The Mysteries of Persia10 - 23 April, 2019

Trip Dates:
10 - 23 April, 2019
Trip Price: £3680 not including international flights
Single Room Supplement: £660
Trip Length: 15 days

Resting between the steppes of Asia and the fertile crescent of the Mediterranean, Iran is a stepping-stone between East and West. Persia’s vast empire once stretched from the Indus River in the East, to Egypt in the West. It is still a land dotted with the carved reminders of the Parthians, the Sassanids, the Seljuks and the Mongols - their monuments serve as a vivid testament to the extraordinary cultural heritage of this vast country.

The journey begins in Shiraz, a beautiful city famous for its poets and its many gardens. Explore its winding bazaar and enjoy a cup of tea in one of its many peaceful teahouses. Visit Persepolis - the City of the Persians - built by Darius the Great over two thousand years ago and subsequently used by two more Achaemenian kings. Walk through the Apadana where Darius the Great once held audiences and received visitors. Superb bas-reliefs decorate the stairways and depict people from as far away as Ethiopia bearing tribute to the Persian kings. Dominated by tall ochre-coloured cliffs is Nash-e Rostam where the enormous tombs of four Achaemenian kings have been hewn out of stone. Drive to Yazd, a desert city dotted with the wind towers, which are a major architectural feature of southern Iran. These towers, still used, are designed to catch any wind and funnel it to the room below. The architecture of Yazd is traditionally Persian. Wander through the old quarter where the covered streets ring to the clapping sound of the weaving looms.

Yazd is one of the world’s last centres of the Zoroastrian religion, which dates back to 1000BC. Isfahan is perhaps the most beautiful of all Iranian cities. Its moment of glory came in the seventeenth century when Shah Abbas I reconstructed the town. He initiated one of the world’s grandest projects in city planning. Mosques, palaces, bazaars and public parks were built under the monarch’s personal supervision. Explore this remarkable city of soaring minarets and domes of glistening turquoise and cobalt blue. En route to Tehran visit the delightful town of Kashan before continuing on to Tehran which has some of the finest museums in the Middle East.

The journey is open to the alumni of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and their friends and families.


Maximum Party Size: 20

Trip Leader: Professor MIchael Roaf

Professor Roaf was an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford and a Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford as well as G.A. Wainwright Fellow in Near Eastern Archaeology at Oxford University. Professor Roaf's chief interests are in the art, archaeology and history of the Near East (particularly Iran and Mesopotamia) from prehistoric times up to and including the Islamic period. He has worked on several sites in Iran, wrote his doctoral thesis about Persepolis, and has travelled extensively in Iran and was also the director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq and former Professor Near Eastern Archaeology at Munich University. He has accompanied numerous visits to Iran both before and after the Islamic Revolution.

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The Mysteries of Persia Trip Comments:

 ‘This was a wonderful journey – one of the best trips we have had, in fact, probably the best.' 
‘It was a wonderful trip and one which has a ‘slow release’ effect, so it goes on getting better as you think back. The party were wonderful too.’ 
‘Hugely enjoyable and informative journey - excellently organised. Ali was a superb guide, impressively knowledgeable about a vast array of subjects. He and Professor Roaf made a good combination - rather different viewpoints and politely disagreeing occasionally!’
‘We were welcomed everywhere by young and old Iranians. It is a journey I’ll never forget.’