What to see in Tehran - info and photos
6, 7 November 2018
Many tours in Iran will either start or finish in Tehran: we take this opportunity to discover the many attractions that this city offers to visitors, including gorgeous palaces, lot of museums, bazaars and sumptuous shrines.
THINGS TO SEE IN TEHRAN
Tehran is a vast metropolis, business and administrative capital of Iran, home to over 12 million of inhabitants. Although most of the city is quite modern and recently built, there are plenty of attractions keeping visitors busy for at least a couple of days, which is convenient since most tours in Iran will either start or end in this city, as this is one of the main entry points in the country. When planning a tour in Tehran visitors have to consider traffic and the long distances, reason for which you will need longer time if you want to see all or most of the things. To move around in Tehran, there are taxis (very cheap), shared taxis, a subway with a number of lines and buses. If, on the other hand, you booked the tour in Iran through an agency, to visit Tehran you will probably have a car with a driver / guide, which is the best way to learn more and to optimize the available time.
The main tourist attractions in Tehran that should not be missed are:
- Grand Bazaar - a classic Middle East market with thousands of small shops among a maze of alleys, where it is possible to buy everything from a carpet, to vegetables, to a phone cover. The visits must be scheduled on a non-holiday day to fully enjoy it.
- Tajrish Bazaar - smaller than the Grand Bazaar, it is still very characteristic and houses a large number shops selling sweets, spices and fruit, but also pottery and electronics.
- Niavaran Cultural Historic Complex - complex of historical buildings, residence of Shah of Persia and his family during the recent-most dynasty. Vintage furnishings in a purely Western style and collections of precious paintings await the tourists among six museums.
- Golestan palace - is a magnificent palace absolutely not to be missed, one of the oldest in Tehran, residence of Qajar dynasty (1794–1925). It shows an interesting integration between classical Persian architecture and European architecture, with sumptuous rooms decorated by an infinite number of mirrors and glasses.
- Sa’ad Abad Museum Complex - a series of palaces and pavilions dating back to the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties, are home to several museums immersed in an immense park. The Green Palace certainly deserves a visit with its sumptuous rooms, as well as the National Art Museum with its splendid paintings.
- Imamzadeh Saleh - it is a stunning shrine in Tajrish Square, decorated with millions of ceramic tiles, fragments of mirrors and glass. It is probably best to visit Imamzadeh Saleh in the evening, when it's dark, because the lights outside create a spectacular effect on the blue tiles.
- Walking among the old city - the historical center of Tehran is full of traditional buildings among narrow alleys full of small shops and craft activities.
- Tabi'at Bridge - is a structure that is located near a large park, destination of many Iranians during holidays, weekends and in the evenings. The surrounding area is considered one of Tehran's green lungs.
- Azadi Tower - considered one of the symbols of Tehran and gateway to the city, this 45-meter high structure commemorates the 2500° anniversary of the foundation of the Achaemenid Empire by Cyrus the Great.
- Museums in Tehran - in addition to the main museums already mentioned, Tehran houses the Qasr Museum Garden, the museum of Contemporary Art, the National Museum of Iran, The National Jewelry Treasury and numerous other themed museums.
But now let's see some photos of Tehran, at least of the places that it was possible to visit during the 2 days of stay.
Tehran, the capital of Iran
, is a vast metropolis that is home to well over 10 million inhabitants and extends onto a large area at the foot of Mount Elburz. As the city is home to the most important international airport of Iran, many trips to the country will either start or end in Tehran, where the visitors will certainly take the opportunity to visit the many attractions offered by the city.
Our tour in Tehran begins visiting the Niavaran palace
complex, a series of historical buildings dating back to the Qajar dynasty (1794-1925) and Pahlavi (1925-1979) used as a summer residence and administrative centers by royal families.
The Niavaran palace is a relatively modern building, used as residence and office by the Shah of Persia
until the late 70s. Many politicians from the most relevant countries, artists and intellectuals, visited this palace to attend important meetings. One of the peculiarities of the Niavaran palace is the ceiling that can be opened to allow the sunlight to enter from top into the living room.
palace shows a vintage furnishing, where a great influence from Western countries over traditional Persian architecture, can be easily noticed. From the photos we can see the music room with a vintage system donated by Yamaha, Iranian carpets designed with incredible details, the dining room and children's rooms with old toys and posters.
