the army. After Karim Khan, his descendant couldn’t keep the throne. When Aqa Muhammad khan became the king, the capital was moved to Tehran, and although the city wasn’t abandoned, it didn’t possess the previous significance.

Today, more than anything the city is known for its historic attractions that are a proof of its ancient history. Attractions of the city include Vakil Complex, Karim Khan Citadel, Nasir ol Molk Mosque, Shah Cheraq Holly Shrine, Narenjestan Mansion, Jameh Mosque, Hafez Mausoleum, Sa’di Mausoleum, and many gardens like Delgosha, Eram, and Golshan.