Friday, 16.11.2012 8:49
Kaluts, South-eastern Iran
We knew two things for certain about Iran before coming: The first was that there would be a lot to see. The second was that people would be warm and friendly.
What we did not expect was that Iran would have two kind of treasures. The landscapes and historical monuments are of course spectacular but the kindly and hospitable people are the real jewel of the country.

After 15 days we leave Iran on a single idea: coming back.

Friday, 16.11.2012 9:14
View on Kaluts, South-eastern Iran
The Kavir-e Lut (Kaluts) literally Lut Desert is close to the Afghanistan border. Beautiful and tempting to go there but be careful it could be dangerous. To fight against the drug smugglers from Afghanistan the east part of the Kaluts is turned into a minefield.

Friday, 16.11.2012 9:53
Rainbow in a desert, Kaluts, South-eastern Iran
Rain in desert is rare and unexpected but it creates wonderful natural phenomena.

Friday, 16.11.2012 9:18
Tank truck on the road, Kaluts, South-eastern Iran
Oil and gas are the biggest value in the economy here as Iran has one of the world’s largest reserves of these resources.

Friday, 16.11.2012 7:21
Sunrise in Kaluts, South-eastern Iran

Thursday, 15.11.2012 19:45
Ashura festival in Shafie Abad, South-eastern Iran
The Ashura festival is one of the most important celebrations in Iran. The villagers celebrate the first day all together in the house of the mosque preparing food for everybody. Of course we were invited.

Friday, 16.11.2012 11:25
Truck on the road to Kerman, South-eastern Iran
Kerman is on the Caspian Sea - Persian Golf road (Tehran - Bandar Abbas) and also on the Zahedan road to Pakistan border. A new road links Kerman to Mashhad (straight north) trough the Kaluts. This concentration of major commercial road increases the truck traffic here.

Friday, 16.11.2012 17:07
Mosque constructions in Kerman, South-eastern Iran
The country is particularly subject to seismic activities. In the last 10 years there were more than eleven heavy earthquakes which killed over 30.000 people. In order to improve the safety of buildings the government forces by law to reinforce the structure with steel frames.

Thursday, 15.11.2012 7:39
View from the graveyard on the village, Meymand, South-eastern Iran
The 12,000 year old village consists of a number of amazing manmade caves that are still used today. The cave dwelling lines two sides of a shallow valley. The vegetation is sparse and the horizon interrupted here and there by scattered pistachios, pomegranates or wild almonds trees.

Thursday, 15.11.2012 8:20
Our host Salma in the morning light, Meymand, South-eastern Iran
Living conditions are harsh due to the aridity of the land and to high temperatures in summers and very cold winters. Salma is 63 and still get up at 4h30. Lighting the fire, getting water, having breakfast, praying and feeding the animals are her every morning program. She is still amazingly supple for a woman of her age: seating, standing, squatting or stooping is not a problem for her!

Thursday, 15.11.2012 9:50
Fathame, Meymand, South-eastern Iran
Currently a scarce population of 60 people (most of whom are elderly) continues to live in the village at least during the hot season. This friend of Salma has no husband and no child. After the morning activity the old ladies like to chat around the fire.

Thursday, 15.11.2012 12:16
Assan in front of his Cave, Meymand, South-eastern Iran
Assan is a retired literature teacher working now for the House of UNESCO’s world heritage program located in one of the cave units. The museum houses a collection of tools telling the everyday life of the inhabitants of Meymand.

Thursday, 15.11.2012 11:40
Assan in his Cave, Meymand, South-eastern Iran
Assan is from Shahr -e- Babak (30km from the village) where his wife and family still live. He now shares his old time between this cave in Meymand and his more modern and cosy family home. The oil heater is an authentic “Aladdin” blue flame.

Wednesday, 14.11.2012 21:41
Salma cooking for us, Meymand, South-eastern Iran
The fire is traditionally used for lighting, heating and cooking. The diet while simply is nevertheless healthy and nutritious.
In Salma’s cave the fire is placed in the entrance hall walls of which are black because of smoke and soot. She also has a gas stove inside the house but her preference goes to the cooking on fire.
Salma concocts us a soup made from milk, nuts and dried herbs served with homemade flat breads. The common practice is to tear the bread into bit-sized pieces and throw them into the bowl of soup. We added a bit of meat broth… delicious!

