Shiraz was selected as the southern capital city during the Saffarid Dynasty (861-1003). Also, the Daylamite Dynasty (934-1062) selected Shiraz as their capital city; consequently, Shiraz turned to the most important city in southern Iran. The Salghurids conquered Shiraz in the mid-12th century and selected it as their capital city. Under their reign, Shiraz was saved from being looted by the Genghis khan’s army. Due to its stability and peaceful atmosphere during the Salghurids Dynasty, Shiraz became the gathering place for many scholars, philosophers, artists and litterateurs such as Saadi and Rouzbahan known as Sheikh (cleric) the Great.
Shiraz flourished and turned to an art and knowledge center during the Safavids (1501-1722). As Karim khan Zand took the reign, Shiraz was selected as the capital city of Iran in 1766. Under Karim Khan, Shiraz underwent rapid and huge development in terms of trade, economy, and especially arts and culture. Most of the architectural masterpieces remaining today (Karim Khan Citadel, Vakil Bazar, Vakil Mosque, etc.) were built during that time.
Until recently, some scholars referred to the ancient reliefs in Barm-e Delak, arguing that the history of Shiraz would date back to the Sassanid era. However, the term Shiraz was first referred to as Shirrazish and Tirrazish on Elamite clay tablets dating back to 2000 B.C., which were unearthed at the Persepolis in 1970. Recent excavations attribute early settlements in the plain of Shiraz to about 5500 B.C. Founded in the Achaemenian Dynasty (2500 years ago), Shiraz became one of the main cities of the province and rose to special prominence after the advent of Islam.
Fars Province and Shiraz have enjoyed a special status throughout the history of Iran. Fars Province has played such a major role in the country’s ancient history that it is considered the center of Iranian identity – the Persian language spoken today is called Farsi. Indeed, Fars was one of the main seats of the great Achaemenian Empire, stretching from Egypt to India. The province is home to numerous precious monuments including the UNESCO-inscribed sites namely the Persepolis, the Pasargadae, eight archaeological sites situated in three geographical areas in the southeast of Fars Province under the title “Sassanid Archeological Landscape of Fars Province,” and Eram Garden and ancient Garden of Pasargadae as examples of the Persian Garden.
Shiraz boasts a long, distinguished tradition of art. The city of roses and nightingales is the birthplace of the Shiraz School of art, which led to the creation of outstanding works of miniature, tile-working, mirror-working, Khatam, plaster, sculpture, etc. The Bird and Flower style of art, which flourished in the 14th century, has originated from this school of art. A wide variety of finely-made handicrafts are produced in Shiraz and Fars: Khatam and Monabbat, kinds of wood marquetry, Ghalamzani, and seven-colored tiles, to mention just a few. Khatam of Shiraz has received the UNESCO SEAL (seal of excellence).
In a country which has been home to many internationally renowned literary figures, Shiraz is deservedly proud to be known as the literary capital. Shiraz is the birthplace of two internationally celebrated poets Hafez and Sa'di, whose work has influenced many writers and poets across the world. Inspired by Hafez, Goethe wrote his West- Eastern Diwan. Also, Sa'di's famous books Gulistan (the Rose Garden) and Bustan (the Orchard) are widely acclaimed masterpieces. His Bustan was ranked by the Guardian among the top 100 books of all time.
Shiraz is also home to many more renowned scholars, scientists, and artists.
Mullā Sadrā, also known as Sadr al-Muta’allihin )1571/2 – c. 1635/40( was one of the most prominent Islamic philosophers. He was the master of the Illuminationist (Ishraghi) school of Philosophy and founder of the Transcendent Theosophy. To mention just a few of the notable figures from Shiraz one can refer to the following: Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi, the 13th-century Iranian polymath and poet who made contributions to astronomy, mathematics, medicine, physics, music theory, philosophy; Sibawayh was a Persian leading grammarian and author of the earliest book on Arabic grammar known as Al-Kitāb, or "The Book.” ; Lotfali Sooratgar, the 19th-century painter; Ali Asghar Khodadoust (1935 – 2018) professor of ophthalmology specializing in corneal transplantation and originator of the Khodadoust line method.
Shiraz is noted for its quality higher education, with Shiraz University and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences ranking among the best in the region. Today Shiraz University is the largest university in the province. Being the second biggest campus in the country, Shiraz University has more than 20000 students studying for bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees. As one of the best academic centers in Iran, it ranks third with respect to the number of publications in international scientific journals. Some other major higher education centers include the Islamic Azad University of Shiraz, Shiraz University of Technology, Bahonar Technical College, Shiraz University of Arts, and Shiraz Payam-e Noor University.