UNDERSTAND

Tehran is the capital of Iran, The population of the city is almost 14 million with a metropolitan area population of approximately 17 million.

Human settlement of the region dates from Neolithic times, but the development of Tehran was very slow and its rise to prominence largely accidental. From the mid-16th century, Tehran’s attractive natural setting and good hunting brought it into the favor of the Safavid kings. It developed from a moderately prosperous trading village into an elegant, if dusty, city, and European visitors wrote of its many enchanting vineyards and gardens. In 1789, Agha Muhammad Khan declared Tehran his capital, and six years later had himself crowned as Shah of all Persia. The town continued to grow slowly under later Qajar rulers.

From the early 1920s, the city was extensively modernized on a grid system, and this period marked the start of phenomenal population growth and uncontrolled urban development that continues to this day. Today Tehran is so vast that getting hopelessly lost at least once in a year is certain, no matter what form of transport you take. If you need landmarks, the Alborz mountains, known as the ‘North Star’ of Tehran, are to the north; and the huge telephone office at Emam Khomeini Square dominates inner southern Tehran.

Tehran is a cosmopolitan city, with great museums, parks, restaurants, and warm friendly people. It deserves at least a few days of your Iranian itinerary.

The city can be roughly divided into two different parts – north and south. The northern districts of Tehran are more prosperous, modern, cosmopolitan and expensive while southern parts are less attractive but cheaper.

At the time of the Zand dynasty, it was a little town that was significant from a strategic point of view. The first of the Qajar kings, Agha Mohammed Khan, named Tehran as the country’s capital in 1778, and most of its growth started during the reign of a subsequent Qajar monarch, Fath-Ali Shah. The castle which Agha Mohammed Khan had built was to contain the new majestic buildings.

GET AROUND TEHRAN

Getting around traffic-clogged, sprawling Tehran is a true test of patience. While taxis are your best bet, they are pricier here than the rest of the country. A large local bus network will also take you almost anywhere you need to go, as long you can make sense of the routes and Persian line numbers. The true star of Tehran’s transport system however, is the brand new metro.

TEHRAN BUS

The buses in the Tehran are quite efficient in Iran and it is by far the most preferred transport for women, who deem it safer than taxis. Buses operate throughout the city but timetables and routes are not readily available. Bus stops, in particular along Vali Asr Street, are clearly marked and numerous. Otherwise, you can ask a passerby for the nearest stop. Day services are frequent, but in the evenings (some buses do not run after 21.30) and on Fridays these are more sporadic. Always buy a ticket either at the kiosk or from the driver himself, paying at the end of the journey. Female travellers may need to exit the bus and then come up to the driver at the front to pay for the ticket (around 3,000 rials).

TEHRAN METRO

BY METRO The first line of the Tehran metro opened in February 2000. There are now five lines in operation connecting the far-flung parts of this huge city. One-way and return ticket costs are 3,500 rials and 5,500 rials respectively, regardless of the distance. Travel passes are the cheapest way to use the metro and useful if you plan to use trains regularly. Like the Oyster card on the UK London underground, you purchase a card at the ticket office and charge the card with funds and swipe in and out of the barriers at the stations. Rush hours, best avoided, are from 06.00 to 09.00 and 1/1.00 to 17.00. Metro carriages are also gender-segregated, but metro travel is safe and efficient and indications are written in both Persian and clear English. While metro services are not as frequent as in European cities, the carriages are clean and you can always purchase a little something from one of the sellers along the way.

TEHRAN TAXI

Traveling by taxi in Tehran is easy and inexpensive. A shared taxi (savari) costs around 5,000—10,000 rials and private hire (darbaz) costs up to 80,000 rials, depending on where you are going. Do remember that Tehran is not a pedestrian-friendly city and a short savari ride up Vali Asr Street may save a great deal of energy.

RIDE-SHARING APPS

It is recommended for traveler to use the ride-sharing apps such as since they are cheaper than the regular taxi most of the time.

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