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Teheran is situated on the southern slopes of the
Alborz mountain range.
It lies at an elevation of 1,100 meters above the Caspian sea level
and it is the vastest and the most populous city of Iran and also
ranks among the prominent cities of the world.
Tehran was selected as the center of Iran during the Ghajar period (1800 A.D.) because of its pleasant weather and beauty of nature. Now it has grown to a conglomerade of ancient monuments, huge buildings, business centers, etc.
Damavand Peak (5672 m), the tallest mountain in Iran Plateau, is located on north of teheran and has inspired many poets and writers.
Dome of the world, O Damavand!
Tehran which means warm slope, was a village in the suburb of the ancient Iranian capital of Ray, and after the fall of Ray by the Mongols in 1220 A.D., its residents moved to Tehran and the foundation for it to become a city was thus laid.
The oldest available historical records take Tehran as far back as the 3rd A.H./9th A.D. century; Yaqoot Hamavi, in his book Mo'jamol Boldan, says, Tehran is one of the villages of Ray.
The sectrial conflicts which was followed by the blind destructiveness, plunder and massacre launched by the Mongols (1218 - 1334 A.D.) brought about the destruction of Ray in 1220, and paved the way for the increase in population of Tehran. In 888/1378, with the rule of the Aq Qoyunlu (1378 - 1508) over Ray and Tehran, in the scope of geography Tehran began to enjoy a more glaring status.
After the gain of power by the Safavid Dynasty (1502 - 1736), Tehran attracted the attention of Shah Tahmasp 1, (1524 - 1576), son of Shah Ismail, the founder of the Safavid Dynasty, who was going on a pilgrimage to Imamzadeh Hamzeh (A.S.), crossing through this region. In 961/1553, he ordered the construction of walls around Tehran with 114 forts, matching the number of Suras in the Koran. Length of these walls measured to 6000 paces. Shah Abbas appointed a chief magistrate for Tehran, and furthermore ordered the planting of a plane-tree grove, the site of which later became the Arg of Tehran (Tehran Citadel).
From this point on, Tehran joined the ranks of the Safavid Dynasty cities; a city with walls comprised of 114 forts and renowned gates, namely:
In the late Safavid period, upon the order of Shah Suleiman, a splendid building was erected at the site of Chenarestan-e Shah Abbassi (the Shah Abbassi Plane-Tree Grove) where Shah Sultan Hussein (1664-1722) of the Safavid Dynasty, during the final years of his reign, spent some time there and received the ambassador from Sultan Ahmed, Ottoman ruler.
The Afghans selected the city citadle as their living quarters, and as an escaping measure, they constructed a bridge over the moat of the northern side of the citadel safeguarded by a gate called Arg. This very gate later became the site of the ruins on which the Dowlat Gate was erected.
With the fall of the power into the hands of Nadir shah (1736-1747), the Afghans realized that they lacked the military strength to confront his forces and the danger that was impending, so they decided to ravage the city and massacre its inhabitants; that they did, and left behind numerous corps, many homeless, and a large number of ruined structures.
In the year 1153/1643, Nadir Shah bestowed Tehran to his son, Reza Qoli Mirza. Approximately 20 years later, Karim Khan Zand (1750-1779), the founder of the Zand Dynasty, in order to continue his fight against Mohammad Hassan Khan Qajar (chief of the Qavanlu clan of the Qajars), captured the city and made it his military headquarters.
In 1173/1764, he ordered the construction of a large Diwankhaneh (government headquarters building) and a harem (seraglio), with its own surrounding walls and moats, inside the compound of the Tehran Citadel.
Agha Mohammad Khan, in 1200/1785, designated Tehran as his capital city, and after the elimination of all his rivals and enemies, he was formally crowned as shah at the Tehran Citadel. From this point on and until the fall of the Qajars, Tehran carried the title of Dar-ol Khelafeh (the Seat of the Caliphate) bestowed upon it by Agha Mohammad Khan, He was succeeded by his nephew Fath Ali Shah (1797-1834). During Fath Ali's reign, Tehran gradually improved and became more developed. New buildings were erected and the population began and upward trend with speculations that Tehran's population, in those years, was somewhere between 15 to 20 thousand. During the reign intenvals of Fath Ali Shah and his successor Mohammad Shah (1834-48) and until the beginning of Naser od-Din Shah's 1848-96) Tehran witnessed a three to four times population increase as well as the formation of new architectural structures including the Marmar (Marble) Ivan or Diwankhaneh va Darol Emareh (the Government Headquarters and the Governor's Seat), for the construction of which, the major materials were acquired from the Karim Khan's Vakil Palace in Shiras. Other monuments from this period were: the Golestan Garden and Palace, the Qajar Palace, the Khorroji Building, the Negarestan Garden and Palace, the Soltani Mosque, and a number of other splendid and luxurious structure, which were mainly used for the accommodation of nobles, generals and foreign ambassadors.
Tehran's truely remarkable growth coincided with the reign of Naserod-Din shah. The population of the city, over the course of a five year period, increased as much as three to four times. The number of people that lived in Tehran amounted to 155,736. Tehran at that time embodied the districts of Arg. Udlajan, Chal Maydan, Sangelaj, Bazaar and a number of outlying buildings around Tehran Known as the out of city quarters.
An important population characteristic observed in this census was the fact that immigrants constituted 73.4 percent of the population, while a mere 26.6 percent were accounted as Tehrani borns, Azarbyjanis, Isfahanis and Kashanis formed the majority of the immigrants, respectively.
