37 monuments in 30 days, and what I learned along the way.
Sunday 3 March 2019
Located in south-central Iran, Shiraz is a city famed for its poets and gardens; for its famous pink mosque, and of course, for the wine to which it gives its name (now enjoyed exclusively outside of Iran, of course, due to the Iranian government’s ban on alcohol). I spent several nights in Shiraz back in October 2018 – I saw the sights, smelled the smells, got lost in markets and marvelled at the ruins of Persepolis. But even that 2,500-year-old city didn’t grab me like Shiraz University did.
The university was constructed from 1960-79, in the final years before the Shah was replaced with the Ayatollah in the bloody revolution of 1979. Before that, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had kept close ties with the US (too close, according to some). His new university in Shiraz was designed by the American architect Minoru Yamasaki, who had previously designed the original World Trade Center in New York – and it was named ‘Pahlavi University’ after the Shah himself.
Known simply as ‘Shiraz University’ after the revolution, the campus takes the form of 11 Brutalist blocks, that fan out in the shape of a star to crown a hilltop at the city’s edge. It’s a striking sight to behold; overlooking one of the more beautiful city parks, its concrete edifices jut out from the sandy hill like rock-hewn buttresses.
The university is supposed to be off-limits to foreigners, so as we drove up the access road we prepared ourselves for disappointment. We found the barrier open though, the guard absent from his post, and so we headed on into the campus. We didn’t stay there long, and I felt that looking inside any of the buildings for interior shots might have been pushing my luck. But here’s a short photo tour around the blocks that make up the Shiraz University campus.
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