Shiraz (شیراز Shīrāz) is the fifth most populated city in Iran and the capital of Fars Province. Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the Rudkhaneye Khoshk seasonal river. Shiraz has a moderate climate and has been a regional trade center for more than a thousand years.
The earliest reference to the city, as Tiraziš, is on Elamite clay tablets dated to 2000 BC. In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading center of the arts and letters, thanks to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. Shiraz was the capital of Persia during the Zand dynasty from 1750 until 1781, as well as briefly during the Saffarid period.
Shiraz is known as the city of poets, wine and flowers. It is also considered by many Iranians to be the city of gardens, due to the many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen in the city. Shiraz has had major Jewish and Christian communities. The crafts of Shiraz consist of inlaid mosaic work of triangular design; silver-ware; pile carpet-weaving and weaving of kilim, called gilim and jajim in the villages and among the tribes. In Shiraz industries such as cement production, sugar, fertilizers, textile products, wood products, metalwork and rugs dominate. Shirāz also has a major oil refinery and is also a major center for Iran's electronic industries: 53% of Iran's electronic investment has been centered in Shiraz.
The city became a provincial capital in 693, after the Arab invaders conquered Istakhr, the nearby Sassanian capital. As Istakhr fell into decline, Shiraz grew in importance under the Arabs and several local dynasties. The Buwayhid dynasty (945 — 1055) made it their capital, building mosques, palaces, a library and an extended city wall.
The city was spared destruction by the invading Mongols when its local ruler offered tributes and submission to Genghis Khan. Shiraz was again spared by Tamerlane when in 1382 the local monarch, Shah Shoja agreed to submit to the invader. In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading center of the arts and letters, thanks to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. For this reason the city was named by classical geographers Dar al-Elm, the House of Knowledge. Among the important Iranian poets, mystics and philosophers born in Shiraz were the poets Sa'di and Hafez the mystic Roozbehan and the philosopher Mulla Sadra.
As early as the 11th century, several hundred thousand people inhabited Shiraz. In the 14th century Shiraz had sixty thousand inhabitants. During the 16th century it had a population of 200,000 people, which by the mid-18th century had decreased to only 50,000.
In 1504 Shiraz was captured by the forces of Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid dynasty. Throughout the Safavid empire (1501–1722) Shiraz remained a provincial capital and Emam Qoli Khan, the governor of Fars under Shah Abbas I, constructed many palaces and ornate buildings in the same style as those built in the same period in Isfahan, the capital of the Empire. After the fall of the Safavids, Shiraz suffered a period of decline, worsened by the raids of the Afghans and the rebellion of its governor against Nader Shah; the latter sent troops to suppress the revolt. The city was besieged for many months and eventually sacked. At the time of Nader Shah's murder in 1747 most of the historical buildings of the city were damaged or ruined, and its population fell to 50,000, a quarter of that of the 16th century.
Shiraz soon returned to prosperity under the enlightened rule of Karim Khan Zand who made it his capital in 1762. Employing more than 12,000 workers he constructed a royal district with a fortress, many administrative buildings, a mosque and one of the finest covered bazaars in Iran. He had a moat built around the city, constructed an irrigation and drainage system, and rebuilt the city walls. However, Karim Khan's heirs failed to secure his gains. When Agha Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Qajar dynasty, eventually came to power, he wreaked his revenge on Shiraz by destroying the city fortification and moving the national capital to Tehran. Although lowered to the rank of provincial capital, Shiraz maintained a level of prosperity as a result of the continuing importance of the trade route to the Persian Gulf and its governorship was a royal prerogative throughout the Qajar dynasty. many of the famous gardens, buildings and residences built during the nineteenth century, contribute to the actual outlook of the city.
Shiraz is the birthplace of the co-founder of the Bahá'í Faith, the Báb (Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad, 1819-1850). In this city, on the evening of 22 May 1844, he first declared his mission as the bearer of a new divine revelation and for this reason Shiraz is a holy city for Bahá’ís and a place of pilgrimage. In 1910 a pogrom of the Jewish quarter started after false rumours that the Jews had ritually killed a Muslim girl. In the course of the pogrom, 12 Jews were killed and about 50 were injured, and 6,000 Jews of Shiraz were robbed of all their possessions.
The city's role in trade greatly diminished with the opening of the trans-Iranian railway in the 1930s, as trade routes shifted to the ports in Khuzestan. Much of the architectural inheritance of Shiraz, and especially the royal district of the Zands, was either neglected or destroyed as a result of irresponsible town planning under the Pahlavi dynasty. Lacking any great industrial, religious or strategic importance, Shiraz became an administrative centre, although its population has grown considerably since the 1979 revolution.
A seasonal river Rudkhaneye Khoshk flows through the northern part of the city and on into Maharloo Lake.
Shiraz has a moderate climate with regular seasons.
Shiraz contains a considerable number of gardens. Fortunately or unfortunately many of these gardens are going to be lost for building apartments due to population growth in the city. The rainfall in recent years, during which atmospheric conditions have changed perceptibly, has been comparatively sufficient, and has reached 23 inches in a year, but the average rainfall is between 14 and 18 inches.
