In The Shade of The Plane Trees of Tehran
Tehran is a passage almost obliged to discover Iran. In his regard, I have most often heard criticism: a poorly equipped city, always congested and polluted.
cited by: Elodie Bernard
Tehran is a passage almost obliged to discover Iran. In his regard, I have most often heard criticism: a poorly equipped city, always congested and polluted. The winter is rough and the summer, ruthless, turns the city into a sea of dust. The dry air then emerges in the narrow streets and the new streets devoid of shade, without a breath of outside air can allow infiltrating a little the freshness of the night. Traced with a knife, the broad avenues do not seem to keep a particular stamp. Suffice to say that at first glance, the city has nothing to seduce. Perhaps the detractors of Tehran are right. No doubt, Shiraz or Isfahan are more pleasant cities to live in. Without a doubt. However, no other city in Iran has the peculiarities of Tehran. Iran's cultural heart, political and economic center, Tehran presents in its own way a facet of the Iranian identity.
To try to tame this capital with sprawling dimensions, I engage in the infinite Avenue ValiAsr. Stretching over thirty-three kilometers, with a drop of a few hundred meters, this avenue is the most important north-south road artery. The city buses take well over an hour to cover the entire route. This little game seems at first infernal, with untimely stops and restarts. Then this bus trip becomes, in my eyes foreign, very informative. Gradually a selection of passengers takes place. As you move further south from ValiAsr you reach the most exclusive residential areas of Tehran. A white, dusty light envelops the south of the city. It diffuses, like an oven, a relentless heat. Suffice to say that it contributes to its charm: to appreciate the Persian past but first to deserve it by supporting this climate. This must be the motto of every traveler to Tehran. Historical and current sights that change the urban landscape are Tehran University and Amir Kabir University. They give a student and intellectual tone to the whole district of Enghelab, busy bookstores. A little further south are the great bazaar of Tehran where not to be lost seems to be inconceivable, and the Palace of Roses (the "Golestan") which was the former residence of Kings Qadjar (1794-1925) and Pahlavi (1925-1979). This palace is in front of the main entrance of the bazaar. Located on the site of the ancient citadel of the bazaar, it is now covered with beautiful flower beds. Its paved courtyards and earthenware pools make this place one of the wonders of Tehran. The squares of Imam Khomeini and Imam Hossein as well as all the streets that adjoin them (Saadi Street with its clothing bazaar, for example) are so many places to stroll is a real pleasure to forget for a moment a morose daily, loaded with multiple economic problems. In Ferdowsi Street was established in the sixties, the Museum of Crown Jewels, bringing together the finest jewels of Iran of the last centuries. Notable are the 182-carat diamond Darya-ye Nur - the most famous of this place - and the enormous 38-kilogram globe - made up of 53,506 precious stones - plus countless royal swords and crowns encrusted with gold, emeralds, sapphires and pearls.
A little further up, still on Vali'Asr Avenue, extends the residential park of the last Shah, including several palaces belonging to different members of the family. This site is an essential place to understand the national history and evaluate the splendor in which the Chah seemed to live. In addition, its shaded surroundings allow escaping for an instant the urban frenzy.
Museums are numerous and scattered all over Tehran: the National Museum of Iran of S. Yarjani Street, the Carpet Museum, the Museum of Glass and Ceramics, the Museum of Fine Arts.
To the north, towards Tajrich and Shémiran, the new dynamic economic center was built, surpassing the former royal district. It is now in this area that we find the shops and restaurants the most chic of all Tehran. Here, it is no longer the Persian blue faience that triumphs but the green. Gardeners have indeed worked to make the neighborhood more pleasant to live. So, crossing a large gate and entering a garden become precious moments. A scent of freshness, earth and foliage takes you to places far from Tehran. Residential neighborhoods are also located at the foot of the mountains. These neighborhoods dominate the whole city and especially they receive this little fresh air emanating directly from the mountain. At the very end of some of these streets begin hiking trails. This is how many Tehraners spend their weekend climbing the rock wall of Tochal.