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Aramgah-e Hafez

(Tomb of Hafez; Golestan Blvd; 8am-9.30pm). Iranians have a saying that every home must have two things: first the Quran, then a collection of the works of Hafez. And in reality, many would reverse that order. Hafez the poet is an Iranian folk hero - loved, revered and as popular as many a modern pop star. Almost every Iranian can quote his work, bending it to whichever social or political persuasion they subscribe. And there is no better place to try to understand Hafez's eternal hold on Iran than here at his tomb.

The tomb of Hafez is the closest to the centre of town (entrance on Golestan Boulevard, opposite Melli Park). Rebuilt in 1953 in a garden, the mausoleum is a small open pavilion. Set in a charming garden with two pools, the whole scene is restful despite the ever-present traffic noise. The marble tombstone, engraved with a long verse from the poet, was placed here by Karim Khan in 1773. In 1935 an octagonal pavilion was put up over it, supported by eight stone columns beneath a tiled dome. Plan to spend a couple of hours sitting in a discreet corner of the grounds, at sunset if possible, to watch the way Iranians react to what is, for many, a pilgrimage site.

Shams od-Din Muhammad - or Hafez, 'he who knows the Quran by heart' - was born in Shiraz between 1317 and 1326. He spent most of his life in his native town and died there in 1389. As a court poet, Hafez was subjected to the vagaries of political life, going through periods of disgrace, and even exile. His poems have been collected in a Divan, or anthology, of some 500 ghazals, a poetic form of complex metre and a single rhyme. Hafez is considered the undisputed master of the ghazal, and his poems reflect a richness and a subtlety unequalled even by that other great talent, Saadi. Hafez' work has led to very diverse interpretations; in his Divan, mystical poems associated with a profound symbolism are found with others, which deal with love and wine.

You might see people performing the faal-e Hafez, a popular ritual in which you seek insight into your future by opening a volume of Hafez - the future is apparent in his words. After sunset, with the tomb floodlit and sung poetry piped over the public-address system, it is difficult not to feel transported back to the magic of ancient Persia. There is a teahouse at the front of the garden where you can enjoy a tea, cheap bowl of ash (noodle soup) or faludeh (a frozen sorbet made with thin starch noodles and rosewater).

To get here from the centre of town you can walk (about 2km) or take a taxi dar baste.