Ostān-e Qazvīn

Here you’ll find travel reports about Ostān-e Qazvīn. Discover travel destinations in Iran of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

7 travelers at this place:

  • Day95

    Crossing the mountains to Qazvin

    December 2, 2017 in Iran ⋅ ⛅ 1 °C

    Coming from the Caspian Sea, there is no other option than crossing the Elburs Mountain Range to get South in Iran. So, these days were about climbing, wild camping and the first night frost on our trip.

    The two nights in our tent gave us a handle to take a few deep breaths and to reflect a pile of impressions from the first week in this country (details will follow).

    In Qazvin, Hamid welcomed us to his home and a bit later, we found ourselves within a severe family conflict. However, Hamid insisted that we should stay and his best friend came to smooth down the differences. They figured out that a family trip (or 'party' how they called it) would solve the conflict and we squeezed us into a Saipa Saba with 7 people, drove to a 'Santa ice cream shop' and high up into a mountain park - in the middle of the night!
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  • Day183

    Visiting Qazvin

    April 9, 2018 in Iran ⋅ 🌙 10 °C

    Originally, our plans for today were different: we intended to go hiking in the supposedly beautiful hotspot of the Alamut valley. We decided differently - here is why and what we did instead :-)

    We arrived awefully late yesterday (23:30) and had the first bad experience with Iranian bus travel: the bus was quite expensive (more than 2x what we expected...), the driver smoked inside the bus AND stopped about 4 times during the 6 hour journey to smoke some more. Then they objected to us leaving the bus to pee while they smoked. And the best part: the bus did not stop in Qazvin bus terminal but somewhere along the northern highway... it was really a shame. Luckily, we had experienced far better service and hospitality so far in Iran that we brush this aside as a one time thing.

    After hearing from other travellers and reading the tourist bible called Lonely Planet that going into the Alamut valley costs about 30 USD one way and takes 2.5 hours we were quite discouraged. Another day in the car for most of the day, only getting out for a couple of short stops and maybe a 2-3 hour hike? No thanks! We have great mountains that are accessible in Germany/Austria and we will do so once we get home :-)

    Thus, we visited Qazvin, a booming town 2.5 hours northwest of Tehran. We liked the old church and the park where men held chess competitions. But we especially fell in love with the old restored caravanserai: where camels 🐫 and their drivers loaded and unloaded goods for transport along the ancient Silk Road there was now a fine building with coffee shops and art and design shops. Very nice to spend the day. We also met Ali, a theology student and had interesting discussions about Islam and religion in general. The best thing was that he accompanied us to the neighboring mosque 🕌 and helped to decipher the kufiq script - see annotated picture.

    We finished the afternoon off with yoga (first Anna on her own, then Anna teaching Bertram) and had nice dinner nearby.

    Tomorrow, we will move to Karaj and meet Iranian friends from an earlier part of the trip.
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  • Day7

    Gaza Khan Hotel in Alamut Valley

    August 26, 2017 in Iran ⋅ 🌙 26 °C

    ok, aber grenzwertig, doch für 14€ das Zimmer mit Frühstück ok.

    Die Betten hier sind anders als in Europa, hier gibt es nur ein Brett mit einer Decke drauf. Das kann über die Zeit der Dunkelheit ganz schön hart werden.

  • Day7

    In the steps of the Assassins

    July 12, 2017 in Iran ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    We travelled down to Qazvin by bus, the network here is so efficient and there are so many of them that we haven't needed to book in advance, merely show up and find our way on to a bus. Similar to the buses I caught when I was in Myanmar - the VIP buses have large seats like a business class domestic flight and more legroom than I know what to do with!
    Yet again, the drive took us through spectacular landscapes and scenery. I can see why Iran makes a good location for filming.
    After sorting our hotel and dropping our bags, we went for a wander into the bazaar for lunch, finding a great version of the local cuisine qimeh naser - a beautiful lamb stew, served inside a mound of rice covered in sliced pistachios, orange rind and barberries. Insanely tasty and jewel-like to look at.
    Walking through the bazaar later, we were leapt upon by a carpet dealer who was making his way home for lunch. We were soon gathered up by his energy, as he proudly proclaimed us as his third son and third daughter (having two of each already). Sharrom was lovely, very sharp having taught himself English and is enamoured with foreigners. At one point he called his eldest son who is a doctor in Hong Kong and put us on the phone with him. His son sounded bemused but not surprised saying his father had been inciting foreigners home at every opportunity. "He is very friendly" was the understated description. We passed a pleasant afternoon in Sharrom's apartment being plied with yet more food, tea, fruit and being shown his carpets (the most expensive of which were hidden under cheaper versions on the floor.
    We showed him pictures of Mum and Pete who he then claimed as his brother and sister. And when he returned to his shop, we walked back with him and discovered the restored caravanserais. There is a distinct jump in wealth here, is noticed the proliferation of Western brand name cars, cleaner/shinier apartment buildings, fewer black shrouded women and more trendy/hipster outfits. It was no surprise when we were told this is a retreat area for wealthy Tehran-ites to get away for the weekend. I mention this because the caravanserais demonstrated this beautifully, sensitively restored with gorgeous shops showcasing local designers and makers. It restored my faith in local handicrafts which I thought might have disappeared given the cheap Chinese, Taiwanese, Pakistani, etc products in the bazaars.

