Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran province. The city's population was approximately 8.7 million and Tehran province population was 12.5 million according to a 2016 census.
It's clear that as the capital of a huge country, during the day the number of people in the city is a few million more than its inhabitants and as a result there is treble the amount of traffic in the streets.
The city's altitude in the north is high; as Tehran is located at the foot of the towering Alborz mountain range; and in the south it is lower which is approximately 900 to 1,830 m above sea level.
The highest mountain peak in Iran, Damavand, is located near Tehran. Except for the height of this mountain, it is one of the most important mountains of Iran as it has been mentioned as an important location in Ferdowsi's Šhanāme, the Iranian epic poem that is based on the ancient legends of Iran.
Tehran has a dry climate which is constantly cool, at least in the evenings, with a lot of mountains, parks and gardens where flowers blossom throughout the year. There are alleys of trees in the avenues or smaller streets, and water runs down from the upper city along deep and wide gutters which look like small rivers during the spring.
Tehran is the most populous city in Iran and Western Asia and it has the second-largest metropolitan area in the Middle East. It is ranked the thirtieth most populated city in the world and is famous for its horrific traffic.
Tehran was first chosen as the capital of Iran by Agha Mohammad Khan of the Qajar dynasty in 1796. This was due to its strategical location, as the Northern territories of Iran were engaged in war at the time.
The city was the seat of the Qajars and Pahlavis, the last two monarchies of Iran in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is home to many historical collections, including the royal complexes of Golestan, Sa'dabad, and Niavaran.
Large scale demolition and rebuilding began in the 1920s, and Tehran has been a destination for mass migrations from all over Iran since the 20th century.
The majority of the population of Tehran are Persian-speaking people and roughly 99% of the population understands and speaks Persian, but there are large groups of other Iranian ethnicities such as Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Lurs, and Kurds who live in Tehran and speak Persian as their second language.
Tehran is served by the domestic airports of Mehrabad and the International Airport of Imam Khomeini (IKA), a central railway station, the rapid-transit system of Tehran Metro, a bus rapid transit system, trolleybuses, and a large network of highways.
There have been plans to relocate Iran's capital from Tehran to another area due mainly to air pollution and the city's exposure to earthquakes. To date, no definitive plans have been approved. According to the Global Destinations Cities Index in 2016, Tehran is among the top ten fastest growing destinations.
The settlement history in Tehran dates back to 7,000 year's ago. According to evidence, Tehran was a part of the Median Empire and a suburb of Rhages or Raga.
Rhages is the twelfth sacred place created by Ohrmazd (God), In the Avesta's.
In the Behistun or Bistun inscription of Darius, the Great, the name of Rhages is mentioned. In middle Persian documents, Rhages is given as the birthplace of Zoroaster, although modern historians generally place the birth of Zoroaster in Khorasan.
Rhages's modern day inheritor (Ray) is a city located towards the southern end of Tehran which has been absorbed into the metropolitan area of Greater Tehran.
In the middle 7th century, Rhages or Ray and its suburbs were populated but after the Arab invasion they were destroyed.
In the 9th century, Tehran was a well-known village but less known than the city of Rhages, that was flourishing nearby.
In the 13th century, the Mongols invaded Rhages. The city was ruined and many of its inhabitants were killed by them. Following the invasion many of the city's inhabitants escaped to Tehran.
In The early 15th Tehran was still a small village.
In the early 17th for the first time Tehran is described as a city.
In the early 18th century, Karim Khan of the Zand dynasty ordered a palace and a government office to be built in Tehran but he later moved his government to Shiraz. Eventually, Qajar king Agha Mohammad Khan chose Tehran as the capital of Iran in 1776.
Agha Mohammad Khan's choice of his capital was based on a similar concern for the control of both northern and southern Iran. He was aware of the loyalties of the inhabitants of former capitals Isfahan and Shiraz to the Safavid and Zand dynasties respectively and was wary of the power of the local notables in these cities. The Qajar dynasty was in a period of decline and Tehran soon took the shape of a modern city. It was at the time of Nassereddin Shah(in the mid 19th century) that the city's master sketch was prepared and modern streets were constructed.
In the 20th century, Tehran was engaged in rapid development as the capital of Iran, but a great deal of the most important political achievements or fails happened there during that time.
Civil wars and chaos from the constitutional revolution (1906); nationalization of the Iranian oil industry; transferring the royal throne from the Qajar dynasty to Pahlavi dynasty (1920); The First and Second World War effects on Iran and occupation by the Soviet Union and British troops; demonstrations against the Pahlavi dynasty; the Islamic Revolution(1978) of Iran; and the war with Iraq (1980-1988).
Tehran is a cosmopolitan city with great museums, parks, restaurants, and warm friendly people.
Those who don't have time to visit the other cities of Iran should visit Tehran for its many museums, palaces and mosques which are the best places to get familiar with Iranian culture, art, religion and history. Except for historical monuments and palaces, the Alborz mountain range is a great natural view for the city and provides fantastic conditions for ski fans in the winter. Two of Iran's biggest ski resorts are one-two hours from the north of Tehran in the Alborz Mountains.
As Tehran has more than 50 museums and 100 art galleries here is a list of the most important tourist attractions in Tehran.
1. Azadi Tower and Museum: The Azadi Tower was built by the order of the Mohammad Reza Shah in 1971. It was designed by Hossein Amanat an architect who won a competition to design the monument combining elements of classical Sassanian architecture with post-classical Iranian architecture.
2. Milad Tower: Milad tower is the sixth tallest tower in the world and 435m in height. It was opened in 2009.
3. Grand Bazaar: It is a huge historical market that is located in southern Tehran.
4. Golestan Palace: The oldest historic monument in Tehran. The complex consists of seventeen palaces, museums, and halls. The Golestan (Rose Garden) citadel is one of the most visited places in Tehran that had been occupied by Safavid, Zandiyeh, Qajar and Pahlavi royalty.
