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Iran's top tourist destinations – in pictures

As Iran makes a push to increase inbound tourism, we take a look at its top destinations – from ancient cities and beach resorts, to its modern capital and skiing destinations

Persepolis (Takht-e-Jamshid), the capital of the Achaemid empire and one of the world’s most magnificient ancient sites, was declared a world heritage site in 1979 by Unesco

Amir Chakhmaq Square, built in the ninth century in Yazd. The desert city, famous for its windcatchers [ventilators], is located in the middle of Iran and is the centre of Zoroastrian culture

View of cupolas of the bazaars, a minaret and a windcatcher in Yazd province

The Eram garden (Garden of Paradise) in Shiraz is a typical Persian garden. This waterway leads towards the historic Qavam house. Shiraz is the city of love and Persian poetry, and home to many touristic sites including the tome of Hafez, a well-known Persian poet from the 14th century. Saadi, another celebrated poet of the 13th century, is also buried in Shiraz

Evening prayers at the ninth century shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad. The city in east Iran close to the border with Afghanistan is a popular destination for religious tourists and pilgrims. The shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth imam in Shia Islam, is the largest mosque in the world. Mashdad is also home to the tomb of Ferdowsi, the Persian poet behind the Shahnameh, a national epic

Iranian girls take a break from skiing at the Shemshak ski resort about 35 miles from Tehran. Shemshak and Dizin, situated in the Alborz mountain range close to the capital, are favourite getaways for wealthy Tehranis during the winter and spring months

An Iranian woman dressed in a chador inside Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan. The city nicknamed Half the World is perhaps Iran’s best known touristic city. Naqsh-e Jahan Square, a square at the centre of the city, is also a Unesco world heritage site

Dome of the mosque in Hamadan. The capital of Iran’s Hamedan province is one of the oldest cities in the world. The internationally known Iranian scientist Avicenna is buried here

View of Tehran with Milad Tower at sunset. The Iranian capital is a modern metropolis which also boasts a number of palaces belonging to the Pahlavi dynasty and dozens of museums

Visitors look at an artwork by Victor Vasarely at Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art, which has the finest collection of modern art anywhere outside Europe and the US, boasting works by Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Edvard Munch, René Magritte and Mark Rothko

The carpet section of Tehran's Grand Bazaar

A man and a woman jetski together at Kish, a resort island in the south of Iran in the Persian Gulf, unthinkable a few years ago. Women must wear a nylon chador, supplied by the club. The inhabitants of the island, a free trade zone surrounded by shopping malls and tourist attractions, consider their island as a sort of experiment for a future Iran

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