The city of Tehran has a population in excess of seven million (some believe the population to be much more). It is the capital of Greater Tehran, and of Iran. Southern parts of Tehran are 1,110 m above sea level and the northern parts 1,700m. Not many centuries ago Tehran was a village close to the prosperous city of Ray. Then the Mongols invaded and sacked ray which forced a part of the population to move to the surrounding villages, Tehran in particular. In the Safavid era, mainly the 16th century, Tehran began to prosper and developed. A wall or fortification was built around it which had towers and gates. When Agha Mohammad Khan took over the power (1796) and proclaimed himself the king, thus founding the Qajar Dynasty, he made Tehran his capital and from then Tehran truly developed. Buildings were put up one after the other throughout the era of the Qajar and even much more rapidly during the last three-quarters of a century when many factories were put up around the city.
As Tehran developed, and especially as its industries expanded, people from all over Iran migrated to the capital. During the last two hundred years, the city of Tehran has witnessed many staggering social and political upheavals, the Constitutional Uprising and Islamic revolution being the pinnacles of social and political strife of the nation. Presently, Tehran, as the capital of the county, is the city where all the ministries and major organizations, as well as the most prominent centers of art culture museums, universities, publishers, embassies… are to be found. Many cultural developments have occurred during the last decade. Today, there are forty museums displaying the many Iranian arts and the various aspects of Iranian life. In the recent years a large number of cultural centers have been created, each known as a Farhang Sara (House of Culture). These are centers mainly for the youth, where artistic and cultural activities are encouraged and facilitated and where the youth can find the means of proper relaxation and amusement. Each center has a number of cinemas, theatres, sports centers, libraries, art galleries, classes for learning to work with computers etc. These centers have played a significant role in the development of the youth by providing means of recreation for them and raising the standards of their knowledge and know-how. Bahman (40,000 m2) in the south of the city, Khavaran in the southeast, and Shafagh and Niavaran in the north are but a few of these, created by Tehran municipality. Furthermore, Tehran has many art galleries where painters, photographers and other artists display their works. There are also about 100 cinemas and theatres that present the latest films and plays. Also, there are many cyber coffee shops which provide internet services. Over 1,000 publications: newspapers, weekly, monthly and seasonal magazines, are published in Iran and almost all the major dailies are published in Tehran in Persian, naturally, but some in English, Arabic and Turkish.The national Library, the library of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and the Library of Tehran University are Tehran’s largest libraries. Tehran international exhibition Grounds, 1.3 million square meters, has 62 halls in which numerous artistic. Although Tehran has a rather short history compared to such cities as Hamedan, Isfahan, Shiraz, and Tabriz, nonetheless it is, today, the center of almost all major social, economic, political and cultural activities of the entire country.
The province of Tehran, or the Greater Tehran, covers an area of 19,196 km2 on the southern slopes of Alborz Mountains extending from the mountains to the plain below, and further down to the outskirts of the desert to its south. The province of Qazvin and the central province lie on its west, the provinces of Semnan on its east, Mazandaran on its north and Qom on its south. The city of Tehran is the capital of this province, and the other major towns are Eslamshahr, Damavand, Firozkooh, Karaj, Pakdasht, Robot Karim, Ray, Savojbolagh, Shahryar, Shemiranat, and Varamin. The province has 12 cities and 38 towns. In 1996 the population of Tehran was 11,176,239 most of who lived in this city of Tehran and Karaj. More than half of the populations are migrants who have moved to the province in the recent years. The predominant language is Persian although people from almost all parts of Iran may be found there. This province is one of the most prominent industrial centers of Iran and is home to some 40% major industrial units, i.e. factories and plants. Its main agricultural produce include wheat, barley, maize, potatoes, grapes, vegetable and fruits. Its best fruits are peaches and cherries.
