Iran is an Islamic republic on the Persian (Arabian) Gulf with historical sites dating to the Persian Empire. Extensive marble ruins mark Persepolis, the empire’s capital founded by Darius I in the 6th century B.C. The modern capital, Tehran, is home to opulent Golestan Palace, seat of the Qajar Dynasty (1794–1925), plus modern landmarks such as the 435m-high Milad Tower.
Isfahan is famous for that city’s Naqsh-e Jahan Square (or Imam Square), bordered by Safavid architectural masterpieces including the intricately tiled Sheikh Lotfullah Mosque (1619) and Shah Mosque (1629). Pilgrimage city Mashhad is home to the massive Imam Reza Shrine. The Tomb of Hafez, in the southwestern city Shiraz, is a garden-enclosed memorial to a 14th-century Persian poet. Back in Tehran, Sa’dabad Palace, once a Pahlavi Dynasty residence, features ornate buildings and heritage museums. The National Museum highlights Iranian archaeological finds. Outside Tehran are the Dizin and Shemshak ski resorts in the Alborz Mountains.