Persia, a land of palaces and gardens, is paradise on earth. The very word "paradise" derives from the ancient Iranian term for the Shah's royal hunting grounds. From ancient Achaemenid sites to the magnificent mirrored shrines of Shiraz, from the lush geometric gardens of Kashan to the ornate domes of Ispahan, the reader will discover the fundamental roles of water, brick, and ornamentation in the country's unique architectural heritage. With their intricate fountains and majestic ponds, Persian oasis gardens celebrate water that is still sourced from underground aqueducts dating back to the 6th century, as do palace hammams, so central to Islamic culture's belief in purification by water. Persian gardens are meant as an escape from the harsh realities of desert life and are jealously hidden away within high brick walls. The Islamic tiles, precious metals, and glittering jewels - hidden behind the colorful facades of palace pavilions and mosques - recount the mysteries of these timeless splendors.