One of Persia's oldest cities, and now one of Iran's most beautiful as well as its fifth larges (pop. 1.7 million), Shiraz in the country's southwest (a ten-hour drive from capital Teheran, or an hour-and-twenty-minute flight) is a city of history and art, wine and poetry (many of the greatest Persian poets and writers, such as Hafiz and Saadi, hailed from here).

Summers here are quite hot, but the rest of the year is pleasant, and perhaps the best time of year to travel to Shiraz is in May, when the streets are redolent with the perfume of blooming of orange blossom. For visitors, three or four days should suffice to experience the city's highlights, starting with some of the finest examples of Iranian gardens are in Shiraz. These include 800-year-old Eram Garden, with a magnificent palace surrounded by millions of plants of every shape and color, Other prime examples include Afif-Abad (though it perhaps jarringly now includes Iran's biggest arms museum) and Delgosha another ancient garden brimming with orange blossoms and citrus trees.

Historical sites are another major aspect of Shiraz tourism - most notably the nearby ruins of two ancient capitals, Persepolis and Pasargadae, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Closer at hand are dozens of fabulous and diverse monuments of historical and cultural significance, such as Vakil Bazaar, the public baths, the Arg of Karim Khan, Qavam House, the holy shrine of Shah Cheragh, and the Nasir ol Molk Mosque. Here are a few more details on some of the highlights:

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