Landmark Center recently featured Iran as part of their virtual Urban Expedition series. This page is republished with their kind permission.

Welcome to another installment of our Urban Expedition series! Thank you to our sponsors Ramsey CountyEcolab, the Xcel Energy FoundationRBC Wealth Management, Travelers, and Global Minnesota. We hope this virtual program will engage you, as well as entertain and enlighten you!

Greetings from Ms. Imani Jaafar, Landmark Center Board Member, and her family.

Greetings from the Twin Cities Iranian Culture Collective, Landmark Center’s community partner – and your host for this program.

Nasir-al-Mulk Mosque – The Pink Mosque Photo:

Who are the Iranians?

Iran is a multi-ethnic, multicultural society, with the largest ethnic group being the Persians, but other ethnic groups include Azeris, Kurds, Lor, Arabs, Armenians and more.

Some Facts About Iran

Capital and largest city: Tehran (population 9,250, 000 estimated)

Population: 84 million (2021 estimate)

Currency: the Iranian Rial

The Official Language of Iran

Persian, also known as Farsi, is the official language, but many other languages are spoken in different parts of the country including Azeri, Kurdish, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Luri, Arabic, Balochi, and Turkmen. And many tribal groups such as the Qashqai, Afshari and Bakhtiari have their own languages and dialects. There are over 100 million people around the world who speak Farsi. It is the language of one of the oldest civilizations to ever exist in history.

Below is a list of common words and phrases to kick-start your Persian language learning.

1.       سلام  – salam – Hi

2.       صبح بخیر – sobh bekheyr – Good morning

3.       عصر بخیر – asr bekheyr – Good evening

4.       خوش آمدید – khosh amadid – Welcome

5.       حال شما چطوره؟ – haleh shoma chetoreh? – How are you?

6.       خوبم  – khoobam – I’m doing well

7.       ممنون خیلی – (kheily) mamnoon – Thank you (very much)

8.       خداحافظ  -khodahafez – Goodbye

9.       اسم شما چیه؟ – esme shoma chieh? – What is your name?

10.   شما اهل کجاید؟ – shoma ahl e koja hastid? – Where are you from?

11.   من اهل (…) – man ahl e (…) – I’m from ( … )

12.   ببخشید – bebakhshid – Excuse Me

You try it!

CLICK HERE to listen and learn how to speak these and more common words and phrases!

Where in the world is Iran?

Photo: Landmark Center

Iran is located in SW Asia, in a region commonly referred to as the Middle East. It shares borders with Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Until modern times, Iran was known as Persia. It traces its history back more than 2500 years, when the kingdoms that existed in the region were unified under King Cyrus, founder of the first Persian Empire. Iranians take great pride in the tradition of religious tolerance and respect for human dignity that King Cyrus established. 

King Cyrus Photo: Gena Vazguez

March 21, 2021: Nowruz, the Persian New Year!  

Iranian New Year Haft-Sin Table Photo: Hamed Saber

Nowruz (pro: NO-roos), the Persian New Year, is the most important holiday in the Iranian calendar. It is also celebrated in many other countries in the region, including Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, parts of Turkey and Pakistan, and anywhere in the world where Iranians have settled. It is always celebrated on the vernal equinox, which marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. This year, it is being held on March 21! Here is a video about the meaning of Nowruz, created by Minnesota artist Niccu Tafarrodi and young members of the local Iranian-American community.

CLICK HERE to watch a video that explains the symbolism of the seven items that decorate the traditional Nowruz Table.  Source:

Did you know that over 300 million people around the world celebrate Nowruz? This video, by the BBC tells more. CLICK HERE. Source:

Nowruz for Kids…of All Ages!

“Tell me the story of Nowruz?” Listen to the children’s story explaining the first Nowruz.

Kids!  CLICK HERE to help you celebrate Nowruz with even more activities!


CLICK HERE to get your printables to create your own Haft-sin table.

The Last Wednesday Before Nowruz: Charshanbe Suri

This is an Iranian festival celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz. You can learn more about it HERE.

Iran has rich traditions of art, music and poetry. 

The Poetry of Iran

Poetry (has been) loved, appreciated and practiced by Iranians for thousands of years. People of Iran live with poetry. Almost all of Iranian customs and traditions include poetry in one way or the other. Be it the presence of a book of Persian poetry, most commonly the Diwan of Hafez or Shahnameh of Ferdowsi on the Haft-Sin tables that Iranians set for their New Year, or gathering together on Shab-e-Yalda and reading the Poems of Hafez.

CLICK HERE to learn about Iran: The Land of Poetry


Ancient Architecture of Iran

As the remnants of an empire that once covered almost the entire area from Greece to China, Iran is full of historic wonders. Due to the country’s current political situation, it is not exactly a top tourist destination and as such many of these wonders are kept a secret from the rest of the world. 

