Vakil Bazaar is one of the most traditional and oldest Bazaars in Shiraz. This Bazaar, as the beating heart of the city, was constructed during Zand Dynasty about 200 years ago. Walking through the various areas of the bazaar among the crowd of locals and shops will be a unique experience. The sound of traditional music, from around the corners, adds up to the beauty of the famous and colorful textile shops and the atmosphere of Vakil Bazaar. Moreover, the famous Saraye Moshir is located along Vakil Bazaar. On top of this, you can find lots of handicrafts and souvenirs to buy while visiting this attraction.
What is the purpose of Bazaars like Vakil Bazaar in Iran?
Vakil Bazaar, like many historic Bazaars in Iran, has all the elements and features of a traditional Bazaar. This bazaar enhances the astonishment of the whole Vakil Complex. Vakil Mosque and Vakil Bath House are other components of Vakil Complex. Generally, these complexes were built as the center of social, cultural, political and religious activities of the cities. Bazaars as a part of these complexes were structured for the purpose of not only trade and commercial, but also development of cultural and social interactions.
Similarly, the architecture of historic and traditional Bazaars in Iran in each city reflects the economic power, culture and most importantly the climate of the city. Tehran Grand Bazaar, Qeysarie Bazaar of Isfahan and the largest traditional Bazaar in the world known as the Bazaar of Tabriz are some of these Bazaars in Iran. Further, we will get into the details of the history, architecture and the things you can do at Vakil Bazaar.
Karim Khan of Zand behind the history of Vakil Bazaar
Vakil Bazaar (meaning regent’s Bazaar) was built by the order of Karim Khan of Zand, one of the prosperous kings of Zand Dynasty (200 years ago). Accordingly, this 18th century masterpiece was one of the architectural projects that Karim Khan of Zand had in mind for the purpose of development of his capital, Shiraz. According to some documents, the plan of the bazaar was inspired by Qeysarie Bazaar in Lar which belonged to the eras and dynasties before Zand Dynasty.
The genius behind Architectural components of Vakil Bazaar
The architecture of Bazaars were in favor of adaptation to the physical aspects of their surroundings while keeping their cultural and traditional aesthetics. Vakil Bazaar was built at a lower level than the ground. After climbing down about 6 stairs you are faced by the large and magnificent Vakil Bazaar. To better describe the architectural plan of this attraction, we should mention that the Bazaar has two main passageways. These two passages cross each other at their centers in a form of a cross. The meeting point of the two passages is called ‘’Chahar Sugh’’ meaning the intersection of four passages.
The passages are vaulted by a mixture of lime, stucco, and yellow fired bricks. The whole structure was built on hard rocks to enhance its strength during possible earthquakes. Masterfully, this Bazaar was designed to have features of natural air-conditioning and good lighting. The circulation of the air happens through the small windows above the shopping stores. On top of this, the height of the ceiling helps with air circulation. For the natural lightening, the gaps on the ceiling are designed in a way to lighten up the Bazaar without getting the direct sunlight and the summer heat inside.
How to get around in Vakil Bazaar?
As we mentioned before, Vakil Bazaar is consisted of two main passageways meeting at a point called Chahar Sugh. Chahar Sugh is a square, crowned by a dome which marks the intersection point of the Bazaar. This section of the bazaar holds some of the most beautiful designs and decorations left by the masters and Iranian architects. Now, what about the two passage branching from this square?
The two main Passage are as followed:
- The north-south vaulted passage starts at Darvaze Esfahan (Esfahan’s Gate) and continues to the Moshir Bazaar and Caravanserai. This passage leads to several gateways and Caravanserais. All through the Bazaar, you can see locals buying their daily products. Moreover, there are Carpets and rugs, spices, fabric and handicraft shops. Bazaar-e Nou which was added to this Zand structure during Qajar era is also located on this passage. Textile, leather goods and household items can be found in this part of the Bazaar.
- The east-west passage also holds different shops from daily products to carpets, colorful silk fabrics, spices and many more.
Saraye Moshir Stands out in Vakil Bazaar
Moshir Bazaar and caravanserai also known as Saraye Moshir is one of the top favorite Bazaars of Shiraz. This attraction is located on the southern end of Vakil Bazaar to the east. Moshir or Golshan Bazaar was built by the order of Mirza Abolhassan Moshir-ol Molk during Qajar era when he was the general minister of Shiraz. Today, Saraye Moshir is one of the must-see attractions of Shiraz.
What makes this Bazaar special, are the two stored shops made and designed by teakwood carvings. You can find and buy the most special handicrafts and jewelries of Shiraz. Besides, the beautiful sour orange trees gathered around a pool refresh the atmosphere. The entrance of Bazaar is adorned with beautiful tile works and calligraphy.
Vakil Bazar’s Handicrafts, Souvenirs and sweets
We have mentioned some of the things you can find while exploring Vakil Bazaar. The thing about traditional Bazaars is that you can find the traditional street foods and sweets of the city, daily local products, and handicrafts for the best price. That being said, while you are walking through Vakil Bazaar make sure to try some traditional sweets of Shiraz. Special Shirazi cookies, traditional jellies called Masghati, rice breads know as Nan Berenji, and Youkh-e Bread are of these delicious Shirazi sweets.
Since Shiraz is a city of Orange blossoms, you can find herbal drinks of Orange blossoms and other drinks and spices in Vakil Bazaar.
Aside from this, Vakil Bazaar and specially Saraye Moshir are of the best places that you can buy high quality and unique handicrafts and souvenirs. Shiraz handicrafts range from jewelry, hand weaved carpets and rugs by Nomads, silver and bronze works of smiths, embroidery, and special Khatam works (Marquetry on wood).
When and where can I visit Vakil Bazaar?
The covered part of the Bazaar is open until 8 Pm. The Cafes and parts of the Bazaar facing the streets are open for longer hours. For the location of Vakil Bazaar, there are several entrances to the bazaar. On Zand, Taleghani, and Lotfh Ali Khan Zand streets some side entrances to the Bazaar are located. The main entrance is on Zand Street, west of Shahrdari square.
If you want to get there by Shiraz Subway, you should get off at Zand Metro Station. From there, you can find your way to Vakil Bazaar which is located within 12 minutes walking distance of the station.
Attractions near Vakil Bazaar
Vakil Mosque, Vakil Bath House, Phil Caravanserai, and several lovely cafes are located nearby. Other attractions you can visit are Pars museum and Khan Madrasah, the largest theological instruction in Shiraz, established for the Iranian philosopher Mullah Sadra. You can also visit Arg of Karim Khan (Castle). Near the Arg of Karim Khan, you can find places selling some of the most delicious ice creams in Shiraz.