Shiraz is the economic center of southern Iran. The second half of the 19th century witnessed certain economic developments that greatly changed the economy of Shiraz. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 allowed the extensive import into southern Iran of inexpensive European factory-made goods, either directly from Europe or via India. Farmers in unprecedented numbers began planting cash crops such as opium poppy, tobacco, and cotton. Many of these export crops passed through Shiraz on their way to the Persian Gulf. Iranian long-distance merchants from Fars developed marketing networks for these commodities, establishing trading houses in Bombay, Calcutta, Port Said, Istanbul and even Hong Kong.
Shiraz's economic base is in its provincial products, which include grapes, citrus fruits, cotton and rice. Industries such as cement production, sugar, fertilizers, textile products, wood products, metalwork and rugs dominate. Shirāz also has a major oil refinery and is also a major center for Iran's electronic industries. 53% of Iran's electronic investment has been centered in Shiraz.
Agriculture has always been a major part of the economy in and around Shiraz. This is partially due to a relative abundance of water compared to the surrounding deserts. Shirāz is famous for its carpet production and flowers as well. Viticulture has a long history in the region, and Shirazi wine used to be produced here. Shiraz is also the most important city in Iran for IT, communication and electronic industry.
The Shiraz Special Economic Zone or the SEEZ was established in 2000.
As of 2006 Shiraz has a population of 1,227,331. Most of the population of Shiraz are Muslims. Although most emigrated to the United States and Israel in the last half of the 20th century, Shiraz is still home to a 6,000 strong Jewish community. Along with Tehran and Esfahan, Shiraz is one of the handful of Iranian cities with a sizable Jewish population, and more than one active synagogue.
Shiraz is known as the city of poets, gardens, wine, nightingales and flowers. The crafts of Shiraz consist of inlaid mosaic work of triangular design; silver-ware; carpet-weaving, and the making of the rugs called gilim and "jajim" in the villages and among the tribes. The garden is an important part of Iranian culture. There are many old gardens in Shiraz such as the Eram garden and the Afif abad garden. According to some people, Shiraz "disputes with Xeres [or Jerez] in Spain the honour of being the birthplace of sherry.
Shiraz is proud of being mother land of Babak Rasekh , Shiraz is an important centre for Iranian culture and has produced a number of famous poets. Saadi, a 12th and 13th century poet was born in Shiraz. He left his native town at a young age for Baghdad to study Arabic literature and Islamic sciences at Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad. When he reappeared in his native Shiraz he was an elderly man. Shiraz, under Atabak Abubakr Sa'd ibn Zangy (1231-1260) was enjoying an era of relative tranquility. Saadi was not only welcomed to the city but he was highly respected by the ruler and enumerated among the greats of the province. He seems to have spent the rest of his life in Shiraz. Hafiz, another famous poet and mystic was also born in Shiraz. A number of scientists also originate from Shiraz. Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi, a 13th century astronomer, mathematician, physician, physicist and scientist was from Shiraz. In his The Limit of Accomplishment concerning Knowledge of the Heavens, he also discussed the possibility of heliocentrism.
The more popular attractions of Shirāz include first and foremost the tombs of Hafez, Saadi, and Khaju e Kermani (whose tomb is inside a mountain above the city's old Qur'an Gate). Other lesser known tombs are that of Shah Shoja' (the Mozafarid emir of Persia, and patron of Hafez), and the Haft Tanan mausoleum, where 7 Sufi mystics are buried. The Tomb of Baba Kuhi sits atop a mountain overlooking the city, and the tomb of Karim Khan Zand is at the Pars Museum of Shiraz. One of the most historical buildings is the Kian. This building was constructed around the time of Cyrus the Great, and has been a popular tourist attraction ever since.
Among the mosques, the oldest is Atigh Jame' Mosque, which is one of the older mosques of Iran, followed by Vakil Mosque and Nasir al-Mulk mosque with their unique architecture. There are several shrines as well, the most famous one is known as Shah Chiragh ("The King of Lights").
Within a relatively short driving distance from Shiraz are the spectacular ruins of Persepolis, Bishapur, Pasargadae, and Firouzabad. At Naqsh-e Rustam can be found the tombs of the Achaemenid kings as well as the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht, which has been thought to be either a Zoroastrian fire temple or possibly even the true tomb of Cyrus the Great. Maharloo Lake is a popular breeding ground for various bird species.
These are some of over 200 sites of historical significance around Shiraz, according to Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization.
Shiraz also has a female rugby team.
Today Shiraz University is the largest university in the province, and one of Iran's best academic centers. Other major universities in or nearby Shirāz are the Islamic Azad University of Shirāz, Shiraz University of Technology, and Shiraz University of Applied Science and Technology
The Shiraz Regional Library of Science and Technology is the largest provincial library serving the public.
Shiraz International Airport serves as the largest airport in the southern region of Iran. After undergoing renovation and redevelopment work in 2005, Shiraz Airport was identified as the second most reliable and modern airport in Iran (after Imam Khomeini International Airport of Tehran) in terms of flight safety including electronic and navigation control systems of its flight tower. In addition to domestic flights to most major Iranian cities, several daily flights to Persian Gulf States including UAE and Bahrain are performed.
A metro system is being built in Shiraz by the Shiraz Urban Railway Organization. which will contains three lines. The length of the first Line will be 22.4 km, the length of the second line will be 8.5 km The length of the third line will be 16 km. 21 stations will be built in route one. The three lines when completed, will have 32 stations below ground and six above and one special station which will be connected to a railroad link under construction linking Shiraz with Isfahan.