After the conference we decided to visit the Holy Shrine, described as really beautiful in the books. It is only a five or ten-minute walk from the hostel through the bazar. We had already been in quite a lot of shrines in Iran, all of them with the impressive mirror-covered walls inside. But this one looked different from the beginning.
Once you get inside the complex you realize this is not yet another normal shrine. What you see is really jaw-dropping: a big square with a pool in the middle and a really big shrine with a blue-tiled dome behind the pool. On the other side, another smaller shrine. It feels like Disneyland. But without time to admire the view a young girl approached us: "hello, welcome to the shrine. Where are you from? We have a foreig pilgrims office and we can show you around and explain you everything about this place. Come inside please."
After the explanations and leaving some comments in the guestbook of the office, the guy set us free and we could wander around freely, get into the other shrine and admire the whole thing. One of the best single sights in all Iran.
Still impressed about the shrine, we headed to wander around the bazar, really nice one with some caravanserais scattered around and shops selling the usual stuff plus some t-shirts from Shiraz. Then we crossed the river on the way to Hefez Tomb, the most famous Iranian poet. On the way there we came accross another shrine. And yet another beautiful one. It has a really nice courtyard, a blue-tiled dome and as it was Muharram we could enjoy some free tea and cookies.
It was already dark and before going back to the hotel we decided to go again to the shrine complex to see if it was nicely lit or something. And oh my god it was! If the view in the morning was jaw-dropping, by night it was everything-dropping! All the complex was fully lit, and the view with the pool and the shrine behind it was unforgettable, like from a fairytale. We spent around an hour taking pictures and just admiring the whole place and back to the hostel.
There we met the French guy again who was back from the trip to Persepolis. He really recommended us to go there no matter what. Actually he only was in Shiraz for Persepolis, he hadn't seen any single place in the city, so we told him he could try to go to the shrine, and by showing him a picture taken a few minutes ago, he rushed to it.
He came back and really thanked us for the good tip of the shrine, a bit of chatting and to sleep. Next day it was the turn of Persepolis.
The city is really big, you can easily spend there at least 3 hours. You enter by climbing the main stairs and from there you cross the main gate and start seeing really well preserved ancient sculptures, columns.... and yes, it is everything in ruins, but still there are really beautiful relieves in a lot of walls (the most impressive of whole Persepolis), you can climb up to a couple of tombs and admire the whole city, walk around, even stop for a juice... All in all a totally recommended visit.
The next day was our last one in Shiraz before returning to Tehran to pick up the passport and the visas. In the morning we went to Nasir-al-Molk mosque, and what a great decision! This is the most beautiful mosque in all Iran, but only if you are lucky to go there in the morning in a sunny day. This is because when the Sun shines through tyhe stained-glass colourful windows, the whole interior of the mosque becomes totally colorful. Really beautiful! In the beginning there was a crowd of Japanese people takig pictures and making the place looking like a school playground but luckily these Japanese are always rushing to places with an organized tour, so soon they were off and we had the place for ourselves.
Some food and back to the hostel to make some time, as we wanted to take an overnight bus to Tehran around 8 in the evening. At the hostel we were having some tea, chatting and taking pictures with the recepcionist and then to the bus station. In Iran you can just show up at most of the stations and buy a ticket on the spot to your desired destination, which in this case was Tehran, where we should pick up the passport from the Chinese embassy (hopefully with a nice Chinese visa in it), go to the Uzbek embassy and get the visa and then go to the Turkmen embassy and apply for the visa. Quite a lot of stuff to do.
All in all, the days spent in Shiraz were totally fulfilling, with the visits to the Holy Shrine Complex, Nasir-al-Molk mosque and Persepolis as the highlights of the trip. If you add the chance of spending some time talking to a tourist (they are a really rara avis in Iran), it was quite a perfect journey before going back to hated Tehran.
Check the Shiraz Travel Guide for more details!