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This article is about the Iranian capital city. For other uses, see Tehran (disambiguation).
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
Coordinates: 35°41′46″N 51°25′23″E / 35.69611°N 51.42306°E / 35.69611; 51.42306Coordinates: 35°41′46″N 51°25′23″E / 35.69611°N 51.42306°E / 35.69611; 51.42306
Country  Iran
Province Tehran
County Tehran
Bakhsh (District) Central
 • Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf
 • Urban 617.73 km2 (238.51 sq mi)
Elevation 1,200 to 1,980 m (3,900 to 6,470 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Density 11,887/km2 (30,790/sq mi)
 • Urban 8,154,051[2]
 • Metro 12,183,391[2]
 • Population Rank in Iran 1st
  Population Data from 2011 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: تهران – Tehrān‎‎) is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.4 million in the city and 13 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is Iran's largest city and urban area, and the second largest city in Western Asia. It is the world's 23rd populous urban area.[3]

In the Classical era, the present-day city of Tehran was a suburb of a Median capital which in the Avesta occurs as Rhaga.[4] It was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century, and remains now as a city in Tehran Province, located towards the south 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. The capital have been moved several times throughout the history, and Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran.

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

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 newly built Tabiat Bridge is said to be considered as the 3rd symbol of the city.[5]

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

Although a variety of unofficial languages are spoken, roughly 99% of the population understand and speak Persian. Majority of the inhabitants of the city are Persian-speaking people who identify themselves as Persians,[6][7] but there are populations of ethnicities such as Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Lurs, and Kurds who speak Persian as their second language.[8]

Tehran has been subject of mass migration of people from all over Iran, since the 20th century.[9] 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.


The origin of the name Tehran is uncertain.[10] However, settlement of the region dates back over 5,000 years BC.[11]

Classical era[edit]

The present-day city of Tehran was a suburb of an important Median capital 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.[12] 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).[12] In some Middle Persian texts, Rey is given as the birthplace of Zoroaster,[13] although modern historians generally place the birth of Zoroaster in Khorasan.

Mount Damavand, the highest peak of Iran which is located near Tehran, is an important location in Shahnameh,[14] the Iranian mythological book which is based on actual events of Iranian history. 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.[14]

Medieval period[edit]

During the Sassanid era, Yazdegerd III issued his last appeal to the nation from Rey in 641, before fleeing to Khorasan.[12] Rey was dominated by the Parthian Mihran family, and Siyavakhsh, the son of Mihran the son of Bahram Chobin, who resisted the Muslim Invasion.[12] Because of this resistance, when the Arabs captured Rey, they ordered the town to be destroyed, and ordered Farrukhzad to rebuild the town.[12]

There is a temple in Rey, which is considered to be dedicated to Anahita, a cosmological figure in Iranian mythology. After the Muslim Invasion, the temple became dedicated to Bibi Shahr Banou, the eldest daughter of Yazdgerd III, and one of the wives of 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 as 500,000 before the Mongol invasion.

In the 10th century, Rey was described in details by Islamic geographers.[12] Despite the interest of Baghdad displayed in Rey, the number of Arabs there was insignificant, and the population consisted of Persians of all classes.[12][15] The Oghuz Turks invaded Rey discretely in 1035 and 1042, but the city was recovered during the Seljuq and Khwarazmian eras.[12]

In the 13th century, the Mongols laid Rey to a complete waste and massacred its inhabitants.[12] 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, the ruler of Iran at the time. Clavijo later described Tehran as an unwalled region under the Timurid Empire.

