Qom is the second-holiest city in Iran after Mashad. The Hazart-e Masumeh is the main religious centre. As a non-Muslim, you are not allowed into the mosque. The courtyard is as far as you get. Nonetheless, it is a very pretty environment, definitely with a strong focus on religious teaching, as there are bearded Mullah's everywhere with a few students, hanging on their every word.


The main courtyard is full of people. Sadly I had to take a few underhand shots, as photography was frowned upon. Taking pictures with a phone was allowed, but nothing more.




Just outside the mosque, there is a small square, from which you can actually take the best pictures.



Unlike my previous experiences in Iran, people were fairly unfriendly. I had a very hard time finding a place to stay. The guesthouses either just flat out refuse you as a foreigner or tell you their obviously deserted hotels are full. Qom was pretty busy too, though. I ended up finding a place for far too much money, but such is life.


I found this sign just outside the mosque. There were a handful of motorcycles parked right underneath it.



In the evening I went to look for "coffeenet", the English-Farsi slang for an internet cafe. A shop owner walked along for a block and found one for me. Their, most terminals were taken, but one was hastily created by separating a small child from its video game. On the way home, I was greeted by a few Mullah's and by now I was wondering what was going on. Arriving at my hotel, the enthusiastic owner who had earlier succeeded in overcharging me introduced me to his son who spoke English. The first thing he asked when he saw me was: "Where are you studying?", pointing at my laptop in its home-made fleece cover. They were gravely disappointed when I told them this was a laptop and not a Koran. Ah, the hypocrisy of religion...