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کلانشهر تهران · Tehran Metropolis
Milad Tower seen from Qarb Town
Azadi Tower Shemiran
Ferdows Garden Ab o Atash Park
Golestan Palace Mount Tochal seen from Modarres Expressway
Official seal of Tehran
Tehran is located in Iran
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Country  Iran
Province Tehran
County Tehran
Bakhsh (District) Central
 • Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf
 • Urban 617.73 km2 (238.51 sq mi)
Elevation 900 to 1,830 [2][3] m (2,952 to 6,003 ft)
Population (2015)
 • Density 12,896/km2 (33,400/sq mi)
 • Urban 8,846,782[4]
 • Metro 15,232,564[4]
 • Population Rank in Iran 1st
  Population Data from 2015 Census and Statistical Centre of Iran Metro area figure refers to Tehran Province.
Demonym(s) Tehrani (en)
Time zone IRST (UTC+03:30)
 • Summer (DST) IRDT (UTC+04:30)
Area code(s) 021
Website www.tehran.ir

Tehran (About this sound pronunciation ; Persian: Tehrān – تهران‎‎) is the capital and largest city in Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 9 million in the city and 16 million in the wider metropolitan area,[5] Tehran is the largest city and urban area of Iran, the second largest city in Western Asia, and the 3rd largest in the Middle East. It is ranked 29th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area.[6]

In the Classical era, part of the present-day city of Tehran was occupied by a Median city, which in the Avesta occurs as Rhaga.[7] It was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century, and remains now as a city in Tehran Province, located towards the southern end of the modern day city of Tehran.

Tehran was first chosen as the capital of Iran by Agha Mohammad Khan of the Qajar dynasty in 1796, in order to remain within close reach of Iran's territories in the Caucasus, at that time still part of Iran, and to avoid the vying factions of previous Iranian dynasties. The capital has been moved several times throughout the history, and Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran.

The city was the seat of the Qajars and Pahlavis, the two last imperial dynasties of the country. It is home to many historical collections, such as the royal complexes of Golestan, Saadabad, and Niavaran, as well as the country's most important governmental buildings of the modern period.

Large scale demolition and rebuilding began in the 1920s, and Tehran has been a destination for the mass migrations from all over Iran since the 20th century.[8]

The most famous landmarks of the city include the Azadi Tower, a memorial built during the Pahlavi period, and the Milad Tower, the world's 17th tallest freestanding structure which was built in 2007. The Tabiat Bridge is considered the third symbol of the city and it was built in 2014.[9]

The majority of the people of Tehran are Persian-speaking people who identify themselves as Persians,[10][11] and roughly 99% of the population understand and speak Persian; but there are also large populations of other Iranian ethnicities in the city such as Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Lurs, and Kurds who speak Persian as their second language.[12]

Tehran is served by the Mehrabad and Khomeini international airports, a central railway station, the rapid transit rail system of the Tehran Metro, as well as a trolleybus and a BRT system, and has a huge network of highways.

There have been plans to relocate Iran's capital from Tehran to another area; due mainly to air pollution and the city's exposure to earthquakes. To date no definitive plans have been approved.


The origin of the name Tehran is uncertain.[13] The settlement of Tehran dates back over 7,000 years.[14]

Classical era

The present-day city of Tehran was a suburb of an important Median city which was known as Rhaga in Old Persian. In the Avesta's Videvdat (i, 15), Rhaga is mentioned as the twelfth sacred place created by the Ohrmazd.[15] In Old Persian inscriptions, Rhaga appears as a province (Behistun 2, 10–18). It was a major area for the Iranian tribes of Medes and Achaemenids. From Rhaga, Darius the Great sent reinforcements to his father Hystaspes, who was putting down the rebellion in Parthia (Behistun 3, 1–10).[15] In some Middle Persian texts, Rhaga is given as the birthplace of Zoroaster,[16] although modern historians generally place the birth of Zoroaster in Khorasan. Derived into Modern Persian as Rey, it remains now as a city located towards the southern end of the modern-day City of Tehran, which has been absorbed into the Greater Tehran metropolitan area.

Mount Damavand, the highest peak of Iran which is located near Tehran, is an important location in Ferdowsi's Shahname,[17] the long Iranian epic poem which is based on ancient epics of Iran. It appears in the epics as the birthplace of Manuchehr, the residence of Keyumars, the place where Freydun bounds the dragon fiend Aži Dahāka and the place where Arash the Archer shot his arrow from.[17]

Medieval period

During the Sassanid era, in 641, Yazdgerd III issued his last appeal to the nation from Rey, before fleeing to Khorasan.[15] Rey was dominated by the Parthian Mihran family, and Siyavakhsh, the son of Mihran the son of Bahram Chobin, who resisted the Muslim Invasion.[15] Because of this resistance, when the Arabs captured Rey, they ordered the town to be destroyed and ordered Farrukhzad to rebuild the town anew.[15]

There is a temple in Rey, which is said to be one of the temples of Anahita, a cosmological figure in Iranian mythology. After the Muslim Invasion, the temple became dedicated to the eldest daughter of Yazdgerd III, Bibi Shahr Banou, who married to Husayn ibn Ali, the fourth leader of the Shia faith.

