Tourist & Resident Guide to Iran

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yazd Meybod Fort

One of the most evocative towns in Iran, Yazd is also one of the oldest. The town has historic connections with Zoroastrianism (Mazdaism).


Yazd Meybod Fort


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Farsi & Dari

This "cartogram" map from Worldmapper shows the number of Farsi and Dari speakers in the world.

The Farsi and Dari languages are spoken by around 30 million people. Farsi is the local name for the Persian language in Iran and Dari for the language in Afghanistan. The two dialects differ in the way that say British and American English do - accent and some vocabulary items.

Click on the map to enlarge it.

Farsi & Dari

© Copyright 2009 SASI Group (University of Sheffield)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Iran Population Map

These new "cartogram" maps from Worldmapper graphically show the population density of Iran.

The largest bulge is around the capital Iran. The gray areas represent areas of low population density on the north of Iran and south east of the country.

The total population of Iran was estimated in 2008 at 65,875,224.

Click on the map to enlarge it.

Iran Population Map

© Copyright 2009 SASI Group (University of Sheffield)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Iranian Weddings

Marriages in Iran consist of two parts: Aghd - the civil registration of a union and Jashn-e Aroosi the celebratory nuptials of the wedding reception and party.

Iranian Weddings

As in other countries the wedding car is decorated with flowers as the couple drive off to their new life.

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Guide to Tehran

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Azadi Grand Hotel

The Azadi Grand Hotel in north Tehran is one of the capital's most luxurious hotels, but distant from most of the sights in Tehran except for the International Trade Fair Ground and the airport. The hotel used to be the Hyatt Hotel in a previous existence in the late 1970s, when it was first built.

Azadi Grand Hotel

Azadi Grand Hotel
Dr. Chamran Expressway - Evin Cross Road
Tel : +98 21 207 3021/9

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Guide to Tehran

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tehran Weather

July and August are the hottest months in Tehran with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Centigrade.

The weather in Tehran is very dry at this time with little rainfall.





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Guide to Tehran

Saturday, June 20, 2009

University of Tehran

The University of Tehran is the leading university in Iran and one of the top universities in the Middle East. Founded in 1934, the University of Tehran has twenty faculties, with around 32,000 students and 1500 teaching staff.

The student body has a majority of female students and over 300 students from overseas.

The main campus is situated south of Laleh Park east of the north south Kargar Avenue. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the University of Tehran has been the site of Tehran's Friday prayers.

University of Tehran

Image by Zereshk

University of Tehran (English page)
Central Administration of University of Tehran
16 Azar Street
Enghelab Ave
Tehran
Iran
Tel: 9821 61113358

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Map of Tehran

Valiasr Avenue is a main north-south road in central Tehran. Tehran University is west of Valiasr Avenue with Amir Kabir University to the east. The main subway station on Valiasr Avenue is Majlis where it intersects Imam Khomeini Street. Tir Square is to the north west.





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Monday, June 15, 2009

Iran Provinces

Iran has 30 provinces: Ardabil, Azarbayjan-e Gharbi, Azarbayjan-e Sharqi, Bushehr, Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshah, Khorasan-e Jonubi, Khorasan-e Razavi, Khorasan-e Shomali, Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh va Buyer Ahmad, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd and Zanjan.

Iran Provinces

Sistan va (and) Baluchestan is the largest province by area. Gilan on the Caspian Sea coast is the smallest province by area.

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Guide to Tehran

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jameh Mosque Qazvin

The Jameh Mosque in Qazvin, west of Tehran, is popular place to gather.

Reputedly constructed over a Zoroastrian fire temple, the historic Jameh Mosque has a blue dome and some striking interior relief calligraphy.

Jameh Mosque Qazvin

Qazvin is west of Tehran on the A01 highway.
There are trains and frequent buses making the two and a half hour journey to Qazvin from the capital.

© Will Yong

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Qazvin Imamzadeh Hossein

Known for its carpets, Qazvin is west of Tehran on the A01 highway.

The Imamzadeh Hossein shrine (below) is a shrine commemorating Hossein, a son of Imam Reza (765-818; the seventh descendant of the prophet Muhammad) and dates from the 16th century.


Imamzadeh Hossein, Qazvin

The shrine is known for its beautiful geometrical tiles and is set in a courtyard with a fountain.

