Within an hour from the capital of Iran, Qom is a jewel of the desert with pristine nature and diverse unknown attractions. For many tourists and even for some Iranians Qom is just a typical religious city among desert plains but under the surface of this Shiite base, there are unbeatable treasures that even Qomi habitants are not aware of them. From the glittery architecture of Fatima holy shrine to the inspiring silence of thousand-year-old manuscripts in the book hospital and the colours of glazed tiles to the fortune Persian blue beads there is a broad bridge to the only symmetric salt dome of Iran and the 240 km mirror in Howz-e Soltan salt lake all in a box of a day. Take part in the most extraordinary offbeat experience in Qom.
Visiting the shrine of Fataima Masouma in an offbeat trace
Meeting with the Islamic theology students in Madrasa and discuss about Islam and its laws in a friendly conversation
Visiting the great library of Qom known as the book hospital to learn about conservation and historic manuscripts
Walking through the new and old vaulted Bazaar to explore extinct crafts and jobs
Visiting the only workshop of Persian blue beads
Experiencing pottery or designing –colour glazed tiles in the workshop
Getting familiar with process of cooking Sohan, the special sweet of Qom
Visiting the magnificent salt lake of Howz-e Soltan and the symmetric salt dome
The centre of religion, art and spirituality
The first thing that comes to the mind hearing about Qom, is precisely the Fatima holy shrine which is the heart of the city that was rebuilt after being destroyed in the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Fatima is the sister of the Shia's eighth Imam. When she set forth on a voyage to visit Imam Reza in Mashhad, in northeast Iran, nobody knew her travel mates would be killed and she would be the guest of Qom for only 17days afterwards and her small tomb is going to make Qom the focal point of the desert with the masterpiece of ceramics, mirror work, plaster and calligraphy.
Are you interested to discuss the religious princips from its related priests and religious scholars like Buddhist, Hindu or Islamic priests? For many, it's an interesting chance to meet with Islamic theology students and ask, so if you are also into this experience, in a narrow alley in front of Jameh Mosque a historic Madrasa of the Safavid era is a place to learn more about Mullas and their life and studies.
To have enough energy to continue our exploration, let's nourish our bodies with an outdoor homemade Qomi lunch. Sip the essence of this city right in the Bazaar and vaulted workshops to find craftsmen enthuse you.
The treasure of 42000 antique manuscripts
Few steps from the shrine in a simple building which carries the name of its founder, Ayatollah Marashi with unheard stories to reveal, the story of how antique manuscripts from all over the world come here to be preserved from pests and bugs in the hospital of books, being assembled by professional bookbinders and scanned with digital scanners to be saved forever. The main difference between Qom library with Mashhad's is here you will find manuscripts of other religions other than Islam such as Hindu, Hebrew, Christianity and other science reference books as medicine or Philosophy.
The fortunate blue beads of Qom
Unfold the secret of the 6000-year-old mystery of the Persian blue beads in the only workshop in the world which produces blue beads or Kharmohreh in the native language according to an ancient method enlisted as "Qom Technique" and take a lifetime souvenir that protects you from bad wills no matter what.
Be a craft fellow in Iran
By now you must be convinced that Qom is a small but full of various experiences city with hospitable people. After seeing brilliant tile-works in shrines and theology schools, you may wonder about colourful tiles production.
Gird up your loins and design your own glazed tile which is famous with the name "Seven colour tile" or "Haft-rang" tile with mineral colours while listening to the master of tile work in his workshop. Or you might like to try pottery with the native method by the pottery wheel to sense the soil and clay and make your customized mug by your hand. All of these are going to colour your experience for a couple of hours to move on to the quality of your trip. Note: only one choice among pottery and tile painting is included for each person on the tour.
Explore the territory of the SALT
Do you fancy Salar de Uyuni, the world's biggest mirror? Then no need to go that far to Bolivia for visiting it. In the morning when the first sparkles of the sun come along, get the kick out of the salt flat in one of the world's largest mirrors in Howz-e Soltan salt lake at the gate of Qom as permission to pass the gate. Totalize the salt venture in another direction in Iran's single symmetric salt dome by its hidden salt lake like a jewel in the middle of Martian-like mounts.
The Sweet taste of Qom
It is not complete to return back without giving the sweetness of Qom to your taste buds. Get familiar with the process of making "Sohan", the reputed sweet everyone knows Qom with.
Shohan is made of Saffron, rosewater, oil and flour consist of Pistachio, Gaz and almond with a delicate taste which makes you think of a cup of tea and a sofa to complete the scenic accompaniment immediately.
The stories of Qom are hidden in vaulted Bazaars among open-hearted people.
Our venture begins with the great salt lake of Howz-e Soltan in the morning with the reflection of the Sun and clouds onto the endless natural mirror. Leading toward the Islamic masterpiece of architecture in the holy shrine of Fatima where you are being a visitor to find culture and art in the concept of religion and belief.
Step into the old neighbourhood and vaulted bazaar and meet with hospitable Qomi people in their native style. Having an intimate chat with Mullas who devote their life to learning and teaching religious laws and science is definitely a once-in-life chance, especially if you are the guest in one of the ancient seminaries of Qom with the history backs to the Safavids. Visiting the blue beads and pottery workshop you will do something like the creation and after having local lunch in one of the iconic quarters of the city we join the sweet producing workshop to see the procedure and visit the workshop and delight our afternoon with the sweet taste of Sohan. Discover the unique nature of the salt lake and salt dome and in the evening, the experiential tour of Qom ends