Tehran has a unique fascinating character. It lies on an incline some 1200 meters above sea level at the southern foothills of the mighty Alborz mountain range. The towering peaks of Alborz are bare and foggy in the summer and heavily covered with snow in the winter. Tehran’s climate is dry. It has mild winters, but cold snaps and snow storms are not unusual in the winters. Spring and autumn are cool and pleasant with occasional showers. In the summer it can be very hot.
In less than two centuries, Tehran has grown from a tiny village to the capital of the world’s oldest empire. Considering the history of Iran, Tehran is not an old city; it celebrated its 200th anniversary recently in 1992. In the early 1920’s, Tehran was still a sleepy town. Today it is a busy metropolis with some twelve million inhabitants, or about one-fifth of Iran’s population.
Tehran has an abnormally high density of motor traffic because of low gasoline prices in the country. At the time of the first Qajar kings, Tehran became the country’s capital. Later, at the time time of Nassereddin shah, the city’s urban development plan was prepared. With the fall of the Qajar dynasty, Tehran soon took the shape of a modern city and the construction of new government buildings, streets, recreation centers and universities began. The old gates and buildings were replaced by modern architecture such as shops, cinemas, hotels, residences, and a magnificent new opera house that rivals those in Europe.
The Bazaar is a unique place to visit, particularly for those who have never seen a Middle Eastern market.
In the past century, the trades have been exclusively centered in the Bazaar, in accordance with Islamic tradition. All kinds of commodities are available for sale at a bargain prices. Do not forget to bargain! Carpets, gold jewelry, silver and copperware can be bought in the Bazaar.
The archeological museum is another center of interest. It contains articles dating back to 1500 BC (Sumerian period) and a very find collection of Islamic Art. The building itself has an impressive arched entrance in the Sassanian style.
The Golestan Palace ( palace of Roses), built in the 19th century as a residence of the Qajar sovereign, is now very like a museum. It has magnificent pieces of art such as the Peacock Throne, made in India, which is studded with gems. It also houses miniature paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and its hall of mirrors is one of a kind in the world.
Next to Golestan Palace is the Masjid-e-Imam and the Masjid-e-Jomeh (Friday Mosque) which are examples of the religious architecture of the Qajar period.
The treasures of Iran are housed in the Central Bank. The worlds most exotic display of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, all kind s of show pieces, and massive gold gems are exhibited in a vault of the Central Bank ( Bank Markazi). Darya-e-Noor, or the ocean of lights, which is the world’s largest diamond, and the imperial state crown, which was used in the ex-Shah’s coronation ceremony, are also included in the collection in the Central Bank.