Magical Masuleh Iran

ladies-selling-herbs in Masuleh, Iran. Lene Imbsen photos.
Ladies selling herbs in Masuleh, Iran. photos by Lene Imbsen.

It is Easy to Make Friends in the Small Town of Masuleh, Iran

By Lene Imbsen

1050 meters above sea level where the air is thinner, cooler, and less polluted we find the 1000-year-old mountain village of Masuleh, Iran creeping down into and up the valley.

Nighttime market and bazaar in Masuleh Iran
Nighttime market and bazaar in Masuleh Iran.

With its 1500 inhabitants, it might deserve the title of a neighborhood, rather than a village. But since this place is one of Iran’s top tourist destinations the number of people in the village doubles fast, sometimes tenfold.

Persians from the large cities of Rasht and Qazvin take day trips here in the afternoons to picnic; those who live farther away will spend the night at one of the site’s few hotels or rent a room from a local family.

Friday Prayers

We arrive on a Friday in the middle of Friday prayers and choose to stay in this charming place for three days. But it did not take more than half a day before we knew the whole place and the whole place knew us.

Western tourists are rarely seen here, so there were many curious eyes observing us. Like everyone else, we are sitting in a cafe drinking tea and smoking water pipe for parts of the day. All eyes were on us, and finally one person found the courage and asked us where we are from.

Norway we answered…… ahh

Norvege he said, and we heard Norvege being whispered around the cafe and finally,  the information reached the entire earthy colored village. We were accepted. And from that point on, the friendliness and welcoming cames to no end.

We learned quickly to avoid eye contact with passers-by if we were to go anywhere – otherwise, we were suddenly sitting and drinking tea and eating cake……. again.

Masuleh’s Quirky Buildings

Besides looking at the quirky architecture, where one ceiling is another’s yard, or shopping in one of the countless miniature shops, there is little Masuleh has to offer during the day. Some peaks can be climbed and a waterfall visited. If you hike up in the hills, you will encounter the true shepherds and get the feeling of traveling back in time.

And here too, invited to tea. But it is at nighttime that Masuleh is magical. When it gets dark and colorful lights are in full flare is the best time to be here. Patterned Persian rugs are lit up. And the air is filled with a mixture of sweet fruit tobacco and shish kebab. The atmosphere changes, shoulders are lowered.

Family Gatherings

It is the night that is the Persians primetime. Families gather,  the children are included, and they fall asleep in the late evening on their father’s shoulders on his way to the car. Since alcohol is banned in Iran, it is never the loud atmosphere we are used to after ten o’clock, but a quiet hum and muffled laughter. It is magical.

Helpful facts:

ATMs in Iran do not take foreign cards, bring dollars or euros. Do not exchange these in the bank, but with moneychangers on the street. The bank may require up to a 50 percent commission.

There are dress codes for both men and women. Women should wear a veil and covered elbows. The top must be knee length.

Men should not be wearing shorts unless they are at the beach or doing sports.

Masuleh, Iran. The town is nestled into a mountainside in rural Iran.
The town is nestled into a mountainside in rural Iran.
Girl's table in Masuleh Iran.
Girls Table
villagers dancing
Villagers dancing on a rooftop in Masuleh.




Lene Imbsen writes from the Norwegian woods.

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