|The modern powerhouse of the government and its engineers, Tehran (meaning warm slopes) was originally a village on the suburb of Rey, Iranian capital until Mongol invasion of the country in 1220 AD, when it population moved to the present site of Tehran. Actually, very little is known of the origin and early history of Tehran. It is possible that it may date back to the ninth century AD, but for the first few hundred years of its existence it was an insignificant town, its development being retarded by its proximity to the larger and flourishing Rey (now 7 km to the south of Tehran).Karim Khan Zand, Shah of Iran (1750-79) came to Tehran in 1759. He was evidently most favorably impressed with the town and its situation, for he gave orders for a government office to be erected there that would rival the great Sassanian palace at Ctesiphon, as well as a number of other buildings. He entertained for a time the idea of making Tehran his capital in place of Shiraz, but finally he dropped the idea and returned to Shiraz.Tehran’s development as an independent city, however, began in the 18th century, when it was finally made Iran’s capital by Agha Mohammad Khan, the first of the Qajars impressed with Tehran, in 1795, because of its enjoying special importance from the geographical, political, and economical points of view. That is why most of the historical buildings of Tehran are of the Qajar period.
With a difference in elevation of more than 500 meters, and an officially announced population of 6,620,461 (according to 1992 census) in an approximate area of 600 square km, modern Tehran is situated on the northern fringe of the great central plateau and at the foot of the southern slope of the impressive mountain chain of Alborz. The Towchal ridge, just under 4,00 meters high (which was climbed by Fath-Ali Shah Qajar), successor of Agha Mohammad Khan) dominates the town on the north; while nearly 80 km to the northeast, but seemingly much closer in the clear air of the Iranian uplands, is the magnificent snow-capped volcanic cone of Damavand, 5,670 meters in height (See also Sports and Games page) the highest mountain in Iran with which many legends are connected. According to one such legend, Zoroaster once lived on the lower slopes of Damavand, close to where the picturesque village of Ask now stands. Also according to another legend, many of the episodes of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh have taken place in and around this same mountain.
The 200th anniversary of Tehran’s nomination as the nation’s capital was celebrated in 1991. Probably the first European to visit Tehran was Don Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo, the Ambassador of King Henry III of Castile to the Great Timur. Clavijo halted at Tehran in July 1,404 while on his long journey to Timur’s court at Samarqand.
Despite being a creation of early twentieth century, the present-day Tehran is becoming an established highlight on the foreign tourist’s itinerary because of its vestiges of antiquity dating mainly from the Qajar period. For some, its attractions are shops, well stocked with every modern product, as well as local handicrafts, and the museums with their spectacular exhibits on display. Since most international flights take in Mehrabad Airport, the town has become an important distribution center for visitors from abroad. Furthermore, its status as a Capital City and commercial center brings many businessmen and diplomats every year. As a result, most of the country’s hotels, both large and small, as well as tourist facilities have grown up in Tehran.
Summer relaxation resorts and recreational centers are equally available for local and foreign travelers and tourists in and around Tehran: parks, reservoirs and banks of three major dams (Amir Kabir, equipped for water skiing, boating and swimming, Latyan, and Lar), mountain entertainment facilities north of Tehran, Towchal Tele-cabin, Damavand peak, bowling and other wholesome pastimes, the valleys of Jajrud and Karaj rivers (both a trout fisherman’s paradises), and the ski resorts of Dizin, Shemshak, and Ab-e Ali. Reception and accommodation facilities are so versatile in Tehran and its suburbs that they would no doubt suit the taste and choice of every tourist.
When in Tehran, most probably a taxi will take you to your hotel from Mehrabad International Airport (an ultra-modern airport is already under construction) while passing around a spacious roundabout in the middle of which the remarkably beautiful monument of Azadi Tower attract one’s attention. There are three bus lines from the Mehrabad Airport to three major destinations in the north (Vanak Square), center (Enghelab Square), and south (Rah Ahan Square or the railway station) of Tehran, which are incomparably cheaper than any taxi. After getting settled, all in all we advise traveling everywhere in Tehran by service taxi and planning your visit to each of the following sites in advance.
There are sufficient number of package tours and all other tourist centers, which you can book either through the hotel or personal contact. The prices are not so ruinous compared to American or European standards.
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Places worth visiting
National Museum of Iran
No visitor can afford to miss the National (Archaeological) Museum of Iran (in Imam Khomeini Ave), the country’s mother museum established in 1937 together with a group of other monumental buildings for various ministries and government departments. If you make for the Louvre on arrival in Paris, this Museum is your spiritual home in Tehran, where objects unearthed during recent excavations are to be found side by side with objects representing the great periods of history and pre-history. It can be seen in one visit, but we recommend you two visits: one to the prehistoric, Achaemenian, and Sassanian finds on the first floor, and another to the Islamic objects on the second floor.
In a full day’s visit, the tourist gets a comprehensive idea of Iranian art and culture through the ages. Prehistory and history merge in Iran: the dazzling sense of scale at Persepolis is anticipated in these very early works of decorated pottery. But most visitors come to admire a few much-photographed items which have become famous all over the world: Sialk pottery with astonishingly “modern” stylized decorations (11th – 16th century BC); terra cotta animals of the same period from the Caspian and Azarbaijan regions; several famous Lurestan bronzes (8th century BC); the famous delicately chiseled Marlik gold tankard with its decor of winged rams (10th century BC); and a copy of the Louvre’s Code of Hammurabi to remind us that the original was excavated a Susa.
Visitors who do not have time to go to Persepolis or Susa will find in the National Museum of Iran significant vestiges of Achaemenian decorations enameled brick panels, bull-head shaped column capitals, gold plates engraved with royal decorations in three languages (ancient Persian, Babylonian, Elamite) and so on. Mosaics, coins, jewels and household objects date back to the period of the Achaemenian and Sassanian kings.
The most striking section of the Museum, however, is the one showing the upheaval imposed by Islam on Iranian life and arts. It is another world, which is reflected in Kuffic writing on wood, stone, precious fabrics, pottery and parchment. Glasswork, ceramics with infinitely varied compositions tapestries and jewels show to what extent this civilization treasures everything which can bring beauty to everyday life.
At present the historic relics of Islamic period have been shifted to a modern two-story building in the east of the museum. This new museum is called Treasures of Islamic Period.
Visiting hours: 9:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00 everyday, except Tuesdays.
Address: 30th Tir St, Imam Khomeini Ave. Tel: 672061-6.
