Tehran, the capital of Iran since the 19th century, is now a megapolis of more than 14 million inhabitants. This is the scene where the politic events and social tumultes of the country have happened and made our contemporary history.
Rey, the ancient city which is mentioned in the historical texts is now one of its southern quarters, absorbed by the frenetic development of Tehran.
Its airports, universities and hospitals and commercial centers are the biggest and most modern in the country.
Otherwise, for the lovers of traditional shopping, a promenade in the bazzar and its galleries would be nice which is the longest of the country.
Tehran also offers its mountains, its ideal surrounding for walkers and ski lovers in winter.
Since the rural life is touched by the dryness and the lack of facilities for the necessary development in the small urban centers, exodus to the megapolis has been intensified specially after the Islamic revolution, without any appropriate urban development plan has been anticipated.
Tehran is the point of departure for the most tourists trips because the museums and palaces, allowing cultural and historical discussion topics to be explored for the rest of the journey.
Recently, the elegant architecture of modern bridge (Tabiat) became an attraction and the place for meetings of the youngs, and a scene of interactions between the travelers and the inhabitants.
Although, its inhabitants always complain of the pollution and its traffic but they like their city because it is dynamic and release a sense of energy.
For most Iranians, the ambiguous thought of the past politics, and the destiny in the front, The name if Tehran still bears a great deal of secrecy.
Tehran Attractions and Sights
Golestan Palace, or the Palace of Flowers, houses some of the capital’s oldest royal buildings and is one of the most prominent historic complexes in Iran. During the Qajar rule, this now UNESCO World Heritage site was considered as the political capital of the Qajar dynasty. It witnessed coronations of seven Qajar rulers as well as both of the Pahlavi kings.
As most of the buildings within the site date to the Qajar era, it is generally perceived as a Qajar palace complex. The true history of its origins, however, stretches far back to the Safavid period when, in 1580, Shāh Abbās I built a citadel in Tehran. Later on, between 1760 and 1767, Karim Khan Zand built a divān-khāneh (court or seat of the government) within the Safavid citadel and changed the main design of the complex. At present, only the Marble Throne Veranda and Karim Khāni Nook date to this period.
After Karim Khan’s death, Agha Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Qajar dynasty, took advantage of the ensuing civil unrest in Iran and expanded Qajar territory up to the cities of Tehran and Damghan. In 1795, he defeated the last king of the Zand Dynasty, Lotf Ali Khan, conquered Tehran the following year and declared himself the King of Iran. Aghā Mohammad Khan’s coronation at the Golestan Palace turned it into a place of unrivalled importance among the Qajar kings. Fat’h Ali Shah (1772-1834), who was also crowned here, commissioned further decoration and expansion of the palace complex.
Nāser al-Din Shah, impressed by the palaces he had visited in Europe, had the Palace extensively renovated, having it almost entirely reshaped. The complex did not undergo almost any changes until the fall of the Qajar dynasty in 1925.
Golestan Palace has subsequently witnessed coronations of the Pahlavi kings. During the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi, all the surrounding buildings known as andaruni or haramsara (domestic spaces that are reserved for the women of the palace and are inaccessible to adult males except for close relations) were completely demolished. These andaruni spaces, known as Farah-ābād during the reign of Fat’h Ali Shah, consisted of several interconnected, exquisite yards surrounded by rooms of various sizes intended for female dwellers of the royal harem who would spend their allocated time with the monarch here. There have always been numerous stories surrounding the haramsara, as told by the favorite wives of the kings, or stories about the famous clown Aziz al-Soltan or the coquetries of Babri Khan, the royal cat whose sudden disappearance made the residents of haramsara melancholic.
Marble Throne Veranda
In 1792, when Aghā Mohammad Khan conquered Shiraz, he had the paintings, curtains, mirrors, and marble slabs from Karim Khan’s citadel in Shiraz transferred to Tehran, which at that time already had a Zand divan-khāneh, and installed in the Marble Throne Veranda, built in 1807. The veranda contains elements from both Zand and Qajar periods.
