A City Tour of Tehran
Teheran's most famous monument is probably the Azadi Tower, a triumphal arch in the white stone, which is 45 meters high and consists of a large center block, which is placed on four spread legs. Designed by a young Iranian architect, the tower was completed in 1971 for the celebration of the 2500th anniversary of the monarchy. Once called Shâhyâde, or 'Souvenir of the Shâh', it was again baptized Azâdi or freedom. The tower is located west of Tehran, at the intersection of the streets of the airport and Qazvin, and acts as a grand gate to the capital. A lift (if it works) takes the visitor to the top of the tower from where. (Smog allowed), there is a panoramic view of the sprawl of modern Tehran.
Under the tower is a cultural center with a library, a museum and art galleries exhibiting exhibitions of contemporary artists. Open every day except Saturdays from 9 am to 12 noon and from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm (tel. 6058191-2).
NORTH OF ENQELÂB AVENUE
THE CITY CENTRE
THE ARG AND THE BAZAAR
The area around the Arg (citadel), the ancient royal quarter, forms with the Tehran Grand Bazaar the primitive heart of Tehran as designed by Shâh Tahmãsp in the 16th century. Nothing remains from the Safavid arg, which is located between the present Nasser, Khosro and Khayyâm avenues and the 15th Khordâd Avenue (ex-Buzardjomehri), but its site is marked by the Golestân Palace and Gardens, dating from the Qâjâr dynasty.
This palace, the Rosary, was once the residence of the Qajar kings before it was used among the Pahlavi for certain ceremonies, such as the coronation of the last Shâh in 1967. The first floor was taken to a museum at a time; The famous peacock throne, which could be seen there, can now be seen with the royal jewels in the vaults of the Melli bench (see page 107). The gardens and main buildings of the palace are currently being restored and all visits are temporarily suspended.
Only one of the garden pavilions, where the Ethnographic Museum (muzeh-ye Mardom Shenâsi, entrance on the 15th Khordâd Avenue), is open to the public. This museum contains an interesting collection of everyday items from all regions of the country from the Qâjâr period, including wax models, a variety of household appliances, weapons and jewelery. On the first floor are some models of shops, as well as a display of accessories during the religious processions of Ashurâ, during the month of Moharram, including a large Nakhl or ceremonies Katafalque used. Open from 8 am until 2.30 pm, closed on Thursdays and Fridays. Tel 33110653
SHEMIRÂN AND THE NORTH OF TEHRAN
The Bazaar and the Imam Khomeini Mosque (Ex-Shâh's Mosque) are located just south of Golestâns. The mosque, begun at the beginning of the 19th century and completed in 1830, is today one of the oldest buildings in Tehran. Its main entrance is on the 15th Khordâd Avenue, but other doors lead directly into the bazaar: in the east, they join the plumbing lane and in the west the Grand Bazaar (bâzâr-e Bozorg) and the gold and silversmith's quarters. Although this mosque is not as architecturally interesting as some of the mosques in other cities, the proximity to the bazaar is one of the liveliest places in Tehran:
|Imam mosque Bazar|
The bazaar has always played a very important role in the economy and social life of Iran. In the widest sense, the Bazar is an organized system divided into guilds. It is rather rather conservative and controlled almost three quarters of the country's traffic, be it agricultural, artisan or even industrial products. The bazaar acts as an interface between the city and the country and has a close connection with the clergy. It is no coincidence that Friday mosques are so often beside or on the bazaar. The bazaar is an economic power that should not be underestimated as it has been shown on several occasions. If it senses that its interests are threatened, for example, by the state or by a foreign monopoly (such as during the events that led to the nationalization of the oil in 1951), the bazaar can close completely, a move that will be Can have economic consequences.
In an Iranian bazaar the shops are usually populated by profession; Thus a street can be occupied by carpet salesmen, another by Goldschmieden, and another by Coppersmiths. In Tehran the bazaar is particularly lively with the constant coming and going of men who load and unload an amazing variety of goods. The best way to visit the bazaar is to go through the 15th Chordâd Avenue entrance and follow one of the two main avenues, the Bâzâr-e Bozorg or the Bâzâr-e Kaffâshhâ, from which you can easily enter the labyrinth of small Can distribute the side streets leading to Friday and Imam Khomeini Mosques.
EXCURSIONS FROM TEHRAN
THE ADMINISTRATIVE AND BANKING QUARTERS
In an area north of Golestan Palace and Imam Khomeini Avenue are the ministries and other government offices, major branches of the big banks, the headquarters and some of the foreign embassies (British, French, Italian and German), Um Ferdusi and Jomhuri-ye Eslâmi avenues.
|Golestan Palace Shams- ol emare|
The Archaeological Museum (muzeh-ye Irân Bâstân), which houses one of the most important collections of objects from the pre-Islamic and Islamic periods, is located on Shâhid Yarjani Street parallel to Khomeini Avenue. (Two equally important collections can be found in the museums of Rezâ Abbâssi and Abgineh, see below). The museum was built in a style called Neo-Sassan by the French architect André Godard, director of the Iranian archaeological worship for almost thirty years until 1960.