Malek National Museum
Originally built as the private residence of Haj Aqa Malek, a famous merchant from Mashhad, its construction dates back to the late Qajar period. Affiliated to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza, its articles on exhibition (precious coins, paintings, rugs, etc) are housed in a one-story building consisting of two sections: the andaruni (interior) and the biruni (exterior). In the middle of the central courtyard, a beautiful fountain can be admired. In a very near future the museum will be moved to a new building next to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and attached to the eastern wing of the Museum of Treasures of Islamic Period.
Visiting hours: 08:30 a.m.-17:00 p.m., everyday.
Address: Panzdah-e Khordad Ave, Bein ol-Haramein Bazaar. Tel: 520492.
13th Aban Museum
This small museum was originally used as municipal stables since the advent of Pahlavi dynasty. Transformed into museum in 1946 and sponsored by the Red Crescent Organization, it is crammed solid with various watercolor paintings and bronze figures by the famous modern Iranian sculptor Seyed Ali Akbar-e San’ati. All statues are life-size or larger and the subjects include such notables as the poets Ferdowsi and Sa’di, Kamal ol-Molk the 20th century Iranian painter, a crucified Christ, Shah Abbas I, Nader Shah, and Mahatma Gandhi, plus tombs of two Iraq-Iran War martyrs. The most interesting work seems to be a group statue showing Iran’s famous political prisoners in chain during the reign of Pahlavi dynasty.
Iranians can recognize some of the most famous poets and the late Ali Akbar-e Dehkhoda, Iran’s ever-greatest scholar, lexicographer and compiler of Loghatnameh (Persian Encyclopedic Dictionary). Nothing is labeled in English.
Visiting hours: 07:00 a.m. through 19:30 p.m. everyday, except Tuesdays.
Address: on the northwest corner of Imam Khomeini Square, Tel: 671915.
National Jewels Museum
The National Jewels Museum (Crown Jewels, before the Revolution) was organized by virtue of a legal bill passed in 1937. According to contemporary mineralogists and gemmologists, the treasury of the Museum of Jewel is the richest and most dazzling single collection of jewels in the world. Even for those who have never been able to summon up interest in precious stones, this collection in the closely guarded vaults is a breath-taking experience.
The invaluable treasury has a fascinating history that goes back several centuries. The jewels have been collected by numerous kings and conquerors who sometimes went to great lengths to obtain them and were so elated by their possession that some of them had their names, together with dates, engraved on certain big-sized gems.
today these inscriptions constitute more accurate historical records than the voluminous literature on the subject. Exact information on the gems and jewels of the pre-Safavid ear is not available, and thus the history of the collection begins with the latter ear (1502-1736 AD). Safavid kings showed great interest in gems and jewels, and dispatched agents to India, the Ottoman Empire, France, and Italy to hunt and buy such gems and jewel and carry them to Esfahan, the then capital of Iran.
During the reign of Sultan Hossein the last Safavid king, Mahmud Afghan invaded Iran and the royal treasury was plundered by the Afghans, who did not hesitate to take some of them to India. Upon becoming king of Iran in 1736, Nader Shah Afshar in a bid to take back the jewels dispatched agents to India. However, finding out that the Indian rulers did not want to return the jewels, he led a military expedition to India in 1738. Mohammad Shah of India offered money, jewelry including the Darya-ye Nur (Sea of Light) sister-stone of Kuh-e Nur (Mountain of Light) diamond, the Peacock Throne, and arms to Nader Shah; part of which was perished before reaching Iran. After his return to Iran, Nader Shah sent part of the booties to the neighboring monarchs as souvenir, and donated a major portion of it to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad. When Nader Shah was murdered in 1747, a certain Ahmand Beg looted the treasury, and among the articles, which were taken out of Iran and never, returned, was the famous Kuh-e Nur (Mountain of Light) diamond. The gem was later taken to England where the East India Company took possession of it. In 1850 it was presented to Queen Victoria. At present it is kept in the Tower of London.
What remained, was preserved almost intact until the Qajar period, when the collection was put together and most of the loose pieces were set on crowns, cornets, thrones, and a globe. The present gallery was built in 1956 and, five years later, with the establishment of Bank Markazi Iran (Central Bank of Iran); the collection was transferred to the Bank.
More than 40 showcases at the gallery house numerous priceless jewels, gems, and many antique articles of decoration, warfare, and items of every day use, each being generously and lavishly ornamented and studded with hundreds of precious stones, turquoise, and pearls. The arrangement of showcases has changed from time to time, but among the highlights are:
The Darya-ye Nur, Sea of Light, a 182-carat diamond, which is the world’s largest pink diamond measuring 25 mm wide, 10 mm thick, and 38 mm long. It bears the name of Fath Ali Shah on one side.
The noted gika (aigrette) of Nader Shah, weighing 781 carats in all, which probably dates to the reign of Fath Ali Shah.
The extraordinary Globe of Jewels completed in 1869 at the behest of Nasser od-Din Shah. It is no doubt, the most precious globe ever made. Its frame as well as the stand are of fine gold, weighing 34 kg, and thickly set with 51,366 precious stones. The total weigh of these gems alone amounts to 18,200 carats. The main incentive of the Qajar King in ordering the making of the globe was to transform the innumerable loose stones of the Treasury, kept for years in sealed leather bags, into an article of artistic nature and not easily liable to dissipation. See it for yourself and spot the various countries amid the flash of the stones!
Address: Bank Markazi Iran building, Ferdowsi Ave, and Opp Turkish Embassy.
Visiting hours: 14:00-16:30 Sundays and Tuesdays. (Children under 15 are not allowed in. Needless to say, photography is not permitted inside the gallery). Tel: 3110101-9.
Tehran is the greatest of the Iranian markets. Squat and once black in the heart of the city, like a covered railway station, stand the bazaars in the southern part of Tehran. These bazaars deserve a half-day stroll. Down there you may still smell the spices and the sheepskins, and hear the rich trump of unrolling carpets, unpeeled from the stack like pages of a manuscript. All the faces of Persia may be seen in those arcades: Semite or Mongol, fair or swarthy, swathed in fringed turbans or clamped upon by dowdy trilbies. It is an imperial sort of place: Darius would have liked it.
