Visiting Religious Sites
Although no trip to Iran would be complete without a glimpse at the stunning architecture and somber environments of its mosques or holy shrines, many travelers are daunted by the prospect of walking into the foreign world of a mosque. Don’t let these fears stop you, Iranians are welcoming and will understand any unintended breach of protocol.
Some mosques, and most holy shrines, require women to be wearing a chādor before entering the complex. If you don’t have one, there are sometimes kiosks by the door that lend or hire chādors. It is better for men to wear long-sleeved shirts inside a mosque or shrine, though this is not mandatory.
Shoes are not worn within prayer areas of a mosque or shrine. Busier mosques have free shoe repositories where you trade your shoes for a token. Also try to avoid mosques on the holy day of Friday and don’t photograph a mosque while prayers are taking place.
Holy shrines, like those in Mashhad and Qom, are usually off limits to non-Muslims, although the surrounding complexes are usually OK. Always ask first before you enter a room you are unsure of.