Wednesday, 14.11.2012 22:28
In Salma’s Cave, Meymand, South-eastern Iran
The dwellings usually consist of a single room and are windowless and dark (not just because of the lack of natural light but also because of hundreds years of soot from fires and candles). Some dwellings have more than one room and even an attached stable or animal shelter.
In this 20 m², Salma and her husband raise 8 children. The furniture is minimum. Here as all over Iran the custom is to cover the room with carpets and sleep on in a bed made every evening.


Tuesday, 13.11.2012 16:09
Yazd old city center, Eastern Iran
Yazd has an incomparable architecture due to centuries of adaptations to its desert surroundings. The driest major city in Iran was built almost entirely out of adobe, a sun-dried brick. Due to his ideal thermal coefficient the main benefit of this material is that it keeps out the heat of the day to transfer it efficiently in the house during the night.
But even with architectural innovations that permit to survive the hottest days and coldest nights, life cannot be without water. Another major innovation in this area are the qanāt, underground water channels who conduct water from the mountain’s sources by use of simple gravity to distribute the precious liquid to lower areas. The length of Iran’s underground water channel network is estimated up to 80,000 km.
This technology was primarily used for irrigation and then later developed for other purpose such as water mills and water supplies to cities for drinking and domestic uses. The technique has largely remained a phenomenon specific to the Persian lands where its role continues to be of primary importance up to the present day. For example, Tehran was still exclusively supplied in drinking water through qanāt until the 1920s.

Tuesday, 13.11.2012 17:33
In a sugar shop, Yazd, Eastern Iran
This place may look like hell, but it is not oil or metal boiling… just sugar. This essential item in Iranis’ life is cooked for a few hours to produce candy.

Tuesday, 13.11.2012 17:48
Girls and gold, Yazd bazaar, Eastern Iran

Tuesday, 13.11.2012 16:21
King’s room in Fahadan hotel, Yazd, Eastern Iran
The Fahadan Great Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Yazd.
This room has its own bādgīr (wind catcher) a traditional structure used as antique air-conditioning. The most common use of wind catchers is to cool and ventilate rooms in houses. Air trapped in the vents of the tower is cooled as it descends and refreshes the rooms below. When there is little or no wind, air rises up through the towers which are heated by the sun. The cool humid air from the courtyard and basement is then pulled by the updraft through the rooms.
Wind catchers are also built onto the living quarters of caravanserais, over prayer halls of mosques, and on water cisterns where they efficiently chill the stored water by evaporative cooling.

Tuesday, 13.11.2012 17:25
Street, Yazd, Eastern Iran
Yazd is known as šahr-e bādgīrhā, “the city of wind catchers”, and until today is renowned for the number and variety that have been built and conserved since ancient times.
Recently built houses and neighborhoods have abandoned local vernacular architecture that had fully incorporated and adapted to the local climatic conditions. They use power hungry moderns airconditioning.

Wednesday, 14.11.2012 10:58
Yakhchal or antique Icehouse, Meybod, Eastern Iran
By 400 BCE, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during winters from nearby mountains, or more commonly the qanāt water was channeled to the north side of the yakhchal‘s wall. The shadow of the wall made the water freeze so more ice was produced per night. Ice was stored in a specially designed, passively cooled refrigerator. Above ground, the structure had a domed shape and a subterranean storage space.

Wednesday, 14.11.2012 11:59
Narin Castle, Meybod, Eastern Iran
Dating back to the period before the advent of Islam to Iran, this ancient castle has been constructed on the top of the hill and overlooks the city. It seems that upper floors of the building have been reconstructed and were built during the Islamic era. The place is currently under study. Yet the castle has not been well conserved.

Wednesday, 14.11.2012 14:06
The old village Kharanaq, Eastern Iran
Parts of the village are believed to be more than 1000 years old and have been occupied in some form or another for more than 4000 years. Kharanaq is entirely made of adobe and qanāt, an urban combination completely adapted to the local climatic conditions.
The adobe wall can serve as a significant heat reservoir due to the thermal properties inherent to the massive walls. The external temperature is transferred with a time difference to the living space turning the interior warmer during the night and conversely fresher in daytime. An adobe brick is a composite material made of clay mixed with water and an organic material such as straw or dung. Straw is useful in binding the brick together and allowing the brick to dry evenly. Dung offers the same advantage and is also added to repel insects.
A well-planned adobe wall of the appropriate thickness is very effective in controlling inside temperature through the wide daily fluctuations typical of desert climates a factor which has contributed to its longevity as a building material (more than 1000 years old).