As well as being one of the biggest of all eastern bazaars, that of Tehran is also among the newest. The bazaar was a city within the city. For many years, it was the focal point of the town. Everything happened there, trading, but also social relations, marriage and politics. It is to be regretted that the bazaar is gradually being abandoned by the more prosperous merchants, who have moved to the northern avenues of the new city, built after the bazaar. Bazaar never closes, except for religious festivals, but it is seen at its most bustling at midday or between five and seven in the evening. Haggle furiously here for anything you like: carpets, tribal jewelry, leather, silks, copper, gold…
Two warnings: go slowly, since the paths are usually watered to prevent dust, but slippery; and keep closely to the right, well away from the center of the passageway to avoid the heavily laden porters who make their way at top speed through the crowd.
Your tour of the Tehran’s 10-km long covered bazaar will begin at Sabzeh Maidan (Green Square). Actually, entrance to bazaar is through several gates, closed and manned by security personnel at nights. The first section, on the east, is devoted to luxury articles, especially watches and jewelry. Beyond these are the carpet dealers. Turn off at right angle to the main street from time to time to enjoy the relative peace of a timcheh or depot in the form of a rectangular courtyard open to the sky, where fountains or small pools alleviate the suffocatingly dry heat of a Tehrani summer afternoon.
Imam Mosque (historically known as Masjid-e Shah or the Royal Mosque), the construction of which began by Fath Ali Shah Qajar in about 1809 in line with his efforts to embellish the newly founded capital, was completed in 1849. It stands at the northern entrance to the bazaar not far from the Golestan Palace. Two side entrances of the mosque lead directly into the bazaar. The southern ivan opens onto the prayer hall. The mosque has the usual four ivans, on each of the four sides of a single-story arcaded court, decorated with early 19th century haft rangi tiles. The turquoise and white dome of the sanctuary chamber beyond the south ivan is crowned by a small gilded cupola seen here peeping over the ivan. At the pool in the center of the court – a feature of nearly all mosques-the faithful perform their ritual ablutions before each prayer.
Golestan and Other Palaces
The Qajars royal residence, the oldest substantial building in the city, and one of a group of royal buildings then enclosed within mud walls known as the Arg, the Golestan Palace (Rose Garden), too, was completed by Fath Ali Shah Qajar. However, its construction is attributed to the Safavid Shah Abbas I. Nasser ad-Din Shah, influenced by what he had seen during his first European tour in 1873, added a Museum in the form of a large, first-floor hall decorated with mirror work, where some of the priceless Crown Jewels were put on show side by side with many other things of much less value, mainly acquired by the King during his European tour.
The coronation ceremonies of the last two kings of the Pahlavi dynasty took place in the first-floor hall, however, after a re-arrangement, complete renovation and redecoration of the interior with the intention of reviving the palace’s ancient splendor. The last King used to hold New Year and Birthday Salaams in the Coronation Hall, where Ministers, foreign Ambassadors and their congratulations to the King of Kings. But generally, the Golestan Palace is open to strollers and tourists. The Palace garden offered an oasis of coolness and silence in the heart of the city. Shade is provided by what the inhabitants of Tehran call “the finest plane tree in town”; rose bushes, blue fountain bowls and streams of water recall the charm of ancient Iranian gardens.
Altogether, here you will see little more of the palace than the visitor hoping for a tour around Buckingham Palace who is fobbed off with the Royal Gallery. But while the state-rooms of the Palace may appeal to some others will turn to the Palace Library for the discovery of Iranian painting, which owes its relative lack of popularity to the inaccessibility of originals scattered from Cleveland to Istanbul, from Washington’s Freer Gallery to St. Petersburg, and from the British Museum to Cairo’s National Library.
Address: 15th Khordad Square. Tel: 3113335-6.
The original structure of this Museum was built in 1937, upon the order of Reza Shah, and opened to visitors in a Qajar-style house on Bu-Ali Avenue. By 1968 the collection had expanded enough to warrant new quarters, and due to its numerous objects, the White Palace (Khaneh-ye Abyaz) with the complex of Golestan Palace was chosen for this purpose. Inside the Golestan Palace, this ethnological museum has a colorful exhibition of traditional Iranian dress with wax dummies as models, as well as a folk art exhibition. When you visit the provinces, you will see that many of these costumes are by no means relics of a bygone age.
Visiting hours: Everyday 8:00-15:00 except Thursdays and Fridays.
Address: 15th Khordad Square, Golestan Palace. Tel: 3111186-8.
Reza Abbasi Museum
Housing a valuable collection of arts, paintings, calligraphy and the art of the book, the Museum consists of two divisions: Pre-Islamic and Islamic Galleries. This Museum, located in a modern four-story building, was named after the famous painter of the Safavid period. Its collection covers Iranian Art from 6,000 BC to the 20th century. In the first gallery, objects from the pre-historical and historical periods illustrate the gradual development of technology and man’s adaptation of earthly materials to the needs of daily life: a large collection of Lurestan Bronzes, artifacts of the Achaemenian, Parthian and Sassanian periods. In the second gallery (three halls), you will see works of calligraphy, one of the finest achievements of the Islamic period particularly in the Koran room; a comprehensive record of the Iranian tradition of painting, the art of illumination, and etchings by various travelers to Iran; and well-made, finely proportioned and sometimes exquisite items used as utilities or ornaments: pottery, metalworks, architectural elements, jewelry and textiles from the Seljuk, Timurid, and Safavid periods.
At the end of a tour of the galleries, one will appreciate the idea why each craftsman should be called an artist in his own right, whether his creations were for ordinary customers or wealthy patrons.
Like most Iranian museums, the Reza Abbasi Museum has a library of its own which can be used by scholars and researchers, and a book shop where a wide range of publications and posters by nearly all museums of Tehran along with photographic books and postcards on Iran are offered.
Visiting hours: 9:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00 except Mondays.
Address: Pol-e Seyed Khandan, Shari’ati Ave. Tel: 863001-3.
