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A visual tour through Zanjan and Hamadan: Hookahs, ancient sights and beautiful tea houses

Posted by on November 26, 2012
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Zanjan, known for its fantastic bazaar, knife-grinders and tea houses was the next stop on my journey through Iran. Zanjan was the first place I crashed at someone’s home in Iran — found through Couchsurfing — and got to sample some homecooking. From Zanjan, I visited nearby Oljeitu Mausoleum built for a sultan 600 years ago. In case you’re keeping track, at 80 feet in diameter and 160 feet high it’s the world’s tallest brick dome.

My hosts in Zanjan cooked Indian food for me one night since I had just traveled in India and they had lived there for many years.

Grand Oljeitu Mausoleum
One of many beautiful tea houses. As I mentioned, tea is like its own religion in Iran. This particular tea house is 400 years old.

From Zanjan, I made my way to Hamadan, which was once one of the ancient world’s greatest cities and is believed to be approximately 3,000 years old. It was tops on my itinerary for a lot of reasons. Not only were there a lot of cool historic sights, but the city itself is also beautiful and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. As has been the constant theme in Iran, I also made some good friends there who worked at a hip coffee shop, which became my hang-out spot when I just wanted to chill.

Hamadan

Original 3,000 year old walls of Hamadan

Had a multi-religion day and visited a 200-year-old church, Judaism’s Ester’s tomb and a golden mosque.

Also visited 2,500-year-old Ganjnameh — two cuneiform rock carvings from former Persian kings Xerxes and Darius to the Zoroastrian (Iran’s original religion before Islam came) god Ahura Mazda thanking him for making them very good kings.
Hooka’d it up and had some tea and nabat (sugar crystals) with my new friends after our visit to the Ganjnameh.

Barista friend and his delicious coffee ice cream drink concoction

Visited a friend’s bakery and had some fluffy, tasty komaj, a famous pastry in Hamadan.

Found wisdom in the park

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