There are trains and frequent buses making the two and a half hour journey to Qazvin from Tehran.

© Will Yong

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Remaking of Iran Exhibition

Shah 'Abbas - The Remaking of Iran Exhibition is currently showing at the British Museum in London until June 14, 2009.

The Remaking of Iran Exhibition

The exhibition focuses on 17th century Iran during the reign of Shah 'Abbas I (1587–1629).

Long associated with his new capital city at Isfahan, the reign of Shah 'Abbas saw a period of peace and increased trade and prosperity.

The Remaking of Iran Exhibition

The objects on display, many seen outside Iran for the first time, include calligraphy, carpets, ceramics, Qur'ans, mosque lamps, paintings and silks.

The British Museum also has a permanent collection of Persian art.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Hosein Kaffash

I

The street was already clear from yesterday’s snow though patches still reflected luminous white from the bare earth of the mountainside. The brushes, tins, knives and rubber heels in Hosein’s wooden cart rattled as its wheels stuttered over the gravel left behind from the salt trucks. A Peykan taxi trundled past in low gear, pulling its thick steel carcass up the hill without complaint like a passive mule. Snow had again not been forthcoming this year, the extended autumn was proving as dry and bright as the summer. Though his grandfather’s orchard in the north had been sold long ago, out of habit, Hosein wondered whether the mild winter would snap suddenly and decisively like the year before and throttle the unripe fruit of the orange trees.
Up ahead, a four-wheel drive attempted a handbrake turn but could only manage a disappointing two metre skid, grinding the gravel into the unrelenting asphalt with a scrape. The gleaming hulk sped away and Hosein could again hear the rattle which attended the wheels of his hand-built cart. He neared the corner where the street turned back on itself and climbed further up the mountainside. He stopped and felt a breeze, chilled by the snowy peaks above, waft down and touch the light sweat on his forehead. He closed his eyes, breathed, and frigid air stung a little on the inside of his sinuses. “Allah-e Shokr”, he whispered to himself, moved by the alternate sensations of heat from the pale winter sunlight and the ripples of cold in the air.
On the last Friday of every month, Hosein the Kaffash brought his work up to this pleasant part of town, perched high on the Tochal foothills, detached from the polluted inner-city air. The neighbourhood knew him well enough by now for many of the residents of the forty or so low-rise apartment buildings to keep any shoes in need of repair at home, anticipating his next visit, rather than carry them to Tajrish Square where two other cobblers plied their trade on the steps by the bank.
Hosein turned and saw that his son had fallen some way behind. “Ali-jaan, come to daddy, come on!” At his father’s call Ali broke into a staccato run. Thick layers of clothing under his puffer jacket made it difficult for his arms to swing and he held them out stiffly to his sides, the yellow woollen bobble on his winter hat bounced with each tiny stride. Now nearly seven years old, Ali was old enough to accompany his father on his Friday rounds, a convenience which gave father and son their only prolonged contact during the week and Mariam some respite at home, though for this Hosein sacrificed his day of rest.
Hosein the kaffash knelt down in front of his son from whose mouth steam-laden breath was pumping out in short gusts. His wide, pebble-black eyes blinked twice and opened to their widest and the boy smiled as Hosein pulled off his hat, dried off his hot brow with a gloved hand and ruffled his son’s matted hair.