Decorative Arts Museum of Iran
The Decorative Arts Museum of Iran was originally established in 1959, while its official activity commenced in 1961. The new building housing the collections gathered and donations made by those interested in the Iranian arts and crafts, comprises four floors and a basement in which the various items are displayed as follows: Ground floor permanent exhibition of museological items from the Marmar (Marble) Palace, particularly the superb collection of incised and inlaid furniture. First floor Various Iranian textiles and clothing items, including all kinds of plain, gold threaded, linear-patterned and floral relief brocades, different categories of velvet, termeh and qalamkar, kilim and jajim rugs, along with a vast section dealing with needlework artifacts exhibiting its various provincial techniques. Second Floor: Five main sections of the floor are: 1. Khatamkari, including various mirror-cases, boxes, bookracks, pen boxes and postage stamp containers; 2. Woodcarving, including various boxes, mirror-cases, combs, kashkuls and epigraphic panels; 3. Lacquer Work, including a rare collection of lacquered pen-boxes, bookcovers, mirror-cases, boxes and postage stamp containers; 4. Metalwork, including a section devoted to ornamental items from the 18th and to the 20th centuries, and another to various weapons; 5. Glassware, including all sorts of glassware from pre-Islamic times to the present. Third floor various paintings and miniatures from the 14th through 20th centuries, providing an introduction to the successive schools of these arts, including those Herat, Tabriz, Shiraz, Esfahan and Qazvin. It is noteworthy that the museum owes a large treasure of calligraphic masterpieces, and its basement floor is allocated to the temporary exhibitions and artistic events.
Visiting hours: everyday 9:00-17:00 except Mondays. Address: Karim Khan-e Zand Ave. Tel: 894380-2.
Glassware and Ceramics Museum
The mansion housing the Glassware and Ceramics Museum, itself a museum is 80 years old. It was built by an Iranian politician named Ahmad Qavam as his personal residence. Standing in a garden covering 7,000 square meters, it used by the owner until 1953 when it was sold to the Egyptian Embassy. The articles on display are divided into five categories, each in one gallery: 1) Enamel Gallery, where glass and ceramic artifacts dating back to the second and first millennia BC are exhibited. Examples of glass rods, perfume vials, pitchers and necklaces belonging to the second millennium BC up to the Parthian period are among the artifacts on display here. 2) Crystal Gallery, where glassware belonging to the first millennium BC, with molded or appended decorations and incised or pressed motifs are displayed here. It must be noted that during the Sassanian period glass carving reached a peak of perfection in Iran, so that the Sassanian glassware were exported throughout the then civilized world. Nowadays numerous samples of these are preserved in the Shoso’in and Nara collections in Japan and in St. Mark’s cathedral in Venice. 3) Nacre Gallery, where samples of glass and ceramic artifacts from the 9th –13th centuries AD are exhibited. In this period a new method of glass carving on the background developed through which the artisan could leave the intended motifs in relief on the background. 4) Gold Gallery, the artifacts exhibited comprise the inscribed vessels from the 10th-13th centuries AD, including various goldtinted, turquoise-colored and white-slip glazed items. On most of these, all sorts of sayings, good-wishes, poems of Nezami and Ferdowsi or verses of Arabic poetry can be read. 5) Lapis lazuli Galleries 1 & 2, where glassware and ceramics from 12th-19th centuries are on display.
In the Audio-Visual Hall, slides and films related to glass and ceramics making are shown. There is a specialized library with 2,000 volumes of books in English and 900 in Persian, all in the fields of motion pictures, theater, architecture, music, photography, art history, and archaeology for the students and researchers.
Visiting hours: everyday 9:00-17:00 except Mondays
Address: 50 Jomhuri Ave, 30th Tir St. Tel: 678153-4.
The Contemporary Arts Museum
At the northwestern corner of Park-e Laleh (Tulip Park) in central Tehran, one can find the Contemporary Arts Museum wherein art works and photographs by the contemporary expert masters are displayed. Adjacent to the Museum you can also see the Carpet Museum (below) and a number of booths outside, presenting the best works done by self-employed artists and artisans.
Founded nearly two decades ago, the Museum looks like the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Paris, in terms of architectural design. Iranian and foreign works of visual arts are exhibited here. Various art works in graphics, caricature, miniature, gilding, and calligraphy are displayed in its galleries in different exhibitions every year.
The Museum has a permanent section devoted to original works of art, graphics, etc, by some of the world masters. A library, a movie house, a restaurant, and a theater are other features of the Museum.
Visiting hours: everyday 9:00-19:00 except Fridays: 9:00-14:00 Address: Kargar-e Shomali Ave, west of Laleh Park. Tel: 655411, 653200.
Iran’s Carpet Museum
Located to the north of the Contemporary Arts Museum (see above) Iran’s Carpet Museum with an area of 3,400 sq.m, was inaugurated n 1977. It comprises of two halls and a vast basement where varieties of hand-woven fine and coarse carpets of the country are displayed. It has been open to visitors since 1979.
The facade of the Museum resembles the wooden frames on which carpets are woven. The art of carpet weaving is probably as old as the Iranian history itself. Here you can see carpets from as far back as 15th century to the present time. On the first floor, masterpieces from centers like Esfahan, Kashan, Kerman, Khorassan, Kurdestan and Tabriz are presented. Normally, something around 135 pieces of rugs and carpets are on display. The Museum is an ideal place for researchers and art lovers interested in Iranian handicrafts. There is a special library in the Museum, with nearly 3,500 volumes of books in Persian, Arabic, French, English, and German.
There is a movie-house in which you can watch films and see slides in the fields of fine and coarse carpet weaving. The Museum serves other purposes such as research in the history of carpet weaving, purchase and maintenance of Persian carpets, and holding exhibitions of this much admired art abroad.
Visiting hours: Everyday 9:00-17:00 except Mondays.
Address: Kargar-e Shomali Ave, north of Laleh Park. Tel: 657707,652093.
Mausoleum of Imam Khomeini
Located at the southern edge of Tehran, the Resting-Place (haram-e motahar) of His Holiness Imam Khomeini the late founder and leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is gradually being developed into one of the greatest Islamic buildings in modern history. An estimated 10 million mourners were reported to attend at the Islamic Republic’s final send-off to its founder and inspirer – the largest funeral ever held in the world.
The mausoleum on the northwest of Behesht-e Zahra cemetery along the Tehran-Qum highway is assured of its place on the Islamic world, because of the overall political and religious initiatives of the late Imam Khomeini. Not far from Tehran (the town that launched the Islamic Revolution) and its modern International Airport, and easily accessed from Qum (the town where the late Imam underwent his theological training), the mausoleum will attract not only foreign visitors but also Iranians coming here to pray. The interior is a vast hall measuring more than 100 meters long, and with a carpet marble floor, in the middle of which stands the tomb itself surrounded by grills. The structural complex is not yet completed but there are plans to build a new town as well as a Shaahed University Complex around it in the coming twenty years. It can be reached by bus and shared taxi from many squares, particularly the Imam Khomeini Square in central Tehran. During religious holidays a special underground line is made available to those going to visit the mausoleum. Haj Seyed Ahmad-e Khomeini, the deceased son of the late Imam, is also buried next to his father in this mausoleum.