Tehran was a well known village in the 9th century, but less known than the city of Rey which was flourishing nearby. Najm od Din Razi, known as Daya, declared the population of Rey to be 500,000 before the Mongol Invasion.

In the 10th century, Rey was described in detail by Islamic geographers.[15] Despite the interest that Arabian Baghdad displayed in Rey, the number of Arabs in the city remained insignificant and the population mainly consisted of Persians of all classes.[15][18] The Oghuz Turks invaded Rey discretely in 1035 and 1042, but the city was recovered during the Seljuq and Khwarazmian eras.[15]

In the 13th century, the Mongols invaded Rey, laid the city to ruin and massacred many of its inhabitants.[15] Following the invasion, many of the city's inhabitants escaped to Tehran, and the new residence took over its role.

In July 1404, Ruy González de Clavijo, a Castilian ambassador, visited Tehran while on a journey to Samarkand, the capital of Timur, who ruled Iran at the time. Clavijo later described Tehran as an unwalled region under the Timurid Empire.

Early modern era

When the Italian traveler Pietro della Valle passed through the city overnight in 1618, he mentioned it as "Taheran" in his memoirs, while Thomas Herbert mentioned it as "Tyroan." Herbert stated that the city had 3,000 houses in 1627.[19]

A portrait of Mohammad Khan Qajar, kept at the V&A Museum

In the early 18th century, Karim Khan of the Zand dynasty ordered a palace and a government office to be built in Tehran, possibly to declare the city his capital, but he later moved his government to Shiraz. Eventually, the Qajar king Agha Mohammad Khan was the first to choose Tehran as the capital of Iran in 1776.[20]

Agha Mohammad Khan's choice of his capital was based on a similar concern for the control of both the northern and the southern regions of Iran.[20] He was aware of the loyalties of the inhabitants towards the previous capitals, Isfahan and Shiraz, to the Safavid and Zand dynasties respectively and was wary of the power of the notable people in these cities.[20] He probably viewed Tehran's lack of a substantial urban structure as a blessing, because it minimized the chances of resistance to his rule by the notables and by the general public.[20] Moreover, he had to remain within close reach of Azerbaijan and Iran's integral Caucasian territories in the North and South Caucasus,[20] at that time not yet irrevocably lost per the treaties of Golestan and Turkmenchay to the neighboring Imperial Russia, which would follow in the course of the 19th century.[21]

Map of Tehran City in 1857

After 50 years of Qajar rule, the city still barely had more than 80,000 inhabitants.[20]

Up until the 1870s, Tehran consisted of a walled citadel, a roofed bazaar, and sharestan, where the majority of the population resided in the three main neighborhoods of Udlajan, Chale Meydan, and Sangelaj. The first development plan of Tehran in 1855 emphasized the traditional spatial structure. Architecture, however, found an eclectic expression to reflect the new lifestyle.

The second major planning exercise in Tehran took place under the supervision of Dar ol Fonun. The map of 1878 included new city walls, in the form of a perfect octagon with an area of 19 square kilometers, which mimicked the Renaissance cities of Europe.[22]

Late modern era

As a response to the growing social awareness of civil rights, on June 2, 1907 the first parliament of the Persian Constitutional Revolution passed a law on local governance known as the Baladie Law. The second and third articles of the law, on Baladie Community (or the city council), provided a detailed outline on issues such as the role of councils within the city, the members' qualifications, the election process and the requirements to be entitled to vote.

After the First World War, Reza Shah immediately suspended the Baladie Law of 1907, and the decentralized and autonomous city councils were replaced by centralist approaches of governance and planning.[22]

From the 1920s to 1930s, the city was essentially rebuilt from scratch, under the rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi. Reza Shah believed that ancient buildings such as large parts of the Golestan Palace, Tekie Dowlat, the Toopkhane Square, the city fortifications and the old citadel among others, should not be part of a modern city. They were systematically demolished, and modern buildings in the pre-Islamic Iranian style, such as the National Bank, the Police Headquarters, the Telegraph Office and the Military Academy were built in their place. The Grand Bazaar of Tehran was divided in half and many historic buildings were demolished in order to build wide straight avenues in the capital. Many Persian gardens also fell victim to new construction projects.[23]

The changes in the urban fabric started with the street-widening act of 1933 which served as a framework for changes in all other cities. As a result of this act, the traditional texture of the city was replaced with cruciform intersecting streets creating large roundabouts, located on the major public spaces such as the bazaar.