The Shah of Persia's wife
was fond of art and has collected precious paintings
bought mainly from Europe. Paintings include works by Picasso, Van Gogh and more modern artists such as Warhol, now exhibited in a small museum adjacent to Niavaran palace.
In the museum housing the paintings collected by the wife of Shah of Persia
, there are also numerous statues and artifacts from various parts of the world, while the ceiling shows an extremely elaborate painting depicting buildings with a typical western architecture.
Another interesting complex of palaces in Tehran is Sa'dabad
, nestled in a large park with trees that change color in November. It was built and inhabited by the Qajar dynasty during the 19th century and hosts several pavilions with different museums.
The Sa'dabad complex houses also the Green Palace
, so named for the color of the stone used to cover the facade. It dates back to the end of the Qajar dynasty and was later renovated and modified: inside it houses some rooms with walls and ceilings covered with mirrors, where it is not allowed to photograph (but I will have the opportunity to photograph the interior of similar buildings, sumptuously decorated with mirrors, later in Shiraz).
The palaces of Sa'dabad include pavilions housing museums and art galleries
with beautiful paintings highly detailed. Some works were made in Europe between the 17th and 20th centuries, while others are attributed to Salvador Dalì.
Some paintings hosted in Tehran at the Fine Art Museum
, within the Sa'dabad palaces complex.
Among the various curiosities that can be found in Sa'dabad, there is also the Royal Kitchen Museum
showing how the meals were prepared for the royal family and for all the staff working in the complex.
During a tour in Tehran, visitors should never miss a visit to a bazaar, a characteristic market where it is possible to buy everything. The Tajrish Bazaar
is located in the northern district of Tehran and is home to hundreds of shops and small local handicraft activities: here you can buy sweets, spices, pottery, carpets, fruit and any other type of product.
Not far from Tajrish bazaar there is the magnificent mosque of Imamzadeh Saleh
. This shrine is home to the tomb of the Imamzadeh Saleh, son of the seventh Imam Shiite duodeciman Musa al-Kazim.
The entrance to the shrine of Imamzadeh Saleh
shows a huge chandelier that illuminates walls and ceilings finely decorated with multicolored ceramic tiles. The effect is surprising and a visit during the night perhaps allows to appreciate shapes and colors even better.
The stunning interior of Imamzadeh Saleh shrine
. An infinite number of mirrors and shimmering decorations completely cover walls and ceilings, creating an almost psychedelic effect.
The Tabi'at Bridge
is a 270-meter-long structure spread over 3 levels and designed by architect Leila Araghian when he was only 26 years old. This bridge is located in a green area of Tehran, considered as a kind of lung for the city, where people spend their free time in a vast park that also offers restaurants and other attractions.
A short walk from Tabi'at bridge leads to a planetarium
used as a theater and as a university classroom for astronomy lessons, while the surrounding gardens offer the opportunity to rest and enjoy some cleaner air.
These charity boxes
are found in many cities of Iran and those who want to donate something to the poorest people can do so by leaving money inside them. A local organization takes care of collecting all the donations from the various boxes scattered around the city.
A walk through the historical center of Tehran reveals traditional buildings and alleys. It is easy to get here by subway from many areas of Tehran and there are also numerous restaurants where visitors can try typical Iranian food.
Strolling through Tehran's historic center, can also happen to stumble across this vintage photo viewer, which was used in very old times to show to Iranians pictures of European capitals.
The Tehran Grand Bazaar
is a dense maze spread in a network of over 10 kilometers of covered alleyways, with thousands of shops and traditional handicraft activities, where visitors can buy food, pottery, jewels, carpets, electronics and any other type of thing. My visit coincides with a national holiday and therefore the Grand Bazaar is unfortunately empty.
Among the alleys of the Grand Bazaar
we come across a procession that commemorated, on 7 November 2018, the death of Prophet Muhammad and the Martyrdom of Imam Hassan.
The tour of Tehran ends with a visit to the Azadi Tower
, symbol of the city, a 45 meters high structure built in 1971 to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the foundation of the Achaemenid Empire by Cyrus the Great.
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