Nicknamed as City of Pines and City of Culture, Birjand was once an important city in Ghehestan (Part of the greater Khorasan). The city now serves as the capital of Southern Khorasan province in Eastern Iran. The small but organised and fast growing city is located on the eastern side of Iran’s central desert. That’s why the weather there is harsh and dry, however, it is surprising that Birjand has had the first water system in Iran, even before that of Tehran and other big cities.
Due the climate and being protected by mountain range and desert, Birjand’s culture and language have remained almost unaffected by the events from the ancient time until now and the Birjandi dialect of Persian is considered one of the oldest spoken accent of the language in Iran. It is said that the Shokatiyeh School in Birjand together with Darolfonoon in Tehran were the first modern public schools of higher education in Iran in the mid-19th century. Ever since then, Birjand has amassed an abundance of institutions of higher education and become an important location for research and development.
When to go there?
Birjand has a dry climate with cold winters and very hot and dry summers. Similar to many other places in Iran, Spring and Fall are the best seasons to travel to Birjand.
How to get there?
It takes long drive to reach Birjand from northern and western Iran. The city is 5 hours drive from Mashhad and 15 hours drive from Tehran. The city has long had an international airport.
Birjand airport started operation in 1933 as the 3rd operational airport in Iran. Birjand airport offers non-stop daily flights to Tehran and Mashhad and became an international airport after the first international flight to Medina, KSA in June 2008. The city is not connected to Iran’s national railways.
Where to visit?
Akbarieh garden and complex: Akbarieh Garden is a beautiful Iranian style gardens remained from Qajar dynasty and since 2011 is one of the nine Iranian gardens on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. There are also wildlife, archeology and anthropology museums in the complex.
Birjand castle: The castle is the oldest structure in the city and dates back to Safavids. There are traditional restaurant and teahouse available in the casle and from there you will have beautiful view of the city, specially the old town.
Kolah Farangi ark: This Qajar style building is the symbol of Birjand and currently in use as a governmental property.
Shokatiye school and museum: This beautiful Qajar style school was once Iran’s third modern school after Tehran’s Dar Al Fonun and Tabriz’s Roshdiyeh.
Chahardeh waterfalls: The place is located in 30 km south of Birjand and consists of 80 waterfalls on Bagheran mountain next to pure desert area.
Kal Jangal Parthian fresco: The stone carvings in 35 km south west of Birjand on Bagheran mountain date back to Parthian period.
Darreh Dam: The beautiful mountanous Dam in the middle of Bagheran range in South of Birjand dates back to Ghajar Dynasty.
The other interesting places are Mashahir museum, Mirath Pahlavani museum which is Birjand’s old house of strength, Chahar Derakht mosque and Hakim Nazari mausoleum, a famous poet.
Where to stay?
- Kuhestan hotel, 4 star
Address: Band-e Amir Shah, Tell: 2249770
- Jahangardi and Irangardi guesthouse, 3 star
Address: across the Artesh hosbital in Artesh street, Tell: 2225145
- Qaem hotel, 1 star
Address: Jomhuri-e Islami street, Tell: 2232039
- Moghadam hotel, 1 star
Address: Jomhuri-e Islami street, Tell: 2223837
What to buy as souvenirs?
You can find the best Saffron and barberries in Southern Khorasan. They are the most famous souvenirs of Birjand, however, jujube and plums are also of finest qualities. The other souvenir is Birjandi sweet. Basketry is common in the villages but if you want to spend more money, don’t miss the rugs. Birjand carpet is famous internationally for its good quality and beautiful motifs.
Carpet designs in Birjand region is unique because the margin of the carpet is as important as the text itself, something that can not be seen very often in other parts of Iran. According to the weavers in the region, the margin in a carpet is considered to be like the frame of a painting in which a nice fine and pretty frame will add value to the picture, and in case of a rug it will add value to text or ground of the rug.