Bahman Cultural Center
Located in the southernmost part of Tehran, the Bahman Cultural Center occupies a vast area that used to be the city’s old slaughterhouse just seven years ago.
Considered to be the most deprived area of Tehran, its southern part was in need of help, especially with cultural overtones. In this cultural center concerts, religious plays accompanied by hymns, and other rituals are performed. It is open on all days and nights of the week and serves as a gathering place for the youth of southern Tehran.
The young people can use the center for activities such as sports, various art fields, wholesale entertainments, etc. The center includes the following sections: Chahar Bagh (Four Gardens), Center for Children’s Drawings, Chess Club, Visual Arts Gallery, Charlie Chaplin Terrace-Movie House, and a Theater.
The Charlie Chaplin Terrace-Movie House, with an area of 1,450 sq. in to house 450 people, has a mobile ceiling, which can be opened by a push button in three minutes.
A comprehensive description of Tehran may not end like this, but we don’t intend to provide you with the opportunity of just sitting and reading about Tehran. The town is a really modern metropolitan with thousands of interesting places about which you will certainly discover after the first few days of your stay.
Sa’d Abad Palace-Museums
Known as the Sza’d Abad Cultural Complex, and bounded by Velenjak to the north and Kolak-Chal to the east, it occupies an area of 410 hectares. Actually, it is the greatest cultural complex in modern Tehran consisting of seven palace-museums (out of 18, turned into public museums after the Revolution), not all open at the same time. However, they are all clearly marked and sign-posted in English. No photography is permitted.
Ethnological Research Museum
Originally serving as the private, residence of the last Shah’s brother Mahmud Reza, it was turned into a museum following the Islamic Revolution, and opened to the public in 1984. Planned to be transferred to Shams Palace because of its limited space, the museum consists of two floors and a basement. In the first floor one can see different documents, traditional handicrafts and stationary, while the basement houses the archives and the workshop. Unfortunately, the museum is closed at present.
Museum of Fine Arts
Previously known as the Black Palace and used as the Imperial Court Ministry, this is a three-story museum. Because of its importance during the previous regime, it stands isolated from the remaining palaces within the Sa’d Abad Museum Complex. A number of unique and precious paintings by Iranian and famous foreign painters dating back from the 16th century are on display here since 1982.
Visiting hours: 8:00-18:00 everyday. Address: Tajrish Square, Sa’d Abad. Tel: 2285021.
Standing on a natural platform and covering an area of 137,329 square meters, the Green Palace-Museum was built under Reza Shah in 1925. Architecturally and from the artistic point of view, it ranks among the most remarkable structures of the complex. Objects on display include Persian carpets, valuable foreign furniture, porcelain dish sets, chandeliers, etc, in an interior embellished with stucco carvings, enameled panels and inlay works. The outside of the palace is covered with marble slabs.
Visiting hours: 8:00-18:00 everyday. Address: Tajrish square, Sa’d Abad. Tel: 2287067.
What is now called the Mellat (Nation’s) Palace Museum was previously known as the White Palace. It was built by Reza Shah to be used as his Imperial Court. But finding it majestic indeed, he preferred to make it his residence. Later it was used as both his and his son’s Ceremonial Palace.
The Palace was transformed into a museum in 1982. Objects on display consist of precious carpets, furniture, weaponry, etc. The two stone boots outside are all that remains of a giant statue of Reza Shah Pahlavi. Upstairs in the Ceremonial Dining Room, the 145 sq. m carpet, a copy of a famous rug from the shrine of Sheikh Safi od-Din in Ardabil, is said to be one of the largest ever made in Iran, but it is not as large as the monster weaving downstairs in the Ceremonial Hall, which measures an incredible 243 sq. m.
Visiting hours: 8:00-18:00 everyday. Address: Tajrish Square, Sa’d Abad. Tel: 2282077.
Niavaran and Saheb Qaranieh Palace-Museum
Of greater architectural interest is the summer palace complex of the Qajars known as Saheb Qaranieh (Lord of the Centuries) at Niavaran. This was built by Nasser ad-Din Shah and, as compared with Golestan Palace, shows considerable advance in design and the influence of European, notably Russian, taste. It is a relatively low building somewhat rococo in style; its white colonnaded porticoes give it a Colonial air, yet have the quality of stage scenery. It resembles many private residences of great charm and distinction built in and around Tehran in the middle or third quarter of the nineteenth century, many of which are now, alas, threaten with demolition.
The garden of the Palace at Niavaran is sheer delight. In the extensive grounds are a number of smaller pavilions where Nasser ad-Din Shah kept his harem. This Palace-Museum has a Korsi Khaneh and Howz Khaneh, and all its rooms and halls are decorated with miniature paintings and precious objects.
During the Pahlavi period, several new structures, including a school and the Niavaran Palace were added to the complex by the last Shah.
Address: Niavaran, east of Tajrish Square, next to Niavaran Park, Tel: 2287045.
There are hundreds of restaurants in Tehran, few of, which are actually bad, and at weekends it’s often a good idea to make reservation. There are many very good, even luxurious restaurants in the far north of Tehran, right up to the foothills of the Alborz, but they are very expensive and very difficult to get to from the center without private transport.
Tehran also has some excellent cake shops and confectioneries. Many of the best are owned by Armenians, and the greatest concentration is in Ostad Nejatollahi Street. This is also the place to buy pistachios or luxury foods. Almost any food not forbidden by Islam can be found in Tehran and other major provincial capitals. Many foreign food restaurants or restaurants catering to foreigners advertise in Tehran Times: look out for any new ones. Before going to any restaurant, have a look at the following list of some famous Iranian foods.
Chelo Kabab-e Kubideh
Stakes of minced meat and onions broiled on coal fire, assorted with broiled tomatoes, served with rice, sumac, onion, and bread.
Chelo Kabab-e Barg
Stakes of tenderized fillet meat broiled on coal fire, served together with rice, sumac, pickles, onions, and bread.
A chicken cooked with groundnuts in sour pomegranate juice, eaten with rice.
A delicious meal of broiled chicken assorted with various pickles.
A tasty meal of rice, beans and dill leaves cooked with lamb.
A tasty dish of rice and lamb cooked with yogurt and flavored with saffron.
The following is a short list of restaurants in Tehran:
Agh Banu, Vali Asr Ave, Opposite Mellat Park 2222596.