In 1807, Fat’h Ali Shah ordered construction of a marble throne, which came to be known as Takht.e Tavous (the Peacock Throne), consisting in total of 65 pieces of marble brought from mines in Yazd, to be placed permanently in the veranda. Designed by Mirza Baba Shirazi (Naqqāsh Bāshi) and the stonecutter, Mohammad Ebrahim Esfahani, this 250-year-old throne was completed in four years, from 1747 to 1751. The jewel-studded throne is carried on the shoulders of angels and demons, referring to the story of Solomon’s flying throne. This is why the Peacock Throne is also called the Throne of Solomon. Seventeen verses on its upper side praise Fat’h Ali Shah and the throne itself.
The Marble Throne Veranda was used on ceremonial occasions and for royal receptions. During religious celebrations and other festivals, the king would sit on the throne while statesmen, royal courtiers, ambassadors and foreign envoys would pay him homage. In 1925, Reza Shah Pahlavi held a symbolic coronation in the Marble Throne Veranda before his official crowning.
Karim Khani Nook
Next to the Marble Throne Veranda, there is the second Zand monument, the Karim Khani Nook or Karim Khani Veranda which was Naser al-Din Shah’s favorite place of retreat, where he spent long hours in solitude. When looking at its earlier photos, the veranda has, alas, lost some of its original features. The stairway leading to the Karim Khani Nook has a tragic story of its own. Out of long-nurtured hate for Karim Khan, Agha Mohammad Khan had the Zand monarch’s body disinterred and reburied under the stairway. Later in 1925, Reza Shah Pahlavi ordered for Karim Khan’s bones to be reburied next to the Safavid King, Shah Soltan Hosein, in Qom. Some historians insist, however, that the remains were brought back to the Karim Khan Zand’S original grave in Shiraz.
One of the most interesting objects in the Karim Khani Nook is the tombstone of Naser al-Din Shah, assassinated in 1896. Brought here from the Shah Abdol Azim Shrine, it is a single piece of marble stone, bearing a life-like relief of the king carved by Abbas Gholi. More interesting, however, is the story, or rather stories, about the king’s assassination.
One common version among various divergent versions is that on April 29, 1896 Naser al-Din Shih attended the Shah Abdol Azim Shrine in Rey for prayer. Unlike other occasions, however, he ordered for the shrine to be kept open to the public. A man known as Mir-za Reza Kermani, taking advantage of this situation and bearing a petition in his hand, approached the king to ask for his favor. Once at the right distance, he pulled out a handgun and shot the king in the heart. In an attempt to save Naser al-Din Shah, a chair was brought from the private tomb of Badr family, which he was seated on. Faded traces of the king’s blood are still visible on the chair, placed in a corner of the main hall of the palace for the visitors to have a look at.
The rumor has it that in order to avoid any social unrest following the king’s death, it was decided to keep Naser al-Din Shah’s murder secret. The dead body of the king was, thus, placed into the royal coach (now kept in the National Car Museum of Iran) and sent to the Golestan Palace. However, in addition to the corpse of Shah-e Shahid (the Martyr King), there was another man in the couch who impersonated Naser al-Din Shah. Wearing white gloves, he would at times wave at people or touch his moustache in the same way as the dead king used to do. Once in the Golestan Palace, the body of the dead king was buried for a period of one year in the Royal Tekiyeh and later moved to the Abdol Azim Shrine.
Salam Hall (Audience Hall) or Museum Hall
As a passionate collector of unique pieces of art, Naser al-Din Shah converted the Salam Hall into a royal museum, so the valuable gifts from European officials could be kept there. He also ordered the demolition of Emarat-e Biruni (outdoor mansion), which had previously been used as the palace museum. The hall, nonetheless, continued to be used for the coronation of some Qajar kings and several royal receptions. The Salam Hall is also adorned with large, attractive chandeliers and eye-catching paintings by Kamäl al-Molk. To celebrate the coronation of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the objects on display in this hall were rearranged to what it looks like today.
The Mirror Hall and Salam Hall were built concurrently in 1874 to safeguard the Peacock Throne and the Imperial Throne. Abdul Hassan Mernār-bashi, also known as Sani’ al-Molk, had worked on the design of the hall in close cooperation with the then construction minister Mirza Yahyä Khan Moatamed At-Molk. On completion, renowned painter Kamal Al-Molk started working on his famous painting of the Mirror Hall. Incidentally, some jewels from the peacock Throne were stolen, thus putting the painter under suspicion and prolonging his work by five years.