Wednesday, 14.11.2012 11:27
Carpets manufacturer, Meybod, Eastern Iran

Wednesday, 14.11.2012 13:05
View from Chak Chak, Eastern Iran
The most sacred of the mountain shrines of Zoroastrianism, Chak Chak serves as a pilgrimage point for pious Zoroastrians. This religion was probably founded some 600 years BC in the eastern part of what today is Iran and considered as the oldest monotheist religion of humanity. Every year in June thousands of Zoroastrians from Iran, India and other countries pilgrim to this fire temple. This elementary symbol of divinity (which apparently has been burning for eternity) was unfortunately switched off at the time of our visit.

Sunday, 11.11.2012 18:36
Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Half-of-the-world, Isfahan’s or probably Iran’s most famous square and heart of the town renamed Imam Square after the revolution, Isfahan, Central Iran.
Constructed at the beginning of the 17th century, the place is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The Masjed-e Shah (the Shah mosque) and the Āli Qāpu palace are the two major sites of the place.
Isfahan is an oasis in the middle of the dry Iranian plateau, owed to the Zayandeh rud (“the river who gives life”). The city is located in the center of ancient commercial routes crossing not only Iran but Eurasia spanning from China to the Ottoman Empire via the Silk Road as well as between the Persian Gulf and Russia. This strategic position and water in abundance were determining for the rise of the economy and arts over the centuries.


Monday, 12.11.2012 14:51
Masjed-e Shah (renamed Masjed-e Imam), Imam Square, Isfahan, Central Iran.
The Mosque of the Shah is an overwhelming palette of turquoise-blue tiles, which cover nearly all the surfaces on the inside and outside.
As other Persian leaders the Shah did not hesitate to force his people to fulfill his bidding. In this case, finishing the building during his lifetime. This pressure urged the Persians to invent a new style of tile mosaic: the haft rangi (the Seven-colors) which was both cheaper and quicker. In earlier Iranian mosques, the tiles had been made of faience mosaic, a slow and expensive process where tiny pieces are cut from monochrome tiles and assembled to create intricate designs. In the new method, artisans put on all the colors at once, then fired the tile. The new procedure was not just faster, but also allowed a wider range of colors to be used, creating richer patterns, perceived as more sophisticated and beautiful to the visitor’s eye no matter which century.
Inside the mosque, at the central point under the dome, the acoustic is an example of the ingenuity of the architects (and an amusement for all the visitors): the dome enables the Imam to speak with a subdued voice and still be heard clearly by everyone inside the building. We tried. It worked but cannot be displayed in an image…

Sunday, 11.11.2012 15:20
Masjed-e Jameh, Isfahan, Central Iran.
This congregational mosque was founded in the 8th century. Nearly every significant architectural and decorative trend of Persian history is represented within. This building covers nearly 17,000 m² and is build around a courtyard of approximately 2,500 m², making it one of the largest mosques in Iran. The decorations are not as elaborate as in the Masjed-e Shah, but the simplicity of the mud bricks and the gorgeous mosaics outside give to the place an aura of religious sanctity. Today still, it remains at the center of urban life of Isfahan, where (retired) people can enjoy some quiet time.


Sunday, 11.11.2012 16:38
Azadegan Teahouse, Isfahan, Central Iran.
Iranis spend lots of time in the “coffeehouse” (the common designation, rather than a teahouse), drinking tea, smoking shisha water pipe and chatting… Coffee is rarely available.
The tea called Čāy, is probably the most popular drink throughout the Iranian world. It is consumed all over the day. This habit begins during the early childhood (we saw a 3 year old Iranian girl drinking at the glass from her mother), and the consumption increases gradually until adulthood. An adult Irani may drink up to 10 glasses of Čāy/day.
Drinking tea gives a social character to a conversation. There are many opportunities for drinking tea in Iran: at home, on a visit, at work, on traveling or even shopping. Bargaining in the bazaar cannot be without the accompaniment of tea.
Čāy is generally brewed with a little kettle placed on top of a stove. The concentrated beverage is poured into the glass, then, hot water is added until the adequate concentration is reached. The tea is drunk heavily sweetened (5-7 spoons), or alternatively, one (or more) sugar lump is placed in the mouth and the tea sipped through it. The last one is apparently the Iranis favored.

