Adorian Fire Temple in Tehran is a temple built during the Qajar era (1785–1925). The fire in the temple was brought over from the Yazd Fire Temple, which is an Atash Behram (Fire of Victory) temple with its fire having burned for 1,500 years. This fire temple resembles the one in Yazd and even has a similar pool in front of the structure.
Adorian Fire Temple
Azadi Cultural Complex
Built in 1971, the Azadi Tower, which sits at the western entrance of the city, is considered the symbol of Tehran. The tower, which is a Pahlavi structure, was originally named ‘Shahyad’ (King’s Memorial Tower) and was later renamed to Azadi (Freedom or Liberty) Tower after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. In 1967 a competition was held in which participants were asked to design a structure that would represent Iran. A 24-year-old Hossein Ammant, who had just graduated from Tehran University, won the competition. His design was inspired by and incorporated pre-Islamic and Islamic arches used widely in Achaemenid, Sassanid and Islamic architecture. Construction of the tower began in 1969 and it was completed in 1971. This three-story tower, which is close to Mehrabad International Airport, has four elevators, two stairways and 286 steps. There are several halls, exhibition rooms, a library and a museum underneath the tower. The height of Azadi Tower is 45 meters from the ground. There are 25 thousand and according to some accounts 46 thousand pieces of marble from Isfahan in 15 thousand sizes ranging from 40 centimeters to 6 meters used in the construction of this tower. The thickness of these pieces ranged from 7 to 27 centimeters. These marbles have been locked in place with concrete and stainless steel. Inside the tower there are several doors made of solid granite that weigh up to five to seven tons. The last story of the tower is domed and has turquoise moaraq tilework. This dome rises above the tower and is visible from a distance. According to architect Ammanat, the design of Azadi Square was inspired by the design of the underdome of the 17th century Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque of Isfahan. This design consists of a network of lemon-shaped compartments that decrease in size as they go towards the center of the dome and create the illusion of a peacock’s tail. But unlike the round dome of Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque, this square is an ellipse. The fountains and pool in front of the tower have been inspired by Persian Gardens. The entrance of the tower is directly underneath the main vault and leads into the Azadi Museum which showcases gold and enamel pieces, painted pottery, marble, miniature, and paintings as well as an exact replica of the Cyrus cylinder, which is the first human rights charter in the world and currently kept at the British Museum.
Bagh Ferdows Mansion
Bagh Ferdows Mansion is a Qajar era (1785–1925) home located in the Ferdows (paradise) garden. The structure is noted for its detailed flower and leaf stucco reliefs. The house is a National Heritage Site. A number of museums and cafes have been opened in the garden which is a popular hangout spot for young Iranians and artists.
Bahram Fire Temple or Mill Hill
Bahram Fire Temple or Mil Hill in Rey is the ruins of a Sassanid (226-651 CE) fire temple. This temple is believed to have belonged to Bahram V (406- 438 CE) the fifteenth Sassanid king. The reed beds near the ruins suggest there was once a lake close to the temple. The remaining two arches of the temple suggest it was built of mortar and adobe. Excavations of the site have yielded valuable artifacts.
Bibi Shahrbanou is a mausoleum with an enamel dome. Legend has it that this is the tomb of Shahrbanou the daughter of the Sassanid Yazdegerd III (590-651 CE) and the mother of the fourth Shia Imam Ali ibn Husayn al-Sajjad (PBUH)(659-713). However, as the mausoleum is located above a mountain, close to a spring and frequented by women there are those who believe that the tomb was actually a temple dedicated to the Persian goddess of water Anahita. There is a cave close by the mausoleum which has a lattice Zarih where pilgrims light candles. Locals believe that if young girls tie strings to this Zarih they will find love.
