The capital of Iran and also the most dynamic and prosperous city in the country with a population of over 9 million. Tehran presents the bustling atmosphere of any great capital in the world, while revealing itself as the cornerstone of Iran’s contemporary history and offers an extraordinary cultural offer to the traveler, among them, the spectacular National Museum of Jewels stands out which exhibits the most important collection of precious jewels in the world. This young capital with an area of 680 square kilometers is located in an ancient land in which modern architecture coexists perfectly with palaces that take us into other times. Being one of the most important cities in the Islamic world located in a privileged enclave among the spectacular mountains of Alborz, the ancient city of Rey was located here, an important settlement that was the capital of the Seljuks for years and was razed by the Mongols in the thirteenth century. The symbol of the city is constituted by the Azadi Tower, the Milad Tower and the Bridge of Nature (Pol-e Tabiat).
Choosing Qazvin as the capital of Shah Tahmasab, due to the vegetation and the existence of many gardens in Tehran, as well as its proximity to Qazvin, he had walls built around Tehran in the 16th century with 114 towers and 6 gates for this citadel. The citadel stood until the rule of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar when it was completely destroyed and was added to Tehran, where the founder of the Qajar dynasty, Aqa Mohamad Khan, moved his capital in 1789.
The first time it was Karim Khan Zand who chose Tehran as his capital. During the reign of Shah Abbas, this city developed a lot and caravansaries, palaces and bridges were built. After the Safavid dynasty, the Afghans took control of this city, which Nader Shah expelled and chose his son, Reza Qoli Khan, as its ruler.
Iranian concern for artistic developments, recent architectural interventions and the resurgence of many traditional-style cafes have made the city a fascinating labyrinth that reserves the visitor a surprise in every corner. To discover the true Tehran, the traveler should not settle for accessing the multiple museums and palaces, being highly recommended to immerse yourself in the urban bustle, enjoying the contrast between modernity and tradition present in its many cafes and markets, coming into contact with the culture and way of life of the residents of the metropolis. The city’s parks are large and well-kept and its many museums are very interesting. The best way to get around is by taxi.
Tourist attractions in Tehran
A masterpiece from the time of the Qajar dynasty, it achieves a masterful fusion of the architecture and crafts of bygone Persian times with Western artistic currents. This walled palace forms one of the oldest groups of buildings in Tehran whose origin dates back to the 16th century, when the transformation that would take it from being a small town to becoming a true city began. Surrounded by a garden with ponds and plantations, it stands out above all for its elements and ornaments made in the 19th century. The contemporary history of Iran is so indebted to this complex that Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, celebrated his coronation here, announcing himself as the successor to Cyrus the Great. Actually, with the end of the Qajar dynasty, the Pahlavi used this palace for their special ceremonies. The meaning of Golestan is “field of flowers”, a name that honors the wonderful Persian gardens present in the place. The Golestan Palace contains a precious collection of mansions and corridors set within a garden. The monuments in this palace were built over time according to need. Some of its mirrors, pillars and doors belong to the Vakil Palace in Shiraz, brought to Tehran by Nasser-al-Din Shah in 1827.
Being a rich museum of mirrors, paintings and mosaics, the palace consists of several constructions:
Khalvat Karim Khani (Karim Khan Corner)
Takht-e Marmar (Throne of Marble)
Talar-e Ayneh (Hall of Mirrors)
Talar-e Tashrifat (Reception Hall)
Shams ol-Emaré Mansion
Kakh Abyaz (Abyaz Palace)
Talar-e Berlian (Diamond Hall)
Akas khaneh (Picture Galleries)
Picture galleries are the second largest repository of photos and videos in the world after the British Museum. Golestan Palace was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2013.
Saad Abad complex
Set in majestic gardens on the side of a mountain, the collection of royal palaces is one of the largest in the world and was the residence of the first shah of the Pahlavi dynasty. Containing numerous palaces, buildings and museums belonging to the end of the Qajar era, the complex covers an area of 110 hectares. In addition to the 7,500 trees in the gardens of the complex, all certified, the Darband River crosses the palace, which makes it a perfect place for a summer vacation. Some of the palaces are; White Palace (Melat Palace Museum), Museum of Fine Arts, Green Palace, Weapons Museum, Anthropology Museum, Water Museum, Behzad Museum, Mir Emad Museum, etc.
The Green Palace is one of the oldest in Saad Abad, which took seven years to build and was the place of residence of Reza Shah. The green marble used in this palace was mined from the Zanyan and Khorasan mines.
The White Palace, so called due to the white color of the façade, with a total area of 5000 square meters, is the largest in the complex. Built between the years 1931-36, Mohamad Reza Shah Pahlaví and Farah Diba chose it to stay. This palace has 10 rooms with an Iranian-European architectural style. In addition, there are some elegant handmade rugs from Kerman, Kashan, Yazd and Mashhad. Later, Farah Diba made some changes to the main building of the palace, such as; adding a cinema, an elevator and a thermal system.
One of the palaces of the last shah in Iran that has been transformed into a museum complex. The palace’s antiquity dates back to the time of Fath Ali Shah Qajar and has remained standing to this day. Mohamad Shah was the one who first built a small palace of his in this place and then Naser-al Din Shah built the great and glorious Saheb Qaranieh, in Iranian-European architectural style, and Howz Khaneh (Pond House). The attractive Ahmad Shah Pavilion, with its green roof and white columns, was used by the Shah for gifts from other world leaders. This pavilion consists of two floors with an area of 800 square meters.
