A Ziggurat and Some World Heritage Waterworks: Shushtar, Western Iran

by Jo 19. September 2014 09:27

By Caroline Sandes

Chogha Zanbil is, according to the UNESCO World Heritage list, the largest and best preserved ziggurat in Mesopotamia. It now stands alone in the semi-desert landscape, its well-preserved red brick construction somewhat at odds with its wild surroundings. It was built around 1250 BC and was part of a flourishing temple complex with the town of Dur Untash until Ashurbanipal, who was also responsible for destroying Susa, sacked it in about 640 BC. It was only rediscovered in 1935.

I’d had to hire a taxi for the day to take me from Shush, to Haft Tepe and to Chogha Zanbil, and then to deposit me in Shushtar. Both Haft Tepe and Chogha Zanbil are out in the countryside and not reachable otherwise. The ziggurat is impressive. You can’t go into it, or climb up it, which is just as well given its great age, but this is in keeping with its history as it was only ever accessible to the Elamite elite. It stands at about 25 metres high but originally would have been about 60 metres. The uppermost two sections including a temple have gone. If you look carefully, running around the temple at approximately eye level is an inscription in cuneiform. From the leaflet for the site, some has been translated and one section reads: “I Untash Napirisha with golden coloured bricks, silver coloured, [with brick colour of] green and black have built this temple and have gifted it to Napirisha and Inshushinak the gods of this sacred place”. More...


Stanfords announces line-up for Stanfords Travel Writers Festival

by eal-admin 16. September 2014 12:37


Stanfords is delighted to announce that Kate Adie, Simon Armitage, Ned Boulting, Frank Gardner, Tristram Hunt, Griff Rhys Jones, Tim Moore, Richard Parks, Simon Reeve, Chris Stewart and Levison Wood will headline a superb array of talented authors at the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival 2015.

The festival will be held in a purpose built auditorium at the Destinations Show 2015, and will be a unique opportunity for visitors to meet well known explorers, adventurers, food writers, poets, TV presenters, journalists, politicians, and comedians.

Alongside the auditorium there will be a ‘Signings At Stanfords’ shop where visitors will be able to purchase copies of the author’s books and have them personally signed and dedicated.  The signing area will be complimented by the Stanfords Shop selling guidebooks, travel literature and accessories.

Stanfords Managing Director, Tony Maher, said: “We are delighted to present such a prodigious array of authors at the first ever Stanfords Travel Writers Festival.  I would especially like to thank Jo James for her energy and input, publishers for their show of support, and Clarion Events for their continued help in making this dream become a reality. The programme line-up ensures that the festival will be a huge draw for travel connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike and will further underline Stanfords’ position as the market leader in the retail of travel books, maps and related product”.

Jo James, who is working with Stanfords to develop the programme and look after authors during the event said: “I’m delighted by the amazing response and support from publishers, and of course our experts and speakers. The Writers Festival will be the big attraction for visitors at Destinations 2015, promising a jam-packed programme of travel writing talent”.

Sam North, Show Director, Destinations Show, said: “The line-up for the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival is truly fantastic and will provide show visitors with a unique insight in to the authors stories, experiences and expertise. We are incredibly proud to be hosting the Festival at Destinations, the UK’s number one consumer travel event and look forward to welcoming the authors to the show”.

Further announcements will be made on the Destinations Show Website. The current line-up of speakers at the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival is available to view at http://destinationsshow.com/london/stanfords-festival-line-up

Entrance to the Travel Writers Festival is included in the ticket price for Destinations.


About Stanfords

Edward Stanford Limited was founded in 1853 and located at Charing Cross Road in London. In 1901 the Company moved to its current flagship location in Long Acre, Covent Garden.

Famed throughout the World as a publisher of maps, Stanfords expanded into retail following the move to Covent Garden. To this day Stanfords stocks the largest range of maps in the World, as well as travel guides, a large selection of globes and furniture, and other travel related product. It has a further shop in Bristol, a website and a specialist Business Mapping Service based in Manchester. Edward Stanford Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Edward Stanford Group Limited.


Read more about Stanfords at www.stanfords.co.uk/The-History-of-Stanfords.htm  


About Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show

The Times presents Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, Olympia London, is the UK’s biggest and longest running consumer travel exhibition, due to celebrate its 21st year in 2015. Organised by Clarion Events and with over 300 exhibitors and more than 37,000 visitors attending, the show is the perfect place for those passionate about travel to indulge themselves, be inspired and book their next holiday. The show’s sister-event, held in Manchester each January, is the North’s biggest travel show and will be held for the 4th year in 2015 at EventCity.