As an attempt to create a network for the easy movement of goods and vehicles in Tehran, the city walls and gates were demolished in 1937 and replaced by wide streets cutting through the urban fabric. The new city map of Tehran in 1937 was heavily influenced by the modernist planning patterns of zoning and gridiron networks.[22]

During the Second World War, Soviet and British troops entered the city. Tehran was the site of the Tehran Conference in 1943, attended by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The establishment of the planning organization of Iran in 1948 resulted in the first socio-economic development plan to cover 1949 to 1955. These plans not only failed to slow the unbalanced growth of Tehran, but with the 1962 land reforms that Shah called the White Revolution, Tehran's chaotic growth was further accentuated.

To bring back order to the city and resolve the problem of social exclusion, the first comprehensive plan of Tehran was approved in 1968. The consortium of Iranian consultants Abd ol Aziz Mirza Farmanian and the American firm of Victor Gruen Associates identified the main problems blighting the city to be high density suburbs, air and water pollution, inefficient infrastructure, unemployment and rural-urban migration. Eventually, the whole plan was marginalized by the 1979 Revolution and the subsequent Iran-Iraq War.[22]

Tehran's most famous landmark, the Azadi Tower, was built by the order of the Shah in 1971. It was designed by Hossein Amanat, an architect who won a competition to design the monument, using Sassanid and Achaemenid elements. Formerly known as the Shahyad Tower, it was built in commemoration of the 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Tehran was rapidly developing under the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Modern buildings altered the face of Tehran and ambitious projects were envisioned for the following decades. The majority of these projects, such as the Milad Tower, were continued after the 1979 Revolution when Tehran's urbanization had reached its peak, and the new government started many other new projects.

During the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War, Tehran was the target of repeated Scud missile attacks and air strikes.

In 2007, the 435 meter high Milad Tower was completed, and since then has become an landmark for the city of Tehran. The 270 m pedestrian overpass of Tabiat Bridge is another symbolic structure of the city,[9] which was designed by the award winning Leila Araghian and completed in 2014.


Location and subdivisions

Tehran County borders Shemiranat County to the north, Damavand County to the east, Eslamshahr, Pakdasht, and Rey counties to the south, and Karaj and Shahriar counties to the west.

The City of Tehran is divided into 22 municipal districts, each with its own administrative center. 20 of the 22 municipal districts are located in Tehran County's Central District, while the districts 1 and 20 are respectively located in Shemiranat and Ray counties.


Northern Tehran is the wealthiest region of the city, consisting of various smaller districts from northeast to northwest, such as Zaferanie, Jordan, Elahie, Kamranie, Ajodanie, Farmanie, Darrous, Qeytarie, and Qarb Town.[24][25]


Urban sustainability analysis of the greater urban area of the city using the 'Circles of Sustainability' method of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme

Tehran features a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification: BSk) with continental climate characteristics and a Mediterranean climate precipitation pattern. Tehran's climate is largely defined by its geographic location, with the towering Alborz Mountains to its north and the central desert to the south. It can be generally described as mild in the spring and autumn, hot and dry in the summer, and cold and wet in the winter.

The Nation Park in autumn

Because the city is large with significant differences in elevation among various districts, the weather is often cooler in the hilly north than in the flat southern part of Tehran. For instance, the 17.3 km (10.7 mi) Valiasr Street runs from the Tehran's railway station than, 1,117 m (3,665 ft) elevation above sea level, in the south of the city to the Tajrish Square, 1,612 m (5,289 ft) elevation above sea level, in the north.[citation needed] However, the elevation can even rise up to 1,900 m (6,200 ft) at the end of the Velenjak Street in the north of Tehran.

Summer is long, hot and dry with little rain, but relative humidity is generally low. Average high temperatures are between 35 and 40 °C (95 and 104 °F), and at nights it rarely drops below 23 °C (73 °F). Most of the light annual precipitation occurs from late autumn to mid-spring, but no one month is particularly wet. The hottest month is July, with a mean minimum temperature pof 26 °C (79 °F) and a mean maximum temperature of 36 °C (97 °F), and the coldest is January, with a mean minimum temperature of −1 °C (30 °F) and a mean maximum temperature of 8 °C (46 °F).[26]

The weather of Tehran can sometimes be unpredictably harsh. The record high temperature is 43 °C (109 °F) and the record low is −17 °C (1 °F). On January 5 and 6, 2008, after years of relatively little snow, a wave of heavy snow and low temperatures covered the city in a thick layer of snow and ice, forcing the Council of Ministers to officially declare a state of emergency and close down the capital on January 6 and 7.[27]

Tehran has seen an increase in relative humidity and annual precipitation since the beginning of the 21st century. This is most likely because of the afforestation projects, which also include expanding parks and lakes. The northern parts of Tehran are still more lush than the southern parts.