Aaj (Ivory) Hall
Aaj is a Turkish word for “hunger” and the hall where the king’s guests were served food has, thus, become known as Aaj Hall. A note of caution, nonetheless, seems necessary here. In Persian, the word for ivory has exactly the same pronunciation as the word for hunger in Turkish, namely Aaj, and since there is a pair of elephant tusks in this hall, a gift to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi from the government of India, many Iranian visitors call the Aaj Hall the Ivory Hall.
Based on the available documents, construction of Shamsol Emareh started in 1866 and lasted two years. Designed by Moayer Al-Mamölek and built by Ali Mohammad Kashi, this five-storey high building was meant to stand out against the backdrop of one-storey buildings ot Tehran and was. thus. named Shamsol Emareh, meaning “the sun of all buildings.” Besides its height, Shamsol Emāreh was also the first building in Iran to be constructed with iron girders. Its other notable feature is the clock tower, located in the middle of the upper floor facade. The clock was a gift to Naser al-Din Shah from Queen Victoria of England.
The fifth floor of Shamsol Emāreh was known as Kolah Farangi. From there, using simple binoculars, the king ‘s wives could enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the Alborz Mountains.
According to historical records, on the inaugural day of Shamsol Emareh, a royal commander, general Mirza Hossein Khan, whispered ill-tended words into the ears of Naser al-Din Shah that the royal treasury had to take full responsibility for the construction expenses of the monument. General Doost Ali Khan Moayer al-Mamalek, passing by the very same moment, pledged to the Shah to personally take care of the expenses.
The Wind-Tower Building, built by the order of Fat’h Ali Shah in 1806, is surrounded by the most attractive places in the Golestan Palace. The majestic monument is decorated using a variety of architectural art techniques including mirrors. incrustation, gilding, wood carving, etc. Sash windows installed in this building are characteristic of Iranian architecture.
The most conspicuous element of the building, however, is its four wind-towers trapping the wind and channelling it to Howz-Khaneh in the basement and then funnelling the cooled air back into the interior spaces. This ingenuity would ensure the flow of pleasant air inside the interior spaces. There have also been numerous stories associated with the Wind Tower Building. It is said that once, when Tehran was experiencing one of its hottest summers and Mozafar al-Din Shah was getting for his coronation, a decision was made to hold the coronation in this tower to escape the scorching heat.
Furthermore, Kamal al-Molk resided in this building for a while. During the rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, it was used as the royal library. According to Moayer al-Molk, beautiful birds of different species were kept around the pool in the basement of the building. Presently, Howz Khaneh houses a photo-gallery, whose many photos were taken by Naser al-Din Shah himself.
Iran-e-Bastan, Archaeological Museum,
The most important archaeological museum in Iran, built in the 1930s under the supervision of André Godar, the French architect, to welcome and house the findings from archaeological missions throughout Iran. The entrance was inspired by the magnificent arch of ctisphon palace.
The building has two floors. The first floor reserved for the Paleolithic & prehistoric periods and the ground floor, intended for
the historical periods. Totally the museum covers almost 400000 years time span.
pottery is most abundant item in the museum which also serves as an index in the archeological chronology.
Among the most remarkable showcases we can indicate the one which shows a collection of stamp seals (stamp, signifying the signatures in Antiquity)
and cylindrical seals (mainly used in commerce) and tokens, functioned as delivery note in ancient time
A display case features artifacts from Shahr-e-Soukhteh (the burnt city) that is a site in the southeastern region of Iran in the 3rd millennium B.C. One of the most exciting object is a goblet showing the oldest animated painting in the human history.
A very rich collection of bronze objects from louristan, shows objects of high artistic refinement such as horse bit, pins and funerary artifacts.
A large bas-relief brought from Persepolis showing Xerexes and other courtiers.
A headless statue of Darius from Susa and mosaics from Bishapour (Sassanid period) are other significant objects in the museum.