Sunday, 11.11.2012 15:53
In a garage on Chahar Baqe Paeen st., Isfahan, Central Iran.


Sunday, 11.11.2012 22:03
Zurkhaneh (House of strength) team and their Morshed (guide), Isfahan, Central Iran.
The Zurkhaneh is a traditional Iranis gymnasium where, for centuries, set of gymnastic and muscle building exercises are practices. The purpose was to train young men’s body and spirit in order to defense the Persian Empire.
At the center of the room lay the gowd, a hexagonal sunken area about one meter deep in which the exercises took place. This area is surrounded by stands for spectators and racks for exercise instruments. The walls are covered with pictures of athletes and saints. You will find a decorated podium, the sardam, which is reserved for the Morshed (guide or director) who accompanied the exercises with rhythmic drumming and the chanting of Persian poetry.
Nowadays, the Zurkhaneh consist in a series of warming-up calisthenics, push-ups on small wooden boards. In the second part, the athletes would swing wooden skittles (2 to 20kg each) with each arm, and then take turns whirling rapidly. The practices and rituals of the Zurkhaneh are still carried out with spirituality. The exercises are frequently interrupted by invocation of God’s blessing upon the Prophet. As they entered the gowd, athletes showed their respect for the holy space by kissing the ground, which in practice took the form of touching the floor with their fingers and then raising these to their lips.



Friday, 09.11.2012 16:01
Empty bazaar on Friday (day off), Isfahan, Central Iran.


Sunday, 11.11.2012 15:45
Colorful bazaar during workdays, Isfahan, Central Iran.

Sunday, 11.11.2012 20:57
Carpet Shop, Imam Square, Isfahan, Central Iran.
The world-famous Persian carpet can be found in Isfahan, where “touts” swarm all over the Imam Square. Enter in a carpet shop is a sort of institution, which includes long and friendly chatting, tea and even sweets. In order to convince you, the carpet seller will use lots of psychological tricks, such as the non-obligation, you stay as a guest: “If you don’t want a carpet, it’s not a problem”. The other trick is to make you wiser: “ I can teach you about carpets”. You will learn that the carpet’s value increase with the number of knots, the quality of the materiel, and the complexity of the design… he even shows you carpets you certainly can’t afford, just to teach you. As long as you keep in mind that you don’t have to buy, it is indeed a very pleasant moment.

Wednesday, 07.11.2012 16:14
Farsi calligraphy. Regional Museum, Sanandaj, Kurdistan, Western Iran
Sanandaj is the capital of Kurdistan province, located on the Iraqi border.

Wednesday, 07.11.2012 16:36
Kurdish man, Asef Mansion, Sanandaj, Kurdistan, Western Iran
Kurdistan covers parts of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. In Iran the Kurdish population is a minority of 10%. Most of the Iranian Kurdish people live in Kurdistan province where they are in the majority. This allows them to stick to their traditions such as clothing: the kawa pantol, an overall-like dress with baggy pants and a wide scarf used as a belt, called biben.

Wednesday, 07.11.2012 17:08
Hammam in Asef Mansion House, today House of Kurds. Sanandaj, Kurdistan, Western Iran
The Qâjar dynasty ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925. In order to display their wealth and power the Qâjar kings ordered the construction of many ostentatious palaces in every city of ancient Persia, totally ignoring the hardships that ordinary people had to endure.

Wednesday, 07.11.2012 11:19
Old and happy chatting Kurdish men in the streets, Sanadaj, Kurdistan, Western Iran

Thursday, 08.11.2012 17:06
Palangan village, Kurdistan, Western Iran
A Kurdish village built on and into the rocks of a small valley. The 800 inhabitants have fish-farms or orchards. This time of year the river is dry.

Thursday, 08.11.2012 12:51
Palangan village, Kurdistan, Western Iran
Being a preserved valley, it is a natural touristic highlight for many Iranis. They come here on weekends (Thursday and Friday in the Muslim world) for the fresh air or to enjoy a picnic with family and friends.

Thursday, 08.11.2012 14:52
Kurdish house up on the river, Palangan, Kurdistan, Western Iran
The house of a typical and friendly Kurdish family who runs a small tea-house/restaurant at the river.

