Tehran (also spelled Teheran, which more correctly reflects the Persian pronunciation) (تهران in Persian), population 9,000,000 (metropolitan: 14,000,000), and a land area of 254 square miles, is the capital of Iran and one of the major world cities. It is also the center of Tehran Province.
More than half of the country's industry is based there. Industries include the manufacturing of cars, electronics and electrical equipment, weaponry, textiles, sugar, cement, and chemical products. It is also a leading center for the sale of carpets and furniture. There is an oil refinery nearby.
Tehran is a lively city at the foot of the Alborz mountain range with an immense network of highways unparalleled in western Asia. It is also the hub of the country's railway network. The city has numerous large museums, art centers, palace complexes and cultural centers. Besides Persians and Azeris, there are Armenian, Jewish and Afghani communities in Tehran. The city is dotted with mosques, churches and synagogues.
Tehran has existed as a village since the 9th century, but was less well-known than the city of Rages which was flourishing nearby in the pre-Mongol era. In the 13th century, following the destruction of Rages by Mongols, many of its inhabitants fled to Tehran. In some sources of the Mongol era the city is mentioned as "Rages's Tehran" (طهرانِ ری). The city is later mentioned in Hamdollah Mostowfi's Nezhat ol-Gholoob (written in 1340) as a famous village.
Tehran became a residence of the Safavid rulers in the 17th century. Tahmasp I built a bazaar and a wall around the city, but it somewhat fell out of favour after Abbas I turned sick when he was passing the city to go to a war with the Uzbeks.
In the early 18th century, Karim Khan Zand ordered a palace, a harem, and a government office to be built in Tehran, possibly to declare the city his capital, but later moved his government to Shiraz. Tehran finally became the capital of Persia in 1795, when the Qajar king Agha Mohammad Khan was crowned in the city. It remains the capital to this day.
During World War II, British and Soviet troops entered the city. Tehran was the site of the Teheran Conference in 1943, attended by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.
On September 8 1978, demonstrations against the Shah led to riots. The army reportedly opened fire on the demonstrating mob. Martial law was installed in the wake of the ensuing revolution, from 1978-80.
During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, Tehran was the scene of repeated Scud missile attacks and air strikes against random residential and industrial targets within the city, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties.
The Azadi Tower is the first thing visitors come across when coming from the Mehr-abad International Airport. The tower has become an icon of sorts for Tehran and Iran.
Like many of the world's large cities, Tehran suffers from serious traffic congestion and pollution problems. Tehran has become so congested in the past 10 years, that the government has considered moving the nation's capital to another city to alleviate these problems and help de-centralize the economy and population. This is especially true in light of predictions of an imminent major earthquake in Tehran. Yet millions choose to live and work in Tehran despite these problems. The appealing side of Tehran, it seems, outweighs these concerns.
The Peacock Throne of the Persian Shahs can be found in Tehran's Gulistan Palace . Some of the important museums are National Museum of Iran , Sa'dabad Palaces Complex , Glassware and Ceramics Museum of Iran , The Carpet Museum of Iran, Tehran's Underglass painting Museum , Niavaran Palace Complex etc. The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is also appealing to many because it features the works of great artists such as Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The huge Tehran International Fair organises many expositions. Its book expositions are especially popular.
Tehran is also a city of parks and possesses more than 800 well-kept parks. The Tehran Stock Exchange which is a full member of the FIBV and a founding member of the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges, is one of the world's best performing stock exchanges, in recent years.
Among the unusual attractions in Tehran (especially for tourists) are its many electronic stores and the buildings encompassing them where unlicensed copies of CDs are sold at very low prices. Tehran has eight TV channels broadcast by IRIB, and is in receiving range of satellite stations that broadcast over 100 free channels from Europe and Asia. Although technically banned by Iran's government, the four foot dishes are a commodity in millions of homes in Iran.
Tehran is home to the world's fourth tallest free standing structure, the Milad Tower.
In 2001 a metro system that had been in planning since the 1970s opened the first two of seven envisaged lines. Development of the Tehran metro system had been interrupted by the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. Problems arising from the late completion of the metro led to buses taking on the role of the metro lines, serving mainly long distance routes. Taxis filled the void for localised routes, not carrying passengers to their final destinations but operating along main routes and arteries. This has all led to extreme congestion and air pollution within the city.
Tehran is served by Mehrabad International Airport , the old airport located in the western part of the city, and Imam Khomeini International Airport, outside the city and to the south, which was scheduled to be operational in 2004 but currently resides in the hands of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Tehran also has a central train station with connecting services round the clock to various cities in the country. There are four bus terminals that also provide connections at low fares. These are the South, East, West, and Bei-haghi Park-Drive Terminals.
While the center of the city contains the government ministries and headquarters, the commercial centers are more located toward Taleghani Ave. and Beheshti Ave. further north. Although administratively separate, Rey, Shemiran, and Karaj are often considered part of the larger Tehran metropolitan area.
Tehran is also in the final stages of constructing a monorail innercity transport line.
Colleges and Universities
Tehran's major colleges and universities are:
Tehran also contains Iran's largest military academy, and several religious schools and seminaries.
Tehran was the first city in the Middle East to host the Asian Games. The 7th Asian Summer Games in 1974, was held with the participation of 2363 athletes and officials from 25 countries.
In football (soccer), Tehran is host to six premier clubs, namely, Saba Battery , SAIPA , Peykan FC , Paas , Esteghlal and Pirouzi/Persepolis. These clubs have on numerous occasions won Asian titles, and many of their players are well known internationally.
Tehran is also the site of Iran's national football stadium Azadi Stadium with 100000 seating capacity. Many of the top matches of Iran's Premier League are held here.
Within 10 minutes of driving distance from Tehran lies an excellent ski resort. Tochal is the world's fifth highest ski resort at over 3730m at its highest 7th station. The resort was completed in 1976 shortly before the overthrow of the Shah.
Here, one must first ride the eight km (five mile) long gondola lift which covers a huge vertical. The 7th station has three major slopes. The resort's longest slope is the south side U shaped slope which goes from the 7th station to 5th station. The other two slopes are located on the north side of the 7th station. Here, there are two parallel chair ski lifts that go up to 3900m near Tochal's peak (at 4000m), rising higher than the gondola 7th station station. This altitude is higher than any of the European resorts including Mont Blanc.
From the Tochal peak, one has a spectacular view of the Alborz range, including the 5671 metre (18606 ft) high Mt. Damavand, an extinct volcano.
At the bottom of the lifts in a valley behind the Tochal peak is Tochal hotel, located at 3500m altitude. From there a T lift takes skiers up the 3800 metres of Shahneshin peak, where the third slope of Tochal is.
Tochal 7th station has skiing eight months of the year. But there are also many glaciers and year-round snow fields near Tehran where skiing began in 1938, thanks to the efforts of two German railway engineers. Today, 12 ski resorts operate in Iran, but the most famous are Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak, all within an hour or so of Tehran.
See also: List of the localities around Tehran, Kilan
Some of Tehran's popular attractions are: