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At least a millennium old, Masuleh is one of Iran’s most beautiful villages. Rising through mist-draped forests, earth-coloured houses climb a cupped mountain-side so steeply that the roof of one forms the pathway for the next. In summer, day-tripping local tourists merrily fill its appealing tea-terraces, seek out its two minuscule museums and peruse the tiny bazaar’s trinket and halva shops. To avoid the coach-tour hordes, stay overnight, hike the surrounding mountains or visit in winter when cold and snow mean you’ll often get the place virtually to yourself.


The Shahrdari is Rasht’s most identifiable landmark, its colonial style tempered by a token mini-dome topping a distinctive whitewashed tower. It looks great when floodlit at night. Palmtrees admire the interplay of fountains in the square opposite. The central horseman statue is Kuchuk Khan, the Jangali leader of ‘Soviet Iran’. A steady flow of well-wishers visit his mausoleum, sheltered by a contemporary brick gazebo with intricate wooden roof. Rasht Museum is small, but well presented in a 1930s house. Its mannequin displays illustrate Gilaki lifestyle, amid a selection of 3000-year-old terracotta riton drinking horns in the shape of bulls rams and deer. Supping from such vessels supposedly endowed the drinker with the powers and skills of the animal depicted. Cute little Dana-ye Ali Shrine is topped with a faceted pyramid of blue tiling.