At the beginning of my second project in Tehran I was staying at the Esteghlal hotel, which is in the northern part of the city, near the Alborz mountains and the district of Tajrish.
That picture above is the view I had from my room.
Tehran is in the shadow of the Alborz mountains to the north, north west and north east – that’s them in the picture.
I was there for a month during the last part of January and February – mid-Winter, and it was cold..!
It was also a time when US President Trump was threatening Iran because they had recently tested a ballistic missile.
Although nothing was likely to happen (and nothing did) it was still unnerving to be in the target area of potential US aggression.
Here’s where I was staying in relation to the rest of the city:
Over the weekends I got out of the hotel and explored (on foot) as much as I could, and this particular expedition was to Tajrish.
Here’s a closer look at where the hotel was in relation to the Tajrish Bazaar. I walked up Vali-e-asr Street to get to the bazaar and the mosque:
Tajrish contains a well-known bazaar, a large shrine and it is a relatively affluent residential area.
Here’s a small park, surrounded by residential buildings, that was quite close to the hotel on the way up Vali-e-asr Street:
The cars in Tehran are nearly all small and old. There are lots of Peugeots and Renaults, as well as some Korean cars, but the effect of the sanctions that Iran has lived under for years was clear.
As you can see, though, there was no rubbish around – the streets and roads are well kept. In parts of Tehran I came across piles of building materials, but rarely did I see litter.
I said in another article on Tehran that there are parts where the architecture could make you think you were somewhere in Europe.
Here are some pictures I took in the residential area north of the bazaar and shrine (I indicated it on the map above):
And this is the street in which that building above is located:
Here’s a little cul-de-sac. You can see in both this, and the picture above, that this part of Tehran is on the lower slopes of the mountains, but neither picture gives a true impression of how steep the slopes really are:
At Tajrish Square there is a shrine to Emamzadeh Saleh, a building with an absolutely stunning level of detail and colour:
If you’re reading this on a hand-held device you may not be able to see it too clearly, but the level of detail on the walls and towers is incredibly intricate, and the colours are vibrant.
I saw many, many mosques on my explorations of Tehran, all of which had incredibly detailed patterns and designs, but this was the most colourful of the lot.
You also may not be able to see the caption on that screen to the right, but it said ‘Down with USA and Israel’.
Yet, everyone I met in Tehran, not just those I worked with, but people in local shops or stalls in the bazaars, even on the streets as I was walking around, were incredibly friendly and helpful.
They were genuinely delighted to see a foreigner taking an interest in their city.
As in so many countries today, there is a huge gulf between the government and the people.
After wandering around for a couple of hours I was getting cold and the weather was threatening to snow, so I headed back to the hotel.
This was the view from my room when I got back – somewhat greyer than when I left earlier!
Unfortunately, the food in the hotel was not great but, not far away, was a fantastic coffee shop, which also sold different types of bread, all made on the premises.
So I stopped off there on my way back for some great coffee and absolutely wonderful bread – my evening meal.
I enjoyed my time in Tehran tremendously – it is the absolute polar opposite of Riyadh, where I had been working a few months before, and completely different from the impression given by the media.
On other weekend explorations I visited Taleghani Park, Seoul Park, attempted to walk to the Milad Tower and spent time in Mellat Park – but those are all for future posts.
Have you visited Tehran? Tell us about it in the comments!
The Expat Traveller