The World-known Poet, Hafez
The Tomb of Hafez or what is commonly known as Hafezieh is in the northern part of Shiraz, Iran in the middle of Mossalla garden. It’s in fact a mausoleum built in memory of the famous Persian poet, Hafez. He was called so because he learned the verses by heart. His full name was Khaje Shams al-din Mohammad. He was born and died in Shiraz when he was 75 years old. He was a court poet and was loved by Iranians no matter young or old.
When Persians and especially Iranians hear his name, they respect him just like a prophet. In fact, in all Iranian homes, the Quran, the holy book of Islam, is the first book that is found and the second one is Divan which is Hafez’s book. It is a collection of his poems. It is one of Persians’ old beliefs that when they want to know about their future, they turn to Divan and let it fortune tell for them, especially on Persian ceremonies like Nowruz (the beginning of the new year) and Yalda night (the beginning of winter). His poems were also admired by Goethe the German poet. Hafez was compared to Shakespeare and was a source of pride for Iranians. In Iran, there is also a national day of Hafez to commemorate him. Even now his poems profoundly influence Persian poetry.
The Tomb and Its Symbols
Hafez was a mystic person and his thoughts were also conveyed in the way his tomb is constructed. The tomb itself is a symbol of prison for the thoughts in this world. The southern part; however, is the symbol of the material world and when you enter the place this is the first part you have to go through. Then, you approach nine stairs which symbolize the number of skies. After climbing the stairs you can see the tomb which is a symbol of the sun. Finally, the northern part is considered the world of the hereafter.
Different Sections of the Mausoleum
This mausoleum is more than 2 hectares wide, it includes Mossalla gardens which have also been the cemetery for other great famous people such as Qavam’s family. There are a few pools in the shape of a rectangle in the garden, along with flowers and sour orange trees orchard. This environment is very pleasant. There’s also a tea house serving refreshments in a traditional way.
The Mausoleum through History
The tomb has a history of going through several restorations. For example, a governor of Fars province was the first person to enclose a wooden structure around it. He also built a pool in front of it and the water was filled with Rokn Abad river. But then it was said that a Zoroastrian building should not be built over the grave of a Muslim. The order for destruction was issued but then the people of Shiraz protested. Also, 2 kings during Safavid and Afsharian eras, namely King Shah Abbas, and Nadershah Afshar renovated the tomb, respectively.
During the reign of Karim khan Zand, a substantial change was made to its construction. He ordered the expansion of the vaulted hall, erected 4 columns, and created 2 rooms to the west and east. There is also a cistern to the west side of the mausoleum from this era. In the last modification, 16 other pillars were added and now we have a 20-column veranda that is 56 meters long. This expanded vernada has separated the sour orange groves in the front and in the back with the tomb which is in the middle. These are the north and south sides that turned into separate courtyards.
Several changes had been made to this place but the latest was in 1935 by its designer Andre Godard, who was a French architect. He was also the technical director of the Department of Antiquities. His work was so enduring that his name was recorded in the history of Iran. He elevated the tomb one meter higher and encircled it with 5 steps. The octagonal dome resembles a dervish hat and is supported by 8 columns that symbolize the 8 gates of heaven and also the 8th century in which Hafez lived. The dome’s underside is filled with enameled tiles with 8 verses of his poems at the edges with sols calligraphy. This dome was also featured in his poems. The colors of the tiles are different and each symbolizes something. For example, turquoise blue is a symbol of paradise, red of eternal wine, black and white of night and day, and dark brown of soil and modesty. Under this dome, we can see a marble slab over the grave. On the grave, there are several Hafez poems engraved on Nastaliq calligraphy to the margins and in the center by a professional calligrapher. This dome is an eye-catching focal point at night because it is well-lit.
Shiraz Collocates with Hafez!
What attracts tourists are the tomb, its gardens, and the surrounding memorials. There is no way a tourist either foreign or domestic goes to Shiraz and does not pay a visit to this mystical atmosphere. Even people of Shiraz go to this place to change their mood and have peace of mind reading his sonnets. They feel a strong connection to the verses even though they belong from centuries ago.