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.