Early modern era[edit]

When the Italian traveler Pietro della Valle passed a night at the city in 1618, he mentioned it as "Taheran" in his memoirs, while Thomas Herbert mentioned it as "Tyroan." Herbert stated that the city held 3,000 houses in 1627.[16]

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.[17]

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.[17] He was aware of the loyalties of the inhabitants of the previous capitals, Isfahan and Shiraz, to the Safavid and Zand dynasties, respectively, and was wary of the power of the notables in these cities.[17] He probably viewed Tehrans' 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.[17] Moreover, he had to remain within close reach of Azarbaijan and Iran's integral Caucasian territories in the North and South Caucasus,[17] at that time not yet irrevocably lost per the treaties Golestan and Turkmenchay to the neighboring Imperial Russia, which would follow in the course of the 19th century.[18]

Map of Tehran City in 1857

After 50 years of Qajar rule, the city still barely had more than 80,000 inhabitants.[17]

Up through the 1870s, Tehran consisted of a walled citadel, a roofed bazaar, and sharestan, where the masses 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.[19]

As a response to the growing social consciousness of civil rights, on June 2, 1907, the first parliament of 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), provide a detailed outline on issues such as the role of the councils in the city, the members' qualifications, the election process, and the requirements to be entitled to vote.

Late modern era[edit]

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 Tehran Bazaar 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.[20]

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.

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.[19]

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 modernist planning patterns of zoning and gridiron network.[19]

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 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 city problems to be high density, including expansion of new 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.[19]

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.

Between the 1960s to 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 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 iconic 435-meter-long Milad Tower was completed, and since then has become an icon for the city of Tehran. The 270-meter-long pedestrian overpass of Tabiat Bridge is another icon of the city,[5] which was designed by the award winning Leila Araghian and built from 2010 to 2014.


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). 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 in the winter. 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 very little rain, but relative humidity is generally low. Average high temparatures are between 35 and 40 °C (104 °F), and at nights it rarely drop 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, mean minimum temperature 26 °C (79 °F); mean maximum temperature 36 °C (97 °F), and the coldest is January, mean minimum temperature −1 °C (30 °F); mean maximum temperature 8 °C (46 °F).[21]

Although Tehran enjoys a more moderate climate than other parts of the country, the weather 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 closing down the capital on January 6 and 7.[22]

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.

Tehran's climate can be described to have some monsoon influences; the summers and winters are very dry, and the springs and falls are rather lush, with the main precipitation occurring at these times.


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.[23][24]

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 [25]

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. [26]

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: [27]


Further information: Ethnicities in Iran
Population of Tehran
Tehran in 1985 and 2009

The city of Tehran (not to be confused with the larger, Tehran Metropolitan) had a population of approximately 7.8 million in 2006.[28] 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 Persian language, and the majority of people in Tehran identify themselves as Persians.[7][29] 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 Iran group.[30] Ethnic Azerbaijanis form by far the largest minority in the city and Tehran province, comprising about 25%[31] to 1/3,[32][33] of its total population. Other notable ethnic minority groups include the Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Bakhtiari, Assyrians, Talysh, Georgians, Baluch, Jews, Circassians, and more. 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.[34]

Tehran saw a drastic change in its ethno-social composition in the early 1980s. After the political, social and economic consequences of the Revolution of 1979 and the years that followed, some Iranian citizens, mostly Tehranis, left Iran due to the pressures. Many Iranians moved to European countries. The highest Iranian emigrations has been to 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 caused even more reasons for the 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 came in millions, with Tehran being a magnet for modest workers who helped the city to recover from war wounds, charging far less 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 Tajiks, speaking a dialect of Persian, and Iraqi refugees, who are mainly Shia Muslim Mesopotamian Arabic-speakers often of Iranian origin.

The majority of Tehranis are officially Twelver Shia Muslims, which is also the state religion since the Muslim Invasion of Iran. Religious minorities include followers of various sects of Sunni Islam, Mystic Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and some from the Baha'i Faith. Tehran also has very small number of third generation Iranian Sikh community that has a gurudwara visited by Indian Prime Minister in 2012.[35]

Capital relocation[edit]

A plan to move the capital has been discussed many times in prior years. In 2010, the government of Iran announced that "for security and administrative reasons" the plan to move the capital from Tehran has been finalized.[36] 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. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested that 5 million residents should migrate out of Tehran.[36][37] As a starting point, Iranian authorities are relocating all defense-related industries out of the capital.[38]

Throughout Iran's history, the capital has been moved many times. Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran.