II

Ali stood mutely observing a mean-looking black and white tomcat while his father climbed the steps of another of the three-storey blocks. The cat pleaded at regular intervals with a persistent howl issuing from the depths of unfulfilled hunger and lust. A middle-aged woman with no headscarf appeared at a second floor window to toss down a plastic bag of chicken bones. The bones half spilled onto the paving stones and the sound of the mesh screen sliding shut scratched the prevailing hush. Hosein rang the first floor buzzer and could hear the cat pawing at the plastic bag for a few seconds before the click of the intercom and a woman’s voice.
“Yes?”
“Good morning miss, I’m the kaffash. If you have any shoes to shine or repairs for me I’m at your service.”
“Oh, I see…. Let me ask my husband… Mehrdad!”
Another click and the intercom fell silent. Hosein rang the second and third floor buzzers but no answer came to disturb the greedy, hollow sound of the cat’s hard teeth on bare bones. Hosein shifted his cart into a bright triangle which the sun threw over the steps up to the entrance. From it he withdrew a tattered square of coarsely woven stuff cut from the thick material of a motorcycle saddlebag which he placed on the first step where he would sit. A man he recognised from previous visits emerged wearing a long overcoat over a casual t-shirt carrying a pair of black leather shoes in one hand.
“Salaam Agha, I’m sorry but it’s just these today. You repaired them the last time you were here, may your hands not hurt! If you could just shine them for me and leave them inside the front door when you finish.”
He handed the shoes down from his place on the landing and opened his wallet. He drew out a crisp two thousand toman note and both men’s eyes held the folded blue rectangle for a shared moment from opposite sides of a great divide.
“It has no value, I’m at your service.” Hosein offered his ta’arof, the ritual refusal to be payed, but the money was already in his hand. The shoes had lost little of the shine that Hosein himself had put on them a month before and with every stroke of his brush he fought off the sense that he was in league with the mendicant accordian players and street sweepers who rang the same doorbells for small change. His eyes narrowed on the smudged outline of his own face which was beginning to emerge on the shoe in his blackened hand.
The door of the next block opened and an amply-proportioned female form emerged, draped in a pale grey floral print chador. She edged sideways to plant her feet on the first step, directly opposite where Hosein was sitting, one hand holding the moulded concrete bannister and the other cradling a tray against her bosom.
“Ali, go and help the lady. Quick!”
Without a word, the boy ran to the bottom of the steps, slipping and saving himself from a fall with both his hands. He beat his gloves free of the still fresh snow.
“Careful now, Ali.” Hosein observed the handover with as much care as the woman and young Ali executed it. “May your hands not hurt, you’ve made so much effort, thank you ma’am. Say thank you Ali,” to which Ali responded with a straightforward, “merci.”
“Oh, it’s nothing, I’m so ashamed,” the woman replied with a self-deprecating chuckle. She had a round face and a turned up nose. With her arms concealed under her grey chador she looked comically like an owl. “I’ll ask my grandson if he has any work for you,” she said.
Calling on Imam Ali for strength, the old woman hauled herself back up the steps with the same determined effort with which she had descended. Hosein rested the tray on his wooden cart and as father and son shared the unfamiliar tasting food, the relentless mewing of the vagrant black and white cat began once again. Hosein tossed him a scrap which did nothing to silence him.

© William Yong, 2009

Friday, January 09, 2009

Ashura 2009

Ashura 2009, Iran
(c) William Yong

Short Cuts: Ta'arof

The two men ordered their kebabs and the waiter motioned for them to sit at a simple formica table. The tiny kebab restaurant was busy this evening on the eve of Eid-e Ghadir.

Outside the first snow of the year was falling gently on the glossy black streets. One of the men adjusted the position of a steel frame chair and sat. It was a tactical slip which allowed his friend to open the play in a classic ta’arof gambit.

“Right, so why don’t I go next door and get us some fresh juice, what’ll you have?”

Taken by surprise, the seated man had no option but to come back at his friend with a rather cliched rejoinder, “thank you sir, but please be my guest.” His predictably vain attempt to get up and beat his opponent to the door was stopped by his friend’s outstretched arm.

“Come now, I won’t hear of it, let me this time, melon? pomegranate? These are on me,” the standing man said as he turned and made for the exit. Perhaps his move for the door was a fraction of a second premature.

“Ok, ok,” the seated man replied, seeing that the only way to keep his chances alive now was to feign surrender and come back with a different approach, “I’ll come with you, I can’t decide what I want until I see what they have.”

The two exited the restaurant together. Both men fingering their wallets.

(c) William Yong

Friday, January 02, 2009

Recycling in Tehran

Collecting recyclable materials in Tehran for money is undertaken by a small army of economic migrants from Iran's outlying regions and neighbouring nations such as Afghanistan.

Recycling in Tehran

Garbage in Tehran amounts to approximately 70% of the total waste produced in Iran. Plastic accounted for over 9% of this total in 2003 and is growing as a percentage of the whole. 2,355,740 tons of solid waste were produced in the capital in 2003, with much of it dumped in the Kahrizak landfill.

© Iran Visitor

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