It is a wonder that how you could be in a desert in the center of Iran, and then within four hours, you could reach jungles and high peaks, stepped tea fields, and rice paddies.
Rasht is the capital of Gilan province, which is located on the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea. Our trip to Rasht has a different story of its own.
Well, the Caspian Sea means high humidity, hot sticky air, and a lot of awful hair days.
When the destination is Rasht, you can choose many roads on the map to get there. Why is the road selection ceremony important? Because you are going to be mesmerized by nature’s beauty.
Go from any road, the beauty of Gilan province and the soaring mountains covered with sky-high trees surround you, even if you are in the middle of terrible shocks from the bus you’re on that is passing Heyran.
There are several reasons to go to Rasht: The people, the accent, the Food, Shahrdari square, the daily market, and Mohtasham Garden.
With these in our mind, a sharp-eyed professional camera, high curiosity, and a hungry adventure appetite, we will start from Shahrdari Square.
The tail of this square goes back to before the revolution when Rasht was highly regarded by the Allied Front during World War II.
It was the main center of British support for the Soviet Union and a good place for British troops to be stationed. Later, when the war ended, the Soviet Union chose Rasht to recruit more comrades.
For this reason, Shahrdari Square does not have an Iranian atmosphere at all. The architecture of the building is completely Russian-European. In the last few years, it has been paved though. With numerous cafes and restaurants, a cinema, and a theatre, it has become a center for entertainment and of course, getting to know the Rasht community.
Shahrdari Square leads you to the famous daily market of Rasht.
The daily market is the best place to interact with people and knows their character. They sell all their products with pride because it is the result of their efforts.
No wonder does not know most of the vegetables they sell. The sellers (who are mostly the original farmer) take time and talk about them so you know what is it exactly that you are buying. When they talk to you is when that sweet accent is more audible.
The people of Rasht all speak Persian, but they have a very unique dialect (more a language really!) that has long been part of the northern branch of the Persian language. This branch, also known as “Gilaki”, has the Avestan language as her ancestor.
Gilan province has famous singers and a rich style in Persian folklore music. On the other hand, they have many folk songs, sung on farmland, sung while playing, at events such as weddings, engagements and even when selling their products in the market.
One of the most interesting advertisement methods in Rasht’s daily market is a man, who sings a folk song with the theme of, for example, eggplant to sell more of the products.
It is their job and profession. In exchange for money, they sang for the products of each seller in Gilaki, amused people, and indeed excited them to buy.
Olives, olive oil, pomegranate, narsharab (or Robe Anar), Reshteh Khoshkar, Dalar, or Dalal (a special salt marinated with a special mint), local eggs, Chouchagh (Eryngium Planum), etc. can be found in Rasht market.
The beauty of the market is the freshness of its products. Rasht market has a great variety of colors. And it is a good place for social photography, studying the daily life of people, and anthropology.
Fatigue and a lot of walking in Rasht do not matter because there is a place in every corner where you can try local food.
In recent months, Rasht has been registered as one of the creative food cities in UNESCO, and the reason for this is the rich food culture and very high diversity of local food in Rasht.
We learned that Rasht is a city that represents itself through its local cuisine, aside from its rich history and culture and therefore preserving its traditions.
The people of this city have long created such pleasant tastes by combining the simplest foods that today people from all over the country and even the world, travel to Rasht to try its local dishes:
Sour Kabab and Sour Chicken: In the preparation of sour Kabab or sour chicken, beef, mutton, or chicken are soaked in a delicious sauce, which is the distinguishing factor of this type of kabab. This sauce includes chopped walnuts, onion, garlic, pomegranate paste, and pomegranate juice.
Baghali Ghatogh: Vegetarians no need to worry in Rasht, there are plenty of dishes for their appetite. There is no meat in this Baghali Ghatogh. Since vegetables are highly used in Gilaki dishes, nourish-wise they are ideal. Baghali Ghatogh’s ingredients are Baghali (broad bean or fava bean), garlic, dill and various spices, and eggs.
Pala Kabab: Warning! This kabab might be your death, once you start there’s no end to it, you can not want it! Pala Kebab is similar to Chelow Kabab but much tastier.
Mirza Ghassemi: Yet another dish for vegetarians. Mirza Ghassemi’s ingredients are has grilled eggplant, garlic, oil, tomatoes, paste, spices, and eggs.
Vavishka: As the name speaks for itself this dish is Russian, mostly served in Gilan. The Scots also have something named Haggis which is the same. It is a slightly heavy food and is cooked from the heart and liver of mutton or minced meat, onions, paste, potatoes, tomatoes, and various spices.
Food tourism is fun.
Now, why you should love Mohtasham Garden? Mohtasham Garden is one of the famous gardens of Rasht and belonged to one of the lords of Rasht. It has a pergola mansion in the middle with a very large and tree-lined area that reaches the river from one side.
You should see this garden both in spring and summer (of course, we do not recommend summer), in autumn and when “winter is coming”. The Iranian-European composition of this garden has given it a special face, which today has turned it into a large park in the heart of Rasht.
The good thing about Rasht is that it is very close to other scenic areas of Gilan province.
For example, Rudkhan Castle, which was built at an altitude of 800 meters on the tip of a mountain with a steep slope. To conquest it, you must keep pushing forward without giving up, then you shall reach a place where there are you, the mystical mist, and the sky, only.
Fuman, A nostalgic small town with abundant natural products and excellent weather. They all call Fuman, the city of Platanus as well.
Rasht is also very close to Lahijan, where its main product is black and green tea and local cookies.
Bandar-e Anzali is the closest port to Rasht and introduces you to the Caspian Sea. You can easily get rid of all your stress and worries, laugh a lot and relax.
Rasht is not a place cast aside when you are planning a journey to Iran. Iranian tourist cities, such as Shiraz and Isfahan, are extremely attractive for those who come to Iran for the first time. But those who are looking for special un-known cultures, local foods, and different climates, should travel to northern Iran, especially to Gilan province.