Location and subdivisions[edit]

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.

Northern Tehran[edit]

Northern Tehran is a wealthy region of the city. It consists of various smaller districts from northeast to northwest, such as Zaferanie, Jordan, Elahie, Kamranieh, Ajodanie, Farmanie, Darrous, Qeitarie, Shahrak-e Gharb, etc.[39][40] Northern Tehran is known as posh area where many liberal and intellectual Iranians with often secular ideas live.[39][40] However, in recent years, more families from traditional bazaar and government official millionaires are living there.


Tehran has a wide range of shopping opportunities, from traditional bazaars to shopping districts and 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 shopping with a wide range of different shops. Few of the well-known malls of the city include Tiraje, Hyperstar, and smaller shopping centers such as Tandis, Golestan, and Safavie.

Most of the international brands and upper class shops are located in the northern and western parts of the city, and the rest of the shops are distributed in all the areas of the city. Tehran's retail business has been growing with the newly built malls and shopping centers. The biggest malls under construction are the Tehran Mega Mall, Kourosh Mall, and smaller shopping centers of Zafaranie and Farmanie.

Administrative subdivisions[edit]

Tehran is divided into 22 municipal districts, each with its own administrative center. Each of these municipal districts are further subdivided into municipal regions.

20 of the 22 municipal districts are located in Tehran County's Central District, while District 1 is in Shemiranat County and District 20 is in Rey County. The situation is demonstrated in the following map:


Food and restaurants[edit]

See also: Iranian cuisine

Tehran has many modern and classical restaurants and cafes, serving both traditional Iranian and cosmopolitan cuisine. One of the most popular dishes of the city is the chelow kabab (kabob/kebab is originally a Persian word meaning grilled or roasted meat). Fast food is also popular, especially within the younger generation. Pizza, sandwich and kebab shops make up the majority of food outlets in the city.[41]


Tehran is the economic center of Iran.[42] About 30% of Iran's public-sector workforce and 45% of large industrial firms are located in the city and almost half of these workers are employed by the government.[43] Most of the remainder of workers are factory workers, shopkeepers, laborers, and transport workers.

Few foreign companies operate in Tehran because of the Iranian government's relations with the west. But before the Revolution of 1979, many foreign companies were active in this region.[44] Today many modern industries of this 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 to 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.[45]



According to the head of Tehran Municipality's Environment and Sustainable Development Office, Tehran has a capacity almost for 700,000 cars but currently more than 3 million cars are on the roads. The automation industry has recently developed but international sanctions influence the production processes periodically.[46]


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


Tehran Subway arriving into Vali Asr Metro Station
See also: Tehran Metro

Tehran claims to have one of the cleanest and most convenient metro systems, in terms of accessibility to different parts of the city, in the region.[citation needed] The feasibility study and conceptual planning of the construction were started in the 1970s. In 2001, the first two of the eight projected metro lines were opened. Now, Tehran's metro has five operative lines and is 152 km (94 mi) long, with two other lines under construction.


Tehran also has a central railway station with connecting services round the clock to various cities in the country. A Tehran-Europe train line is also running.


Tehran's transport system includes conventional buses, trolleybuses and 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.[47] This was the first trolleybus system in Iran and remains the country's only such system.[47] In 2005, trolleybuses were operating on five routes, all starting at Imam Hossein Square,[48] near Imam Hossein Station of 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, 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.[48] A 3.2-km extension from Shoosh Square to Rah Ahan Square and the railway station there opened in March 2010.[49]

Tehran Bus Rapid Transit was officially inaugurated in 2008 by Tehran's mayor of that time, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. BRT has three lines with 60 stations in different areas of the city. As at 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 stations in one of Tehran's districts.[50]

Highways and streets[edit]

The metropolis of Tehran enjoys a huge network of highways (280 km) and of interchanges, ramps, and loops (180 km). In 2007 there were 130 km (81 mi) of highways and 120 km (75 mi) of ramps and loops under construction.[51]

While the center of the city houses the government ministries and headquarters, the commercial centers are more located toward Valiasr Street (formerly known as Pahlavi 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:

Air pollution[edit]

Tehran's air pollution
Viewing of pollution from above of Tochal peak.