Climate data for Tehran-Shomal (north of Tehran), Altitude: 1548.2 M from: 1988-2005
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.4
Average high °C (°F) 6.1
Average low °C (°F) −1.5
Record low °C (°F) −11.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 63.1
Average rainy days 12.3 10.9 12.3 10.0 8.9 3.3 3.4 1.6 1.3 5.8 8.6 10.7 89.1
Average snowy days 8.9 6.6 2.5 0.1 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0.6 4.9 23.7
Average relative humidity (%) 67 59 53 44 39 30 31 31 33 44 57 66 46.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 137.2 151.1 186.0 219.1 279.8 328.7 336.6 336.8 300.5 246.8 169.4 134.1 2,826.1
Source: [28]

In February 2005, heavy snow covered all of the parts of the city. Snow depth was 15 cm (6 in) in south part of the city and 100 cm (39 in) in the north of city. A newspaper said it had been the worst weather for 34 years. 10,000 bulldozers and 13,000 municipal workers deployed to keep the main roads open.[29][30]

On February 3, 2014, Tehran reached a heavy snowfall, specifically in the northern parts of the city, with a height of 2 meters. Within the one week successive snowfall roads were made impassable in some areas in north of Tehran along with a temperature variety of -8 °C to -16 °C [31]

On June 3, 2014, a severe thunderstorm with powerful microbursts created a haboob that engulfed the city in sand and dust. Five people were killed and more than 57 injured. This disaster also knocked numerous trees and power lines down. It struck between 5 and 6 PM, plummteing temperatures from 33 °C to 19 °C in just an hour. The dramatic temperature drop was accompanied by wind gusts reaching nearly 118 km/h. [32]

Environmental issues

Air pollution in Tehran

A plan to move the capital has been discussed many times in prior years, due mainly to the environmental issues of the region. Tehran is rated as one of the world’s most polluted cities, and is also located near two major fault lines.

The city suffers from severe air pollution. 80% of the city's pollution is due to cars.[33] The remaining 20% is due to industrial pollution. Other estimates suggest that motorcycles alone account for 30% of air and 50% of sound pollution in Tehran.[34]

In 2010, the government announced that "for security and administrative reasons, the plan to move the capital from Tehran has been finalized."[35] The Iranian Parliament named Shahroud, Esfahan and Semnan as three of the main candidates to replace Tehran as the capital. There are plans to relocate 163 state firms to the provinces and several universities from Tehran to avoid damages from a potential earthquake.[35][36]

The officials are engaged in a battle to reduce air pollution. It has, for instance, encouraged taxis and buses to convert from petrol engines to engines that run on compressed natural gas. Furthermore, the government has set up a "Traffic Zone" covering the city center during peak traffic hours. Entering and driving inside this zone is only allowed with a special permit.

There have also been plans to raise people's awareness about the hazards of the pollution. One method that is currently being employed is the installation of Pollution Indicator Boards all around the city to monitor the current level of particulate matter (PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and carbon monoxide (CO).


Population of Tehran
Tehran in 1985 and 2009

The city of Tehran had a population of approximately 7.8 million in 2006[37] With its cosmopolitan atmosphere, Tehran is home to diverse ethnic and linguistic groups from all over the country. The native language of the city is the Tehrani accent of the Persian language, and the majority of people in Tehran identify themselves as Persians.[11][38] However, historically, the original native dialect of the Tehran–Rey region is not Persian, which is linguistically Southwest Iranian and originates in Fars (Pars) in the south of the country, but a (now extinct) Northwest Iranian dialect belonging to the Central Iranian group.[39]

Ethnic Azerbaijanis form by far the largest minority of the city, comprising about 25%[40] to 1/3,[41][42] of its total population. Other ethnic minority groups include Kurds, Armenians, Georgians, Bakhtiaris, Talysh people, Baloch people, Assyrians, Arabs, Jews and Circassians.

According to a 2010 census conducted by the Sociology Department of Tehran University, in many districts of Tehran across various socio-economic classes in proportion to population sizes of each district and socio-economic class, 63% of people in Tehran were born in Tehran, 98% know Persian, 75% identify themselves as ethnic Persian, and 13% have some degree of proficiency in a European language.[43]

Tehran saw a drastic change in its ethno-social composition in the early 1980s. After the political, social and economic consequences of the 1979 Revolution and the years that followed, some Iranian citizens, mostly Tehranis, left Iran due to the pressures. The majority of Iranian emigrations have left for the United States, France, Germany, Sweden, and Canada.

