Road to Esfahan – CNN's Fred Pleitgen made the journey south from Tehran to Esfahan, one of the cultural jewels of Iran.
Tehran – The trip began in the Iranian capital, a sprawling metropolis with around 12 million inhabitants.
Tehran – Tehran is a fairly new city by Iranian standards -- full of great cafes (not to mention 24-hour traffic) but mostly devoid of the ancient sites that tell the story of Persian civilization.
Mahtab – South of the capital lies Mahtab, where sohan -- a brittle toffee topped with pistachios and almonds -- is a big hit.
Mahtab – Mahtab is almost like an American-style rest area, complete with a food court with a fried chicken place. But its specialty is hand-made traditional Iranian sweets.
Qom – The next stop -- the holy city of Qom -- is one of the most important places for Shia pilgrimage in Iran and also the country's center for theological studies.
Qom – Qom is home to the Masumeh holy shrine, one of the most important tombs in Iran.
Kashan – Kashan, down the road from Qom, is home to Fin Garden, where Persian kings used to come to relax.
Kashan – The garden in its current form was built during the reign of Abbas I of Persia between 1571 and 1629.
Kashan – Borujerdi House, built in the 19th century for the wife of a rich merchant, is a symbol of Kashan's past wealth.
Kashan – In addition to its magnificent interiors, Borujerdi House is also equipped with a system of roof vents -- the closest thing to air conditioning several hundred years ago.
Kashan – Kashan is also home to some of the most important carpet-weaving in Iran.
Esfahan – The final stop is Esfahan, a 2,500-year-old city that was the capital of the Persian Empire three times.
Esfahan – The mosques and buildings in Esfahan's Imam Square comprise one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.