Tehran suffers from severe air pollution and the city is often covered by smog, making breathing difficult and causing widespread pulmonary illnesses. It is estimated that about 27 people die each day from pollution-related diseases.[52] According to local officials, 3,600 people died in a single month due to the hazardous air quality.[53] 80% of the city's pollution is due to cars.[54] 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.[55]

In 2007, Iran imposed fuel rations but the plan has met little success in reducing the pollution levels. In 2011, with the improvements in the public transport system and the rise in fuel prices due to the new subsidies reform plan, the Government is hoping to be able to improve the problems of pollution and traffic.[50]

The air pollution is due to several different reasons:

  • Economical: most Iranian industries are located on the outskirts of Tehran. The city is also overrun with old and aging cars which do not meet today's emission regulations. Furthermore, Iran's busiest airport, Mehrabad International Airport, is located in the west of the city;
  • Most people are then obliged to either use private cars or hire taxis. This has created severe traffic congestion;
  • Gasoline quality: Due to international sanctions, the Iranian government allowed its refineries (designed to produce petrochemical products) to manufacture sub-par gasoline.[56]
  • Geographical: Tehran is bound in the north by the massive Alborz mountain range that is stopping the flow of the humid Caspian wind. As a result, thermal inversion that traps Tehran's polluted air is frequently observed. The lack of humidity and clouds makes Tehran a very sunny city. The UV radiations then combined with the existing pollutants significantly raise the level of the ozone. In fact one of the urban landmarks in central Tehran is a giant air quality gauge.[57] Furthermore, the reportedly poor quality of Iranian-manufactured gasoline may also be contributing to the pollution.[58]

However, the government is 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, since 1979 the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has set up a "Traffic Zone" (Tarhe Trāfik) covering the city center during peak traffic hours. Entering and driving inside this zone is only allowed with a special permit. The government is also trying 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). The board also displays the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), which is a general indication of air quality based on the measurements of the above-mentioned five pollutants. The Pollution Indicator Boards classify the level of each pollutant as either safe, hazardous or dangerous.

Education and research[edit]

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

Tehran is the largest and most important educational center of Iran. Today 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 other highly ranked universities of Iran located in Tehran.

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


See also: Sport in Iran

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 2,363 athletes and officials from 25 countries. Football and wrestling are the cities most popular sport. While basketball, volleyball and futsal are also major parts of the city's sporting culture.


Skiers at the resort of Dizin

The ski resort of Dizin is situated to the north of Tehran in the Alborz Mountains. Tochal Ski Resort is the world's fifth highest ski resort, at over 3,730 metres (12,240 ft) at its highest "7th station" and it is also the world's nearest ski resort to a capital. The resort was completed in 1976 shortly before the overthrowing of the Shah.

Tochal Télécabine (gondola lift)

Here, one must first ride the 8-kilometre-long (5 mi) gondola lift which covers a huge vertical and is probably the longest line in the world.[59] The 7th station has three 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 3,900 metres (12,795 ft) near Tochal's peak (at 4,000 m/13,125 ft), rising higher than the gondola 7th station. This altitude is higher than any of the European 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. At the bottom of the lifts in a valley behind the Tochal peak is Tochal Hotel, located at 3,500 metres (11,483 ft) altitude. From there a T lift takes skiers up the 3,800 metres (12,500 ft) of Shahneshin peak, where the third slope of Tochal is.

Tochal 7th station has skiing eight months of the year. But there are also some 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 one to three hours of Tehran.


