Grand Bazaar, Tehran
|Bāzār e Bozorg – بازار بزرگ|
Inside the Grand Bazaar of Tehran
Located at the Arg Square in Southern Tehran, it is split into several corridors over 10 km in length, each specializing in different types of goods, and has several entrances, with the main being the entrance of Sabze Meydan.
Trade and early bazaars in Tehran
While the current bazaar is most associated with the 19th century onwards, its roots go back much further.
The area around Tehran has been settled since at least 6,000 BCE, and while bazaar-like construction in Iran as a whole has been dated as far back as 4,000 BCE, Tehran's bazaar is not this old. It is hard to say exactly when the "bazaar" first appeared, but in the centuries following the introduction of Islam, travellers reported the growth of commerce in the area now occupied by the current bazaar. The Grand bazaar is a continuation of this legacy.
Research indicates that a portion of today's bazaar predated the growth of the village of Tehran under the Safavids' dynasty, although it was during and after this period that the bazaar began to grow gradually.
Western travellers indicated that by 1660 BCE and beyond, the bazaar area was still largely open, and only partially covered.
Despite relying heavily on this historical legacy, much of the bazaar itself was constructed in the modern time. The oldest remaining buildings, walls and passages in the bazaar today very rarely exceed 400 years, with many being constructed or rebuilt within the last 200 years. The bazaar grew as a "city within a city" for much of the 19th century, and was largely able to expand itself without much outside interference. However, as Tehran began to grow exponentially in the early 20th century under the reign of Reza Shah, the changes brought by this rapid expansion saw much of the bazaar disappear.
Old sections of the bazaar are generally similar in architectural style, while parts added in the 20th century often look markedly different. Critics say that less care was taken in the construction of the later sections. However, in an effort to increase the prestige of the bazaar, projects to beautify the bazaar through the use of plaster moulding and decorative brickwork were undertaken late in the 20th century.
After the 1979 Revolution
The bazaar is viewed as a force of conservatism in Iranian society, providing strong links between the clergy and the middle class traders. The 1979 Revolution received strong backing from these forces. As one of the most important bazaars in the country, the Grand Bazaar of Tehran was a center of pro-revolutionary feeling and finance.
There were several reasons why the bazaar class worked hard to help advance the revolution. The regime of the monarch Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was anathema to the bazaaris, who seemed set to lose out as the country industrialized; and they feared that they would be left behind and their status in society would be reduced.
Similarly, another concern for the "bazaar class," not just in Tehran but throughout Iran, was that these traditional economic forces did not benefit from the 1974–1978 oil boom, and were thus even more inclined to aid the revolution.
As such, the Grand Bazaar of Tehran was a hotbed of support for the revolution, which positioned itself opposite the monarchy. The Grand Bazaar continues largely to support the establishment, particularly as conservative political forces often adopt a low tax, laissez-faire approach to bazaaris.
Today, the Grand Bazaar is still an important place of commerce. However, much of the trade and finance in the city has been moved to the Northern Tehran. In addition to the traditional goods on sale, the market for watches and local jewellery is apparently growing, most likely for the benefits of tourists. As is in keeping with the market spirit, tourists are encouraged to haggle. The bazaar is busiest around midday, and between 17:00 and 19:00.
As of October 2005, plans are in place to construct a hotel in the southern section of the bazaar, in a bid to make the bazaar more hospitable and to regain some of its importance.
- ^ - "Iransaga - Some Places of Interest in Tehran"
- ^ - "BBC News - Tehran bazaar feels winds of change"
- ^ - "About Tehran Bazaar in Tehran province"
- ^ - Moghaddam, Abbas "Bazaar, the achievement of the Islamic civilisation. A short history of the Tehran Bazaar" from The Newsletter of Chamber of Commerce, Feb. 1994 (Chamber of Commerce, Industries & Mines of the Islamic Republic of Iran)
- ^ - - "Iran Oil Revenues and the Acceleration of Modernization, 1960-79"
- ^ - "Who is the mayor of Tehran?"
- ^ - "Iran Daily: Tehran Grand Bazaar To Get Facelift (Oct 12 2005)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Grand Bazaar, Tehran.|
- Photos of Grand Bazaar laborers
- "The Tehran Grand Bazaar is Worth Seeing, Mohammad Araki"
- Pictures of the Grand Bazaar on BBC
- Grand Bazaar in Tehran
- Tehran's Grand Bazaar Perfume Shop
- Tehran's Grand Bazaar Herb Shop
- Tehran's Grand Bazaar Gold Market
- The Bazzar - "The Iran Primer", United States Institute of Peace