Past the outskirts of her ancient cities, one comes across some of Iran's best kept secrets. These destinations rival the natural wonders and historical treasures which draw tourists each year.
Here we take a glimpse at five of Iran's lesser-known marvels.
'The castle is located up along two peaks of a verdant mountain to which one can enjoy a hike of over an hour before reaching the castle. Locals have even come to name it the "Castle of a Thousand Steps." The route back down is rather pleasant, and there are Iranian restaurants on the drive back, where you can try some of the regional specialties.
Bekhradi Historical House is a spectacular building which was built in the Safavid era of Persian history. The 400-year-old inn is Iran's oldest house to be restored and has beautifully decorated guest rooms. The renovation and restoration of the house were completed over a five-year period so that every detail could be finished off in the classic style of the original home owner.
The stained glass windows of the inn have been remarkably restored and several of the Safavid and Qajar eras original artworks are displayed in the house which is centered between gardens sprung with wildflowers and fruits.
The furniture pieces were created from the local chinar trees which fill the historical gardens and streets of the city of Isfahan. Lining the doorways of the bedroom suites are the traditional heavy Iranian wooden doors which were kept from the original house. They have been beautifully restored with chinar wood. The historical restoration also includes a traditional Iranian "hojre" room which is used for cooling down to relax.
Visitors to the inn have only heard about it via word of mouth, and many of Isfahan's locals are still yet to learn of this ancient gem.
Soltaniyeh Dome: The mausoleum of Oljaytu in Solaniyeh has one of the world's largest domes. Solaniyeh was once the capital city during the Mongol's Ilkhanid dynasty, and the mausoleum stands as a monument to Il-khan Olijeitu, the eighth ruler of the dynasty.
It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site which visitors can travel to in the northwestern province of Iran, Zanjan. The patterns and colors on the exterior have faded over hundreds of years, yet the brickwork, tiling, and spectacular designs inside the mausoleum are well-preserved. The dome is a unique structure to the mausoleum, and it is believed that the design was inspired by that of the Taj Mahal.
Laleh Kandovan Rocky Hotel: In the 800-year-old village, Kandovan, not far from Tabriz, lies the Laleh Kandovan Rocky Hotel. The people in the village dwell in cone-shaped cave houses of volcanic rock, at the foot of Mount Ashland. Mount Ashland was once an active volcano which lies dormant today.
The hotel itself has been intricately carved out along the foot of the mountain. It has sixteen luxury cave rooms otherwise known as "karaans." Mineral water from boreholes of Mount Ashland is known for its medicinal properties and are said to have originated from the biblical Garden of Eden. Water is pumped directly into the spa baths in the guests' rooms for them to take a long soak in the tub.
Toghrol Tower: On the southern outskirts of Iran's capital, is the city known as Rey, which has a multitude of historical monuments, including that of a 500-year-old bazaar dating back to the Zafavid era. Rey is, in fact, the oldest county in Iran and it is not that often that one will find tourists in the area.
Within the city is the monument, Toghrol Tower, which is also known to be the mausoleum of King Toghrol Beg. He was responsible for establishing Rey during the Seljuk Dynasty before it was destroyed by the Mongols. The monument is not far from the Armenian quarter in Tehran, which is a nice stop to make after visiting the tower.