The province’s most significant industry is the metal industry, notably auto-vehicle manufacturing, and home appliances, steel pipes and profile production. Food processing is another major activity and includes sugar and vegetable oil refining and production of biscuits, chocolates, soft drinks, preserved foods and meat products. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals; textiles and leather products; electric and electronics; cellulose, and non-metal minerals are also produced in this province. The province has a number of mines which provide ores that give copper, lead, iron, and manganese. It also has deposits of limestone and kaolin.
The climate of this province is the result of the interaction of two important natural phenomena; the mountainous regions to the north and the almost desert land of Dashte Kavir to the south. Each of these regions affects some part of the province. The northern parts are rather cool with long, bitter cold winters. The cities that lie in these parts, such as Firoozkooh and Damavand, are some of the coldest cities of Iran in winter, and have mild and short summers. In the southern parts, the province is warm and dry. Varamin, Shahryar and Ghods lie in the south. The average temperature in Tehran is 20.3°C in spring, 28.8°C in summer, 13.8°C in autumn and 5.3°C in winter. In a climate logical study carried out over a span of 30 years, the average minimum temperature was established to be 11.9°C and average maximum 22.5°C. The maximum absolute temperature was 43°C, the minimum absolute -15°C, and the overall average 17.2°C. The average relative humidity at 06:30 hours was 51% and at 12:30 hours 33%. Average annual rainfall was 240 mm and the maximum amount of rainfall on a single day, 47 mm. The average number frosty days were 47.9 and the average number of sunny days per year, 2,956.9. The speed of the heaviest wind was 24.5 meters per second blowing in the direction of 270°.
Major natural features
The major river in this province is the Karaj which originates in the Alborz mountains west of the city of Tehran and is 245 km long. There is an enormous dam built on this river called Amir Kabir dam which provides a goof part of the provinces’ potable water and is also used for extensive irrigation. The reservoir behind it is an artificial lake frequently used for water sports and competitions. The reservoir and the river below it provide great opportunities for recreation, and most of the inhabitants of Tehran and Karaj go there on the weekends and other holidays. River Karaj runs along most of the length of the karaj-Chalous road and attracts thousands of picnickers and campers in summer and spring. Jajrood, 140 km long, is another of the province’s rivers, to the east of the city (of Tehran). There is also a dam on this river known as Latyan Dam, which, just as in case of the other, provides a part of the water needed by the province for the inhabitants and for irrigation and offers great recreation opportunities for the people of the city. Lar Dam is the third largest dam in this province.
Behrood and Taleghanrood run in the west of the province and Hablerood in the northwest, the banks of which attract many tourists and picnickers. Lakes Mamj and Tar near Damavand lie in the heart of the highlands at an altitude of 2,500m. The views of both lakes are indeed magnificent and provide delightful grounds for camping as well as daily visits. Avan near Taleghan and Ahang near Firoozkoh are another two lakes in this province. Ab Ali mineral water spring, northeast of Tehran city, provides water that is rich in calcium bicarbonate. The water from this spring is bottled in a factory close by, and shipped to all part of Iran. Ghaledokhtar on Tehran-Amol road and Ask to the west of the city and Larijan hot water spring, are other mineral water sources. The province’s frozen waterfall called Yakhkooh (Ice Mountain) is a unique sight, indeed. The province’s major caves are Zardgol close to Lar, Boornik not far from the road to Damavand and Afshan also close to Damavand. The Alborz mountain range forms a natural boundary that separates Tehran from the provinces that lie on the coast of the Caspian. The highest peak in this range is that of Mount Damavand with 5,636 m high. This mountain is a dormant volcano and in the center of the volcano, there is a small lake, some 30 m deep, that is frozen most of the year. The vast slopes that descend from this mountain are covered in tulips in springtime. The peak is a favorite with mountaineers who often attempt to climb up to the top. There are many natural ice-stores on the slopes of this mountain, large cavities in the rocks that become filled with snow and rain that turn to ice, in winter. These charming natural features make Mount Damavand one of the loveliest peaks in the world. The peak can be seen from the capital, Tehran, and has become a symbol of the nation.
