Shining in the heart of Zagros Mountains like a piece of emerald, Kurdistan of Iran awaits travelers with its countless attractions. If you are willing to travel to a place where you can join cheerful celebrations, listen to traditional music in nature, hear old love stories and mingle with welcoming locals, we suggest you to visit the Kurd area of Iran! In other words, if you prefer to try something other than the Classical Iran tours (which include visiting central cities of the country such as Shiraz, Isfahan and Yazd), you can opt for a trip to the Iranian Kurdistan and expect to have a whole lot of fun! Here are the top reasons why you should visit this amazing area!
Festivals and Celebrations in Iranian Kurdistan
Kurds of Iran are friendly, welcoming and festive people who enjoy going on picnics, preparing tasty meals, playing music and dancing. They celebrate Nowruz elaborately and have several other celebrations that are all very joyful and have roots in the history, literature and culture of Kurds of Iran.
So if you travel to the Iranian Kurdistan, you can expect to see a lot of celebrations and festivals! Here are a few of the most famous ones of them.
The Pomegranate Festival
As you enter Kurdistan province, you get amazed by the beauty and the prosperity of its nature. Pomegranate is one of the most important fruits that is harvested from the Kurd areas of Iran annually. Therefore, Iranian Kurds celebrate the harvest season and show their gratitude to nature every year.
The Pomegranate Festival is a two day celebration that is held from 17th of October to 19th every year in Hawraman village in Kurdistan province. In this festival you can enjoy live Kurdish music, watch traditional Kurdish dance and stroll through Pomegranate farms. One of the most popular parts of the festival is when performers wearing traditional Kurdish clothes enter the venue carrying baskets or trays of pomegranates with a harmonious dance. We bet you’ll want to get tons of pictures here so make sure your camera has enough memory before you head to the festival!
Pirshalyar Ceremony: Celebrating a Sacred Wedding Anniversary
One of the most important ceremonies that is held in the Iranian Kurdistan is Pirshalyar. It is celebrated twice a year, one on 4th February and one on 4th May in Hawraman village and is very popular among locals and tourists.
But what is this ceremony all about?
There’s a legend among Iranian Kurds that refers to a historical figure called Pirshalyar. According to the legend, there was a king who had a deaf daughter and had promised that if anyone could cure his daughter, he will let him marry her. Pirshalyar, a believer and sacred person, could successfully cure the king’s daughter and therefore was allowed to marry her. He then promised that he will celebrate his wedding anniversary every year.
And that’s the reason why every year on 4th of May, an elaborate celebration is held in the Hawraman village including playing Kurdish music, dancing and playing traditional festive games.
By the way, don’t miss out on the tasty pottage that is made and served during this celebration! You’ll love it!
Traditional Food: Don’t miss out on these tasty Kurdish cuisines!
Kurdish people are famous for their hospitality. They will host you warmly and welcome you with their delicious foods that are all prepared with love and respect for their guests. These are the most famous traditional cuisines of Iranian Kurdistan that you should give a try while traveling the area: Dock Stew, Ghayreme (fried prickly artichoke), Lentil and Groats Pottage, Kurdish Kabab – which is the common food served in Kurdish weddings and Dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves).
Must-see Places in Iranian Kurdistan
Sanandaj, Mariwan and Oraman are the areas that you must see during your trip to Iranian Kurdistan. Each one of them features some beautiful natural, historical and cultural attractions. Not to mention that the people of Kurdistan are very welcoming and socializing with them will make one of the best parts of your trip to this less explored area of Iran.
The lively Bazaar of Sanandaj
Sanandaj is the capital of Kurdistan province. If you are willing to visit a lively and bustling bazaar, you must see the old Bazaar of Sanandaj which is very famous and popular for its traditional look and vibrant atmosphere. Seeing women with colorful dresses and men with traditional Kurdish pants strolling through the bazaar and shopping is one of the favorite parts of every travelers visit to Sanandaj. Not to mention that you can find colorful spices in the bazaar of Sanandaj that can work like magic to your cooking!
This bazaar is similar to the traditional bazaar of Isfahan and features a dome-shaped ceiling which is very popular among photographers and those who are fond of Persian architecture.
Khosro Abad Mansion: the Wedding Venue of a Qajar Princess
Khosro Abad Mansion is another place that you would enjoy visiting while in Sanandaj. In fact, it is the most important historical building in this city. This ornate mansion dates back to 200 years ago and used to be the center of royal ceremonies and celebrations. For instance, the wedding ceremony of Fat’h Ali Shah of Qajar’s only daughter with the son of Amanollah Khan Ardalan (the ruler of Kurdistan) was held here.
Masjed Jame of Sanandaj: an Islamic Architectural Masterpiece
Masjed Jame (Great Mosque) of Sanandaj is one of the most important architectural structures of this city. It dates back to the time of Fat’h Ali Shah of Qajar dynasty and is regarded as one of the best examples of Islamic architecture. This mosque with intricate ornaments, 32 interior domes, two verandas and twin tiled minarets is often named as one of the Islamic architectural masterpieces of the Kurd area of Iran.
Emarat-e-Asef (Khane Kurd): The Kurd House of Sanandaj
A well-known Safavid mansion, Emarat-e-Asef is now used as an anthropological museum in Sanandaj and is usually referred to as the Kurd House. Not only is this mansion remarkable for its architectural value, but it also serves as the biggest anthropological museum in Iran that displays the culture of a specific ethnic group.
If you are interested in knowing about cultures and looking at traditional outfits, we suggest you to visit this museum while you’re in Sanandaj.
Uraman: the Famous Stair-Stepped Village of Iranian Kurdistan
Uraman, Uramanat or Hawramanat are all other names used for Hawraman village, the place which we talked about when introducing the famous celebrations of Iranian Kurds. This village is located in Marivan and is regarded as one of the most famous attractions of Iranian Kurdistan. The stair-stepped architecture of Uraman which is made in complete accordance with its geographical characteristics, the breathtaking landscape and the nice weather in springs and summers has made it a desirable destination for nature lovers.
People who live in Uraman wear traditional clothes that are all made of colorful textiles and are mainly woven by locals. So if you are interested in buying some souvenirs, don’t leave Uraman before you have a look at the handcraft shops of this beautiful village.
Palangan: Another Magnificent Stair-Stepped Village!
For a lot of people, Palangan is the main reason to travel to Iranian Kurdistan. This stair-stepped village is mostly used as a pick nick spot for locals but doesn’t get too crowded during the week. Providing a magnificent landscape, tranquility and peace, Palangan is a paradise for those who are seeking a calm and quiet spot for solitude.
By the way, there are several restaurants in this village that get fresh fish from the river and cook it right away for you. Make sure you give it a try!
Ready to pack for a trip to Iranian Kurdistan?
The beauties and attractions of Kurdistan are countless. This province is a perfect choice for travelers who are more into nature and would like to spend a few days away from busy industrialized cities while socializing with friendly people.
If you prefer historical destinations, click here for more information.
Watching the sunset over Zarivar Lake, camping in Abidar Park, visiting Emarat-e-Vakil, Hammam Khan Sanandaj and the historic bridge of Gheshlagh are all experiences that you can enjoy during your trip to Iranian Kurdistan. By the way, practicing Kurdish dance with the locals will be one of your travel highlights for sure!
If traveling to Kurdistan province sounds appealing to you, contact us for more information about our itineraries. Here at land of turquoise domes, we do our best to make your visit to Iran an unforgettable memory!