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

Football has been part of Tehran for a long time. The first club established in Tehran was founded in 1920 and named the Iran Club, which was dissolved in 1923. Currently the oldest football club in Tehran is Rah Ahan 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. The two teams compete in the Tehran derby, which is watched throughout the middle east.

Tehran is also the site of Iran's national football stadium on Azadi Sport Complex with 100,000 seating capacity. Azadi Football Stadium is one of the largest in the world. Many of the top matches of Iran's Premier League are held here. In 2005, FIFA ordered Iran to limit spectators allowed into Azadi stadium because of a fatal crush and inadequate safety procedures. Other stadiums in Tehran include Shahid Dastgerdi Stadium, Takhti Stadium, and Shahid Shirudi Stadium.

Tehran is host to five major football clubs in the Iran Pro League, namely:

Club Sport Founded League
Rah Ahan F.C. Association football 1937 Iran Pro League (IPL)
Esteghlal F.C.[60] Association football 1945 Iran Pro League (IPL)
Naft Tehran F.C. Association football 1950 Iran Pro League (IPL)
Persepolis F.C.[61] Association football 1963 Iran Pro League (IPL)

Tehran is also host to many small clubs:

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


Tehran view from Qeytarieh

Tehran is a relatively old city; as such, it has an architectural tradition unique to itself. Archaeological investigations and excavations in Tehran demonstrate that this area was home to civilizations as far back as 6,000 years BC in the village of Rey which is now incorporated into the city. Tehran served only as a village to a relatively small population for most of its history, but began to take a more considerable role in Iran after it was made the capital in the late 18th century. Despite the occurrence of earthquakes during the Qajar period and before, some buildings still remain from Tehran's era of antiquity.[62] Today Tehran is Iran's primate city, and has the most modernized infrastructure in the country; however, the gentrification of old neighborhoods and the demolition of buildings of cultural significance has caused concerns.[63] The Azadi Tower has been the longstanding symbol of Tehran. It was constructed to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian empire, and was originally named "Shahyad Tower"; after the Revolution of 1979, its name changed to "Azadi Tower," meaning "Freedom Tower." The recently constructed Milad Tower may eventually replace the Azadi Tower as Tehran's new symbol. The Milad complex contains the world's sixth tallest tower, several restaurants, a five star hotel, a convention center, a world trade center, and an IT park.[64] Traditionally a low-rise city due to seismic activity in the region, modern high rise developments in Tehran have been undertaken in order to service its growing population. There have been no major quakes in Tehran since 1830.[65]

The tallest residential building in Iran is a 54-story building located north of Youssef Abad district, the Tehran International Tower. It is architecturally similar to Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip in the Paradise community of Clark County, Nevada, United States.[66] Appealing to the principle of 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 facilitate access to various parts of the city.[66]

Tourism and attractions[edit]

See also: Tourism in Iran

Tehran, as Iran's showcase and capital city, has a wealth of cultural attractions. The Sun Throne (also known as the Peacock Throne) of the Persian Kings (Shahs) can be found in Golestan Palace. Some well-known 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, and Safir Office Machines Museum. The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art features works of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The collection of these paintings was selected by former Empress Farah Diba.[citation needed]

Tehran is also home to the Iranian Imperial Crown Jewels, also called the Imperial Crown Jewels of Persia, it is claimed to be the largest, most dazzling and valuable 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, including the largest collections of emeralds, rubies and diamonds in the world. It also includes other items collected by the Shahs of Iran during the 2,500 year existence of the Iranian Kingdom. The Imperial Crown Jewels are still on display in the Iranian Central Bank in Tehran.

Tehran International Book Fair (TIBF) is known to the international publishing world as one of the most important publishing events in Asia.[67]


Mellat Park during Nowruz shown with colourful tulips.

One of the most popular social activities, especially among the younger generation, is cinema. Most cinema theaters are located downtown. The Azadi Cinema was inaugurated in 2008. It is the largest cinema complex in Tehran with ten theaters. The Cinema Farhang in the north is the only official theater that plays foreign films in Tehran.