Dar ul-Funun is a science institute established in 1851 in Tehran by Amir Kabir (1807-1852), the prime minister of Qajar monarch Nasser-al Din Shah (1831-1896). It is considered the first modern institution of higher education of the country. After a trip to Russia, Amir Kabir realized the country’s dire need for an institute of higher education. To build Dar ul-Funun, which was simply known as the ‘new school’ or ‘Royal Academy, he chose a location close to the royal palace and in place of a former barracks. Amir Kabir recruited seven professors and scholars from Austria to teach at the school. These professors arrived in the country two days after his dismissal as prime minister. Dar ul-Funun is said to have been inaugurated by Nasser-al Din Shah with 30 students and 13 days before its benefactor, Amir Kabir, was killed in Fin Bath in Kashan. Amir Kabir established this school so that young Iranians could learn modern and military sciences. The main topics taught at the school were geology, medicine, surgery, mathematics, engineering, pharmacy, history, geography and military sciences. As there were not enough German speakers and translators in the country, courses were taught in French. New students were required to pass a French proficiency class before they could officially start studying at the school. Later on Russian and English were added to the languages taught at the school. Initially students were required to study for 8 years before graduation but this was later reduced to four years. Most graduates would, however, stay on for an additional four years to teach at the school. The original building of Dar ul-Funun consisted of 50 rooms situated around a courtyard, which had a large fountain (howz). The school included a dining hall, physics, chemistry and pharmacology laboratories, a library, and a printing house. The school’s original building was in use for 80 years before it was demolished in 1930 and rebuilt by a Russian architect. The new building of the school had 32 classrooms. Many parts of the institute were later merged into the newly established Tehran University. The school’s graduates were among the most influential figures in modern Iranian history. Some of Dar ul-Funun notable alumni include royal painter Mohammad Khan Ghaffari (Kamal-ol-Molk) (1847-1940), journalist and political activist Jahangir-Khan Sur-e-Esrafil (1874-1908), musician Gholam-Hossein Darvish Khan (1872- 1926), prime minister and scholar Mohammad-Ali Foroughi (Zoka-ol-Molk) (1877-1942), author and linguist Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda (1879-1956), novelist Sadeq Hedayat (1903-1951), and prime minister Ali Amini (1905-1992).
Golestan Palace or the Rose Garden Palace is a masterpiece of Qajar era (1785–1925) crafts and architecture and the place where traditional Persian arts meet European architecture. The palace was originally known as the Arg of Tehran and was built during the reign of the founder of the Safavid dynasty, Shah Abbas I (1571-1629). It found importance after Agha Mohammad Khan (1742-1797), the first of the Qajar Kings, chose Tehran as his capital and resided in this palace. The palace complex was expanded during the reign of Fath-Ali Shah (1772-1834). During the reign of Nasser-al Din Shah (1831-1896), who ruled for 49 years and was the first Iranian king to visit Europe three times, additions inspired by European architecture were added to the palace. The palace has some of the finest examples of Persian mirrorwork, stucco and stained glass decorations and consists of 17 palaces, museums, and halls, which were mostly built over the two centuries of Qajar rule. These halls include Talar-e Berelian (Brilliant Hall),which is famous for its mirrorwork and chandeliers, Talar-e Adj (Ivory Hall), which housed gifts by European monarchs to Nasser-al Din Shah, Talar-e Aineh (Hall of Mirrors), which is famous for its exceptional mirrorwork and once housed the Peacock Throne, Talar-e Almas (Diamond Hall), which is also noted for its glittering mirrorwork, and Talar-e Salam (Reception Hall), which was built and used by Nasser-al Din Shah as a museum that housed jewels . Khalvat-e Karim Khani (Karim Khan Veranda) was built in 1759 by the founder of the Zand dynasty (1750-1794) and was part of his residence. This nook has a marble throne and the tomb stone of Nasser-al Din Shah, which was originally located in Shah-Abdol-Azim Shrine in Rey and was moved and installed here after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The iwan (a rectangular hall walled on three sides and open on one side) of Takht-e Marmar (Marble Throne) dates back to the reign of the founder of the Zand Dynasty, Karim Khan (1705-1779), and is the oldest part of the Golestan Palace Complex. The iwan is where the coronation of Qajar kings and Pahlavi kings (1925-1979) were held and where the Qajars gave audience to their subjects. On this terrace in front of the complex sits the magnificent marble throne, which was built upon the order of Fath-Ali shah Qajar in 1806. The throne is made of 65 pieces of marble from the mines of Yazd and crafted in Isfahan. The throne is inspired by the story of Solomon whose throne was said to have been carried by fairies and other supernatural beings. The 26-meter tall Emarat-e Badgir (wind tower monument) is located in the eastern part of the compound and has elaborate blue, yellow and black tile decorations. Shams-ol-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun) is a fusion of Persian and European architecture and was built upon the order of Nasser-al Din Shah to give the Qajar monarch a panoramic view of the city. This palace complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ibn Babawayh Cemetery
Ibn Babawayh Cemetery in Rey is where many prominent Iranian figures are laid to rest most notably the traditionalist Ibn Babawayh (923-991) whom the cemetery has been named after. Some of the other famous occupants of the cemetery include journalist and poet Mirzadeh Eshghi (1893-1924), scholar and writer of the first Persian dictionary Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda (1879-1956), painter Hossein Behzad (1894-1968) and wrestling champion Gholamreza Takhti (1930-1968).