    Today we'd organised with a local guide to go out to Alamut Valley to see the Assassins Castles. The landscape was monumental, the valley is in the Albers Mountains which are dry and rock encrusted with deeply green spring fed valleys. We visited two castles, the first was a relatively easy 10min walk while the second involved climbing the side of a hill on rock stairs that kept winding their way up. The Castles were part of a network of roughly 50 that were built in the valley in the 12th Century for the Ismaili followers of Hasan-e Sabbah. The sect he lead and the castles have formed the basis of many myths over the centuries and movies/video games today (Creed of Assassins and Prince of Persia).

    Stories of Hasan-e Sabbah's time here and the mercenary organisation he ran are numerous, some more sumpathetic than others. At best, he headed an Ismaili sect that championed a free thinking, pro-science Islamic tradition. At worst, he used hashish to bolster his mercenaries courage and foster visions of secret gardens full of maidens that would await them for following orders to murder or kidnap political and religious leaders of the day. The use of hashish gave the mercenaries the popular name of 'hashish-yun' which is the origin of the term assassin.

    Despite heavy fortifications, elaborate cistern systems and food reserves which meant the castles could survive years-long sieges (17 years being the longest recorded), the Mongols managed to capture them using 'diplomatic trickery'. To avoid future difficulty, the Mongols went on to destroy much of the castles and their cistern systems leaving only bits of rubble, foundations and ruined walls today.

    Standing in the ruins of each of the castles, you could easily imagine the strategic advantages of their lines of sight. The landscape necessitates a single entry/exit point focussing all defence manoeuvres. And the height of each within the valley means they could see for miles.

    Like other parts of Northern Iran, domestic tourism seems to account for the bulk of visitors. Being closer to Tehran, we have seen a few more Western/European tourists but it's only a handful even here. Some may not feel the bits of ruins justify the effort to get here but I hope in an effort to drive tourism they don't succumb to creating reenactment versions or easily reachable car parks. I don't think we'd have understood the reality of these fortresses without walking the route ourselves... no matter how intensive it can be, especially in full heat. Mind you, I say that well aware that we had a warm but crisp day so the shade provided proper relief from the sun. In full heat, our guide said it the climb to the top is 'hell'.

    Please excuse some of these photos - the intensity of the light meant metering and exposure were topping out and I was reliant on the histogram to check exposure as the camera metering was struggling. I'll get better control once I can process the images from the Nikon...
    And photo spamming starts now
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  • Day8

    An extra day in Alamut

    July 13, 2017 in Iran ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We decided to spend an extra day in Alamut when it turned out the incredible guide we'd hired for the Castles also organised what he called a Lost in Paradise experience - time in a village and a homestay at the other end of the valley.
    Unfortunately Tom was sick but I got to enjoy a couple hour hike in the mountains around the village - walking up from the nut and fruit trees at the bottom of the valley to the arid areas at the top. It was beautiful walking through the orchards and we were lucky enough to bump into some people who were picking apricots so we're invited to join in, then enjoy the haul under the trees.
    Old landslides were evident along the route, at best this meant paths that skimmed the top of what was essentially a cliff edge, at worst there were homes you could still peer into, though morbid seeing bones in there that haven't been retrieved.
    It was a quiet day, nothing big or notable happened but I really enjoyed it, again I was struck by the generosity and hospitality of the Iranian culture. Each village we walked through came with offers to come and sit for chai, women wanting to show me their handicrafts and men wanting to welcome me to Iran.
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  • Day124


    May 4, 2018 in Iran ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    A glance to Qazvin Bazaar early morning - waiting lady. Everyone was telling me: don't drop anything in this city, don't bend on the streets, and better to wear double underwear made of steel😂 Do you know the story?

You might also know this place by the following names:

Ostān-e Qazvīn, Ostan-e Qazvin, اُستانِ قَزوين

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