Shiraz is the capital of Fars province, one of the most beautiful, historical cities in the world. Shiraz with more than 850,000 inhabitants situated in southwestern Iran, in the inland around 200 km from the Persian Gulf, at an elevation of 1,800 metres above sea level. Different people have lived in the Fars province such as the Aryans, the Samis and the Turks, who worked together to form the Iranian culture.
The first Capital of Fars, some 2500 years ago, was Pasargad. It was also the capital of Achaemenid King Cyrus the Great. The ceremonial capital of his successor, Darius I (or Darius the Great), and his son Xerxes, was Persepolis. Today, only the ruins of these two capitals remain. Stakhr was another capital of Fars. It was established by the Sassanids and lasted until Shiraz finally assumed the role of the regional capital.
Shiraz is also the birthplace and resting place of the great Persian poets Hafez and Saadi. There are two remarkable monuments in Shiraz.
According to Islamic historians, Shiraz came into existence only after the Arab conquest of Iran. The Arab invasion, in fact, contributed to its importance and by the 13th century, Shiraz had grown into one the largest and most popular Islamic cities of the era.
Shiraz became capital of the Zand dynasty (1750-94), whose founder, the vakil (regent) Karim Khan Zand, adorned the old city with many fine buildings, including his mausoleum (an octagonal tiled kiosk, now a museum); the Ark, or citadel (now a prison); and the Vakil Bazaar and Mosque. Buildings in the new city include the Persian Church of St. Simon the Zealot and the university (1945).
The most interesting buildings in Shiraz are located in the old part of the town. Among them are about a dozen mosques, some with bulb- shaped domes, and others with pear shaped domes and cupolas. These mosques are mostly scattered in among the old houses.