Mount Tochal is close to Tehran, and so, quite naturally many inhabitants climb up this mountain as a pass-time and for exercise. There are three peaks in this series of mountains: Saretochal, 3,960 m; Shahneshin, 3,900 m; and Ghazghoonchal, 3,850 m. Saretochal is only 15 km away from the capital and has an aerial cable-car system from the city to almost the top. The cable-car stops at seven stations, the fifth of which is 3,000m above sea level and the last, the seventh, 3,700 m. A large number of shelters have been built on these heights where mountaineers may rest. Shirpala, Palangchal and kolakchal are the main ones. These mountains, to the north of the city, provide excellent slopes for skiing and some of these ski resorts are known worldwide. There is good accommodation for tourists/skiers, training facilities and other leisure opportunities in these resorts. Ab Ali slope provides excellent skiing conditions and is not far to the east of Tehran.
There is a sport complex in Ab Ali that provides opportunities for horse riding, tennis and flying with kites, in addition to skiing. Shemshak slopes, east of Tehran city and Dizin slopes on the road to the Chalous, and Tochal slopes are other major ski resorts. Dizin is equipped with various means of going to the top, such as the aerial cable-car, chair lifts, T-bars etc. These slopes also provide skiing over grass. Indeed, the year 2000 international grass-ski games were actually held there. On the mountain slopes, to the north of the city, and on the banks of the province’s rivers, there is great opportunity for picnicking and spending leisure time, especially on the weekends. The Evin-Darakeh axis, north of Tehran, Oshan-Fasham axis northeast, Kan-Solooghan West and the valley of Chalous on Karaj-Chalous road, are major centers of attraction which offer delightful views and refreshing air, especially in spring and autumn. There are also many man-made forests around Tehran which are frequently used as parks by the inhabitants. Chitgar (on Tehran-Karaj road), Sohanak, Vardavard and Lavizan are the major forest-park. The province of Tehran has many protected areas and national parks, which immensely help its ecosystem. The Jajrood protected area is home to many animal and plant species. Sorkheh hesar (9,380 ha) and Khojeir (1,570 ha) are national parks. Jajrood protected region is 5,160 ha. These areas have mountain slopes and steppe types of vegetative covers and are home to such wildlife species as the leopards, ram, wild goat, gazelle boar… as well as such birds as the partridge, green duck, white and gray heron, rook, eagle…
The protected desert area (670,000 ha ) southeast of Tehran, is an example of dry and arid ecosystem where a limited range of Fauna that can survive the climate, exists. The wild ass, leopard, panther, wolf, hyena, fox and rabbit as well as 36 groups of bird species, live in this desert safe from human beings. The city of Tehran has many parks, large and small, which provide the inhabitants with greenery and places where to relax. These include Eram (west of Tehran) which encompasses the Zoo, and Laleh, Shahr, Mellat, and Jamshidieh parks.
Tehran has many varied museums in which a large number of artistic works or archeological findings can be seen. In those museums which display archeological findings the remains of objects belonging to ancient times, even prehistoric periods, can be seen from which one can learn much about the past. Some of Tehran’s museums are among the best in the entire world.
The major museums are as follows:
Museum of Glassware & Ceramics of Iran: Museum of earthenware, glassware, ceramics, chinaware, and crystal objects. The building of this museum is a marvel in itself.
Behzad Museum: Museum of paintings of the great master Hussein Behzad.
Ethnological Research Museum: Museum of ethnology & anthropology.
History Museum: In this museum parts of history are put on display through paintings, models and films.
Natural History Museums: Museums of stuffed animals.
History Museums: Museums of Modern history.
Money Museum: Museum of coins and banknotes dating back to different eras.
Zoological Museum: Museum of stuffed animals.
Jahannama Museum: Museum of ancient and historic findings and contemporary visual and creative arts of Iran and the world.
