Tehran is a cosmopolitan city, with great museums, parks, restaurants, and warm friendly people. It deserves at least a few days of your Iranian itinerary.
The city can be roughly divided into two different parts – north and south. The northern districts of Tehran are more prosperous, modern, cosmopolitan and expensive while southern parts are less attractive but cheaper.
At the time of the Zand dynasty, it was a little town that was significant from a strategic point of view. The first of the Qajar kings, Agha Mohammed Khan, named Tehran as the country’s capital in 1778, and most of its growth started during the reign of a subsequent Qajar monarch, Fath-Ali Shah. The castle which Agha Mohammed Khan had built was to contain the new majestic buildings.
At the same time, the city’s populace was redoubled. Due to the increasing significance of the city, gates, squares and mosques were built and it was at the time of Nassereddin Shah that the city’s master sketch was prepared and modern streets were constructed. Later, huge central squares like Toopkhaneh square (now Imam Khomeini) and quite a few military buildings were built. Even though the Qajar dynasty was in a period of decline, Tehran soon took the shape of a modern city. The structure of large government buildings, new streets, recreation centres, urban service organizations, and academic and methodical centres were started, even as most of the old gates and buildings were destroyed and the city’s old architectural fabric replaced by a contemporary one.
Tehran has also earned itself the rather unenviable reputation as a smog-filled, traffic-clogged and featureless sprawl of concrete bursting at the seams with 14 million residents. But you can also find an endless number of nice and cosy places in and around the city – if you know where to look. Tehran is also a city of parks and possesses more than 800 of them, all well-kept. The city is nearly a mile high above sea level and as a result is cooler than other cities in the middle east. Summer temperatures are around 36°C or about 95-100°F. The air tends to be very dry.
A combination of factors make Tehran a pleasant place to visit: The dry climate which is constantly cool (at least in the evenings), the proximity of the mountains, the parks and gardens where flowers blossom all through the year, the alleys of trees in the avenues or even smaller streets, and even the water that runs down from the upper city along deep and wide gutters which look like small rivers during spring. The Alborz range to the north of Tehran, which hosts the highest peak in Iran, provides fantastic conditions for ski lovers in the winter. In winter, the mountain hotels and ski-clubs at Shemshak, and Dizine are full several days a week. Some specialist skiers consider the snow value in northern Tehran to be some of the best in the world.