Imamzadeh Qasem in Tehran is a mausoleum and pilgrimage site, which dates back to the 10th century. Legend has it that the head of a son of the second Shia Imam Hasan, Qasem, who was killed in Karbala is buried here. During the Safavid era in the 16th century, a wooden chest was placed over the tomb. This octagonal-shaped brick structure was expanded during the Qajar era (1785–1925) and an iwan (a rectangular hall walled on three sides and open on one side) was added along with a tiled dome with Kufic decorations.
Imamzadeh Saleh is a mausoleum and mosque complex in Tajrish Square in Tehran's Shemiran district. This mausoleum, which is believed to date back to the 13th century, belongs to a son of the seventh Shia Imam Musa ibn Jafar (745-799). The square structure has a tiled dome and strong Ilkhanid era (1256–1335) architectural elements. The shrine has a silver Zarih (lattice cover) and a wooden chest has been placed on top of the Saleh tomb which is believed to date back to the Safavid era (1501 – 1736). The interior of the tomb has tilework decorations, mirror work, fine paintings and stucco reliefs. The mausoleum is a popular pilgrimage site where locals make regular donations of salt and light candles.
Imamzadeh Yahya is the mausoleum of one of the descendants of the Shia Imams. The structure was an octagonal-shaped tower with a conical dome. During the Qajar era (1785–1925), tilework was added to the structure. Currently an octagonal shaped shrine has been built in place of the original tower. The shrine has mirrorwork, seven-colored tiles and Thulth inscriptions.
Masoudieh Mansion is a Qajar era (1785-1925) home consisting of an Andarouni (private quarters used by women) and a Birouni (public quarters used mostly by men). The structure is the starting point of many cultural organizations such as the first museum of Iran which was built in a corner of this beautiful mansion in 1939 as well as the National Library. The building was later handed over to the Ministry of Education during the Pahlavi era (1925-1978).
Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini
The Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini is where the founder of the Islamic Revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989), has been laid to rest along with his wife Khadijeh Saqafi and his second son Ahmad Khomeini, who died in 1995. The mausoleum is located to the south of Tehran in the Behesht-e Zahra (Paradise of Zahra) cemetery. Construction of the mausoleum began in 1989 and upon completion the complex will include a cultural and tourist center, a university for Islamic studies, a seminary, a shopping mall, and a 20,000-car parking lot.
Milad Tower is the sixth tallest telecommunications tower and the 15th tallest freestanding structure in the world. Second only to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the Middle East’s tallest tower, this 435-meter tower is visible from almost any location in Tehran and has become one of the main symbols of the Iranian capital. Erected in a 14,000-hectare plot, the tower has been designed to withstand the strongest of earthquakes and consists of five parts: foundation, lobby, shaft, head and antenna mast. The lobby structure consists of six floors. The first two basement floors contain administrative offices and maintenance, repair and operations centers. The ground floor is the entrance of the tower and has ticket booths, security stations, a 3D cinema, concession stands, escalators and elevators. The six escalators on this level can transport up to 9,000 people every day. The first floor is a gallery level that showcases artworks and art installations. The second floor has a 10s of shops that offer goods ranging from leather products and jewelry to handicrafts and pastry. The third floor has a food court which offers a variety of international and Persian dishes as well as fast food options. The shaft is an octagonal concrete structure, which reaches a height of 315 meters, with 6 express elevators. Approximately 33,000 cubic meters of concrete has been used in the construction of the shaft. This shaft has no function other than allowing the passage of express elevators and sheeting wires. There is a stop every 12 floors, which allows maintenance workers to carry out inspections and necessary repair work. The tower has 25,000-ton head with 12 floors and two elevators at the center. The head of the tower has an area of 12,000 square meters and a fireproof zone, which can accommodate up to 600 people in time of emergency. The head structure also includes a closed and an open observation deck, a cafeteria, a revolving restaurant, a VIP restaurant, a public art gallery and a sky dome. The antenna mast is the final part of this gargantuan structure. The mast is 120 meters tall, weighs 350 tons and is made of 360,000 pieces and steel and nuts and bolts. The Milad Tower Compound includes a laserium, cycling road, paintball club, skating rink, a fish spa, multi-level parking facilities, a dolphinarium, a food court, a mosque, a shopping center and coffee shops. A five-star hotel is being constructed on the compound.
