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The capital of IRAN

A Brief History

Excavations place the existence of settlements in Tehran as far back as 6000 BC. Tehran was well known as a village in the 9th century, but was less well-known than the city of Rages which was flourishing nearby in the pre-Mongol era. In the 13th century, following the destruction of Rages by Mongols, many of its inhabitants fled to Tehran. In some sources of the Mongol era the city is mentioned as "Rages's Tehran" (طهرانِ ری). The city is later mentioned in Hamdollah Mostowfi's Nezhat ol-Gholoob (written in 1340) as a famous village.

No one knows for sure how the city got its name, but one accepted explanation is that Tehran means "a warm place", as opposed to "a cool place", called Shemiran - a cooler district in northern Tehran. Don Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, a Castilian ambassador, was probably the first European to visit Tehran, stopping in July 1404, while on a journey to Samarkand now in Ukbekistan and the Mongol capital at the time. At this time, the city of Tehran was unwalled.

Tehran became a residence of the Safavid rulers in the 17th century. Tahmasp I built a bazaar and a wall around the city, but it somewhat fell out of favour after Abbas I turned sick when he was passing the city to go to a war with the Uzbeks.

In the early 18th century, Karim Khan Zand ordered a palace, a harem, and a government office to be built in Tehran, possibly to declare the city his capital, but later moved his government to Shiraz. Tehran finally became the capital of Persia in 1795, when the Qajar king Agha Mohammad Khan was crowned in the city. It remains the capital to this day.

During World War II, British and Soviet troops entered the city. Tehran was the site of the Teheran Conference in 1943, attended by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.

On September 8, 1978, demonstrations against the Shah led to riots. The army reportedly opened fire on the demonstrating mob. Martial law was installed in the wake of the ensuing revolution, from 1978-80.

During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, Tehran was the scene of repeated Scud missile attacks and air strikes against random residential and industrial targets within the city, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties


Geographical Divisions of Early Tehran (1900 AD)
In the Naseri Era, Tehran had a population of 150,000 people, but, the city was growing and the bulwarks and barbicans of the Safavids Era had imposed an unfavorable limits on the city. Therefore, the Qajar King had his Prime Minister, Mirza Yousouf Mostoufi-ol-mamalek, and Tehran’s Minister, Mirza Eisa to draw the new city limits, provide a map and have new ditches dug. Buhler, a French engineer, with cooperation of some others, took over the task. They devised a map and clarified new limits to build the new bulwark and dig the new ditches. Within the new limits, some major neighborhoods were defined: Bazaar, Chalemaidun, Chalehesar, Arg, Owdelajan, Sangelaje, and some less-significant ones.
Bazaar was the most prominent neighborhood in early Tehran. It was located in the center; Owdelejan was located to its east, and Sangelaje to its west.
Chalemaidun and Chalehesar
Chalemaidun and Chalehesar were lands left after mining construction materials to build the bulwark and the barbicans. Chalehesar was near Sangelaje and Gozar-e-Mostoufi.
Tehran's Arg
Tehran’s Arg and some of the surrounding buildings had remained from the Safavids Era. It is said that after the Afqans captured Tehran, they built a bridge at the north of this lot in front of which, a gate was installed. Thereafter, this gate was known as Darvazeh Dowlat.
During the reign of Aqa Mohammad Khan-e Qajar, Arg was located almost at the north of Tehran, attached to the bulwark at one side, and surrounded by residential areas at all others. Later as the city grew larger, and new neighborhoods were developed, Arg found a central position.
In early Tehran other than Bazaar, two neighborhoods were more developed and populated than others: Owdelajan and Sangelaje. Development of Owdelajan dates back to when Tehran was a small village. Its natives spoke in a dialect that was quite similar to that of Shemeeran’s rural people.
Sangelaje, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tehran, in its better days was one of the largest, most developed, well populated and impressive neighborhoods of the city. Today a major part of Sangelaje has been turned to Park-e Shahr.

Tehran Walls (19th century)

Map of Tehran, 2000s.

The Gates of Tehran

The Gates of Tehran had served their purpose by the end of Naser-e-din Shah’s era, and yet, some were left on their original place, up to half a century ago. They were known as:

"Darvazeh Khorasan";

"Darvazeh-ie-Hazrat Abdul-azeem";
"Darvazeh Qar";

"Darvazeh Gomrok";

"Darvazeh Qazvin";
"Darvazeh Behjat Abad";

"Darvazeh Dowlat";

"Darvazeh Shemeeran";

"Darvazeh Dooshan Tapeh";

"Darvazeh Doolab".
There were some other internal gates that opened to "Toopkhaneh Square" such as:

"Darvazeh Naserieh"; "Darvazeh Ajori-e-Kheyaban-Cheraq Barq"; "Darvazeh Baq-e-Shah"; "Sardar-e-Almussieh (Bub Homayoon)" and several others that had connected streets such as Lalehzar and Ala-o-doleh to the city squares.

The Royal Arg which was secured behind high bulwarks, had four gates, one of which opened to the entrance of Bub Homayoon, and another opened to a square, in which Ministry of Interior was located. The latter was known as "Darvazeh Naqareh-Khaneh". Toward the east of the Arg, there was a gate named "Darb-e-Andaroon", and toward the west "Darvazeh Jalil Abad" had been installed.

Major Changes

Some of the most major changes in Tehran took place starting 1921 A.D. These changes could be categorized into four periods:

Almost all ditches and most gates were removed; old passageways and roads were repaired and the city found a more geometrical design. Also, the population increased from 300,000 people on 1931 to 540,000 on 1940. Among the important new establishments of this period one could name: National Bank of Iran, Foreign Ministry, Constabulary Building, Tehran's Rail Road Station, Tehran University, Radio Transmitter Station of Tehran, Army Officer's Club and several hospitals.

the ongoing Second World War slowed down any significant structural changes in Tehran. The population was 880.000 on 1946.

with a rapid establishment of new highways, boulevards, streets, suburban neighborhoods, and high-rise buildings, Tehran was transformed to a metropolitan area, and perhaps to a major city in Asia. The population increased from 1,800,000 in 1956 to 4,500,000 on 1976.

1978 to present
War, migration, and land development are among many factors that caused Tehran to extend on every direction, during the last decades of the 20th century. In 1992 Tehran's population reached over 6,620,000, and now it has passed 12,500.000.


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