Best UNESCO Heritage Sites in Iran

With a growing list of over twenty UNESCO Heritage Sites, there are a range of landmarks to discover in Iran. You can walk around majestic ancient ruins or soak up the rich history of the Qajar dynasty to name a few. Here is a guide to the five best UNESCO spots in Iran for some truly standout travel experiences in this stunning country.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Esfahan

Explore Naqsh-e Jahan square

Seeing Naqsh-e Jahan square is one of the most notable travel memories you will have of Iran. At 512m long and 163m wide, it is one of the largest squares on the planet. It provides visitors with a plethora of activities to enjoy, from haggling in carpet stalls, gallivanting around the square by horse and carriage to simply people-watching. Go in the late afternoon to see families enjoy picnics and sip endless amounts of tea on the patches of grass. In the evenings watch as the fountains are turned on and a soft light is projected around the square, illuminating its magnificent architecture.

Yazd's badgirs
Tabriz Bazaar

Follow the passageways of Tabriz Bazaar

Follow your senses around the labyrinth that is the Tabriz Bazaar. Listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2010, it covers 7 sq km and its construction started over a millennium ago. It stands as one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the Middle East and still proves popular with Silk Road merchants. A jam-packed maze of artisan workshops, tea houses and stalls selling everything from spices to carpets, you never know what you’ll find around the next winding passageway or soaring timcheh (domed hall). 

Golestan Palace

Discover the Golestan Palace’s architecture

Added in 2013, Golestan Palace is one of the most recent additions to Iran’s UNESCO Heritage Site list. This luxurious site became the seat of the government in the Qajar dynasty. The architecture of the building shows an interesting blend of early Persian design with a mix of western features. You may well recognise the mosaic facades already with its bold yellows and intricate floral designs being a hotspot for travel photographers. There are plenty of extravagant pools and lush green spaces in the complex too. Look inside at the interior of the palace where dazzling chandeliers sag in the middle of the room and light pours through the stained glass windows revealing a dancing show of deep crimsons and bold blues. 

Persepolis ruins

Go back in time at Persepolis

One of the oldest UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Persepolis, Takht-e Jamshid to locals, are the ancient ruins which were once the beating heart of the old Achaemenid Empire. The construction of Persepolis started when Darius I (the Great) took the throne. Thanks to the extensive excavations in 1930, you can see a rare insight into what Persian civilisation was like. With towering columns, impressive reliefs and superb staircases, this site is one to take your time over to soak up the grand scale of this magnificent empire.

Yazd’s badgirs

Wander around Yazd’s old city 

Added as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2017, the city of Yazd is an enchanting place to visit on the tourist map of Iran. Yazd’s old city is one of the most ancient towns in the world and is the perfect area to really immerse yourself in its history. With bending lanes, sun-dried mud brick buildings, domes coated in blue tiles and courtyard homes with badgirs (wind towers) on top, Yazd is number one for any traveller looking for something different to the well-known city of Esfahan.

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