Niavaran Palace Complex
The Niavaran Palace complex is located in an 11,000 hectare garden in north Tehran and consists of Qajar (1785–1925) and Pahlavi (1925-1979) era structures, which have mostly been turned into museums that house a diverse collection of paintings from Sohrab Sepehri and Parviz Kalantari to Paul Gaugin and Pablo Picasso as well as displays ranging from Native American and Mexican artifacts to Luristan metal works and Amlash ceramics. Fath-Ali Shah Qajar (1772-1834) was the first to build a small structure in this garden and use it as his summer residence. Mohammad Shah Qajar (1808-1848) was next to build himself a residence in the Niavaran compound. In 1851, Nasser-al Din Shah (1831-1896) built the Saheb Qaraniyeh Palace in two stories. During the time of Nasser-al Din Shah every 30 years was considered a century. On the 31st anniversary of his coronation, Nasser-al Din Shah named himself Saheb Qeran (he who has reigned for a century) and named this palace Saheb Qaraniyeh. The palace included a Shahneshin (alcove), Mirror Hall, bath, winter living room and some 40 smaller rooms for his wives. The Pool House (Howz Khaneh) in the basement of the palace was the way the king accessed the living quarters of his wives. With its lavish wooden, stucco and stained glass decorations the Pool House is the most beautiful part of the palace after the Mirror Hall. Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar (1853-1907), the king who started Persian Cinema, destroyed parts of Saheb Qaraniyeh’s harem rooms and signed the order granting Iranians constitution in this palace. Reza Shah (1878-1944), the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, used this palace for unofficial ceremonies. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1919-1980), redecorated and renovated Saheb Qaraniyeh using the second story as his office and the first story or the Pool House as a reception quarter for foreign guests. Ahmad Shahi Pavilion, which was built towards the end of the reign of Ahmad Shah Qajar (1898-1930) as his summer residence in an area of 800 square meters, is the last Qajar structure of the complex. This two-story structure has brick decorations in its façade. The first story of this pavilion has an ellipse-shaped marble fountain in its foyer, six rooms and two hallways. The main hall of the second story was used as a music room. The second story is encircled by a terrace. This building was temporarily used as the office of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Niavaran Palace is the last building added to the compound. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi destroyed some of the compound’s smaller buildings and built a more modern palace in a 9,000 square meter area and in two stories for him and his family. Persian and Islamic architectural elements have been used in the design of the palace. The Complex was turned into a museum open to public in 1985.
Rashkan Castle is an Arsacid Era (247 BC–224 CE) structure intended to hold the city of Rey. The main parts of the castle were still standing until the Qajar era (1794-1925CE) but have since fallen into ruin. The walls of this castle have arrowslits for archers. Excavations at the site have uncovered the remains of a number of other structures from different historical eras.
Saadabad Palace Complex
Built in north Tehran in a 300,000 hectare plot, Saadabad Palace Complex was initially built by Qajar kings (1785–1925) as a summer residence before becoming the home of the Pahlavi family (1925-1979). The complex has 180,000 hectares of natural forests and a total of 18 palaces and houses from the Pahlavi and Qajar eras including Shams Palace, Ashraf Palace, Queen Mother Palace, and Shahram Palace, which have now mostly been converted into different museums. One of the oldest structures of this complex is the Ahmad Shahi Palace, which was built towards the end of the reign of Ahmad Shah Qajar (1898-1930) as his summer residence. This four-room structure has brick decorations in its façade and two terraces. Shahvand Palace also known as the Green Palace is a two-story structure built over seven years. This palace was once the residence of Reza Shah (1878-1944), the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, who used the first story as his personal quarters and office. Rare green marbles from the Khamseh Mine of Zanjan and marbles from mines in Khorasan were used in the exterior of the palace. This palace features stucco reliefs and mirrorwork with Persian and European motifs. The palace has a Mirror Hall adorned with a 70-meter silk Mashhad carpet. The central motif of this carpet, which was woven over seven years, matches the ceiling decorations of the hall. White Palace, which was an administrative center and a summer residence for Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, is the biggest palace in Saadabad and has a Roman-Persian façade. The palace built in two stories and in a 5,000 square meter plot, takes its name from the white marble from the mines of Torbat Heidarieh and Yazd used in its construction. The palace has 10 ceremonial halls with French decorations. A lattice piano belonging to Nicholas II (1868-1916), the last Emperor of Russia, sits in the foyer of this palace. The first-story foyer also has scenes from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (Book of Kings) painted around its lightwells. Three of the chandeliers and the desk in the first-story dining hall of this palace belonged to Marie Antoinette (1755-1793). Black Palace, which has been built in three stories and in an area of 3,600 square meters, takes its name from the Vali Abad Mine black marble used in its construction. This palace was the location of Ministry of Court, which connected the King and his court with Parliament (Majlis).