The location of the museum is in the vicinity of some other museums including Islamic period museum and glassware museum.
The Royal treasury of Iran
The Royal treasury, probably an unparalleled collection in the world is currently housed in the basement of the Iran Melli Bank. The accumulation of this treasure dates back to the Safavid era in the 17th century. After the conquest of India by Nader Shah, he brought back a great deal of precious stones including the two largest pink diamond in the world, sea of light and mount of light. The latter later possessed by british army and is now on the crown of the queen.
In the Qajar era, once again, Fath Ali shah took possession of it and the personal interest of the Qajar kings added quite a few new gems to it, which were partly bought and some counted among the diplomatic gifts.
In 1937 a law required that the treasury be transferred to the Melli (national) bank as the financial endowment of national currency.
The treasury has been prepared and opened to the public with very restricted visiting times.
Among the unique jewels, we can name
The crown of the Pahlavi Dynasty of 2080 grams, used by Reza and Mohammadreza Shah in their coronation ceremony. The famous diamond Daraye-Noor (sea of light) of 182 carats in pink color.
The Kiani crown, belonged to Fath Ali shah and other Qajar kings, set with a 120 carat garnet.
The jeweled globe, made in 1869 by the order of Nasserdin-shah was made basically with 3656 grams of gold with 51366 precious stones mounted on it.
The peacock throne (in Persian named Tawouss, beloved of Fath Ali Shah) dating from the beginning of the 19th century.
Note the visiting hours are from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Open Saturday through Tuesday under strict control.
Extra Attractions and Sights
Saad Abad Palace
(Keyword: Saadabad Palace / Saadabad Palace Collection)
Saadabad Palace or in other words Saadabad Palace collection is a collection of palaces and royal buildings in an area of 110 hectares at the foot of Tochal Mountain located in the north of Tehran.These buildings were originally inhabited by court officials during the Qajar period in a much smaller area, but Reza Shah took possession of it after the coup of 1920 and during its reign greatly expanded it and increased the number of palaces, then Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s family settled there after his coronation in the 1970s. This huge and extraordinary complex has 8 gates, 12 aqueducts and 20 palaces.
The gates of Saadabad Palace
The gates of Saadabad Palace include:
1) Nezamieh Gate
2) Zafaranieh Gate
3) Darband street gate
4) Darband Square door
5) Jafarabad Gate (First)
6) Jafarabad Gate (Second)
7) River gate
8) White House Gate
Out of these 8 gates, currently only the gates of Darband and Zafaranieh are open to the public.
Saadabad Palace Complex
Most of the palaces of this magnificent complex, which were the residence of the court and the royal family during the Qajar and Pahlavi eras, have now been converted into spectacular and luxurious museums and have become places to explore history and culture; They are in the possession of the presidential institution or office building. These palaces and their use today include:
1) White House or Nation Palace (Museum Palace)
2) Black House (Museum of Fine Arts)
3) Farah Pahlavi Palace (Negarestan Museum)
4) Shahram Palace (Military Museum)
5) Queen Esmat Dolatshahi Palace (Farshchian Museum)
6) Leila Pahlavi Palace (Miniature Museum of Master Abkar)
7) Pahlavi Shams Palace (Museum of Anthropology and Royal Clothing)
8) Ashraf Pahlavi Palace (Royal Tableware Museum)
9) Farahnaz and Alireza Palace (Mir Emad Calligraphy Museum)
10) Queen Turan Amir Soleimani Palace (Museum of Eternal Figures)
11) Ahmad Reza Pahlavi Palace (Library)
12) Karbas Palace or Crown Prince Palace (Behzad Master Museum)
13) Green Palace or Shahvand Palace (Museum Palace)
14) Gholamreza Pahlavi Palace (Museum of Court Weapons)
15) Queen Mother Palace known as the Republic Building (accommodation of special guests of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran)
16) Private palace (at the disposal of the Presidential Institution of Iran)
17) New Crown Palace (at the disposal of the Presidential Institution of Iran)
18) Bahman Palace (Museum Management Office)
19) Abdolreza Pahlavi Palace (Saadabad complex office building)
20) Ahmad Shah Palace
The other three museums in the complex include the Omidvar Brothers Museum at the Qajri Carriage House, the Water Museum at the Office of the Chief of Staff, and the Museum of Art at the White House Greenhouse.
