Tehran is a cosmopolitan city, with great museums, parks, restaurants, and warm friendly people. It deserves at least a few days of your Iranian itinerary.
The city can be roughly divided into two different parts – north and south. The northern districts of Tehran are more prosperous, modern, cosmopolitan and expensive while southern parts are less attractive but cheaper.
At the time of the Zand dynasty, it was a little town that was significant from a strategic point of view. The first of the Qajar kings, Agha Mohammed Khan, named Tehran as the country’s capital in 1778, and most of its growth started during the reign of a subsequent Qajar monarch, Fath-Ali Shah. The castle which Agha Mohammed Khan had built was to contain the new majestic buildings.
At the same time, the city’s populace was redoubled. Due to the increasing significance of the city, gates, squares and mosques were built and it was at the time of Nassereddin Shah that the city’s master sketch was prepared and modern streets were constructed. Later, huge central squares like Toopkhaneh square (now Imam Khomeini) and quite a few military buildings were built. Even though the Qajar dynasty was in a period of decline, Tehran soon took the shape of a modern city. The structure of large government buildings, new streets, recreation centres, urban service organizations, and academic and methodical centres were started, even as most of the old gates and buildings were destroyed and the city’s old architectural fabric replaced by a contemporary one.
Tehran has also earned itself the rather unenviable reputation as a smog-filled, traffic-clogged and featureless sprawl of concrete bursting at the seams with 14 million residents. But you can also find an endless number of nice and cosy places in and around the city – if you know where to look. Tehran is also a city of parks and possesses more than 800 of them, all well-kept. The city is nearly a mile high above sea level and as a result is cooler than other cities in the middle east. Summer temperatures are around 36°C or about 95-100°F. The air tends to be very dry.
A combination of factors make Tehran a pleasant place to visit: The dry climate which is constantly cool (at least in the evenings), the proximity of the mountains, the parks and gardens where flowers blossom all through the year, the alleys of trees in the avenues or even smaller streets, and even the water that runs down from the upper city along deep and wide gutters which look like small rivers during spring. The Alborz range to the north of Tehran, which hosts the highest peak in Iran, provides fantastic conditions for ski lovers in the winter. In winter, the mountain hotels and ski-clubs at Shemshak, and Dizine are full several days a week. Some specialist skiers consider the snow value in northern Tehran to be some of the best in the world
Tehran has more than 50 museum and 100 art galleries.
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 Darya-e-Noor diamond, the sister diamond to the Kuh-e-Noor diamond. Other highlights include the world’s largest uncut ruby and a free standing golden globe made from 34 kilograms of gold and an astounding 51,366 precious stones.Admission: IRR200,000 for tourists. Free tours (with paid admission) are given in English..
National Museum of Iran, 30 Tir Ave, Emam Khomeini Ave, . Contains some of the most precious and significant artefacts from ancient Persia (dating back to 5000BC) and post-Islamic Persia (800AD). The must sees are the Salt Man, a prince who was naturally mummified in a salt mine for 2000 years. His clothes and jewels are still intact. Furthermore, there are statues of Parthian kings and there are many examples of Persian columns and structures. The building itself is a masterpiece from 1930s Iran. Admission pré-Islamic part: IRR 300,000 for foreigners, IRR 50,000 for Iranians. Admission Islamic part: IRR 200,000 for foreigners.
Golestan Palace, the oldest of the historic monuments in Tehran. The Complex consists of 17 palaces, museums, and Halls. The Golestan (Rose Garden) citadel is one of mainly visited places in Tehran, which was the Qajars’ royal residence, and its garden is an oasis of coolness and peace in the heart of the city. The major building, architecturally unpretentious, houses a museum with objects from the Qajar period in the self-important style of last century. In the Golestan garden, a one-story pavilion to the right and a short distance from the entrance, shelters one of the best organized museums in Tehran. It encloses about thirty showcases presenting almost everything related to Iran, which makes up the critical originality of Iranian life in the a variety of provinces of the country. Entrance to the various halls and museums is charged separately. Costs 940,000 IRR (November 2016) if you want to see everything
Niavaran Palace, is a historical complex which 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.
Sa’d Abad Gallery of Fine Arts,
Carpet Museum & National Rug Gallery, . exhibits a variety of Persian carpets from all over Iran, dating from 18th century to present. It has a library that contains 7,000 books.
Reza Abbasi Museum, named after Reza Abbasi, one of the artists in the Safavid period. The collections of this museum belong to a period from the 2nd millennium BC to the early 20th century.
Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art,Features the works of great artists such as Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The 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.
Tehran peace museum, (Just inside the Northern gate of Shahr park in Central Tehran.),. The museum is mainly about the use of weapons of mass destruction. Shocking to see the effects of poison gas. The museum’s main message is to develop a culture of peace and dialogue Free admission..
Darabad Museum of Natural History. Iran’s most famous museum for nature and wildlife
Saadabad Palace,. 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, in which visitors can roam through and look at the rich history of Iran.
Time Museum, The 700 Sq. m building is situated in a 6000 Sq. m garden. It is embellished with various dazzling Iranian arts and crafts such as ornamental brickwork, arched ceiling decorated with painting, 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, and calendars.
Money Museum, Mirdamad street. Coins and banknotes from different historic periods.
Bagh-e Ferdows(The Mohammadieh Palace), Tajrish, Shemiran, North Tehran, between Zafaraniyeh and Jafar Ābād,. 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 houses Film Museum of Iran.
National Arts Museum, (Baharestan district).
Malek National Museum and Library
Ebrat Museum. Expect equal doses of brutality and propaganda from this museum. Tours through the former prison of the Shah are compulsory 1 ¾ hours, and you will be ready to escape by the end of numerous corridors with faces of young men and women tortured and killed in this prison, even moreso seeing countless mannequins in contorted positions and fake blood scattered throughout. Many prominent people including current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini were interrogated and tortured within these walls. The architecture is fascinating – geometric rooms with thick walls to muffle sounds. Entry 20,000 rial per person, bring a strong stomach and a grain of salt.
Safir Office Machines Museum, . It was founded in 2008 by Frashad Kamalkhani, the museum owner. It includes a collection of early office machines.
Negarestan Garden, Daneshsara st., Baharestan square. A big and beautiful garden and art gallery with an impressive collection of paintings created by contemporary Iranian painters, just next to Baharestan square. A wonderful place to spend a few hours and get some rest and enjoy the fresh air among the trees in the garden. 4000 tomans