Stanfords Travel Writers Festival – Essential Information:

Taking place within Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show

Dates: 29th January – 1st February 2015

Venue: Olympia Grand, Olympia London Hammersmith Road, London, W14 8UX

Open times: 10.00am – 5.30pm every day


Ticket price: Entry is included in the ticket price for the Destinations Show

-      Advance Adult Ticket: £11

-      On-the-door Adult Ticket: £13

-      Children under 12 go free when accompanied by an adult ticket-holder

Festival information: http://www.destinationsshow.com/london/stanfords-travel-writers-festival-new

Festival line-up: http://destinationsshow.com/london/stanfords-festival-line-up

Destinations Show website: http://destinationsshow.com/london/

Stanfords website: http://www.stanfords.co.uk/




Visiting Persepolis’s contemporary: Susa, Western Iran

by eal-admin 16. September 2014 11:48

by Caroline Sandes

My room in the Apadana Hotel, Shush, was the scene of a massacre. When I got to it, the small fridge was swarming with ants. I pointed this out to the man from reception. He grunted and disappeared, reappearing about five minutes later with a large aerosol can. He rapidly dispatched the ants in jets of spray; I felt a little guilty.

Shush is a small town not very far away from the Iran-Iraq border. It’s not really on the tourist trail despite being the site of ancient Susa. The complex of 400 hectares includes the remains of the palace, the Apadana, of Susa, constructed by Persepolis’s principal builder, Darius the Great. With Persepolis Susa was once one of the great capitals of the Persian Empire.

I could see the site from my hotel room and as soon as I had sorted myself out and cleared up the ant carnage I set off to visit it. It was closed. A rather cross looking security guard shooed me away with the explanation of ‘not working’.

So I took up my favourite occupation of going for a wander. Shush, as with pretty much everywhere in Iran, has a very long history and was not always the comparatively small town that it is now. There is evidence of occupation from 5000 years ago and it was occupied more or less continuously until the Mongols destroyed the place in 1218 AD. It is also famous for having the Tomb of Daniel (of lion’s den fame) and so was a place of Jewish pilgrimage. The Mongol destruction put an end to that as well. Nowadays the Tomb of Daniel is a place of Islamic pilgrimage, though the complex with its curious pinecone-shaped tower was only built in the 1870s. I didn’t go in as the weather was very hot and clammy and the thought of wrapping myself up in a much-used black chador to visit it put me right off.


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Expert Travel Advice

Wilderness Lectures in Bristol 2014-2015

by Mutiu 11. September 2014 14:05

Wilderness Lectures
Images Copyright Ben Wakefield

Stanfords has teamed up with Wilderness Lectures to bring travellers and explorers to venues in Bristol.

The Wilderness Lectures are a winter series of public talks in Bristol; the theme of which is worldwide adventure. The lecturers are well-known explorers, mountaineers, travel writers, TV and adventure sports personalities or anyone who has an epic story to tell and can entertain the audience with a good story. The talks usually include slides and/or film.

Wilderness Lectures tickets are available on the Stanfords website (up to 72 hours before each event) and in-store from theBristol stop, but regrettably not by phone. See the programme guide below for further details. More...

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News from Stanfords

People In London: Exotic Hindu Ceremony close to Home

by Jo 3. September 2014 11:51

By Richard Slater, photographer and author of People in London: One Photographer. Five Years. The Life of a City.

You don’t have to go to India to see a Murugan Hindu kavadi ceremony.

As I discovered, all you have to do is hop on the Tube to Archway and go up the hill to the Murugan Hindu Temple in Highgate.

A kavadi is an object which consists of two semi-circular pieces of wood or metal attached to a cross structure which can be balanced on the shoulders of the devotee. It’s decorated with lots of flowers, foliage and peacock feathers – they’re the symbol of the Hindu God of War and Victory, Murugan – and can be very heavy indeed.



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Ahvaz to Shush by taxi

by Jo 6. August 2014 10:04

by Caroline Sandes

A taxi-journey isn’t normally worth writing about, but my journey from Ahvaz to Shush, sometimes better known as Susa, in western Iran was more entertaining than most.

I’d caught the overnight bus from Shiraz to Ahvaz. The bus was clearly much loved by its owner as it was carefully decked out in red lights, inside and out, even round the windscreen. Together with its red seats and all the other things it was festooned with, I felt a little like I was getting into a mobile bordello. That journey was uneventful and I arrived at 5am in Ahvaz. I had forgotten, for some reason, that arriving long-distance buses were prey for eager taxi drivers looking for a fare and naturally I being the tourist on board was an immediate target. Being rather tired, my resistance wasn’t very high and I was soon haggling with a particularly tenacious driver over the cost of him taking me the 100km or so north to Shush. I had been intending to take another bus but the rial was so low against my euros that the cost was far too tempting. In the end we settled on the equivalent of 11 euro (see what I mean), though I knew that even then I’d paid too much, judging by the raised eyebrow of the man in the taxi office who took the payment.More...