Ajdaha-e Tala’ei (Chinese), Vali Asr Ave, Opposite Esteghlal Hotel (former Hilton) 2040508.
Ali Qapu, Gandhi Street 2267803
Ardalan, Vali Asr Ave, Maah Alley 6465018.
Arvand Kenar, Vali-Asr Ave, Opposite Sa’ei Park 806568.
Arvand Rud, South Sohravardi Street 838061.
Ashpas Bashi, Mir Damad Ave, Naft Street 2221244.
Ashyaneh, Passdaran Ave, Zarrabkhaneh 2272605.
Bita, Vali Asr Ave, Pessian Crossroads 2221687.
Borj, Vali Asr Ave 2040827.
Chinese, Abdoh Alley, Vali Asr Ave 890714.
Ehsan, Mir Damad Ave 2224718.
Fanus (kababi), No 85, Mulla Sadra Ave, South Shiraz Street 8033645.
Felfel-e Sabz, Vanak Square, Vanak Shopping Center 8885580.
Ferdows, Vali Asr Residential Complex, Bagh-e Ferdows 6495413.
Gol Shahr, Africa Highway, Nahid Blvd 2206616.
Golshan, Passdaran Ave 2588576.
Hani, Vali Asr Ave, corner of Motahari Street 8828011.
Hatef, Motahari Ave, Amir Atabak Street 8828011.
Kandu, Vali Asr-Taleghani Intersection 6408009.
Kasra (chelo kabab and chicken kabab), Niavaran Street, Kashanak Junction 2288047.
Khan Dadash, Fatemi Ave, Kaj Street 658665.
Khaneh Kabab, Passdaran Ave, Now Bonyad Square 2574613.
Khansalar, Argentine Square 8728764.
Khoshnud, No 1420, Vali Asr Avenue Shahid Chamran Highway Intersection, Opposite Qodss Department Store 2041140.
Kolbeh, Zafar Street, corner of Naft Street 8090654.
Kuchini, Keshavarz Blvd, South Felestin Street 8890317.
Kuhsar-e Darband, Darband, Sar-e Band Square 2209279.
Lak Lak, No 1739, Dr Shari’ati Ave, north of Pol-e Rumi 2209091.
Lotus (pizza and hamburger), Shahrak-e Qodss, Golestan Shopping Center 8099000, 8095252.
Lux-e Irani, Tajrish Square 2209838.
Lux-e Tala’ei, Vali Asr Ave, Homayun Station 2041654.
Mellat, Vali Asr Ave, Opposite Mellat Park 2228182.
Mikhak-e Tala’ei, Vali Asr Ave, Rahban Alley 895228.
Mir Damad, Mir Damad Ave, Opposite Asia Supermarket 2059939.
Morvarid, Vali Asr-Taleghani Intersection 6461626.
Nakhl, No 128, North Felestin Street 651203.
Nayeb (the first and oldest chelo kababi in Iran), with the following three branches: 1. Aban Branch, No 9, Karim Khan-e Zand Ave, South Aban Street 8899143, 894643. 2. Sa’adat Abad Branch, Sa’dat Abad Ave, Kaj Square, Abrisham Shopping Center 2078463, 2063652. 3. Vali Asr Branch, Vali Asr Ave, south of Sa’ei Park 8715029, 8713474.
Negah, No 95, Mir Damad Ave 2058037.
Niavaran, No 180, Shahid Dr Bahunar Street (Niavaran) 276767, 273075.
Papa, Darband Street 2209263.
Papa, Vali Asr Ave, Fereshteh Street 2040311.
Part, Tajrish Square, Eram Street 2201248.
Pizza Chubiz (pizza), Dr Shari’ati Ave, Pol-e Rumi, Rezaeih Station 2201090.
Qassr-e Moj, Mir Damad Ave 2222850.
Raftari, No 826, Vahdat-e Eslami Square 5381458-9.
Rayhun, Africa Highway 2050877.
Royal Vanak, Vanak Street, end of Shiraz Street 2260496.
Sa’ei, Vali-Asr Ave, Opposite Sa’ei Park 2222668.
Shabha-ye Shiraz, Dr Shari’ati Ave, Elahieh Alley 264122.
Shab Sara, North Sohravardi Street, Palizi Square 8763800.
Shater Abbas, Vali Asr-Shahid Chamran Intersection 2040557.
Surena, Vali Asr Ave, Tajrish 2042696.
Tapu, North Felestin Street 892852.
Tisara, No 26, Motahari Ave 841191.
Yass, Niavaran, Aqdassieh 2547142.
Za’faranieh, Vali Asr Ave, Za’faranieh 2204101.
Parks of Tehrna
Four of the most beautiful and most attractive parks of Tehran (all to the north of the town), from among a great number of old and modern ones, are:
Dar Abad Coastal Park
Located in the northernmost part of Tehran at the intersection of Dar Abad Street and a stream by the same name, this is the only park of Tehran on the riverside. Occupying an area of 10,000 square meters, it has been designed after the Zayandeh Rud coastal park in Esfahan. A playground for children and a number of tables for tennis are among its facilities.
Located in Niavaran district, at the foot of Kolak Chal mountain, the Ferdowsi Park is the highest park of Tehran and occupies an area of about 120,000 sq. m. It was called Park-e Jamshidieh until early March 1997.
Natural environment, fresh air, beautiful ponds and old trees are among its unique features. In designing the park’s landscape, all efforts were made to keep the scenic, natural environment untouched. To this end extensive use has been made of various mountain rocks. In fact this is the first rock garden in Iran.
The park owes it beauty mainly to its 15,900 trees, mostly acacia. The oldest ones are elm, ash and plane trees. In the colorful flower garden area of the park one can see various species of roses, Japanese quinces, violets, marguerites, petunias, and many others. A large artificial lake and its adjoining waterfalls are among the principal features of this beautiful park.
Plans for the westward expansion of the park including, among other things, 14 House of Culture to introduce the national and tribal diversities of Iranian architecture, music and handicrafts, together with a special museum for mountaineers have already been completed and the park is serving the people as a real cultural-recreational complex. There is a nice restaurant with delicious local and foreign foods, which gives you a panorama of Tehran, particularly at early evening hours and when the weather is not polluted.
Located in the north of Keshavarz Boulevard and formerly used exclusively for army parades, it occupies an area of 35 hectares and was constructed in 1966.
