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The first European private train permitted to enter Iran

Tue, 28.10.2014 13:38



KYIV/Ukraine in Arabic/ The train, a set of luxury cars retrofitted from historic models to reflect times gone by, will take two weeks to wind through the 7,000 kilometer journey across the Balkans, the Bosporus and eastern Turkey to arrive in Iran.

Iran’s cultural heritage and tourism organization said some 96 passengers from at least 14 different countries were aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express. It arrived in Zanjan at 17.30 local time,” Gholamreza Najafloo, a spokesperson, told.

The Cheshire-based Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, which has organized the Jewels of Persia tour, said it marked the first time a European private train had been permitted to enter Iranian territory.

To observe Iranian requirements, alcoholic drinks are not being served during the entire section of the tour in Iran.

The train, which departed Budapest’s Nyugati terminus in mid-October, travelled through Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey prior to the Iranian leg of the journey. Its final destination is the capital, Tehran.

Since the election of the moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, last year, Iran has invested more in its tourism industry, opening doors to a larger number of foreign visitors.

This was facilitated by the appointment of Mohammad-Ali Najafi, a western-educated Iranian politician, as the country’s vice-president for tourism.

Najafi told last October that Iran was overhauling its strict immigration rules to ease or abolish visa requirements for most foreign visitors. He has since stepped down from his position but taken another job with the government.

Iran is home to some of the world’s most magnificent historical and archaeological sites. Relics of a proud ancient civilization include: Persepolis, the capital of the largest empire that the world has ever seen; the city of Isfahan; Shiraz, the city of love and poetry; and Hamadan, where Avicenna, the father of early modern medicine, is buried.

Unesco has declared 16 world heritage sites in Iran, which was historically referred to as Persia in the west until the 20th century.

Apart from Zanjan, where guests are visiting the Unesco-listed, 13th-century Soltaniyeh mausoleum, the Golden Eagle train will stop in the ancient city of Yazd, Isfahan, Shiraz and finally Tehran.

“We felt that many of our clients would be greatly drawn to the excitement of Iran for its fascinating culture,” said Ian Lomas, of Golden Eagle. “An emerging tourism market, Iran is now returning to travellers’ bucket lists. We are experiencing a significant demand for the 2015 and 2016 departures – indeed, our inaugural journey sold out within three weeks of launch date.”

A ticket for the two-week trip costs more than $14,000.

theguardian.com

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