The Islamic Republic of Iran, located in western Asia, boasts one of the world’s oldest civilizations.
Home to more than 80 million people, Iran is the second largest country in the Middle East, surrounded by Iraq, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The capital of Iran is Tehran, and with a population of about 15 million in the metropolitan area, it is also the country’s most populous and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.
Known for its notorious traffic, the first impression that newcomers to the city get is that of total chaos and no respect for traffic laws.
However, after you have spent a day or two, you will realize that there is a method to the madness and that Tehranis are experts at keeping things moving.
One of the oldest royal complexes in the capital, the Golestan Palace, which literally means the palace of flowers, is located in a lush garden with beautiful fountains.
Now a major tourist attraction, especially for those interested in Persian art and history, the complex boasts several structures, including palaces, museums, and halls.
Constructed during the Safavid era, the palace underwent renovations during the Qajar rule and became the royal residence of the Qajar ruling family.
Emarat e Badgir, or the building of wind-catchers, is one of the outstanding buildings in the palace complex built during the reign of Fath Ali Shah, undergoing major renovations under Nasser ed Din Shah. The building comprises four wind towers adorned with blue, green and yellow glazed tiles and a golden cupola.
Under the Qajar dynasty, Golestan Palace came to be regarded as the center of Persian art and architecture, which is evident in the exquisite tile and plasterworks, paintings and other works of art, wood carvings and lattice windows.
The Talar e Salam (Salam Hall) is where the kings greeted visiting foreign dignitaries. The hall is resplendent in the finest of plaster and mirror works and beautiful mosaic flooring.
Other structures within the place complex include:
- Takht e Marmar (Marble Throne)
- Talar e Brelian (Brilliant Hall)
- Talar e Aineh (Mirror Hall)
- Talar e Almas (Diamond Hall)
- Shams el Emareh (Edifice of the Sun)
- Museum of Gifts
- Abyaz Palace
- Museum Hall
- Talar e Adj (Ivory Hall)
- Talar e Zoruf (Containers Hall)
- Khalvat e Karim Khani (Karim Khani Nook)
- Howz Khaneh (Pond House)
The Milad Tower (Borj e Milād)
The Milad Tower – Borj e Milād in Farsi – is the sixth tallest tower in the world and one of the capital’s most popular attractions for both locals and tourists alike.
The base of this multi-purpose tower incorporates four floors of shops selling souvenirs, finest Persian carpets and rugs, Iranian handicrafts, food and there’s also a sherbet house that serves a variety of traditional Iranian drinks (sherbet).
The concrete shaft of the tower is serviced by six elevators on three sides with an emergency staircase on the fourth.
The twelve floors of the 25,000-ton steelhead of the tower boast a revolving restaurant, a VIP restaurant, a cafeteria, a public art gallery, a refuge zone in case of fire, telecommunication floors, an open observation deck, a closed observation deck and a skydome.
Some of the other features of the Milad Tower include a library, a commercial transaction center, an exhibition hall, an equestrian club a huge car park, and more.
Azadi Tower (Borj e Āzādi)
The Azadi Tower, or the Freedom Tower, located in the center of Azadi Square, is one of the most iconic structures in Tehran marking the west entrance to the city.
Built-in 1971 under the auspices of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the 45-meter-high marble-clad tower celebrates 2,500 years of Persian civilization.
Designed by architect Hossein Amanat, the tower is an interesting blend of traditional Iranian architecture and the contemporary western architectural styles of the 1960s.
The tower forms part of the Azadi Cultural Complex which includes a park with some interesting sculptures as well as the underground Azadi Museum, housing gold, and enamel pieces, painted pottery, marble and paintings, each representing a particular period in country’s long and rich history.
Carpet Museum of Iran
The Carpet Museum of Iran, located in the north-west of Laleh Park in Tehran, was founded by the last Empress (Shahbanu) of Iran, Farah Pahlavi in 1977.
The exterior façade of the museum complex, designed to resemble a carpet weaving loom, also serves the purpose of keeping the building cool by casting shadows on the exterior walls.
The museum boasts two exhibition galleries on two levels covering an area of 3,400 square meters.
While the ground floor is dedicated to permanent exhibits of Persian carpets, the upper level is used for temporary exhibitions.
At any given time there are nearly 150 amazing carpets and rugs dating from the 17th century to the present times.
The museum also boasts a library with a collection of over 7,000 books.
Built by the Qajar and Pahlavi rulers, the 300 hectare Sa’dabad Complex encompasses more than 180 hectares of natural forest, museums and galleries.
Here are some of the must-see attractions in the complex:
- Mellat Museum – The White House
- Museum of Natural History – The Special House
- Shahvand House – The Green House
- Museum of Fine Arts – The Black House
- Museum of Anthropology – House of Shams
- Museum of Glassware and Handicrafts – House of Ashraf
- Museum of Artistic Creatures – House of Farideh Ghotbi
- The Behzad Museum – First House of Reza Pahlavi
- Museum of Treasure – Second House of Reza Pahlavi
- Akbar Museum – House of Leila
Some of the other top attractions in Tehran area:
Niavaran Complex – Opulent palace complex in bucolic surrounds featuring majestic residences, museums, libraries, landscaped gardens & art
Eram Amusement Park – Amusement park, zoo, circus, and park
Tehran Zoological Garden – Founded in 1992, this classic zoo features tigers, leopards, bears, monkeys, apes, birds & snakes
Abgineh Museum of Tehran – Glassware and Ceramic Museum
Negarestan Garden – Garden, architecture, palace, and museum
Museum of the Qasr Prison – Formerly referred to as the Qasr Prison, it was one of the oldest political prisons in Iran, now a museum complex
Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art – Modernist subterranean museum with an important collection of modern & contemporary artwork
Reza Abbasi Museum – Museum with a collection of traditional Iranian art dating from 2000 BCE to the early 1900s CE
Malik National Museum of Iran – Grand facility with calligraphy manuscripts & books, plus exhibits of paintings, coins & artifacts
Marble Palace – The Marble Palace is one of the historic buildings and royal residences in Tehran, Iran. It is located in the city center, but the location was a quiet quarter of Tehran when the palace was erected
Tochal – Tochal is a mountain and ski resort located on the Alborz mountain range, adjacent to the metropolitan area of Tehran in northern Iran. It includes a 12-kilometer-long ridge. Its highest peak, also called Tochal, is at an elevation of 3,933 meters
Jamshidieh Park – Former private garden, now a park with a pond & waterfall, hiking trails & picnic areas
Laleh Park – A large recreation area with beautiful green areas adjacent to Keshavarz Boulevard
Chitgar Lake – Chitgar Lake is an artificial and recreational lake located to the north of Chitgar
Tabiat Bridge – Nature Bridge, a 270-m. the footbridge between 2 parks, features 3 levels with cafes & seating areas
Iran Wildlife and Nature Museum – Dar Abad