The Tehran Zoological Garden (Eram Zoo) and Eram City Game are also popular meeting points, especially for families with children. A new larger zoo was also planned for 2010.

Artists often mingle at the House Of Artists. Tehran City Theater was opened in 1962. It is the largest theater in Tehran. Tehran TV 1, Tehran Cinema TV, Omid TV and Tehran Show TV are among the most popular TV stations in Tehran. Tehran TV2, Tehran TV3 and Tehran Sport were planned to be launched in 2012.

Since early 2010, the municipality of Tehran started to implant millions of Tulips in the springtime in order to make the city environment glamorous, romantic and more lush. At the beginning, some millions following by 5 millions in 2014 and 10 millions in 2015.


The following table shows some places for outdoors activities in Tehran:

Tochal Ski resort Darband hiking trail Chitgar Park Niavaran Park Saei Park Daneshju Park Goft-o-gu Park
Mellat Park Laleh Park Jamshidieh Park Shatranj Park Darakeh hiking trail Jahan e Kudak Park Azadi Sport Complex
Enghelab Sports Complex and Golf course Latyan Lake Lavizan Forest Park Vardavard Forest Park Khajeer National Park Kavir National Park Lavizan
Tar Lake Amir Kabir Lake Lar Protected Natural Habitat Varjeen Protected Natural Habitat Pardisan Tangeh Savashi Farahzad

Religious centers[edit]

There are many religious centers scattered around the city from old to newly built centers. There are mosques, churches, and synagogues where followers of these religions can practice their faith.

The Friday prayer in Tehran is usually hosted by Tehran University which is led by a Friday prayer leader and on special occasions by the Supreme Leader of Iran. Many religious people participate in the prayers.


Main article: Graffiti in Tehran
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, which go with themes like protest, freedom and peace.

During the protests of the Iranian presidential election of 2009, many graffiti works were done by people supporting the Green Movement, and they were removed from the walls by the Basij forces.[69]

In recent years, Tehran Municipality has been using graffiti in order to beautify the city. Also, several festivals were held for the art of graffiti in Tehran. One of them was held in October 2014, and it was organized by the Tehran University of Art.[70]


  • The 7th Asian Games were held from September 1 to September 16, 1974 in Tehran. The Azadi Sport Complex was built for the Games. The Asian Games were hosted in West Asia for the first time. Tehran played host to 3,010 athletes from 25 countries/NOCs, the highest number of participants since the inception of the Games.[71]
  • 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.[72]
Panoramic view of Tehran at night

Sister cities[edit]

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[73][dead link][74]
United States United States Seal of Los Angeles, California.svg Los Angeles Flag of California.svg California 1972[73][dead link][75]
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[73][dead link][76]
South Africa South Africa Pretoria coa.jpg Pretoria Gauteng arms.svg Gauteng 2002[73][dead link][77]
Russia Russia Coat of Arms of Moscow.svg Moscow Central Federal District 2004[73][dead link][78]
Venezuela Venezuela Coat of Arms of Caracas.svg Caracas Bandera de Caracas.svg Venezuelan Capital District 2005[73][dead link]
China China Beijing 2006[73][dead link][79]
Tajikistan Tajikistan Coat of Arms of Dushanbe.png Dushanbe 2006[73][dead link]
Belarus Belarus Coat of arms of Minsk.svg Minsk Flag of Minsk Voblast.svg Minsk Region 2006[73][dead link][80]
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates Dubai Flag of Dubai.svg Emirate of Dubai 2012[81]
Turkey Turkey Ankara 2013[82]
Georgia (country) Georgia Tbilisi City Seal.svg Tbilisi Flag of Tbilisi.svg Tbilisi 2015[83]
Hungary Hungary Budapest 2015[84]

Tehran has also signed Mutual Cooperation and Understanding with a number of cities including Baghdad, Kabul, Paris, Milan, and St. Petersburg.[73][dead link]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Preceded by
Capital of Iran (Persia)