Museum of National Jewels: Museum of unique jewelry such as the Daryaye Noor diamond that weighs 182 carats. Among other jewelry of this museums can be mentioned Takhte Tavoos which consists of 26,733 pieces of jewels.
Dr Hesabi’s Museum: Museum of books, medals and personals belongings of Dr Hesabi, the great contemporary Iranian physicist.
Haftchenar Nature & wildlife Museum: Stuffed as well as live birds and fish are kept in this museum.
Saba Residence: Museum of musical instruments and personal belongings of Abulhassan Saba, the contemporary Iranian musician.
Mir-Emad Calligraphy Museum: A collection of calligraphic works showing the trend of development of calligraphy in Iran throughout the ages.
Islamic Period Museum: Museum of articles related to different stages of the Islamic period.
Reza Abbasi Museum: This museum is divided into two parts of pre-Islamic and Islamic periods. Works of art belonging to prehistoric, historic and Islamic periods are put on display in this museum.
Presidency Museum: The gifts which have been presented to the presidents are kept in this museum.
Geological Museum: Museum of different kinds of fossils.
Coin Museum: Museum of coins.
13 Aban Museum: Museum of statues and sketches by master Sanati.
Cinema Museum: Museum of photographs, equipments and documents related to the history of the cinema.
Shohada (Martyrs) Museum: Museum of works and personal belongings of the martyrs of the imposed war.
Darabad Nature & Wildlife Museum: Museum of stuffed animals.
Carpet Museum of Iran: Museum of valuable old and new carpets, rugs and kilims.
Rassam Arabzadeh Carpet Museum: Museum of numerous carpets and carpet designs.
Sabz (Green) Palace-Museum: Iranian carpets, furniture, Chinaware, Chandeliers… are put on display in this museum.
Sahebqaraniyeh Palace-Museum: Historic and artistic works and articles are put on display in this museum.
Golestan Palace-Museum: This complex consists of a most impressive building of the 19th century and the furniture and decorative items belonging to it.
Mellat Palace-Museum : Museum of contemporary arts including paintings, statues, earthenware, ceramics.
Niavaran Palace Museum: Museum of contemporary works of art, notably precious carpets, statues, chinaware.
Azadi Cultural Complex: items dating back to the pre-Islamic down to Qajar eras are put on display in this complex.
Ethnological Museum: articles related to the manner of living ethnic peoples of Iran, in the past and today, are kept in this museum.
National Museum of Iran: This museum is one of the most reputable museums of the world, with articles dating back to as long as 1000 years ago.
Post & Telegraph Ministry Museum: Museum of stamps and telecommunications equipment.
Fine Arts Museum: paintings from different schools of paintings of Iran and the world are put on display in this museum.
Contemporary Arts Museum: this museum, with its impressive architecture, is the place where paintings belonged to the great painters of Iran and the world, such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Claude Maunet, George Jebraque are put on display. Also the statues of Marino Marini, Parviz Tanavoli, Rene Marquarite, and Henry Moore are kept in the statue garden of this complex.
National Art Museum: Museum of Iranian handicrafts and miniatures.
Other Museum of Tehran
Museum of Janbazane Enghelabe Eslami, Iran Decorative Arts Museums, Military Museum, Institute of Cultural Luminaries (or: Glory) and works Medicinal plants Museum, Herbarium Collection, Morvarid (Pearl) Museum-Palace (Karaj), Islamic Consultative Assembly’s Museum, Permanent Exhibition of Aircraft, Hatami Cinematic Estate, Akkas Khaneh Shahr (Photography Center), Museum of Agricultural Machinery, Air force Museum, Power Industry Museum, Kelk Museum and Abcar Museum.
Name: Shrine Of Imam Khomeini (RH) Type: Shrine. Description: The shrine of founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran attracts a large number of visitors from throughout Iran and the world, each year. This is one of the most prominent shrines which have recently been built. The four minarets around the shrine are 91m high, indicating the age of Hazrat Imam Khomeini (R.H.) at the time of his death.