With the start of the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988) following the Iraqi invasion, a second wave of inhabitants fled the city, especially during Iraqi air offensives on the capital. With most major powers backing Iraq at the time, economic isolation gave yet more reason for many inhabitants to leave the city (and the country). Having left all they had and having struggled to adapt to a new country and build a life, most of them never came back when the war was over. During the war, Tehran also received a great number of migrants from the west and the southwest of the country bordering Iraq.

The unstable situation and the war in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq prompted a rush of refugees into the country who arrived in their millions, with Tehran being a magnet for many seeking work, who subsequently helped the city to recover from war wounds, working for far less pay than local construction workers. Many of these refugees are being repatriated with the assistance of UNHCR but there are still sizable groups of Afghan and Iraqi refugees in Tehran who are reluctant to leave, being pessimistic about the situation in their own countries. Afghan refugees are mostly Persian speaking Hazara or Tajik people, speaking a dialect of Persian, and Iraqi refugees are mainly Mesopotamian Arabic speakers who are often of Iranian origin.


Saint Mary Armenian Apostolic Church of Tehran

The majority of Tehranis are officially Twelver Shia Muslims, which has also been the state religion since the Safavid conversion of Iran and Azerbaijan. Other religious communities in the city include followers of the Sunni and Mystic branches of Islam, various Christian denominations, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and the Baha'i Faith.

There are many religious centers scattered around the city from old to newly built centers, including mosques, churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples.

The city has also a very small number of third generation Indian Sikhs that have a local gurudwara which was visited by the Indian Prime Minister in 2012.[44]


Tehran is the economic center of Iran.[45] About 30% of Iran's public-sector workforce and 45% of its large industrial firms are located in the city and almost half of these workers are employed by the government.[46] Most of the remainder of workers are factory workers, shopkeepers, laborers and transport workers.

Few foreign companies operate in Tehran because of the government's complex international relations. But before the 1979 Revolution, many foreign companies were active in this region.[47] Today, many modern industries in the city include the manufacturing of automobiles, 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 near Rey, south of the city.

Tehran has four airports. Mehrabad International Airport and Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport are the two active ones. Doshan Tappeh Air Base is closed and the former Ghale Morghi Air Base has been converted into an amusement park named Velayat Park.

Tehran relies heavily on private cars, buses, motorcycles and taxis, and is one of the most car-dependent cities in the world. The Tehran Stock Exchange, which is a full member of the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs (FIBV) and a founding member of the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges, has been one of the world's best performing stock exchanges in recent years.[48]


Tehran has a wide range of shopping centers from traditional bazaars to modern shopping malls. The Grand Bazaar of Tehran and the Bazaar of Tajrish are the biggest traditional bazaars in Tehran. Shopping districts such as Valiasr, Shariati, and Mirdamad have a wide range of different shops. A few of the well known malls across the city include Tiraje and Hyperstar, and smaller shopping centers such as Tandis, Golestan, Palladium Mall and Safavie.

Most of the international branded stores and upper class shops are located in the northern and western parts of the city, while the rest of the shopping centers are located across the city. Tehran's retail business is growing with several newly built malls and shopping centers.


Tehran, as one of the main tourist locations in Iran, has a wealth of cultural attractions. It is home to royal complexes built during the two last monarchical periods of the country, including the Golestan, Sadabad, and the Niavaran complexes.

There are several historic, artistic and scientific museums in Tehran, including the National Museum, the Malek Museum, the Ferdows Garden, the Glassware and Ceramics Museum, the Qasr Prison Museum, the Carpet Museum, the Museum of Glass Painting (vitrai art) and the Safir Office Machines Museum. There is also the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in which works of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol are featured.

Tehran is also home to the Iranian Imperial Crown Jewels, claimed to be the largest jewel collection in the world. The collection comprises a set of crowns and thrones, some 30 tiaras, numerous aigrettes, jewel studded swords and shields, a vast amount of precious loose gems, as well as the largest collections of emeralds, rubies and diamonds in the world. It also includes other items collected by the Shahs of Iran. The imperial crown jewels are on display at the Central Bank of Iran, located in the City of Tehran.

Tehran International Book Fair is known to the international publishing world as one of the most important publishing events in Asia.[49]



Highways and streets

The metropolis of Tehran is equipped with a huge network of highways and interchanges.[50]

While the center of the city houses the government ministries and headquarters, the commercial centers are more located toward Valiasr Street, Taleghani Ave, and Beheshti Ave further north. Although administratively separate, Rey, Shemiran, and Karaj are often considered part of the larger Tehran metropolitan area.

A number of streets in Tehran are names after international figures, including:


According to the head of Tehran Municipality's Environment and Sustainable Development Office, Tehran was designed to have a capacity of about 700,000 cars but currently more than 5 million cars are on the roads.[51] The automation industry has recently developed but international sanctions influence the production processes periodically.[52]


Tehran's transport system includes conventional buses, trolleybuses and the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Buses have served the city since the 1920s. There are four bus terminals that also provide connections at low rates.[clarification needed] The terminals are located on the south, east, and west, and Bei-haqi Park-Drive.