When Mohamad Reza Pahlaví seized power in 1958, some small buildings were destroyed and a modern palace inspired by European architecture was built for his own residence and that of his family. The first floor was used as a reception room, while the second was the shah’s office and the third was used for the bedrooms of members of the royal family. Currently, the Exclusive Palace of Mohammad Reza Shah, the Saheb Qaranieh Palace, the Ahmad Shahi Palace, the Costume Museum, the Jahan Nama Museum and the Automobile Museum are open to the public.
To the southeast of Mashq Square, one of the largest military squares of its time, a gateway was built under Naser-al Din Shah Qajar. From time to time, he would sit on top and directly supervise military training. Before World War II, Mohammad Reza Shah ordered the destruction of the previous one and the construction of a larger gate. In no time, the square became Iran’s first national garden. Later, with the construction of the National Archaeological Museum of Iran, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Library in its courtyard, it only bears the name. On the walls you can see paintings that represent battlefields, weapons and two lions holding a crown, a symbol of the Pahlaví dynasty.
Established in 1851, it was the first modern university and institution of higher education in Iran, built under Mirza Taqi Khan Farahani, Naser-al-Din Shah’s patriotic minister. It was originally conceived as a polytechnic to train young upper-class Iranians in medicine, engineering, military science, and geology. The university functioned in the same way as European universities and the best Iranian and foreign professors were brought in to teach classes. There were seven Austrian teachers and thirty students from prominent families. The institute contains some facilities such as library, cafeteria, theater and publishing house. Many parts were later added to the University of Tehran. Dar ul-Funun was active for about 40 years.
The Iranian Ceramics and Glassware Museum was the private residence of Ahmad Qavam, the Qajar Prime Minister from 1921 to 1951. The complex was also the Egyptian embassy for seven years. Its architecture is inspired by the Tachara Palace in Persepolis. It was later bought by Farah Diba and became a museum with an area of 7000 square meters in a large garden. Exquisite works in this museum include: inscriptions and capitals from Persepolis, paintings from the Apadana Palace, first glass tubes discovered at Choga Zanbil, gold plates from the Seljuk era, 3rd and 4th century ceramics from Nishapur, and the oldest device from Iran distillery.
Being one of the most emblematic of Tehran, with 435 meters high it is the tallest tower in the city and the sixth in the world, whose construction took 11 years to complete. The tower consists of four parts; lobby, main body, observation deck and a restaurant that rotates offering one of the best panoramic views of the city and aerial. The head of the tower is a twelve-story steel structure. The tower weighs about 25,000 tons and 17,000 square meters of glass have been used in its construction. The complex, designed in an earthquake resistant way, has an exhibition area, a library, an administrative area and a car park.
A modern bridge was inaugurated in 2014. Among so many plans submitted to build the bridge, finally Leila Araqian’s design was chosen, inspired by the architecture of the Khaju Bridge. This 270-meter-long bridge connects Talaqani and Ab o Atash parks and has two different levels and platforms with panoramic views. The design of this hotel was among the top five in the New York Architecture Competition. The second floor has cafes and the bridge is more than a place of passage, it is a meeting place to spend pleasant moments. In addition, the striking lighting of the bridge gives it a very nice effect at night.
In the basement of the Central Bank, there is the best collection of jewels in the world, from the Persian dynasties, from the reign of the Safavid to the last king of Iran, which will astonish any curious who comes to see it. The museum not only contains great monetary value, but also reflects the art and passion of Iranian artists. Thousands of emeralds, pearls, rubies, the rarest gemstones and the largest known pink diamond, Darya-e Nour (182 carats), are preserved in this museum. Explanations of jewelry from earlier Safavid periods are not available. During the Safavid and Afshar dynasties, Iran’s jewelry stores were looted many times. Mahmud Afgan looted a part and sent it to India. Nader Shah Afshar was the one who was able to recover these jewels including the Darya-e Nour diamond, brought to Iran as a symbol of Nader Shah’s victorious campaigns in India in 1739. Ahmad Beyk, the assassination of Nader Sah, stole some part of the Iranian treasure and sent the Kuh-e Nour diamond to India, which was finally gifted to the Queen of England in 1850, placed in her crown. During the Qajar period, jewels were collected from all over the country, some of them were used in the king’s crown. There are also some used in the bed of Nader Shah and Takht-e Tavus (peacock bed).
National Archaeological Museum
Its important collection of Persian antiquities completes a large room replete with remnants of Iranian history, such as ceramics, pottery and sculpture. Exhibiting history, art and culture through archaeological finds dated from the 6th millennium BC. until the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD, it is among the six most reputable museums in the world. The museum is made up of two buildings: one built at the beginning of the 20th century, on two floors with different chronologically ordered sectors that reveal objects from Ancient Persia, and the other containing objects from the 7th century on two floors. Here, we can see works of art belonging to the Islamic era when the Arabs defeated the Sassanid Empire.
This tower with its unmistakable structure has become the most representative symbol of the city of Tehran. Its name means tower of freedom and it was built to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. Once inaugurated, on October 16, 1971, it was known as Shahyad Tower in honor of the Shah, but with the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the tower adopted its current name.
Located in the northwest of Laleh Park, counting with more than a hundred examples from all over the country, which attest to the production of carpets since the 18th century in Iran. Despite its small size, the collection contains some very valuable pieces, a must for carpet lovers.