The chief architectural structures of the period were the Mohammadiyeh Palace, the Lalehzar Garden and Building, the Sepahsalar Mosque and Theological School, the Darol Fonon School (Polyiechnic School), the Doshan Tappeh Palace, the Firouzeh (Turquiose) Palace, the Nezamiyeh Garden, the Horse Racing Track of Bageh-e Shah (Royal Graden), Badgir (Wind Tower) Building, the parade Ground and the Cossacks Barracks. The Shams-ol Emareh Building, the portal Minerates of the Soltani Mosque, the flourishing stage of Sabzeh Maydan (Greeneries Square) and its encirclement by newly built shops, in addition to many other structures erected during those days in every corner and hook of Tehran; the traces of which are still extant.
The furnishing of some of the alleys and streets of the vicinity around the citadel with gas lamps, owing to the endeavors of Haj Amir-ol Zarb, was among the period's valuable municipal undertakings.
The plant which manufactured the gas lamps, later became replaced by a small electric power plant in a street called Charagh Barq. Construction of the railroad from Tehran to the Shrine of Hazrat Abdul Azim, extension of telegraph lines and the establishment of an imperial Bank, are all among other public service credited to the same period.
In the second half of Naser-od Din shah's reign, in order to manage and improve the condition of the city, the Capital City Police and Municipality was formed, which also had the responsibility of city cleaning.
During the reign of Mozaftar od-Din Shah (reigned 1896-1907), Tehran did not undergo any drastic developmental activities, But unfortunately, over the course of his successor's reign, Mohammad Ali Shah (1907-1909) many severe damages were inflicted upon Tehran.
After the establishment of a constitutional government, Tehran has been declared, in the Constitution, as the capital and the seat of the Majlis. With ratification of Baladieh law in the First Majlis, the settlement of the city was transfered to this organization.
With power shift from Qajar to Pahlavi Tehran adopted the features of an European city. The avenues of Buzarjomehri, Molawi, and etc. are among manifestations of the above period, Later, however, other roads and modern buildings with the supervision of foreign engineers were constructed for the governmental and non-governmental entities. Some of those structures include Justice Department, Police Headqvarters, Train Station, Ministry of Finance, Customs Department, Iran's Academy of Leters. Tehran University. Teachers Training Cotlege, Nezam High School, Military School, Arms and Machine Gun Factory, Qaleh Morghi Airport, Doshan Tapeh Air Industries, Banks of Melli, Sepah, Keshavarzi (Agricultural), Rahni, and Kargoshaei, hospitals, Ministeries, Sa'adabad and a series of other imperial palaces, and the post Office-, Telephone-, Telegraph-, Wireless-, and Radio Station-, centers. There were also many other city military structures in addition to those of the private sector, all of which caused the expansion and population increase of Tehran; Furthermore, it was during the same years, based upon a declaration issued by the Academy of Letters, the terminology for municipality was changed from Baladieh into Shahrdari.
In the year 1302/1923, the population of Tehran amounted to 210,000 and by 1318/1639 reached the figure of 540,000, and during World War ll, following the occupation of Iran by the Allied Armed Forces in 1321/1941 , it increased to 880,000. This upward trend was mainly due to the first two decades of the thirteenth century's (solar calendar) boom in the construction activities for the erection of government buildings and palaces. During 1320-1330/1941-1951, an annual averages of 36,250 people were added to the population of Tehran, and according to the first general census the population of the city amounted to 1,512,000. It was from this point in time that the expansion progress of the city took gigantic dimensions; small and large sattelite towns as well as new districts were developed in the south, east and west of Tehran, all of which gradually became within the city limits of Tehran. The element of heavy traffic and the need for a more speedy transportation, paved the way for the construction of major highways. As a result, Tehran-Shmiran and Tehran-Ray travelling distances (subsequent to the demolition of brick-Iines and the development of market centers, automobile service stations, workshops, and residential dwellings) became an insignificant factor. At that point in time, according to the 1345/1966 census, the population of Tehran was 2,700,000, and by the following enumeration of the people living in Tehran, the number registered was 4,530,223.
From Shahrivar 1320 / September 1941, and over the course of the subsequent four decades, the shape of the city heavily altered; the city witnessed the erection of large modern public and governmental buildings, replacement of the old Sangelaj district by a vast park at the center of the city, the construction of dams equipped with water purification facilities across the Karaj and Jajrud rivers which provided the means of supplying the households with drinking water via water pipelines.
The creation of new establishments and the development of urban facilities in Tehran, due to its special status, caused the influx of immigration into this city. New parks, sports arenas, well-equipped modern hospitals, movie theaters, theaters, museums, large hotels and resturants, and many other structures manifested the new features added to the city.
Upon the downfall of the Pahlavi regime, and the subsequent excitement it created among all sects of people, coinciding with the lack of efficient work-flow in the governmental and urban bodies, some irresponsible and opportunistic individuals in company with rural immigrants, without any conception of the consequences, rushed and took possession of the outlying lands around Tehran. It was during the nights that they worked, and by the break of the dawn there was a new quarter along with additional urban problemes, add to the city of Tehran.
During the imposed war with Iraq, Tehran was also encountered with many predicaments. From one side there was the influx of war refugee masses into the city, according to the 1986 general census the population of Tehran reached 6,043,514, and from another side there was the flow of Afghan and lraqi immigrants which raised the population figure to somewhere between 8 to 8.5 million. With the ending of the war a new era has started, an era towards restoration, reorganization and development based on sheer energy and constructiveness.
Thus, Tehran a city emerged from the old days is going to become, without the loss of its original identity, one of the most beautiful cities of the hemisphere of the world. Also, in the light of all the endeavors being witnessed at the every corner and nook of this city, the Tehranis - whom spend the majority portion of their lives not inside the house, but on the contrary outdoors - will definitely be furnished with future enhancements. Therefore, unquestionably, they look upon this city as their own home.
A day long tour around the city is not even enough to cover all the attractions of Tehran and another day for visiting monuments and museums is recommended.
This page was created by B.H. Far.