From Tehran we flew with Iranian Air to Shiraz (pop. 2 million). It is known as the city of the poets and was the capital of Persia in the 18th century. For us it was the closest city to Persepolis - the highlight of our trip. Although Iran has no tourist industry to speak of, it has excellent 5-star hotels at a modest price. It also has outstanding gardens, palaces, mosques and in particular the tombs of the poets, Saadi and Hafez.
We took a day-trip to Persepolis on a mini-bus with a small group of eight people. En route we stopped see Naqsh-e Rustam, the site of the tombs of the Achaemenid kings Darius and Xerxes.
Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) and now is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I have no intention of giving my amateurish comments on this archeological site except to say that as impressive as the ruins are, they are ruins and there seems to be little attempt to restore them. Also there were no queues, no hustling trinket sellers, no tour guides on offer just a scattering of visitors quietly walking among the columns.
We also visited the tomb of Cyrus the Great and on our journey back to Shiraz had a traditional meal provided by an enterprising villager — sitting on cushions - kebabs, eggplant, rice and salad with tasty condiments. His pride and joy (and ours too) was a Western-style flush toilet!