Sar dar Bagh-e Melli
Sar dar Bagh-e Melli (The National Garden Façade) is a government compound where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, The National Museum of Iran, and Malek National Museum are located. This Qajar era (1785–1925) monument is a combination of European and Iranian architecture. The structure has unique tilework which includes poetry, religious inscriptions and paintings.
Shah-Abdol-Azim Shrine in Rey is where a fifth generation descendant of the second Shia Imam, Hasan Bin Ali, has been interred. This 9th century structure has several courtyards, a golden cupola, two tiled minarets, a portico, a sepulcher, and a mosque. The mirror-work, paintings and gildings of the structure were all carried out or donated during the 19th century. There are two shrines named Imamzadeh Hamzeh (brother of the 8th Shia Imam Reza) and Imamzadeh Tahir (son of the 4th Shia Imam Sajjad) near the Shah-Abdol-Azim Shrine. Some of the Qajar kings, religious scholars and prominent figures have been interred in Shah-Abdol-Azim Shrine.
Shams-ol-Emareh (Edifice of the Sun) is one of the most beautiful structures of Golestan Palace. The building was built upon the order of Nasser-ol-Din Shah to give the Qajar monarch a panoramic view of the city. This building is a fusion of Persian and European architecture and has two identical towers. Shams-ol-Emareh has been decorated with multiple arches, intricate tile work, delicate stucco reliefs and ornate windows.
Takht –e- Rostam
Takht –e- Rostam (Rostam’s Throne) is a volcanic rock cliff and the ruins of a Sassanid era (224-651 CE) Zoroastrian fire temple located 80 km southwest of Tehran near Shahryar county. It is said that in ancient times the fire in this temple was visible from a long distance away.
Tehran City Theater
Tehran City Theater, which was unveiled in 1972, is a performing arts complex in Tehran. This cylindrical structure has traditional Persian decorations and contains several performance spaces including Chaharsou Hall, Qashqai Hall, Sayeh Hall, and the Main Hall. The complex also has a specialized art library frequented by students and arts enthusiasts.
Tehran Grand Bazaar
The Tehran Grand Bazaar is a historical 10-kilometer market in the Iranian capital. The bazaar is located in Arg Square with its main entrance in Sabze Meydoon. While the exact age of this bazaar is unknown, some studies suggest that parts of it predate the Safavid dynasty (1501–1736). The bazaar in Tehran is largely open and only parts like Amir Bazaar, Carpert Bazaar, Shoemakers Bazaar, Tailors Bazaar, Hazraati Bazaar, Carpenters Bazaar and Goldsmiths Bazaar are covered. A variety of traditional and modern goods are sold in the Grand Bazaar and there are a few landmark restaurants situated in there. The Grand Bazaar is located near Golestan Palace Complex.
Toghrol Tower in Rey city is a 12th-century monument where Seljuq ruler Tugrul Beg (990 – 1063) is buried. The 20-meter tower is built of bricks and once had a dome, which was destroyed in an earthquake. A flight of stairs inside this cylindrical tower connects its lower level to the higher one. The tower also functions as a sundial. It is said that a number of other prominent Seljuq era figures have been buried in Toghrol Tower.
Wall of Rey
Wall of Rey is a 6,000-year-old structure, which dates back to the Median era (678 -549 BC). Only three kilometers of this defensive wall, which encircled the entire city during the Parthian era (247 BC–224 AD), remains today. The height of this adobe wall is 8 meters in some parts and 3.2 meters in others. There were once moats around the wall, which were filled with water in times of threat.
Zahir-od-dowleh Cemetery and Ribat
Zahir-od-dowleh Cemetery and Ribat in Darband, Tehran, is where many prominent Iranian artists and cultural figures are buried. The cemetery is the eternal resting place of famous names such as musician Abolhasan Saba (1902-1957), singer Qamar ol-Moluk Vaziri (1905-1959), poet Iraj Mirza (1874-1925) musician Gholamhossein Darvish Khan (1872- 1926) and poetess Forough Farrokhzad (1934-1966).