Name: The Threshold of Hazrat Abdulazim
Type: Shrine. Description: This is the place where Hazrat Abdulazim, one of the descendents of Imam Hassan, the second Imam of Shias, is buried. This complex consists of mosques, mausoleums and tombs. A large number of holy men, scientists, statesmen and Qajar kings are buried there. The original building of this complex is one of the most admirable historic monuments of Tehran, and displays exquisite gilding, and mirror and inlaid works. There is a very precious wooden coffer in this building.
Name: Golestan Palace
Type: A complex of Royal Palaces. Description: The construction of this complex began in the times of Shah Abbas the Safavid, and was completed later, during the Qajar era. This complex consists of several palaces and gardens. Its palaces have numerous halls with truly fine decorations.
Name: Azadi Square and MonumentType: Cultural Complex, square, arch. Description: This complex lies in the west of Tehran. Azadi Arch is located at the center of this large square, which is considered as the symbol of Tehran city. This square covers an area 50,000m, and the Arch is 400 m2 in area and 45m high. There are a museum and a cultural center in the basement of the Arch.
Name: Tehran Bazaar
Type: A complex of Bazaar and Buildings. Description: This complex consists of a large number of shops which lie on labyrinthine alleys. Tehran Bazaar consists of different sections or rastehs, each of which concentrates on offering a specific group of goods or services. Among them one can mention paper and stationary, home appliances and chandeliers, electrical and electronics, handicrafts, clothes etc.
Name: Toghrol Tower
Type: An old towerDescription: This tower, which is 20 m high, was renovated in 1883 A.D. It is a reminder of the Seljuq era.
Name: House of Imam Jome’h
Type: Residential house. Description: This house is decorated with impressive plaster works and plaster carvings.
Name: Imam Khomeini (Soltani) Mosque
Type: Mosque. Description: This splendid and well-know mosque has impressive plaster work and a huge dome, which is truly a sight to see.
Name: Shahid Motahhari Complex
Type: Mosque, school and library. Description: This building, which has exquisite tile work and a fascinating architecture, consists of a mosque with its grand dome, a large and beautiful school, and a library. Its dome is 37 m high.
Name: Varamin Jame Mosque
Type: Mosque. Description: This mosque, with its grand dome, is the most prominent monuments in Varamin city.
Name: Imamzadeh Yahya
Type: Shrine. Description: This shrine displays a grand dome and impressive plaster work.
Name: Zahir-ol-Doleh Graveyard
Type: Graveyard. Description: A large number of contemporary poets, artists and writers are buried in this small graveyard.
Name: Saint Serkis’s Church
Type: Church. Description: This fine church is located at the center of Tehran, and is the one of the prominent religious centers of Christians.
Name: Tatavoos Church
Type: Church. Descriptions: This is one of the oldest churches in Tehran, and Iranian Christians feel great veneration for it.
Damavand: Jome’h (Friday) Mosque, Imamzadeh Hashem, sheikh Shebil’s Tomb, Bibi Shahr Banu’s Tomb
Ray: Seljuq Historic City, Haroon prison, Iraj Castle, Javan Marde-e Ghasab’s Tomb
Tehran: Yaghoot, Sahebqaraniyeh, Baharestan, Eshrat Abad; Darolfonoon School, Palaces of Shamsolemareh, Sepahsalar Mosque, Bagh Ferdows, Rajab Ali Mosque, Sheikh Abdul Hussein Mosque, Imamzadeh Davood, Imamzadeh Abdullah, Imamzadeh Saleh, Imamzadehs Eyn Ali and Zeyn Ali.
The heavy migration from the provinces to Tehran has created a rich variety of handicrafts. In the major chain-stores such as Shahrvand, Gods and Refah, in the airports and bus terminals, and in many specialized shops across the city one finds exquisite carpets, kilims, Jajims, pillow-covers, wood work, inlaid work, ceramics and glass articles (delightful colored tumbles, jars, vases…)