The trolleybus system opened in 1992, using a fleet of 65 articulated trolleybuses built by Skoda.[53] This was the first trolleybus system in Iran and remains the country's only such system.[53] In 2005, trolleybuses were operating on five routes, all starting at Imam Hossein Square[54] near Imam Hossein Station on the Tehran Metro Line 2. Two routes running northeastwards operate almost entirely in a segregated busway located in the middle of the wide carriageway (along Damavand Street), stopping only at purpose built stops located about every 500 metres along the routes, effectively making these routes trolleybus-BRT (but they are not called such). The other three trolleybus routes run south from Imam Hossein Square and operate in mixed-traffic. Both route sections are served by limited-stop services and local (making all stops) services.[54] A 3.2-km extension from Shoosh Square to Rah Ahan Square and the railway station there opened in March 2010.[55]

Tehran Bus Rapid Transit was officially inaugurated in 2008 by Tehran's mayor of the time, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. BRT has three lines with 60 stations in different areas of the city. As of 2011, BRT had a network of 100 kilometres (62 miles), transporting 1.8 million passengers on a daily basis. The city has also developed a bicycle sharing system which includes 12 hubs in one of Tehran's districts.[56]

Railway and subway

Tehran has a central railway station which connects services round the clock to various cities in the country, along with a Tehran–Europe train line also running.

The feasibility study and conceptual planning of the construction of Tehran's subway system were started in the 1970s. The first two of the eight projected metro lines were opened in 2001.


Tehran is served by the international airports of Mehrabad and Khomeini. Mehrabad Airport, an old airport in Western Tehran which doubles as a military base, is mainly used for domestic and charter flights. Imam Khomeini Airport, located 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of the city, handles the main international flights.

Parks and gardens

The Nation Park during Nowruz

There are over 2,100 parks in Tehran Metropolis,[57] with one of the oldest being the Jamshidieh Park, which was first established as a private garden for the Qajar prince Jamshid Davallu and then was dedicated to the last empress of Iran, Farah Diba. The total green space within the city stretches over 12,600 hectares, covering over 20 percent of the city's area.

The Parks and Green Spaces Organization of Tehran was established in 1960. The organization is responsible for the parks and green spaces in the city.[58]

The Bird Garden of Tehran, the largest bird park of Iran, is situated in the Metropolis of Tehran. There is also a zoo in the city, with an area about 5 hectares, housing over 290 species.[59]

There are also four parks in the city established exclusively for women, totaling about 80 hectares in area,[57] in which female mandatory dress codes are not required.


Hematology-Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation Research Center (HORCSCT)

Tehran is the largest and most important educational center of Iran. There are a total of nearly 50 major colleges and universities in Greater Tehran.

University of Tehran is the oldest modern university of Iran

Since the establishment of Dar ol Fonun in the mid-19th century, Tehran has amassed a large number of institutions of higher education. Some of these institutions have played crucial roles in the unfolding of Iranian political events. Samuel M. Jordan, whom Jordan Avenue in Tehran was named after, was also one of the founding pioneers of the American College of Tehran.

Among major educational institutions located in Tehran, Sharif University of Technology, University of Tehran, and Tehran University of Medical Sciences are the most prestigious universities of Iran. Allameh Tabatabaei University, Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic), K.N.Toosi University of Technology, Shahid Beheshti University (Melli University), Kharazmi University, Iran University of Science and Technology, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Islamic Azad University, International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology, Iran Polymer and Petrochemical Institute, Shahed University and Tarbiat Modarres University are among the other universities of Iran located in Tehran.

Tehran is also home to Iran's largest military academy, and several religious schools and seminaries.



The oldest surviving architectural monuments of the city are from the Qajar and Pahlavi eras. Although, considering the area of Greater Tehran, monuments dating back to the Seljuk era remain as well; notably the Toqrol Tower. There are also remains of the Rashkan Castle, dating back to the ancient Arsacid era, of which some artefacts are housed at the National Museum.[60]

Tehran only had a small population until the late 18th century, but began to take a more considerable role in Iranian society after it was chosen as the capital city. Despite the regular occurrence of earthquakes during the Qajar period and after, some historic buildings have remained from that era.[61]

Tehran is Iran's primate city, and is considered to have the most modernized infrastructure in the country; however, the gentrification of old neighborhoods and the demolition of buildings of cultural significance has caused concerns.[62]

Qeytarie in 2010

Previously a low-rise city due to seismic activity in the region, modern high rise developments in Tehran have been built in recent decades in order to service its growing population. There have been no major quakes in Tehran since 1830.[63]

