Home to over 14 million residents, Tehran, the bustling capital and the largest city of Iran is also the most populated in the country where tradition and modernity coexist peacefully.
Situated 1200 meters above sea level in the north-central part of Iran at the foot of the towering Alborz mountain range is Tehran. Within its 1500 sq. kms, the city packs an amazing variety of attractions catering to the fancy of every kind of traveller. Breathtaking museums which showcase the ancient and rich heritage of the country, well-maintained parks (over 800) to unwind and relax, world-class stadiums hosting sports and games, theatres staging plays, an amazing selection of culinary outlets to tickle the taste buds, are but a few of the attractions.
To witness firsthand how antiquity is coexisting peacefully with modernity, Tehran is perhaps one of the best examples in the modern world. Being the heart of Iran’s vibrant culture, burgeoning economy, dynamic politics and rich social life makes Tehran a destination not to be missed by any discerning traveller.
History: Tehran’s history dates back centuries, but is today a cosmopolitan metropolis. Possibly the first mention of the name Tehran can be traced back to the 10th century as some excavated manuscripts have revealed. In the distant past it seems to have been nothing bigger than a small hamlet with gardens. The city began growing in size and stature between the years 1501-1736, during the Safavid period. Ruled by different Kings, from Shah Tehmasp (1524-1576), Agha Mohammad Khan who founded the Qajar dynasty which flourished from 1776-1925, Naser od-Din who was the Shah of Iran from 1848-1896, Tehran was converted into a walled city to repel attacks from ambitious invaders who were drawn towards the city’s riches. Blessed with year-round holiday activities, Tehran can be enjoyed almost equally during any part of the year.
Golestan Palace: This must-visit complex is the oldest of the historic monuments in this city. The complex is in fact a strange combination many different things including 17 palaces, museums, and halls. The Qajars’ royal residences with its accompanying gardens and the Golestan (Rose Garden) citadel are one of mainly visited places in Tehran. An unpretentious building houses objects d’art from the Qajar period. In the Golestan garden, a one-story pavilion shelters one of the best organized museums in Tehran. It encloses about thirty showcases presenting almost everything related to Iran, which makes up the critical originality of Iranian life across the variety of provinces of the country.
Treasury of National Jewels: Check out the amazing collection of some of the world’s most expensive and exclusive jewels kept here for public display. Not to be missed items include the world’s largest uncut ruby, the ‘Sea of Light’ which happens to be the world’s largest pink diamond and an astounding free standing globe made from some 34 kilos of gold and studded with 51,366 precious stones!
National Museum of Iran: This is actually two buildings connected as one. The old building serves as a store house of excavated artefacts including stoneetched figurines, ceramic pieces and carvings dating from the pre-Islamic, Neolithic period of 5th millennium BC up to the Sassanid period, while the new building house more recent 1,400-year old Islamic history.
Azadi Tower: This most iconic symbol of Tehran was built in a unique style which combines the Sassanid and Islamic architectures. This monument was constructed to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. Directly beneath the entrance of the tower are the main vaults which lead visitors into the Azadi museum down in its basement.
Milad Tower: Claim to fame is this tower happens to be the world’s 12th tallest freestanding structure in the world and the 4th tallest tower in the world. Needless to add, one can spot this landmark from almost any corner of Tehran.
Jamshidieh Park: No mention of Tehran will be complete without talking about the absolutely picturesque Jamshidieh Park, situated at the foot of the Kolakchal mountains. Besides this star attraction, Tehran is also home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural parks like the Mellat Park, which also happens to be one of the largest recreation centres in the entire Middle East, the Niavaran Park, next to the Niavaram Palace, which is very popular with the locals as well as the tourists, besides certain areas colloquially known as the ‘parke-jangali’, meaning ‘forest parks’, a favourite haunt of the locals for day outings and family picnics.
Ski attractions: The mountain slopes on which this city stands provide for some excellent skiing during winters. Particularly famous are the ski resorts situated in the Alborz range of north Tehran, hosting the tallest peak. Shemshak and Dizine are the other noteworthy ski destinations, where ski experts claim the snow quality is one of the finest in the entire world!