Vakil Complex: Vakil Bazaar, Vakil Mosque & Bath | Shiraz, Fars, Iran
Once upon a time in Shiraz there was a just king who founded a new dynasty and referred to himself as ‘the advocate of common people’ rather than ‘a king’. In all his humbleness, Karim Khan Zand contributed a lot to the historical and cultural identity of Shiraz, leaving behind stunning structures that have been attracting admiration for their architectural beauty and ingenuity. Vakil Complex is a collection of 3 of these 18th century A.D. national heritages that are all conveniently located near each other: Vakil Mosque, Vakil Bathhouse and Vakil Bazaar. Like to know the rest of their story? Then read on…
Why Visit Vakil Complex?
- The complex includes 3 of Shiraz’s popular highlights
- Vakil Mosque is a masterpiece of Persian architecture
- The mosque is a museum of tilework and calligraphy
- Vakil Bathhouse is a piece of Persian ingenuity
- The bathhouse is the best place to learn about the old local culture
- Vakil Bazaar is like a gate to Persian history and culture
- The vibrant bazaar brings closer to local people and into the heart of Persian culture
- You can find a variety of Iranian handicrafts in the bazaar
Vakil Mosque in Vakil Complex
A unique combination of traditional Persian art and architecture
Vakil Mosque is probably the most impressive piece of Vakil Complex. It has been impressing visitors not just as a peaceful place for Muslim worshipers, but also as an ideal spot to appreciate elegant Persian architecture, tilework and calligraphy. The aesthetic beauty and the spiritual aura of the place together make it a must-visit destination. The mosque was built for public use by an anonymous architect in 18th century.
The elegant façade of the main entrance with its grand arch and tasteful mixture of painting and calligraphic designs is just an introduction to the beauties of the site. After the entrance, it is the tilework of the ceiling of the octagonal corridor that wins your admiration. The domeless mosque covers a vast area and has a large courtyard that’s centered with a long pool. Around the treeless courtyard you’ll find arched Riwaq (arcade) and 2 Iwans. They are decorated with colorful tiles that feature tree of life patterns. On the splendid northern Iwan, known as the Pearl Arch, you can find a masterpiece of Quranic calligraphy and two beautiful Minarets.
From the historical mosque’s two prayer halls, the grand prayer hall is still in use for congregations. Yet the southern prayer hall is open for you to enjoy the elegance of the arched ceiling, the majesty of the carved columns, the gorgeous tileworks of the Mihrab (altar) and the beautiful marble Minbar (Islamic pulpit). Its 48 monolithic pillars join each other in the vaults of the ceiling, giving the Shabestan amazing beauty with their masterfully carved patterns. Next to the Mihrab, there is a Minbar cut from a solid piece of green marble.
Open Hours: Spring and Summer: 8:30 a.m.-20:30 p.m.
Fall and Winter: 8:30 a.m.-20:00 p.m.
Open Days: All days except for some public holidays
Vakil Complex – Vakil Bathhouse
Where genius, art and culture come together
Neighboring Vakil Mosque is another gorgeous piece of Vakil Complex: Vakil Bathhouse. Standing for the architectural ingenuity of Iranians, this traditional Hammam (bathhouse) is also a great window into the depth of Iranian culture. Every architectural detail in Vakil Public Bath, from the size and location of the entrance, the slope with which it leads to the changing room, the corridors between the chambers and the underground channels that used to carry water vapor, all contributed to the architect’s plan to keep the bathhouse warm and nice.
After the small entrance, you can see a Hashti: a small space traditionally built after the doorway. The Hashti was designed in a way to adjust the temperature. Octagonal in shape, the Sarbineh (changing room) has a domed roof that stands on 8 beautiful stone columns. The domed and vaulted ceiling and the elegant columns of its royal section are of the architectural beauties of the bathhouse. The perfect design of skylights in the center of the domes is what provided the place with enough lighting. The beauty of the bathhouse culminates in the stunning engraved limestones and fresco paintings of the ceilings. They portray stories from Persian literature, mythology and religion.
Bathhouses used to be a social context. They were places where people stayed for hours chatting, cleaning, grooming, match making, holding pre-marriage and baby shower rituals, and getting massages. This makes a bathhouse a great place to get to know Iranian culture. That’s why Vakil bathhouse is a rich museum of anthropology. You can find wax figures clad in ‘Long’ (a piece of traditional cloth worn around the waist) modeling the traditional stages of bathing and some of the customs that used to be held there.
Open Hours: 8:00 a.m. -20:00 p.m.
Open Days: All days except for some public holidays
Vakil Bazaar (Bazar-e Vakil)
The perfect Place to Mingle with Persian Culture
The last and liveliest part of Vakil Complex is Vakil Bazaar. Whether you’re a shopping lover, a culture enthusiast or an admirer of Persian art and architecture, this traditional bazaar is a must-visit for you. As one of Iran’s most famous historical bazaars, the beating heart of the city still pleases a large number of shoppers and visitors on a daily basis. This architectural beauty used to be the commercial center of Shiraz. It was probably established in the 11th century.
But it was Karim Khan Zand who ordered the construction of the present structure of the bazaar in the 18th century. Getting lost in the courtyards, caravanserais, and arched brick pathways, and finding yourself in the domed Chahar-su (intersection of the bazaar) feels like a trip to the past. With every step you take, the scent of the spices, the colors of the fabrics, the shine of the copperware or the charm of Persian carpets, antiques and handicrafts penetrates deeper into your soul.
Mainly made of materials like brick, stucco and lime, the design of the bazaar protects people from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The lower level of the bazaar compared to the ground level, the higher attitude of the shops from the ground level and the height and shape of the ceiling, all contributed to turning it into a moderate place in all seasons. Like other historical bazaars, the ceiling is very high (now reduced to 10 meters) to keep the place ventilated and regulate the temperature. But the pathways of Vakil bazaar are wider than their other counterparts.
More About Vakil Complex
9:00 a.m. to ~5 p.m. (In Spring, the bazaar is open until midnight)
All days except for some public holidays
The Nearby Attractions
Since Vakil Complex is in downtown, you have easy access to other shiraz attractions. You can find your way to the nearby Seray-e Moshir, a restored caravanserai that now is a collection of stores selling gorgeous Persian handicrafts. Another piece of Zandieh period, Arg of Karim Khan is also nearby. The charming Pars Museum and the oldest mosque of the city: Atiq Jame Mosque.
Where to Eat Near Vakil Complex
House of Elephant
Saraye Mehr Restaurant
Saraye Ayene Restaurant
House of Poems Café
Vakil Traditional Restaurant
Hafez Café, Aqo Ash Restaurant