Tehran International Tower, the tallest residential building in Iran, is a 54-story building located in the northern district of Youssef Abad.[64] Appealing to the principle of a vertical rather than horizontal expansion of the city, the Tehran International Tower is bound to the North by Youssef Abad, to the South by Hakim Highway, to the East by Kordesstan Highway and to the West by Sheikh Bahai Highway, all of which provide easy access to other parts of the city.[64]

Azadi Tower, a memorial built during the Pahlavi period, has long been the most famous symbol of Tehran. It was constructed to commemorate the 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire, and combines elements of the architecture of the Sassanid and Achaemenid eras with Post-Islamic Iranian architecture. Milad Tower, the sixth tallest tower[65] and the 17th tallest freestanding structure in the world,[66] is the city's second landmark tower. Leila Araghian's Tabiat Bridge, the largest pedestrian overpass in Tehran, was completed in 2014 and is considered as the third symbolic building of the city.[9]


A Persian graffiti work by Oham, seen in Ekbatan Town

Many styles of graffiti are seen in Tehran. Some are slogans painted by governmental organizations, which are mostly about the Revolution of 1979, and some are works of art by citizens, representing themes such as protest, freedom and peace.

During the protests of the Iranian presidential election of 2009, many graffiti art works were created by people supporting the Green Movement. They were removed from the walls by the Basij forces.[67]

In recent years, Tehran Municipality has been using graffiti in order to beautify the city. Several festivals have also been held to celebrate graffiti art in Tehran. One of them was held in October 2014, organized by the Tehran University of Art.[68]

Cuisine and restaurants

Tehran has many modern and traditional restaurants and cafes, serving both traditional Iranian and cosmopolitan cuisine. One of the most popular dishes of the city is chelow kabab. Pizzerias, sandwich shops and kebab shops make up the majority of food outlets in the city.[69]

Performing arts

During the Qajar era, Tehran was home to the royal theater of Tekye Dowlat located at the southeast of the Golestan Palace, in which traditional and religious performances were observed. It was destroyed and replaced with a bank building in 1947, following the modernization of Tehran under the reign of Reza Shah of the Pahlavi Dynasty.

Before the 1979 Revolution, the Iranian national stage had become the most famous performing scene for known international artists and troupes in the Middle East,[70] with the Roudaki Hall of Tehran constructed to function as the national stage for opera and ballet. The hall was inaugurated by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Empress Farah on October 26, 1967, and now continues to operate with Vahdat Hall as its official name. It is home to the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, the Tehran Opera Orchestra, and the Iranian National Ballet Company.

The City Theater of Tehran was opened in 1972, with its main building designed by architect Ali Sardar Afkhami, and contains several performance halls.

The first movie theater of Tehran was established and opened by Mirza Ebrahim Khan in 1904.[71] Until early 1930s, there were 15 theaters in Tehran Province and 11 in other provinces.[72]

There are many movie theaters in Tehran, with most of them located downtown. The complexes of Mellat Cinema and Gallery, Azadi Cinema, and Cinema Farhang are among the well known cinema complexes in Tehran.

Festivals such as Fajr International Film Festival, Fajr International Music Festival, Fajr International Theater Festival, International Puppet Theater Festival of Tehran, and Tehran International Animation Festival are also observed in the city.


Tehran was the first city in the Middle East to host the Asian Games. The 7th Asian Summer Games was held in Tehran in 1974, with the participation of 2,363 athletes and officials from 25 countries.

Football and volleyball are the city's most popular sports, while wrestling, basketball, and futsal are also major parts of the city's sporting culture.

Skiers at the resort of Dizin

12 ski resorts operate in Iran, the most famous being Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak, all within one to three hours from the city of Tehran.

Tochal Ski Resort is the world's fifth highest ski resort at over 3,730 meters (12,240 ft) above sea level at its highest point. It is also the world's nearest ski resort to a capital city. The resort was completed in 1976, shortly before the 1979 Revolution.

Tochal Télécabine (gondola lift)

Tochal is equipped with a 8-kilometre-long (5 mi) gondola lift which covers a huge vertical distance.[73] There are two parallel chair ski lifts in Tochal that reach 3,900 meters high (12,795 ft) near Tochal's peak (at 4,000 m/13,125 ft), rising higher than the gondola's 7th Station. This altitude is higher than any of the European ski resorts.

From the Tochal peak, one has a spectacular view of the Alborz range, including the 5,610-metre-high (18,406 ft) Mount Damavand, a dormant volcano. Located at the bottom of the lifts in a valley behind the Tochal peak is the Tochal Hotel, located at 3,500 metres (11,483 ft), where a T lift takes skiers up the 3,800 metres (12,500 ft) of Shah-Neshin peak.

