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Despite the concerned protestations of his friends and family, Berlin-based photographer Luis Filippo headed to Iran to discover the often unreported and hidden beauty of the country.

Its human rights record is dreadful and the Islamic Republic’s totalitarian laws and customs mean women are forced to cover their hair and bodies with long Hijabs, men aren’t permitted to wear shorts and alcohol, rock music and parties are all forbidden. Because these regulations make the headlines, the welcoming and loving population and its vibrant culture are often forgotten about.

To do something about it, Filippo set off from Kreuzberg, Berlin (the opposite of Iran, with its weekend-long parties of booze, drugs and debauchery) to discover the real side of the country. Traveling around in a small Toyota bus, Filippo found beautiful cities and landscapes, but most of all, wonderful people. He was overwhelmed by their openness and friendliness – and sought to capture it.

Check out the photo set above.

For more great shots, here are the 2016 iPhone photography award winners.

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