Religious tourism is a type of tourism, where people travel individually or in groups for pilgrimage, missionary, or leisure (fellowship) purposes. Tourism phenomenon is significantly based on the sociocultural dimensions of any society.
This is particularly true in the case of Iran, a country that possesses a large number of cultural heritage and religious attractions. Every year million pilgrims visit Iran.
Religious tourism, with about 300 to 330 million pilgrims worldwide, comprises 25% of total global tourism. For pilgrims visiting Iran, the shrines of the Shia shrines of Imam Reza in Mashhad and that of his sister, Hazrat Massoumah in Qom are most popular attractions.
Moreover there are so many special religious festivals all around Iran. These ceremonies are so interesting for domestic and international tourists so that they try to arrange their trip itinerary in a way to watch these festivals and costumes as much as possible. The most famous one is Ashura, a religious observance celebrated on the 10th day of Muharram, first month on the Islamic calendar. Ashura in Iran is a holiday. Watching Tazi’eh performance is a unique interesting experience for tourists. Tazi’eh is nowadays performed during Ashura in Iran and some cities are more famous for this performance, like Tehran, Kashan, Yazd, etc. This ritual was inscribed on the intangible cultural heritage list of UNESCO in 2010.
The ninth day of Muharram is also celebrated as the commemoration of Abolfazl Al Abbas, the brother of Imam Hussein; this day is called Tasua. Zanjan city in Iran is so famous for its special big festival in the afternoon of Tasua. This festival is unique in Iran and cannot be seen in other cities. Many visitors and bloggers from around the world travel to Iran each year, just to see this big festival. There are also other festivals in other cities as well. For example, in Yazd, you can see Nakhl Gardani, which is carrying a big majestic wooden Nakhl on the shoulders of mourners– this is the symbol of Imam Hussain’s coffin. While each Iran city has the rituals of Muharram, but some are more unique. Yazd, Bam, Zanjan, Bushehr, Bandar Abbas and Kashan are some of these cities.
Further there are other popular religious attractions for non-Muslims such as Vank Cathedral in Isfahan Province, The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, listed with UNESCO ( consists of three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith: St Thaddeus and St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor) and Pir-e Sabz Chak Chak in Yazd Province that is a holy place for Zoroastrians.