Panoramic view of the Azadi Stadium, the largest football stadium in West Asia

The first football club of Tehran was founded in 1920 and named the Iran Club, which was dissolved in 1923. Today, the oldest football club in the city is Rah Ahan Crystal F.C. which was founded in 1937. The city has hosted the final of the 1968 AFC Asian Cup and the 1976 AFC Asian Cup. Persepolis and Esteghlal, which are the city's biggest clubs and two of the biggest clubs in Asia, compete in the Tehran derby. Tehran is also home to Ararat F.C., a popular Armenian-Iranian football team based at the Ararat Stadium. The stadium is named after Mount Ararat, and is dedicated to the Armenian community of the city.

Tehran is also the site of Iran's national football stadium at the Azadi Complex, which has a capacity of 100,000. Azadi Football Stadium is one of the largest stadiums in the world, where many of the top matches of Iran's Premier League are held. In 2005, FIFA ordered Iran to limit spectators allowed into the Azadi Stadium because of a fatal crush due to inadequate safety procedures. Other stadiums in Tehran include Ararat Stadium, Dastgerdi Stadium, Takhti Stadium, and Shirudi Stadium.

Tehran is host to six major football clubs, namely:

Club Sport Founded League
Rah Ahan F.C. Association football 1937 Iran Pro League (IPL)
Ararat F.C. Association football 1944 Tehran Province League
Esteghlal F.C.[74] Association football 1945 Iran Pro League (IPL)
Naft Tehran F.C. Association football 1950 Iran Pro League (IPL)
Persepolis F.C.[75] Association football 1963 Iran Pro League (IPL)

Smaller clubs of the city include:

Club Sport League
Paykan Association football Azadegan League
Parseh Tehran F.C. Association football Azadegan League
Niroye Zamini F.C. Association football 2nd Division
Sanati Kaveh Tehran F.C. Association football 2nd Division
Moghavemat Tehran F.C. Association football 2nd Division
Oghab F.C. Association football 3rd Division
Entezam Tehran F.C. Association football 3rd Division
Naftoon Tehran F.C. Association football 3rd Division


  • The 7th Asian Games were held from September 1 to September 16 1974 in Tehran. The Azadi Sport Complex was built for the Games. This was the first time Asian Games were hosted in Western Asia. Tehran played host to 3,010 athletes from 25 countries/NOCs, which was at the time the highest number of participants since the inception of the Games.[76]
  • The 1976 AFC Asian Cup was the sixth edition of the Asian Nations Cup, the football (soccer) championship of Asia (AFC). It was hosted by Iran. The field of six teams was split into two groups of three. Iran won their third title in a row, beating Kuwait 1–0 in the final.
  • The first West Asian Games was organized in Tehran from 19 to 28 November 1997. The success of the games led to the creation of the West Asian Games Federation (WAGF) and the intention of hosting the games every two years.[77]

Sister cities

Country City State / Province / Region / Governorate Date
France France Grandes Armes de Paris.svg Paris Flag of Paris.svg Île-de-France 1952
South Korea South Korea Seal of Seoul.svg Seoul Seoul National Capital Area 1963[78]
United States United States Seal of Los Angeles, California.svg Los Angeles Flag of California.svg California 1972[79][80]
United Kingdom United Kingdom Arms of the Greater London Council.svg London Greater London 1993
Cuba Cuba Coat of arms of La Habana.svg Havana Escudo Habana1.jpg La Habana Province 2001[78][dead link][81]
Venezuela Venezuela Coat of arms of Caracas.svg Caracas Flag of Caracas.svg Venezuelan Capital District 2001[82]
South Africa South Africa Pretoria coa.jpg Pretoria 25px Gauteng 2002[78][dead link][83]
Russia Russia Coat of Arms of Moscow.svg Moscow Flag of Moscow.svg Central Federal District 2004[78][dead link][84]
China China Beijing 2006[78][dead link][85]
Tajikistan Tajikistan
Error creating thumbnail: File with dimensions greater than 25 MP
Dushanbe 2006[78][dead link]
Belarus Belarus Coat of arms of Minsk.svg Minsk 25px Minsk Region 2006[86][87]
Turkey Turkey Ankara logo.png Ankara 2013[88]
Georgia (country) Georgia Tbilisi City Seal.svg Tbilisi Flag of Tbilisi.svg Tbilisi 2015[89]
 Hungary Hungary Coa Hungary Town Budapest big.svg Budapest Flag of Budapest (2011-).svg 2015[90]

Tehran has also signed Mutual Cooperation and Understanding with a number of cities including Baghdad, Kabul, London, Paris, Milan, New York City and Saint Petersburg.[78][dead link]

Panoramic view of Tehran at night

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External links

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Capital of Iran (Persia)

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