CLICK HERE to view the “Top 10 Historical Architecture Sites” in Irian


Iranian Music and Musicians

Photo: Musician Kayhan-Kalhor   Source:

Music is one of the things that has the ability to break the borders of any language and cultural barriers. Iranian musicians have done a great job reflecting Iranian culture and Persian music to the whole world. From traditional classical singers to modern fusion bands, CLICK HERE to learn about the ten greatest Iranian musicians. Source:

We invite you to listen to Persian songs that have become timeless favorites, sung by popular Iranian singers of their time.  CLICK HERE to begin your private “concert.” Source:

Iranian Art and Artists

Photo: “Ardeshir’s Throne” by Meghdad Lorpour   Source:

Despite its very unique and challenging sociopolitical position, Iran can arguably be considered one of the most prolific and progressive countries when it comes to art. The country’s recent history is filled with artists seeking to create a visual language that is native yet modern. During the past four decades of post-revolution, Iranian contemporary artists inside the country, and its diaspora, have been using the power of art to break conventions, pierce through stereotypes, and critically examine and challenge their own society and the world more broadly.

CLICK HERE to view: “10 Iranian Artists Who Are Shaping Contemporary Art”

CLICK HERE to view the virtual gallery of Iranian art of the Twin Cities Iranian Culture Collective (your host partner today!)

Iranian Films and Filmmakers

Asghar Farhadi is an Iranian film director and screenwriter. Photo: Getty Images

Asghar Farhadi has received two Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film for his films A Separation and The Salesman, making him one of the few directors worldwide who have won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film twice. Source:

Iranian filmmakers, such as Abbas Kiarostami, Asghari and Jafar Panahi have won film festival awards around the world. Four Iranian films made it into the top 100 in BBC Culture’s recent poll to find the greatest foreign-language films of all time.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Iran’s gift for making some of the world’s best films, (as judged by the BBC.) Source:

…and Then There is Iran’s Great Food! 

Tour Tehran’s Street Food Scene and The Grand Bazaar!

Gelareh Kiarand, your tour host, will take you on a tour of Tehran’s lively food scene. Source: ViceAsia

There are two Iranian-born chefs who have become famous in America: 

Samin Nosrat

Photo: Smeeta Mahanti

Samin is the author of the best-selling cookbook and Netflix show Salt Fat Acid Heat.

YOU TRY IT! Watch this video of Samin’s “Persian-ish Rice”, then print out her recipe! Video source:

After you view the video, CLICK HERE for your printable recipe.

Andy Baraghani

Photo:  Alex Lau for Bon Appétit

Andy is the senior food editor for Bon Appétit magazine.

Andy Baraghani’s “Kuku Sabzi” (a Persian Frittata) a favorite dish for Nowruz! This recipe comes from the test kitchens of Bon Appétit Watch Andy make this special dish for Nowruz!

You Try It!

After you view the video, CLICK HERE for your printable recipe.

The Twin Cities has several Iranian restaurants you can explore, including the Caspian Bistro and Olive and Lamb. Iranian specialties are also available at The Caterers Kitchen in Hopkins. 

Iran: A Land of Tremendous Scenic Beauty

Badab-e Surt, Mazandaran
The colorful stepped terraces of Badab Surt, formed by mineral deposits from hot springs, one of the most photogenic sites in Iran. 

National Geographic says of Iran’s natural beauty: Iran is home to one of the oldest civilizations on Earth…Yet beneath the footprints of man lies an even lesser known, wilder Iran, brimming with remarkable geologic formations, ancient forests, and overgrown monuments that nature has reclaimed as its own.

CLICK HERE to visit the 10 Most Beautiful Natural Wonders in Iran

Just for Kids…of All Ages!

Activities to Print and Do!

CLICK HERE to download and print a WORD SEARCH sheet.


CLICK HERE to download ACTIVITY COLORING SHEETS that build upon what you learned today!

The Twin Cities Iranian Festival: Local Iranian-American artists, musicians and craftspeople. 

Each year, local Iranian-Americans come together to celebrate their heritage and culture, and YOU are invited! You can find out more about the 2021 Festival and learn more about local Iranian American artists, musicians and craftspeople by visiting the Twin Cities Iranian Culture Collective website

A Visit to Iran

Photo by Phil Deering

In 2019, a group of travelers including some from the Twin Cities Iranian Culture Collective, toured Iran. They have beautiful photographs that illuminate their adventures. CLICK HERE to view a sampling of a “photo album” from their visit.

We hope you enjoyed your Urban Expedition to Iran!