For more than three millenia Iran, or Persia as it was formerly called, was a melting pot of civilizations. Under Cyrus the Great, Persia was centre of the world's first great empire which stretched from the Mediterranean to Pakistan.
Subsequent invansions by the Greeks, Arabs, Mongols and Turks have imbued the nation with an amazingly rich cultural and historical diversity. The majestic ruins of Persepolis, the heart of pre-islamic Persia, jostle with some of the world's finest mosques, and monuments sacred to Christians, Zoroastrians and Jews are to be found throughout the country.
The Islamic Revolution in 1979 and the subsequent Iran-Iraq war reduced tourism to a trickle. Since the 1990s, however, travellers have begun rediscovering the attractions and natural beauty of a country that has played - and still plays - a significant role in the history of the world.
With essays by experts on the history and culture of the country - this lavishly illustrated guide provides a fascinating illumination of both ancient Persia and modern Iran.