Tehran Bozorg (Greater Tehran), the capital of the
Islamic Republic of Iran, is one of the largest
metropolitans of the world, and it is the country's
largest economic center and the base for its large and
small modern technological and industrial
establishments. Located on the slopes of the mountains
and at the foot of the magnificent Mount Damavand, it
has been the country's capital city for over 200 years
now. Nearly 14 Million people live in Tehran in contrast
to two hundred thousand in 1920.
The first mention of Tehran in an old geographical text
is made in the 10th century Massalek-al Mamalek (The
Ways of States) by Estakhri. It was just a village
before the Safavid era.
By the Mongols' invasion and the consequent severe
devastation the city of Rey received, most of the Rey's
people took refuge to this village.
This was a starting point for growth of Tehran, and
gradually this village that was famous for its fine
fruits and beautiful gardens, underwent new
developments. Shah Tahmasb, one of the Safavid kings,
chose Tehran as administrative center for the Safavid
dinastry, which resulted in constructing many big
governmental buildings, castles and gates.
At the time of the Zand dynasty, it was a small town
that was significant from a military point of view. The
first of the Qajar kings, Agha Mohammed Khan, named
Tehran as the country's capital in 1789. Nevertheless,
the capital's development started at the time of another
Qajar monarch, Fath-Ali Shah. The citadel, which Agha
Mohammed Khan had built, was developed to include the
new royal buildings.
At the same time, the city's population was redoubled.
With the increasing importance of the city, soon gates,
squares and mosques were built and it was at the time of
Nassereddin Shah that the city's master plan was
prepared and modern streets were formed. Later, large
central squares like Toopkhaneh (now Imam Khomeini)
square and several military buildings were constructed.
With the decline of the Qajar dynasty, Tehran soon took
the shape of a modern city. The construction of large
government buildings, new streets, recreation centers,
urban service establishments, and academic and
scientific centers were started, while most of the old
gates and buildings were destroyed and the city's old
architectural fabric replaced by a modern one.
With an altitude of 1200 meters above sea level, Tehran
is a city of all four seasons with hot summers, freezing
winters, and brief springs and autumns. The highest
recorded summer temperature in Tehran has been 42
degrees centigrade while the lowest has been registered
at 8 degrees below zero.
Tehran is pleasant, it derives its originality from its
dry climate, always cool in the evening, the nearness of
the mountains, its numerous parks and gardens where
flowers blossom throughout the year, the alleys of trees
in the avenues or even smaller streets, the water which
runs down from the upper city along deep and wide
gutters which look like small rivers during spring.
Dams of Karaj, Latian and Lar supply Tehran's drinking
water and parts of the country's electrical power. These
dam-lakes and river-sides provide also valuable tourism
sites for visiting and enjoying walking and viewing
beautiful natural sites as well as practicing various
kinds of sports, including water sports. There are dozen
of small coffee-houses with zinc roofs nestle among the
bushes. Mountain streams run among the tables. But
everyone does not sit around a table; many of the
customers prefer the ancient-style comfort of low divans
covered with old carpets. Delicious "kababs" are
consumed, and hot teas are served from "Samawar".
The Alborz range on the north of Tehran, which host the
highest peak in the country during winter provides a
very suitable climate for ski lovers. In winter, the
mountain hotels and ski-clubs at Shemshak, Shahrestanak
and Dizine are full several days a week. Some expert
skiers consider the snow quality in northern Tehran to
be one of the best in the world.
The highest peak in the country, Mount Damavand (5671
Meter), which is an extinct volcano covered in snow for
most of the year with its visibility from Tehran has an
attractive appeal for adventurers and climbers.
The Golestan (Rose Garden) Palace is one of most visited
places in Tehran, which was the Qajars' royal residence.
Its garden is an oasis of coolness and silence in the
heart of the city. The main building, architecturally
unpretentious, houses a museum with objects from the
Qajar period in the overloaded and pompous style of last
century. In the Golestan garden, a one-story pavilion to
the right and slightly behind the entrance, shelters one
of the best organized museums in Tehran. It contains
about thirty showcases presenting everything, which
makes up the basic originality of Iranian life in the
various provinces of the country.