Begin your visit to the museum with the space to the right of the entrance to keep the chronological order of the exhibits. The ground floor presents the pre-Islamic history of Iran, from the Neolithic period to the Sassan dynasty; It contains some very fine Neolithic pottery found at Tappeh-ye Sialk (fifth to first millennium BC); Vases of Marlik, Susa, Choga Zanbil and Turang Tappeh; A copy of the famous Hammurabian code from the second millennium BC, brought back from Babylon to Susa by an Elamite king (the original is in the Louvre Museum in Paris). Elamite vases from Tar from Susa (second millennium BC); Achaean bas-reliefs from Persepolis; A stone statue of the Achaemenian ruler Darius I, who was made in Egypt and returned by his son Xerxes (end of the sixth century BC), who was found in Susa in 1972; A remarkable little Lapis Lazuli head of an Achaemenian prince; A bronze statue of a Parthian prince, found at Shami (first or second century AD); A flat relief of the Parthian king Artabanus V (early 3rd century AD); And Sassanic mosaics from Bishapur, in Fârs (3rd century).
|National Museun Statue of a Parthian figure|
The first floor is dedicated to Islamic art and contains some magnificent Mechrab decorations (carved stucco from Dâmghân, Ray and Isfahan from the 10th and 11th centuries, a marble mechrab from Abarkuh, glazed tiles from Qom and Isfahan), carved wooden doors Fine mimbar of Fârs (14th century), as well as textiles, miniatures and illuminated manuscripts. Near the stairs is a model of the Tarik Khâneh Mosque in Dâmghân.
The museum is open from Saturday to Thursday from 9 am to 12 noon and from 1 pm to 4 pm. On Fridays and on holidays it is only open from 8.30 am until 11 am (tel. 672016-6).
After leaving the Archaeological Museum, turn right into Si-e Tir Street and drive to the Jomhuri Avenue and Si-e Tir Street Jomhuri-ye Eslâmi Avenue. Despite its small size, this museum is undoubtedly one of the best in Iran. If you have only a short time in Tehran, this is a place you should not miss. The building itself dates from the Qâjâr period; In the 1950s, it was home to the Egyptian embassy and was later bought by the commercial bank, before being transformed into a museum in 1976 (opened in 1980). The Abgineh Museum is not only interested in objects of exceptional quality, but also for the general presentation of the pieces. The layout of the interior was designed by Italian museologists in a very modern style. In many rooms, each object is individually presented in a columnar housing. It is a remarkable experiment although some visitors can find that the modern presentation collides with the turn of the century ceilings and floors and with the fine spiral staircase in the hall.
In the museum collections are some very fine glass, ceramic and crystal objects from the Achaemenian period up to the 19th century from excavations all over the country. Especially there is an excellent Achaemenian glass bowl on the ground floor and some very nice kâshân ceramics on the first floor. Books, slides and postcards are available at the shop. Open from 9am to 5pm every day except Mondays (tel. 66456930).
Still in the same area, on Ferdusi Avenue, stands the large building of the main offices of Melli Bank. In their vaults are the Iranian crown jewels (muzeh-ye Javâherât), a huge jewelry collection and precious and semi-precious stones of unpredictable value, the result of centuries of warfare, inheritances and gifts. (see more).
The most famous of these jewels is undoubtedly the Darya-i-Nur, a 182-carat diamond brought back from New Delhi by Nâder Shâh in the 18th century (its sister stone, the Koh-e Nur, Mountain of Light, was acquired by the British and is now in the Tower of London).
The peacock throne (once at the Golestân Palace) was also brought back from New Delhi by Nâder Shâh. According to some sources, this is not the actual Indian throne, but a copy of Fath Ali Shâh (1797-1833) made for a lover. Among the countless other treasures that can be seen here are the Pahlavi crown, made in 1924 by a jeweler from Bukhara and set with 3,380 diamonds, five emeralds1 two sapphires and 368 pearls on a red background; A gold belt with 175 carat emerald; A globe weighing 40 kilos (88 pounds) and set with 51,000 gems; And cases full of stones, aigrettes, tiaras and brooches. If you've never seen what a handful of uncut diamonds looks like, this is the place.
For visits only two days a week, Tuesdays and Sundays, from 2 pm to 4.30 pm (tel. 33110102-9). Needless to say, photography is not allowed inside the vault. Children under 15 years of age are not permitted.
In the east of Imam Khomeini Avenue, near Vali-e Asr Avenue and Felestin Street, is the building of the Majlis (parliament), which housed the Senate, and the marble palace (Takht-e Marmar), the residence. From the last Shâh, now closed to the public.
Bahârestân Square, east of Imam Khomeini Avenue, was once the site of a Qâjâr Palace, but is now overlooked on the north side by the Ministry of Islamic.