Iranian Studies is a widely used term. However some other terms in common use are: Iranology, Iranistics, and Persian studies. It is an interdisciplinary field working not only on Iran as a country but also on the whole Iranian cultural region. It means on the Greater Iran (modern-day Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, western Pakistan, part of Caucasus, Kurdish regions like Syria and Turkey) and the other land inhabited by Iranian peoples now and in the past (for example Persians, Baluchis, Kurds, Gilanis, Hazara, Lurs, Pashtuns, Ossetians, Parthians, Scythians). Iranian Studies consists of history, geography, linguistic, literature, art and culture of Iran and the other countries of Iranian cultural region.
During the Romanticism movement period in Europe (18th century) interests in Middle East (Persian, Turkish, Arabian) culture significantly increased. Oriental elements are found in numerous Romantic works like George Byron’s Giaur. The most distinguished Romanticist poet of Central Europe had written Crimean Sonnets, poems filled with Eastern elements. Among his works, there is also a short poem entitled Ahriman and Oromazd connected with Persian religion Zoroastrianism, with the endless battle the good and the evil. Johann Wolfgang Goethe was one of the key figures of German literature. Fascinated by the Persian and Arabian, he had written Poems of the West and East: West-Eastern Divan.
University of Goettingen (Germany) is the pioneer of Iranian Studies in Europe, Iranian Studies have been founded at 1903. Presently on the Faculty of Humanities, there is the Institute of Iranian Studies with two sections: Neuiranistik (New Iranian Studies) and Altiranistik (Old Iranian Studies). In German there are more universities where the Iranology has its own institute: Free University of Berlin, University of Hamburg (within the Asien-Afrika Insitut), Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Leipzig (within the Faculty of History, Art and Oriental Studies), Univerity of München, University of Bamberg (Lehrstuhl für Iranistik, Faculty of Iranian Studies), University of Freiburg (within the Orientalischen Seminar), University of Tubingen (within the Orientalistik, Oriental Studies), University of Heidelberg (within Islamic and Iranian Studies) and University of Köln. Among European countries, Germany has the most faculties of Iranology. Another country where one can study Iranistics in German is Austria, with two universities having Iranian Studies programme: University of Vienna and University of Graz.
In England, there are a four universities where the Iranian Studies are operating. One of them is University of London which within the SOAS – School of Oriental and African Studies, on the Department of the Languages and Cultures of Near and Middle East offers two undergraduate degree programmes in Persian studies: “BA Persian” and “BA Persian and another subject”. In this department professor Nicholas Sims-Williams runs the Manichaen dictionary project. Mary Boyce, the world's leading expert of Zoroastrian studies and Iranology was the professor at SOAS. The other universities with a programme on Iranian Studies are: University of Manchester (Department of Middle Eastern Studies), Durham University (The Centre for Iranian Studies), University of Cambridge (Faculty of Oriental Studies, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies) and Oxford University (Faculty of Oriental Studies). Some other English institutes are related to Iranology: British Institute of Persian Studies and Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Irleand.
France is represented in this field by Institut Français de Recherche en Iran (French Institut of Researches in Iran). Iranian Studies are lectured in Provence University (Département d'Études Arabes, Berbères, Turques, Hébraïques, Iraniennes et Sémitiques), New Sorbonne (Faculty of Oriental Studies) and Univesity of Lyon.
Italian Iranology is concentrated in five great universities: in Rome, Naples, Venice, Bologna and Tuscany and in Instituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente (Italian Institute for Africa and the East, Rome). In Spain four universities are engaged in scientific research on Iranian Studies: in Madrid, Sevilla, Salamanca and Alicante.
Also Netherlands and Sweden carry out the research on Iranology and Persian Studies. In Netherlands at University of Leiden, and in Sweden at Uppsala University and Stockholm University (Department of Oriental Languages).
Iranology in Russian had its zenith in the communism period. Numerous books and dictionaries had been published. First classes in Persian on Saint-Petersburg State University started in March 1818. The Faculty of Oriental Languages was founded by the Imperial order of 22 October 1854 and was re-established in 1944. Presently the Institute of Asian and African Studies (Lomonosov Moscow State University) established in 1956 is the leading Russian Centre for Oriental Studies.
Polish Iranian Studies have a long tradition. After the World War II the Oriental Philology Seminar in Jagiellonian University (Cracow) was established. In 1972 Department of Iranian Studies has separated from the Seminar. At present in this Department professors and lecturers are working on Iranian literature, linguistic and Afghan Studies, especially on Polish translation of Shahname (The Book of Kings). In Warsaw, the Faculty of Oriental Studies was founded in 1945. In 1971 the Department of Turkish and Iranian Studies got off the ground. Independent Department of Iranian Studies has founded in 1996. The very first Contemporary Persian-Polish Dictionary was published in 2005 by Persepolis Publishing House in Cracow.
Other Iranian Studies Centres in Europe: Budapest (Hungary), Helsinki (Finland) and Sofia (Bulgaria).
In Europe (Rome) Societas Iranologica Europea (European Iranologist Society) runs an association of scholars working in the field of Iranian Studies. It has a members not only from European countries, but also from Asia and Americas. Association has many international meetings and conferences (the closest one: the6th European Conference of Iranian Studies, Vienna, September 19-22, 2007) in different universities and scientific centers.
The appreciable collections of Iranian exhibits we can find among others are in the British Museum in London, in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in the Louvre in Paris, in the Eremitage in St. Petersburg, Pergamon Museum in Berlin and Czartoryski Museum in Cracow.