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Expert Travel Advice

‘Around the World in 80 Days’ BookBench

by Jo 1. August 2014 11:45

Valerie Osment, the artist who created the wonderful ‘Around the World in 80 Days' BookBench we have in our Long acre store shares her inspiration with us and explains the process involved.

The BookBench’s design pays homage to Jules Verne’s colourful adventure novel of the same name, where Phileas Fogg of London and his French valet Passepatout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager. Inspired by a desire to create an eye-catching pictorial realisation true to the classic tale, I wanted to offer a tantalising story synopsis to the viewer whilst enticing those that hadn’t read the novel to do so.

Published in 1873, with Verne setting the story one year earlier, my design purposefully acknowledges the iconic symbol of the hot air balloon. Mention Phileas Fogg and you automatically think ‘hot air balloon’, the association is just so engrained within the character be it on a crisp packet, in a film or a cartoon. But whilst reading the original novel for design idea research, meticulously flipping pages back and forth to pinpoint exact ports of call, arrival/departure times and transport modes utilised, key plotline elements, no balloon was to be found. As I approached the end of the book with confusion and a little worry - I had decided early on that the balloon would be my dominant visual lynchpin - I decided to google it. And there appeared my answer. The hot air balloon was never actually used by but introduced by the popular 1956 film adaption and  has been repeatedly used by subsequent others ever since, hence becoming part of the mythology of the story. Finding this fact quite fascinating, I felt that this was in itself a significant enough reason for it still to be a central feature of my design.More...

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Life at Stanfords


by Jo 24. July 2014 09:45

by Gregor Swiderek

Since my visit to Nashville, a few years ago, I was also keen to visit its musical Tennessee twin, Memphis. Finally I managed to do that earlier this year.

We entered Memphis in the most spectacular fashion by driving from the west and crossing Mississippi on the impressive Hernando de Soto Bridge which offers great views of the downtown.

Apart from the grand entry into the city, that route also offers an easy access to the Tennessee State Welcome Center located at the first exit after the bridge. Unusually for that sort of institutions it not only stocks a wealth of maps and brochures but also it is home to a giant statues of Elvis Presley  and BB King. Located in walking distance to the downtown (actually right on its edge), it also offers free parking. Well, according to the website you shouldn't park there for more than 2 hours but the security guard on site told us that it was OK to stay for the most of the day. Although nothing comes free nowadays, it seems that parking sometimes does.More...


Expert Travel Advice

Stanfords Award for Printed Mapping

by Jo 21. July 2014 17:49

We are delighted to have sponsored an award at the recent British Cartographic Awards 2014. 

The Stanfords Award for printed mapping was created to encourage any printed products to enter, from coffee table atlases to maps featured in leaflets or topical articles. 

Below are all the entries that received a Stanfords recognition:

Winner: Historical Map of York: Lovell Johns

Judges Comments: my favourite map, exceptionally well produced and designed, colours are clear, visual hierarchy is of a very high standard, a contemporary map style for an old map but I don’t mind that, a beautiful piece of design and cartography. Front cover design is great. More...


Life at Stanfords | Mad About Maps

Persepolis, Iran

by Jo 16. July 2014 12:06

by Caroline Sandes

Persepolis rises up on its plateau – tall classical columns keeping sentry above the walls. Up you go, trying to resist the urge to take two at a time of the shallow steps that lead up to Xerxes’ magnificent Gate of All Lands; the two colossal mythical guardian bulls between which you must pass making you feel insignificant. And then there it spreads out before you in all its ruined glory, the site of Persepolis, watched over by Artaxerxes II and III’s tombs cut into the rock above the site. And if you turn around, you can look down the long straight avenue and out to the mountains beyond with the blue sky behind, your fellow tourists looking some-what antlike below.

The earliest remains of Persepolis date to 518 BC, just four years after Darius the Great came to power. He is responsible for much of the building of Persepolis, one of the capitals of the Persian empire. Building continued on the site until the defeat of the Achaemenid dynasty by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. Whether Alexander ordered Persepolis to be burnt or it was an accident remains a mystery. Herodotus doesn’t mention Persepolis in his Histories, but he does detail all that history and mention all the people you come across depicted in the reliefs of the surviving ruins. So there on the Apadana Staircase you come face to face with all the peoples of the empire, including the Ethiopians, Greeks, Cappadocians, Bactrians with a two-humped camel, Elamites with a lioness and cubs, Indians, and the wonderfully unpronounceable Orthocorybantians with their pointy hats, to name just a few. In March every year, Iranians celebrate their national new year holiday, Na Ruz. This procession of stately people carved onto the Apadana Staircase had come from all parts of the Persian empire, stretching from East Africa to India, bearing gifts for the emperor to celebrate the same Na Ruz some 2500 years ago.More...


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