Iran is home to an impressive 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites or landmarks are selected by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having historical, cultural, scientific or other forms of significance and are of outstanding universal value.
Created in 1978, UNESCO began designating sites important sites around the globe as part of an effort to preserve the world's cultural and natural heritage.
Here are some of the most popular UNESCO sites to visit in Iran.
1) Persepolis - The ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire and once capital of Persia. It was a set of palaces built by Darius by the Great in 518 BC and is the burial site of various kings. A truly magnificent site which was destroyed by Alexander when invading Persia.
2) BAM - An ancient walled city which includes BAM citadel, much of the city was destroyed during an earthquake in 2003.
3) Golestan Palace - This magnificent Qajar palace situated in Tehran was built in the Safavid era and over the years was renovated to the beautiful buildings you see today.
4) Meidan Emam - Also known as Naqsh-e-Jahan square, it is situated in Esfehan and is one of the largest squares in the world. Constructed under the rule of Shah Abbass the Great, this wonderful square is surrounded by beautiful mosques, palaces and bazaars.
5) Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran - Consisting of 3 monastic Armenian ensembles - St Thaddeus, St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor. The oldest building dates back to the 7th century and these buildings display beautiful Armenian architecture but also display Byzantine, Orthodox and Persian influence.
6) Pasargadae - Constructed under the order of Cyrus the Great and in the Achaemenid era, this impressive complex includes a palace ensemble, fortess and Persian gardens. The most important monument here however is the tomb of Cyrus the Great himself.
7) Takht-e-Soleyman - This archaeological site known as "the throne of Soleyman" dates back to the Sassanian era and includes a lake, a Zoroastrian fire temple and shrine.
8) The Bazaar of Tabriz - This historic bazaar is one of the oldest in the middle east and showcases some wonderful Persian architecture. Located on the silk road this bazaar was a thriving hub for merchants to sell their wares and is still the same today. A maze of interconnected tunnels , where you see many different products being sold and is a fantastic place to visit.
9) Bisotun - Located on the historical trade route, this archaeological site and carvings are found on the face of the Bisotun mountains. Ordered by Darius the Great, the inscription reads about a brief background of Darius himself, including his ancestry and lineage. It also highlights the events following the death of Cyrus the Great. It truly is a magnificent thing to see.
10) Soltaniyeh - This city is located north west of Tehran and was briefly the capital of Persia under the rule of the Ilkhanids which were part of the Mongol dynasty. Here stands the mausoleum of Oljaytu which is also known as the Dome of Soltaniyeh due to the beautiful turquoise dome. It has one of the largest domes in the world and the interior displays some fantastic mosaic and mural work.