Shiraz is a city of sophistication that has been celebrated as the heartland of Persian culture for more than 2000 years. Known as the Dar-ol-Elm (House of Learning), the City of Roses, City of Love and City of Gardens, Shiraz has become synonymous with education, nightingales & poetry. It was one of the most important cities in the medieval Islamic world and was the Iranian capital during the Zand dynasty (AD 1747–79), when many of its most beautiful buildings were built or restored.
Shiraz is mentioned in Elamite inscriptions from around 2000 BC and it was an important regional centre under the Sassanians. However, Shiraz did not become the provincial capital until about AD 693, following the Arab conquest of Estakhr, the last Sassanian capital (8km northeast of Persepolis, but now completely destroyed). By 1044 Shiraz was said to rival Baghdad in importance and grew further under the Atabaks of Fars in the 12th century, when it became an important artistic centre. Shiraz was spared destruction by the rampaging Mongols and Tamerlane because the city’s rulers wisely decided that paying tribute was preferable to mass slaughter. Having avoided calamity, Shiraz enjoyed the Mongol and Timurid periods, which became eras of development. The encouragement of enlightened rulers, and the presence of Hafez, Sa’di and many other brilliant artists and scholars, helped make it one of the greatest cities in the Islamic world throughout the 13th and 14th centuries.