Thursday, 08.11.2012 15:01
Welcoming host, Palangan, Kurdistan, Western Iran

Thursday, 08.11.2012 15:03
Mother and daughter preparing delicious fresh fish for lunch, Palangan, Kurdistan, Western Iran
The family has also a fish farm. Barbecued lemon trout is on the menu here.

Thursday, 08.11.2012 16:32
Peaceful afternoon at the house, Palangan, Kurdistan, Western Iran

Thursday, 08.11.2012 16:26
Students on a weekend trip having a good time, Palangan, Kurdistan, Western Iran
Supervised by their professor the class is out for a day out at Palangan. On the program: outdoor games, music and of course, just relaxing. After lunch the class starts a traditional Kurdish dance to the rhythm of the local drums. Girls do appreciate the scene!


Monday, 05.11.2012 17:40
Tehran from above, view from Milad tower, 435m height. District 2, north Tehran.
The metropolis of Tehran is the strongest concentration of population in Iran: 15% of the country's population, comparable with Cairo or Istanbul. The metropolis is located between mountains and deserts. This locked geographical location makes Tehran vulnerable to earthquakes and air pollution.
The city has been organised along a north-south axis. The house numbers on this axis also reflect the social hierarchy, the cleanliness of the water and the purity of the air. In the north where the rich people live the pollution is not so obvious. In the centre and the south where the less rich live, condition can be harsh and air filtered by a cigarette may be better than what you actually breath directly.... Tehran's air is one of the most polluted on earth, owed to the heavy traffic and the (excessively) high number of outdated cars and bad quality of petrol (thanks to embargo). In order to improve the air quality a little private cars are forbidden in the city center during daytime. But still, the smog covers the city ¾ of the year, specially in winter. When the level of pollution reaches a certain point, schools close down and elderly people have to stay indoors.
Till today, the division between the North and the South still exists. The South and Center are more lively and animated. The North is a residential area. With a new dynamic developing in the city, another division between the center and the suburbs (where 30% of Tehran's inhabitants are living) emerges.

Sunday, 04.11.2012 18:13
Azadi Tower, Azadi Square, West Tehran.
Tehran is the capital of Iran since the end of the XVIIIth century. Azadi tower was built in 1971 to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the first Persian empire. The tower is 50m high. During the last century, the monument became the place of gathering for the opposition, specially during the revolution of 1979 and more recently in 2009...

Tuesday, 06.11.2012 12:59
A pastry shop near Bazar-e Marvi, district 12, Tehran.

Tuesday, 06.11.2012 12:12
Street in south Tehran, district 12.
Cars in Iran are old and were re-restored many times. Consequences of the embargo...

Tuesday, 06.11.2012 12:13
Sleeping Baker in south Tehran, district 12.

Tuesday, 06.11.2012 13:46
Proud owners of a traditional Iranian Kebab place near the Bazar-e Marvi, district 12, Tehran.
Kebabs in Iran have nothing to do with the world-famous Döner Kebab, which is actually called "Turkish Kebab" here .

Tuesday, 06.11.2012 13:50
Street in south Tehran, district 11.
The hijàb is compulsory in public spaces for all women after puberty. Most just wear a scarf covering the head, some wear the chador. It is a full-body-length piece of cloth, opened in the front, that Iranian women put on.

Tuesday, 06.11.2012 13:07
A carrier near the Bazar-e Marvi, district 12, Tehran.
Portraits of Imam Khomeini and his successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are present in every office, shop and hotel lobby. Sometimes discreet, sometimes more obvious, you can find them in the street or on paintings on buildings.


Sunday, 04.11.2012 20:43
Night life in south Tehran, district 12.

Monday, 05.11.2012 13:25
District 11, Tehran.
Tehranis love Germany.
“Where do you come from?” (the first question every Irani first asks)
“Germany? Hey! Germany and Iran are like brothers!!”

Tuesday, 06.11.2012 14:03
On Amir Kabir St., south Tehran, district 12.
In this busy street car shops are concentrated. In this business cluster you can find everything for every car: New snow tires someone?

Tuesday, 06.11.2012 14:19
Newspaper on the 6th November in Firouzeh Hotel lobby, South Tehran, district 12.
The American people are about to vote Barack Obama into a second term.