Population:  1 million

By far the largest and busiest city in central west Iran, Kermanshah developed in the 4th century AD astride the Royal Road to Baghdad. Its strategic position has brought both prosperity and attack.

Most recently it suffered missile damage during the Iran–Iraq War. Briefly renamed Bakhtaran in the
1980s, the city is a melting pot of Kurds, Lori and other Iranians. Though not a major tourist draw, its backdrop of glowing redrock mountains is impressive and don’t miss Taq-e Bostan.

Kermanshah is bewilderingly vast. The main street changes names (Kashani-Modarres-Beheshti-Sheikh Shiroodi) as it stretches over 10km from the busy commercial centre (the southern third) to the foot of the magnificent rocky Parom Mountain massif. Here the Taq-e Bostan carvings, ringed by parks and outdoor restaurants, form the city’s foremost attraction.