Tehran (Iran)


Tehran is the capital of Iran, located in the central part of the country. The city was founded in the 8th century and has about 9 million inhabitants. It is the cultural, economic and political center of Iran, has many historical and cultural monuments, and is a major transportation hub and has many educational institutions.

History of the City

According to archeologists fourteen thousand years ago there was life boiling in the vicinity of modern Tehran. However, the starting point of the history of the city is the IX century. At that time a small village called Tehran was living quietly on the place of the Iranian capital (it is assumed that it could appear before the IX century). A rich and influential trading town Rei, one of the most ancient in Iran, was situated very nearby. It was on the shoulders of Ray that Tehran was destined to grow from a small settlement into the center of commercial and cultural life of the region.

The city’s finest hour came in the 13th century, when mighty Ray fell to the onslaught of the Mongol armies. Located very close to the ruined city, the future Iranian capital began to receive refugees under its wing and in time inherited the former privileges of Ray. Only a century later, Tehran achieved the status of a major commercial center. In 1553 the city had the honor to become one of the residences of the Iranian Shah Tahmasp I (1514-1576) of the Safavid dynasty: the ruler was attracted by the amazing natural beauty of Tehran and the mild climate Around this time, construction of the protective walls around the city began, so Tehran became a full-fledged refuge for the rulers in case of a military threat.

Although Tehran was a success since the 13th century, for a long time it remained a relatively small city. Only in the XVIII century the situation began to change: Shah Mohammad Karim-khan Zend (1705-1779) seriously thought of moving the capital to Tehran and initiated the construction of the magnificent palace and state residences. The city developed, but it was decided to designate Shiraz (in the south of Iran) as the capital. Despite the serious damage caused to Teheran during the bloody internal conflicts between dynasties, in 1785 the city still gained the status of the capital (the decision to move the capital was made by Shah Agha Mohammad khan Qajar who ruled at that time). The city possessions soon began to extend beyond the protective walls.

The twentieth century disrupted the habitual way of life of the Tehranites. The new century began with the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911, which broke out because of dissatisfaction with the policies of the Qajar dynasty. After the political upheavals of the 1920s and 1930s, there was a period of rapid growth of the Iranian capital. Then, next to the Old City, partially reconstructed in the middle of the XIX century, the area of new buildings began to grow, there were spacious streets and architectural structures of the work of foreign engineers.

Tehran played an important role in the history of the Second World War: in 1943 there was held the Teheran Conference with the participation of the leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition – the USA, the USSR and Great Britain (the opening of the Second Front was on the agenda). After the war, business in Tehran went uphill again.

In the 1970s, when the world was going through an energy crisis, the capital’s situation only improved thanks to oil exports, but political problems soon reduced the growth rate of Tehran (local residents came out in rallies against the incumbent government). The city also had a hard time with the bombing during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988.

Tehran is a modern metropolis: with a population of over eight million people (not including suburban areas) it is one of the largest cities in the Middle East. This is all the more surprising because at the end of the XIX century the capital of Iran had a population of about two hundred thousand people.

The capital of Iran, as it should be, is the largest industrial and business center of the country. Local enterprises have wide specialization: there are engineering plants, developed food and textile industry, metallurgy.

Oil fields are actively developed in Iran, and Tehran is one of the centers of oil refining industry. Moreover, since 1968 the Tehran Stock Exchange has been working in the capital (the only one in the country).

The high level of industrialization of the Iranian capital also has its downside. First of all, there are environmental problems: Tehran is often shrouded in a thick cloud of smog, which provokes the development of lung diseases.

General Information

  • The capital and largest city of Iran.
  • Administrative divisions: 22 districts, 112 regions.
  • Language: Persian.
  • Religion: Shi’a Islam (96% of the population), as well as Christians, Bahai, Jews, and Zoroastrians.
  • Ethnicity: Persians, Azeris, Mazandarans, Kurds, Armenians, Arabs, and others; one of the nicknames of Tehran is “the city of 72 nations.
  • Currency: Iranian rial.
  • Important airport: Imam Khomeini International Airport.
  • Area: 707 (agglomeration, or Greater Tehran, 1,500) km2.
  • Population: 8,429,807 (agglomeration: 13,422,366) (2006).
  • Population density: 11,923.3 (agglomeration: 8,948.2) people/km2.
  • Average altitude, at which the city is located: 1200-1400 m above sea level.

Climate and weather

  • Subtropical continental.
  • Average summer temperature: +29 ºC.
  • Average winter temperature: +2 ºC.
  • Average rainfall: Up to 250 mm.


  • Industries: metallurgical, chemical, oil-refining, textile, food-processing, glass, tannery, engineering.
  • Services: tourism.


  • Ruins of forts of Rashkan and Gabri; the palace of Saadabad.
  • Golestan Palace-Museum (Museum of Anthropology, Diamond Hall, Aks-Haneh (photography museum), Hawes-Haneh (portrait gallery), Negar-Haneh (art gallery), Shams-ul-Emaneh Pavilion and the Marble Throne Hall.
  • Khomeini Mausoleum.
  • Togrol Tower.
  • Azadi Tower.
  • Soltani Mosque.
  • Archeological Museum.
  • National Museum of Iran.
  • Reza Abbasi Museum (collection of Muslim paintings, ceramics, and jewelry).
  • Carpet Museum.
  • Glass and Ceramics Museum.
  • Tehran Museum of Modern Art.

Fun Facts

  • The Armenian Diaspora (the Armenian Apostolic Church in predominantly Islamic Tehran has about 60,000 parishioners) is officially allowed to produce and drink wine “for religious purposes. In the restaurant called “Armenian Club” it is quite possible to drink it on other, usual for non-Muslim, occasions.
  • In September 2010. In September 2010, the British Museum handed over to Iran the so-called cylinder of Cyrus II the Great – a coiled clay cuneiform table of the 6th century B.C., also called the “Cyrus Manifesto. This document, found in 1879, is considered to be the first “declaration of human rights” in history. Its text informs, among other things, that Babylonians conquered by the Persians are allowed to worship whatever gods they wish, the merciful king Cyrus guarantees them other rights and freedoms.
  • The Tehran bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world. Its area is about 3 km2.
  • The city is on the verge of a traffic collapse and therefore the local authorities were forced to make quite severe restrictions. The city was divided into three “zones”. One of them is accessible to all comers, the second is open only for a limited number of cars, and the third is only allowed entry to public transport and ambulances.
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