Since it is not possible or necessary to explain all these palaces and museums, we will explain some of the most important palaces and museums of Saadabad Palace historical and cultural complex.
White House or Nation Palace (Museum Palace)
The largest and most luxurious palace in this complex is the White Palace or the Palace of the Nation with two floors and a white facade, which was the summer residence of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his queen Farah. The construction of this palace began in 1310 by the order of Reza Shah and this palace was the place of ceremonial ceremonies after Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Farah Diba settled in it. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s office and his and Farah Pahlavi’s rest rooms, as well as their private living room and its reception hall on the second floor, are among the most important rooms of this palace, with crystals and decorative chandeliers, precious carpets and oil paintings by Behzad They have accommodated his disciples. Many of the accessories in the palace reception halls are made from French auctions and antique shops, and the design of these halls is in the French style.
Green Palace (Museum Palace)
This palace, which is located in the northwest of Saadabad Palace complex, is also known as the Green Palace due to its architecture and color, and its marble palace or stone palace due to its marble facade, and because Reza Shah named it Shahvand, it is also known by this name. The palace consists of a ground floor and a basement. The most magnificent room of this palace is its mirror hall, which is located right in the center of the palace and its floor is a 70 square meter carpet made by Mashhad artists.One of the rooms around this hall of Reza Shah’s office and the other room is a room with delicate decorations that is worth the time to visit
Shams Pahlavi Palace (Museum of Anthropology and Royal Clothing)
Shams Palace was the residence of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s older sister, who sold it to his brother in 1964, and from then until 1979 was a private Pahlavi museum. Today, the palace is both an anthropological museum and a museum of Pahlavi royal clothing and gifts. There are three galleries on the first floor and four galleries on the second floor. At the entrance of the first floor, a gallery of Qajar and Pahlavi clothes can be seen. The galleries of the first floor, respectively, include paintings of clothes inside and outside – women’s and men’s clothes – general clothes of the people, and in the galleries of the second floor, royal clothes are displayed.
Black House (Museum of Fine Arts)
The Black House is famous for its black marble. This three-story palace is located in the southeast of this complex and its construction began during the reign of Reza Shah. After Reza Shah’s exile, its construction remained unfinished, finally it was completed in 1965 and from 1968 it became the court of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Today you can visit this palace as a museum of fine arts and on the ground floor are works by contemporary Iranian artists such as Sohrab Sapri, on the first floor a collection of European paintings from the 17th to 20th centuries and on the second floor paintings by important people of history Iran is like the images of the Zand kings, Nader Shah and Fath Ali Shah, byFarah Diba have been collected.
Shahram Palace (Military Museum)
If you want to travel around the world in the 1950s and 1960s, you can enter the Museum of the Brothers of Hope and imagine yourself in this amazing journey from the very beginning. The Omidvar Brothers were two of the first Iranian tourists to embark on their adventure in 1955, and after ten years of traveling around the world, they collected photographs, maps, and memorabilia from around the world that are now housed in their own museum in Saadabad Palace complex is maintained .
Other art museums in this collection, each of which is dedicated to the works of one of the great Iranian artists, include the Palace of Queen Esmat Dolatshahi, where the works of Master Farshchian have been collected and exhibited; Enjoy the miniature works of Master Behzad; Farahnaz andAlireza Palace mentioned that Mir Emad Calligraphy Museum is a unique calligraphy painting of this great master and also Leila Pahlavi Palace where the miniature works of Abkar, an Armenian master of Iranian origin are exhibited.
Other sections and buildings of Saadabad Palace complex
Saadabad Palace complex and magnificent complex in addition to palaces includes other buildings such as Saadabad Amphitheater, which is one of the most beautiful open-air halls – Saadabad Palace Car Museum, which includes a collection of the first cars imported to Iran and royal cars Collection Library located on the north side – LandsTennis and cinema halls – Saadabad Palace complex radio station, which is located in the farthest part from the palaces – Saadabad area greenhouses include flowers and beautiful plants in them – and office buildings and facilities.