5. Niavaran Palace: It is an historical complex that consists of several buildings and a museum. The Sahebqraniyeh Palace from the time of Naser al-Din Shah of Qajar dynasty is also located inside the complex.
6. Saadabad Palace: It is a palace built by the Pahlavi dynasty of Iran in the Shemiran area of Tehran. The complex was first inhabited by Qajar monarchs and royal family in the 19th century. Currently parts of the Saadabad Palace compound are museums.
7. Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini.
8. National Library of Iran.
9. Tehran City Theatre.
10. Theatre of the Performing Arts or Te'atr e Shahr: architect Ali Sardar Afkhami designed the main building in the 1960s, later expanded.
11. Baharestan: the historic Iranian parliament building, inaugurated in 1906.
12. Senate of Iran (Kakh-e Majles-e Sena): designed by architect Heydar Ghiaï, the construction was led by Rahmat Safai. The dome is one of the most technically challenging projects in the entire endeavour.
13. Rashkan Castle.
14. Toopkhaneh (Imam Khomeini Square; Tūpkhūneh; Cannon House): a major town square (Maidan-e Toopkhaneh,) and a neighbourhood in the southern central district of Tehran.
Museums and galleries
1. National Museum of Iran: contains some of the most precious and significant artefacts from ancient Persia (dating back to 5,000 BC,) and post-Islamic Persia (800AD). The building itself is a masterpiece from 1930s Iran.
2. Treasury of the National Jewels: the largest collection of jewels found anywhere in the world. You'll get to see the collection of jewels including, the Darya-e-Noor diamond, (the sister diamond to the Koh-i-Noor diamond). Other highlights include the world's largest uncut ruby and a free-standing golden globe made from thirty-four kilograms of gold and an astounding 51,366 precious stones.
3. Carpet Museum & National Rug Gallery: exhibits a variety of Persian carpets from all over Iran dating from from 18th century to the present. It has a library that contains 7,000 books.
4. Reza Abbasi Museum: named after Reza Abbasi an artist in the Safavid period. The collections of this museum belong to a period from the 2nd millennium BC to the early 20th century.
5. Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art: features the works of great artists such as Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. A collection of these paintings were selected by the former Empress Farah Diba. Do not expect to see these works as they are kept in the cellar most of the time. The museum is used mostly for exhibits of Iranian and Arab artists.
6. Abgineh Museum (Glassware Museum).
7. Khaneh Honarmandan (Artists' House).
8. Malek National Museum and Library.
9. Ebrat Museum: the museum is the former prison of the Shah before the revolution.
10. Holy Defense Museum: a full experience of Iranian military history. The government has spared no expense on audio visual techniques, and a guide will escort you throughout the museum explaining in English the various exhibits (signs throughout are also in English). Outside see tanks, rockets and other vehicles of significant historical importance.
11. Tehran peace museum: the museum is mainly about the use of weapons of mass-destruction. Shocking to see the effects of poison gas.
12. Darabad Museum of Natural History: it is Iran's most famous museum for nature and wildlife.
13. Time Museum: it is embellished with various dazzling Iranian arts and crafts such as ornamental brickwork, arched ceilings decorated with paintings, plasterwork, tile work, nodular wood work and stone work. The garden includes biological clocks, sundials, and geologic measures of time. The building includes mechanical clocks, watches, calendars and a money museum. There are also various coins and banknotes from different historic periods.
14. Bagh-e Ferdows (The Mohammadieh Palace): it is part of a palace complex consisting of two castles; the North Castle and the South Castle of which the former has decayed. Since 2002 it is home to a Film Museum of Iran.
15. Safir Office Machines Museum: it was founded in 2008 by Frashad Kamalkhani (the museum owner). It includes a collection of early office machines.
16. Negarestan Garden: a big and beautiful garden and art gallery with an impressive collection of paintings created by contemporary Iranian painters.
17. Sangelach Theatre Hall, Tehran City Theater and Talar Vahdat Theater.
Zoos & Botanical gardens
1. National Botanical Gardens of Iran: it's area is about 150 hectares and is planned to be the main centre for horticulture and plant taxonomy in Iran. An herbarium of Iranian plants (TARI) is gradually being built-up and now consists of some 160,000 plants. Also, there are gardens with non-Iranian plants.
2. Tehran Zoological Garden (Eram Zoo).
1. Jamshidieh Park: it is in the Niavaran district at the base of the Kolakchal Mountain and is one of the most picturesque and beautiful parks in Tehran.
2. Niavaran Park: It is one of Tehran's famous and most pleasant public city parks. It is located within the Niavaran district.
3. Park Mellat: it is the largest park in Tehran situated in close proximity to the national television headquarters.
4. Ab-o-Atash Park: Tabiat Bridge
5. The Darband.
6. Darake is another entry point into nearby mountains. Like Darband, Darake hiking trail begins with tens of open-air restaurants alongside a stream.
1. Shemshak: it is close to Tehran and its steep slopes are considered more appropriate for expert skiers and boarders.
2. Dizin: Dizin is the larger resort with more facilities and is considered better for beginners and intermediates. The resorts generate some rivalry amongst the locals, with some 'Shemshakis' looking upon those who ski in Dizin as 'kids in the park' and see Shemshak as the place for 'true skiers'.
3. Tochal Sport and Recreational Complex.
4. Aab Ali.
Food and souvenirs:
Tehran has a high variety of all types of Iranian food, and they are famed for having the best Ghormeh Sabzi (a vegetable, meat and kidney bean stew.) It also has many souvenirs; as it's the centre of multi-culture for most Iranian people. The food quality and variety is of the highest standard in Iran.