Capitals of the Persian Empire
trip length: 13 days
Tehran (2) Hamadan (1) Kermanshah (1) Ahvaz (2) Shiraz (2) Isfahan (3) Tehran (1)
Ancient and Islamic Iran
اtrip length: 11 days
Tehran (1) Shiraz (3) Yazd (2) Isfahan (3) Tehran (1)
Highlights of Ancient Iran
اtrip length: 10 days
Tehran (1) Ahvaz (2) Shiraz (2) Isfahan (3) Tehran (1)
Capitals of the Persian Empire
trip length: 13 days
Tehran (2) Hamadan (1) Kermanshah (1) Ahvaz (2) Shiraz (2) Isfahan (3) Tehran (1)
Ancient and Islamic Iran
اtrip length: 11 days
Tehran (1) Shiraz (3) Yazd (2) Isfahan (3) Tehran (1)
Highlights of Ancient Iran
trip length: 10 days
Tehran (1) Ahvaz (2) Shiraz (2) Isfahan (3) Tehran (1)
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What is the difference between Persia and Iran?

Iran and Persia are the same

Until the beginning of twentieth century, Iran was known by the official names of “Pars” or “Persia” by the world but in the rein of Reza Shah, when discussions of returning to the ancient Iran and emphasis on the country before Islam enhanced, a circle of archaist intellectuals like Saeed Nafisi, Muhammad-Ali Foroughi, and Seyed Hasan Taghizade gathered together to change this. Saeed Nafisi, one of the Shah’s close consultants, suggested him to change the official name of the country to “Iran”. This suggestion came true in 1313 A.H (1924). There are some people who disagree with this decision. They believe that “Iran” does not carry the meaning, culture, and civilization implied by the word “Persia” for foreigners who know it from long ago. Some people believe that Reza Shah accepted the change just to consolidate his authoritative government. These analysts state that the original action is performed by the a group of social and cultural elites of the time, including the ones named, who benefited from the authority in Reza Shah’s government.
According to a circular issued by the foreign affairs ministry in Farvardin 1, 1314 (March 20, 1925), Pars or Persia was officially replaced by Iran. Before that, Iran was known as Pars or Persia in international associations and one can still find these names in some old foreigner books. Besides, in the same date the official date of the country was regulated according to the Solar months and using Lunar months was banned.
Ehsan Yarshater, the head editor of Iranica Encyclopedia says” Pars or Persia and Iran are all Farsi words used in the oldest epitaphs as those of Darius’s. Darius in his epitaph says: I am Persian and Aryan; but the word Pars is also seen in Assyrian epitaphs as Parsva. This epitaph is more than a century older than Darius’s epitaph. Both these names were used in Achaemenian era mostly as the names for an ethic rather than a country.
Darius says: I am a Persian and an Iranian. The word Iran was current in later eras. Of course we don’t know enough about Ashkanian era because there are few written works left from that time. But in Sasanian era the whole land of Iran was called Iranshahr. In old Farsi shahr meant kingdom, a land which is vast and has a king.
Iranshahr was used later too and it meant the Land of Iran. The word Iran was used alone as well. In Avestai language Iranians were called Avestai people. They didn’t use the word Iran as we use today. The Avestai ethic were settled in a land called “Airo Vanayo” which its first part Airo is the same first part in Iran. The Iranian name Iraj begins with the same first part as Iran too. Therefore Persia and Iran are both old words and the earliest documents and references to both of them, the Achaemenian Darius’s epitaph and the Assyrian epitaph as Parsva, exist in the country.
The decision for calling the country Iran or Persia was a mistake made in Reza Shah’s era. The Iranian government asked the foreign countries to call it Iran as what we say in Farsi. There is nothing wrong with it but the big problem it caused was that the word Perse in French, Persia in English, and Persien in German had favorable associations. When you say Persia in English phrases like Persian Poetry, Persian Art, Persian Empire, and even Persian Cat come to the mind which all but Persian Cat indicate the aspects of Iranian history and culture and they are all favorable while the word Iran is not preferable for English and other European people after the Nationalization of Oil in Dr. Mosadegh’s time as it is not preferable for European and American people after the Islamic Revolution; but it can be temporal and fade away soon.
To me it was a mistake to change the Persia or Pars because we lost those favorable associations. Governments pay a lot on advertisement but we ruined what could not be gained by hundreds of billions of dollars on advertising. But it is done now and the name of Iran has been mentioned in newspapers, books, and any other places for different reasons so that it is difficult to bring it back to Persia or Pars. So there is no difference whether one writes Iran or Persia when pointing out to our country.”

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