The Story of Tehran

Document Type : علمی - پژوهشی


Director, Encyclopedia of Persian Architecture and Urban Planning (Iranshahr)


The capital of Iran for the past 200 years, Tehran has a very long history of settlement. The archaeological excavations have revealed remains of scattered settlements in this area dating to as early as eight millennia ago. Tehran was located on trade routes linking east and west, as well as north and south, while enjoying a pleasant climate in the desert environment. Therefore, the Safavid Shah Tahmasb designated this rural settlement as a city circa 16 century A.D. and ordered development of fortifications and public buildings.Under The Qajar dynasty, Tehran was designated as the capital of Iran—an status it has enjoyed for the past 200 years. Accordingly Tehran witnessed an influx of diverse ethnic groups who turned the capital the representative of all Iran. As each ethnic group specialized in a certain skill, they all contributed to the buoyancy of the capital. World War II brought in more migrants from Europe and America and new building typologies.The First Pahlavi King lacked this background and appointed mayors who were also unfamiliar with Tehran’s heritage. They demolished the historic fortifications and gates as well as several historic buildings, and widened and extended roads into the historic fabric. This trend continues today when urban development projects are planned with sufficient attention to neither the natural conditions nor the historical background of Tehran. This has caused to implementation of several unsustainable solutions which have caused more problems than solving any.Nevertheless, a third generation descending from earlier rural migrants have demonstrated a tendency for urban traditions and conventions. Tehran will thus witness a ‘Spring of Urbanity’.

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