Because of being surrounded by many cultural and recreational centers such as the Contemporary Art Museum and Handicrafts Market to the west, Carpet Museum, Laleh Hotel, and Children’s Art Creative Center to the north, tennis ground to the east, and other facilities such as the Children’s Library, puppet theater, Mini City 2000, amphitheater accommodating 500 persons, volleyball and small football grounds, table tennis, chess, and Japanese garden inside the open area of the park, it is one of the most crowded parks of modern Tehran.
Located to the north of Vanak Square along Vali Asr Avenue, north Tehran, the Mellat Park with an area of 341,770 sq. m, was originally designed as an English park and constructed during the 1968-75 period.
The park, with its tall and old trees, lovely flower gardens, vast lawn areas, beautiful hills and a glimmering lake provides a relaxing atmosphere which attracts large crowds of all walks of life every day, who take advantage of its sports facilities, health path and other available services. The park’s flower gardens consist of various roses, chrysanthemums, geraniums, violets, marigolds, primroses, and many others. Trees, in a nicely arranged order, are planted in five locations in the park. These are in full harmony with the natural surroundings and include acacia, elm, plane, cypress, and other trees.
The lake with its rental boats, a small and well-kept zoo, and various playgrounds have all made this park a popular visiting place for children as well. Not only they can spend their time playing, but also may enjoy seeing the cascading waterfalls, nice statutes and using the small library.
Similar to many other parks, a number of busts of famous Iranian scholars, writers, and poets by modern sculptors can be seen on both sides of the park’s wide stairway.
Located in northeastern part of Tehran, and called Saheb Qaranieh until 1969, Niavaran Park occupies an area of about 63,000-sq. m. Weatherwise, it is one of the most pleasant parks of Tehran. The plants in the park include many varied and exotic species, which attract a great number of researchers in botany.
In addition to its natural beauty, a green-house, two public swimming pools, language laboratory, children’s play ground, table tennis and chess facilities, elementary and advanced horse racing tracks, and a library and cultural center form other features of the park. An outdoor amphitheater in the park represents another facility, which can be used for plays and theatrical activities.
The style of the park is a cross between the oriental and English gardens; its symmetrically arranged pathways and ponds follow the oriental, while its trees and shrubbery take after the English gardens.
Located in Vali Asr Avenue and to the south of Vanak Square, this is a 12-hectare park designed by a university professor in 1945. However, construction works of the park left unfinished until 1962 because of its designer’s death in an airplane accident, when Tehran Municipality took it over and completed the remaining works.
It looks like a Japanese garden inside a valley, equipped with all sorts of cultural and recreational facilities. Standing anywhere around the valley, one can see a full view of the park. There is a nice teahouse with a capacity of 1,500 persons in the terrace of the open-air amphitheater of the park.
Located in Ajudanieh Street, Darabad Street, north Tehran, it was built in 1991 and covers an area of 3,500-sq. m. Literally, the name Park-e Shatranj means the Chess Park. On entering the park, one will see: old trees castle-like halls, pathways paved with black and white stone tiles, and an attractive clock.
The sight of this beautiful and magnetic collection of elements gives the impression of entering a large chessboard. Along the main pathways, on parts paved with black and white stone tiles, you can see chess pieces. In addition to their decorative aspects, a game of chess may be played with them.
The ponds with water fountains and colorful lights add to the attractions of the park. The bottoms of these ponds are paved with black and white stone tiles, suggestive of a chessboard. Thirty special benches in yellow are placed on the main pathways of the park, which can be used for playing chess. Between the benches, a chessboard is fixed so that the chess players can play outdoors.
Two separate halls for men and women interested in chess playing are built in this park with eight tables in each hall. These halls are the most interesting and spectacular parts of the park. They look like castles in chess pieces with wooden staircases that lead to the roof.
Tall and pretty oriental plane trees, pines, and elm trees sprout from the heart of stones, serving as the symbols of the dominance of trees in the nature around them. The park has a colorful flower cover with various species of roses, geraniums, etc, which make the park especially eye-catching.
Excursions around Tehrna
For those who have a bit more time in Tehran, there are several interesting visits that can be made in the western, eastern, and southern suburbs.
Sixty-six km to the east of Tehran, to the right of Tehran-Firuz Kuh road, Damavand is a small town set in a closed-off and well-watered valley below the foothills of Mount Damavand whose cone is not visible from this place. During the summer months, its populations are swollen by an influx of holidaymakers. Archaeological excavations carried out in the site of the modern town of Damavand have shown its occupation since the Neolithic times fifth millennium BC. The origins of the town go back to the Sassanian period. In the historical districts of the town as well as in its neighboring villages, there remain some relics belonging to the beginning of the Islamic period, the 11th century AD, and the Seljuk period. The most important amongst these is are the Jom’eh Mosque and its minaret, of the same period, however restored in later periods particularly during the Safavid rule and thus turned into a new building void of any historical significance. The mosque’s circular and simple brick minaret, which rests upon a rectangular brick base, is the only remaining relic of the structure. Traces of a Kuffic inscription and of other decorations, in the 11th-century style, remain to this day upon the minaret. At Damavand there are also two funerary towers of the kind found so abundantly in the Caspian region. The Imamzadeh Shams od-Din, to the southeast of the mosque, is thought to date from the Seljuk period. The Imamzadeh Abdollah, near the northeastern edge of the town, must date form the beginning of the 14th century, although the carved wooden doors are of a later date than the building. Two barred windows were recently added on the south.
A growing town 35 km to the west of Tehran, 1,320 meters above sea level, with more than 2.5 million inhabitants, and occupying an area of 6,000 square kilo meters, Karaj is situated in the crossroads and starting point of the road to Chalus over Alborz mountains. As the second largest town of the province of Tehran, Karaj is considered a favorite excursion spot for the inhabitants of Tehran and even foreigners who, from spring on, like to come out on Fridays and holidays to enjoy the coolness of the countryside near the swiftly flowing Karaj river. In the past, the town had no noteworthy buildings. However, modern Karaj has the water ski facilities on Amir Kabir Dam, the interesting Morvarid Palace-Museum. The Morvarid (Pearl) Palace which belonged to the former king’s sister (Shams Pahlavi), is also called Shams Palace. It is located inside the Mehrshahr Cultural Complex, occupies a roofed area of 1,500 square meters, and stands in a beautiful 170-hectare garden. Designed by Italian and American architects, its floors are connected with ramps. There are some houses, indoor swimming pool, a cinema, and artificial ponds, all under a fiberglass ceiling. All the interior decorations are imported.
