Tehran

Tehran is the capital of Iran . With a population of around 8.4 million and 14 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is Iran's largest city and urban area, and the largest city in Western Asia.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Tehran has been the subject of mass migration of people from all over Iran. The city is home to many historic mosques as well as everal churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples. However, modern structures, notably Azadi Tower and the Milad Tower, have come to symbolize the city. Tehran is ranked 29th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area. Although a variety of unofficial languages are spoken, roughly 99% of the population understand and speak Persian.

With its relatively short history, ugly mask of concrete, sometimes choking smog and manic streets flowing hot with machines, many travellers and no small number of Tehranis will tell you there’s no reason to hang around in the capital. But to take their advice is to miss out. For while Esfahan or Persepolis has a convincing case for being the soul of Iran, Tehran is indisputably its big, ugly, chaotic and dynamic beating heart.

Packed onto the lower slopes of the Alborz Mountains, this is Iran’s most secular and liberal city and it attracts students from across the country. Expect relatively bold fashion statements, a range of ethnic and international restaurants, chic cafes and plenty of art galleries. And while Tehran lacks history, it makes up for it with impressive museums. But to get inside the real Tehran you need to get beyond the museums and into the cafes and teahouses and onto the walking trails. That’s where you’ll connect with Tehranis.

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