The city of my Childhood by Roya Modaresi

Photo of Bagh-e Eram Palace

Shiraz, the capital city of Fars Province, is situated in the south-western part of Iran and rests on the plains skirting Zagros Mountains. It is not just a beautiful city, its name conjures up exotic images of the east in the mind and is known across the world as the city of wine and poetry. Its history is well woven with that of great dynasties ruling over Iran from Achaemenids, 550 BC, through to the 20th century. The mausoleum of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire is 80 km away in Pasargad and that of the dynasty’s remaining kings is dug into the heart of the mountain in Naqsh-e Rostam, about 50 km from the city. The jewel in this archaeological crown is the palace complex of Persepolis situated approximately 60 km north of Shiraz.

Since the ancient times of the Achaemenids, the city has come to be identified with poetry. It is the birthplace of world famous poets Hafez and Sa’di. Thus, Iranians as a nation and regardless of the city of their birth, feel a special affinity with Shiraz as the country’s seat of literature.

It is also known as the city of flowers and nightingales because of the numerous gardens large and small where aromatic flowers and plants are grown. Gardens surrounding aristocratic palaces and mansions such as Bagh-e Eram, Bagh-e Narenjestan, Bagh-e Afifaabad and Bagh-e Delgosha or smaller private gardens dedicated to growing plants and extracting their aromatic essences. Even in the city itself, the streets lined with orange trees offer the passersby the heady perfume of their blossoms in the spring.

Shiraz has also been famous for its fine wines throughout its long history. It is said that the famous Shiraz or Syrah wines are rooted in grape varieties grown in and around the city. Shiraz wine was the preferred tipple of many Persian kings and remained so for many centuries after the invasion of Islam.

Shiraz is a significant centre of agriculture and commerce in Iran and because of its proximity to the Persian Gulf it is an important staging post for import and export of goods. Many of the agro-industries producing canned food, pickles or conserves are based in the province. Aromatic plants grown in the gardens in and around shiraz are processed in situ to extract oils and distilled essences which are traditionally used for their medicinal properties as well as refreshing additions to summer sherbets served diluted with iced water.

There is a wide diversity of climate conditions within the province from its northern most city of Abadeh which is among the coldest locations in Iran to its southern most city of lar which is one of the warmest in the country. Thus, up until recently, nomadic tribes of the province moved north for the summer and back down to the south for the winter. Lucky tourists visiting the area during the seasonal migration are treated to the visual theatre of the move and a taste of the tribe’s fresh dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and kashk made by the tribeswomen.

Related Recipes:

Shirazi Dishes

Leave a Comment on this article