Iran Travel: An Interview with Mohammad Reza Gohari, Iran Tourism Expert

16. Please give us an overview of the culture and traditions of Iran.  What about festivals?

Iranian culture, like many cultures of the developing countries, is composed of tradition and modernity. People live and work almost like people in other countries, use modern facilities, but most people have their traditional thoughts and ideas. Iranians have their traditional customs and conventions for almost everything which includes marriage, Nowruz (Persian New Year), even for saying hello (younger people should say hello first to people that are older than they), respect for elders etc.  Iranian culture is unique, and nowadays, young people show a lot of interest in the country’s ancient history and culture.

I want to divide the special events of Iran into two groups, first the events that the people of the whole country celebrate or mourn, first and foremost being Nowruz (first day of spring) during which all Persian people celebrate the new year and visit their family and relations. One of the other special events that all Persian people mourn is Moharram (Ashoura va Tasoua,) which is a religious event. I should note that although all Persian people at these events celebrate or mourn, some provinces have their own traditions and costumes for celebrating or mourning.

The second group consists of events that some provinces or regions celebrate in terms of their traditions and cultures. For example in some regions the farmers celebrate their harvest, while Zoroastrians have their own unique festivals. Zoroastrianism is a much older religion than Islam.

Vank Cathedral - Isfahan
Vank Cathedral – Isfahan

17. Our readers are interested in cultural and arts-related travel opportunities in Iran. Please comment about museums, music, dance and visual arts performances.

I think that Iran is famous for its cultural, historical and art-related travel opportunities. As I said before, art manifests itself in every monument, whether it is old or new. In Iran there are art museums, galleries and historical museums and some of them pertain to a special subject, for example: carpet museums, glass and clay museums, national jewels museums and etc. Almost every city and every monument and historical place in Iran has its own museums, but the most important museum in Iran with the oldest and most valuable objects is the National Museum of Iran. Iranian love music, especially their traditional music, and almost every region in Iran has its own traditional music with its own instruments, for example: Azari traditional music in Azerbaijan, Khorasani traditional music in Khorasan, Bandari traditional music in Boushehr and Bandar-e Abbas, Torkman traditional music in Golestan, Mazandarani traditional music in Mazandaran and so on. All of these regions have their own traditional dances as well.

Iran has a unique visual art performance called Ta’zie which is a historical and religious art that is about the battle of Imam Hussein (the third imam of Shia) and Yazid that Imam Hussein killed in it. People perform Ta’zie during the Arabian month of Moharram, the same month during which this battle occured. Ta’zie is a kind of theatre where actors while acting and performing their roles sing with a heroic tone.

18. What about active travel: skiing, golf, bicycling, hiking / trekking, kayaking etc.?

As I mentioned before, unfortunately in Iran tour planners and tour operators have not paid enough attention to this kinds of tourism. They concentrate more on cultural and historical tourism, but recently they are starting to prepare an infrastructure and services for attracting tourists who have special interests. There are actually several ski resorts close to Tehran at places like Dizin, Darbandsar, and Tochal. Shemshak even holds local and international ski competitions.

Forest in the north of Iran
Forest in the north of Iran

19. Our audience is interested in the unique culinary traditions of Iran. Since you don’t drink alcohol, what types of drinks are typically served? What about the availability of international foods?

You are right, Muslims do not drink alcohol because or eat pork. Traditional Iranian food is based on fragrant rice, flat bread (nan), different types of kababs (grilled meat skewers), stews and soups. The traditional Iranian drink is Doogh which is very popular and made with yoghurt, water and vegetable flavours like basil and mint. There are many different kinds of beverages in shops and restaurants, from international brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi to beer with 0% alcohol) and etc. As far as international food is concerned, you can find places that sell pizza, hamburgers, pasta and other international foods everywhere. In some big cities there are Chinese, Italian, or Indian restaurants. I guarantee that those who try the Persian food will love it.

20. What is the best time of year to visit Iran?

Iran in spring is so beautiful; the weather is moderate and delightful, the trees are green and the flowers are blooming. I suggest that if you want to visit Shiraz or Isfahan or the central and west regions of Iran, travel to Iran in spring. We are waiting for you and ready to welcome you.

Thank you, Reza, for taking the time to tell us about your home country – Iran. We wish you all the best for your work in tourism management and your new career as an author.

Vank Cathedral - Isfahan
Vank Cathedral – Isfahan

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