We ventured to the sights away from Imam Square today, so we went to the Chehel Sotoun (Palace of Forty Columns)  and the Hasht Behesht (Palace of Eight Paradises). Both were a short walk away from the square. I think we headed to the Hasht Behesht first prior to lunch. It wasn’t very big, but the walk through the gardens to get to it was really nice, and in front of the palace, there was a pretty long pool with sunflowers lining the pool. To cut a long story short, it was real pretty.

We headed back to the Square for lunch at a restaurant, and once again we were helped by a very friendly Iranian girl who was visiting Esfahan for a holiday. She helped us get our food with a big smile on her face. People here are just incredibly nice!

After lunch, we walked back out to the Chehel Sotoun. We spent a little more time over here, as they had quite a lot of artefacts on display. Apart from it having impressive high ceilings, they also had a lot of wall paintings, which I was thought was really interesting. They had quite a lot of female nudes in there. Also, I think the nature of the artefacts, e.g. the pottery and some of their navigational equipment really give an idea of how connected Persia/Iran was connected to the rest of the pre-modern world, and how it was basically the conduit of ideas and goods.

After Chehel Sotoun, we wanted to go see something a little interesting and different, so we got written directions from the guy we bought our woven textiles from, got into a cab, and went to the Zoroastrian Fire Temple. Well … How do I describe this part? We aren’t exactly good at following the painted arrows, so, we somehow ended up taking the most direct and harrowing path up the very sandy structure. It was really freaky, because we had little grip, but we also didn’t want to turn back down. Anyways, by the time we got up there, we were completely freaked out, and hugging on to the ground, which was kinda steep. Finally, to end this bizarre visit, we saw a guy with a suitcase and cloth shoes (think Mr Bean) who just daintily made his way down. He saw our distress, and basically offered to guide us down, but he took the steepest pathway possible. It was awful kind of him, and we followed, but we were freaked out the whole way. I think I just slid down on my bum the whole journey.

We went back to Dibai House, and after a short break, B and I went on a food hunting mission. We basically just went to a food place before the square that serves burgers (they’re super thin), bought a couple, some fries, some soda, then we headed back. The most remarkable thing that happened was, this was the day before the Iranian national elections. The country is divided between supporters of the conservative Ahmadinejad, and the reformist, Mousavi. The atmosphere was electric. Many cars basically painted their political loyalty on their cars. As Mousavi’s supporters are predominantly the young intellectuals, students were on the roads. They were throwing flyings into our taxi, asking us to vote for Mousavi, and stopping traffic along the way to try and pull votes for him. I am truly amazed by the level of political involvement.

Garden Leading to Hasht Behesht, Esfahan

Garden Leading to Hasht Behesht

Hasht Behesht, Esfahan

Looking out from Hasht Behesht

Chehel Sotoun, Esfahan

Chehel Sotoun

Atashgah Zoroastrian Fire Temple, Esfahan

Zoroastrian Fire Temple

Mousavi Supporter on the Road, Esfahan

Iranian out for the upcoming elections