Closest visit from the capital and some seven km to the south east of Tehran along the old national road to Qum, is situated the little bustling, holy, and modern town of Shahr-e Rey, or just Rey. The plain surrounding the city is still being irrigated to some extent, by the ancient Iranian-type of subterranean canals known as the qanats. According to a 10-century geographer, it used to be the finest city in the east, discounting Baghdad. From 5,000 BC to 1200 AD Rey, formerly Raques, or Raga, was a large and important city. Its name is upon rupestrial inscriptions from Darius’s period, in the Zoroastrian Avesta and in the Bible. The ancient walls of the old Rey consisting of some relics dating from the Achaemenian, Askhanian, Sassanian, as well as the Islamic period, particularly Seljuk, are clearly visible between the modern town and the mountainside. today, Rey is an industrial suburb with a lively bazaar in the center of town.
Visited by Alexander, fortified by the Parthians, the birthplace of Harun or-Rashid, a flourishing city of the Seljuk Empire and perhaps the finest source for early Islamic pottery, Rey was utterly destroyed by the Mongols in 1220 AD and its populations dispersed to Varamin, Saveh, and elsewhere. The main interesting places for the tourist in Rey are as follows:
Also known as the Mongol Tower because of being the only building in the city which was not destroyed by the Mongol invaders and facing the Ibn-e Babeveyh Mausoleum, is a huge 20-meter high brick structure slightly embellished with deeply grooved brickwork. The triple vaulted cornice which crowns the deep pleats of its cylindrical surface is deceptively simple and brilliantly effective; the monumental doorway at the south side has an impressive simplicity. It is said to be the tomb of Toghrol I, the Seljuk king. All the historical and artistic features and evidences such as the Seljuk-style Kuffic inscription and design carved on the brick indicative of its Seljuk origin, have been destroyed in the course of reparations carried out in 1882 AD, thus this 12th century structure looks like a modern building, to the passer-by it might appear to be large Victorian water-tower. This effect is enhanced by its having lost whatever dome or cone probably the latter it once possessed; its flat top looks severely functional. A marble tablet has been installed upon the portal of the tower, indicating the nature and date of repairs carried out in it.
SHRINE OF HAZRAT-E ABD OL-AZIM
Hazrat-e Abd ol-Azim, a third-century descendant of Imam Hassan, the second Imam, was martyred in the 9th century AD in Rey and buried here in the center of the modern Rey. Two other mausoleums, those Imamzadeh Hamzeh, Imam Reza’s brother, and Imamzadeh Tahir, son of Hazrat-e Sajjad, are located adjacent to this shrine. The sanctuary is a very popular pilgrimage site. The whole construction consists of a portal; a lofty ivan decorated with mirrors, several courtyards, a golden dome of the sanctuary, two tile minarets, a portico, a sepulcher, and a mosque. Various inscriptions found in the complex, mainly date from the 14th century AD. The mirror-work, paintings, and gilding of the structure belong to the 19th century AD. Renovations, reparations, and expansions are still being carried out in this structure. Adjoining this holy tomb, there are some other tombs belonging to the Qajar monarchs, Ulamas, religious scholars, other personalities, poets, national heroes, etc. It was on leaving this shrine after Friday prayers that Nasser od-Din Shah was assassinated in 1896.
Being a spring, it is famous for its fine flowing water mainly used for carpet washing. During the summer carpet washers come from the suburbs of Rey and even from Tehran to wash carpets in the basin at the foot of the mountain. On these occasions the hillside near the spring, presents the kind of lively colorful scene, which delights photographers. Men, women, and children continuously splash around in the clear water, scrubbing energetically with brushes and brooms. Soap and detergent powder are not spared. Once cleaned and rid of greases, the carpets are laid out to dry on the large rock from which the springs take origin. No doubt it was the popularity of this spot, which caused Nasser od-Din Shah to follow the old Sassanian custom of having rock carvings representing him enthroned and hunting chiseled on the rock face overlooking the spring of Cheshmeh Ali. Not far from here, too, is the mound or Tappeh where some of the finest prehistoric Rey pottery has been discovered.
Locally called Zindan-e Harun, this two story historical structure 12 km from the Tehran-Mashhad road at the foot of Mesgar Abad mountains, consists of a rectangular construction built with rough-hewn dark-colored stones and plaster mortar, and has a brick ceiling. Originally, it was nine meters high. There is an opening upon its southern wall from which you can go inside the building. Its construction has been attributed to the Buvayhids, 10th century AD.
Situated in a fertile plain from which the formidable range of Alborz can be seen in all its glory, famous for its cereals, cotton, melons, and wheat production, food processing, cooking oil and sugar refineries, and gradually developing into an industrial town, Varamin is a small town 42 km to the south of Tehran through Rey. It had its moment of glory in the Mongol period when Rey was destroyed, and it took its place as the chief town of the region. In the 16th century, the position was taken over by the rivaling adjacent town – Tehran. The Islamic buildings in Varamin thus all date from 13th to 15th century AD. Among the historic sites of the town, Masjid-e Jom’eh is a 14th century monument and perfect example of the so-called four-ivan plan. Except the western ivan who has totally disappeared, three of the ivans and rest of the building is fairly well preserved. On the frieze of the southern ivan there is an inscription dated 1322 AD in the name of the Ilkhan Abu Sa’id, son of Sultan Oljaitu Khodabandeh whose mausoleum can be seen at Sultanieh. The mihrab thought to date from the reign of Shahrokh, 15th century ruler, and the vault are intact. The mihrab is so “intensely rich,” according to A U Pope, “that it defies pictorial presentation.” This mosque is unquestionably the most interesting building south of Alborz between Sultanieh and Damghan. Nevertheless, as an introduction to Islamic architecture for the newly arrived visitor, which, because of its situation near Tehran it is rather apt to be, it is not to be recommended unreservedly. Its condition is woefully dilapidated. One needs to know a good deal about what a mosque ought to look like in order to appreciate what this one must have been. Moreover, decorated brick and sculptured plaster owe more to the subtlety of their design than to their color, and cannot at first make the same impact as, say, faience mosaic. Varamin therefore, is not perhaps the best place to acquire the taste for early Iranian mosques; but once that taste is acquired, one returns to this lovely ruin with greater understanding and ever-growing respect. Imamzadeh Yahya and the Imamzadeh Shah Hossein (both from the 14 century AD) are the other places of interest for the tourist.