The City and Province of Tehran
The tourist who arrives for the first time in Tehran, hoping to take a look at the splendor of ancient Persia, will soon be
disappointed: Tehran has been a capital for two centuries and has undergone a constant repetition during this time. In consequence, the only traces of the country's long and turbulent history are hidden behind the walls of the museums. The modern city is a huge, polluted agglomeration that is hot and dusty in summer and is filled with seemingly insurmountable traffic problems. It has brought together almost 20 percent of the entire population of Iran and has expanded chaotically and too quickly. Nevertheless it is worth to spend a few days in Tehran, if you only see some of the priceless treasures that can be seen in his museums.
In addition to the political, economic and intellectual center of Iran, Tehran is also a provincial capital. The province of Tehran extends from the southern slopes of the Alborz Mountains to the desert of Dasht-e Kevir, and includes several Bergresorts, which are popular among the Tehranis who want to meet the heat and pollution of the inner city of Tehran. Karâj, 42 kilometers west of Tehran, has become popular since the construction of a dam near the Teheran to the unmistakable forms of Mount Demâvend (5,671 meters, 18,600 feet), an extinct volcano that offers good skiing, mountaineering and hiking. The road that surrounds the eastern flank of the volcano, to the upper Harâz Valley, from Ab-Ali through the villages of Polur and Reyneh and further to Amol and the coast, offers a particularly good view of the mountain. It is from these villages that climbers usually go for the summit.
Although today's Tehran is a modern city, the region around it has a long history. Remains of Neolithic settlements were discovered in the small town of Shahr-e Ray, about ten kilometers south of Tehran. During the Achaemenian dynasty Ray - at that time Ragâ or Rhages of the Greeks - was an important settlement. It was rebuilt by the Seleucids and remained the capital of the media among the Parthians and the Sassanians.
Partially destroyed after the Arab invasion, Ray was again rebuilt by the Abbasid caliphs and was the birthplace of Hârun al-Rashid (766-809). Early on, an important Shiite community was there as well as in the nearby cities of Qom and Kâshân. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, Ray was ruled by the Samanids, Ziyarids, Buyids, and Ghasnavids before falling into the hands of the Seljuq Turks (1038-1157). During the Mongol invasion (1120) Ray was dismissed and did not gain his previous meaning. A new city gradually developed in its place, Tehran.
The date of the establishment of Teheran is unclear, but probably occurred in the 11th century. Descriptions of foreign travelers in the 15th century mention the existence of a well-established city, but it was not until the reign of Safavid ruler Shâh Tahmâsp I (1524-1576) that it was protected by a fortified wall. Shâh Tahmâsp rebuilt the bazaar and added a citadel or badly, in the middle. Tehran.became a capital only in 1789, under Qâjâr rule, replaced Shiraz in this function, and in 1796 Aghâ Mohammed Khân was enthroned there. His successor, Fath Ali Shâh (1797-1833), continued the transformation of the city and built the mosque of Shâh, while Naser ad-Din (1848-1896) enlarged the walls and ordered the Sepahs mosque.
In the 19th century, the center of the city remained around the palace and the bazaar, the Arg, the old Safavid center. But during the reign of Rezâ Shâh (1925-1941), who preferred to live in his palaces in the west of the city or in Sa'ad Abâd, ten kilometers north, the map of Tehran was drastically changed. Great roads were cut to join these different areas, roads that still lie beneath the main streets of the modern city. This was the beginning of the development of the North-South vertical axis, which is so characteristic of Tehran. The old walls of Naser ad-Din, as well as the monumental tile ceilings were destroyed to create space for large boulevards. An attempt was made to create a modern city on a western model, with large avenues lined with trees and based on a raster plan.
In the 1950s and 1960s Tehran went through intensive urban development. At the beginning of the Pahlavi rule (1925) the city had only 210,000 inhabitants, but its population doubled over the next twenty years and reached in 1966 2.7 million. The station, built in the south of the city, prevented much planned urban development in this direction, and there the poor and the peasants who had just come out of the country lived in hastily built, overcrowded Shanty towns. In the north, between Tehran and the higher ground around Shemirân, residential and business districts for the middle classes and government workers were built in the areas of Takht-e Jamshid and Abbâs Abâd. As an empty land between Shemirân and the inner city was gradually filled, the zones in the east and west of the old vertical axis were also developed. By the end of the 1970s, the population had grown to 4.5 million. In order to meet increased residential demand, more and more new housing blocks were built in the empty areas, which still remained between the older districts.
Tehran today is the product of this decade-long uncontrolled urban growth, carried out without total, long-term plan. The city stretches over a radius of 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the center. The most coveted residential areas, where the air is less polluted and cooler in the summer, is located in the north, about ten kilometers from the center of the city and even further from the arms. Tehran is faced with a series of serious problems, including overcrowding (the current population is estimated at ten million), heavy air pollution and massive traffic jams that have prompted the local authorities to close the city center on weekend weekends.
A special feature of Tehran is still to be mentioned: the jubilation or open-air canals, which are lined with plane trees, which run along the main roads. The Jub network was originally used to distribute the drinking water brought from the mountains to the city through the Qanâts. While the water is certainly fresh,