In our last article, we presented you the most historical, traditional and touristic places of Tehran. But the Iranian capital has a lot more to it. Indeed Tehran symbolizes all iranian changes and the intense social evolution of Iranian people. Therefore, wandering in the streets of Tehran is a perfect way to immerse yourself in the daily life of iranian youth.
Contemporary art museum
If you want to get one of the nicest tastes of fashion and alternative life in Tehran, the contemporary art museum (موزه هنرهاى معاصر تهران, Muze honarhā-ye mohasser Tehran) is the perfect place! Here is a lot of young people with all the craziest hair styles or last fashion clothes: hipster styles, beards, long hair, blue hair, short air, piercings, tattoos, hats, and more! When you first arrive in Iran you don’t expect to meet this kind of freedom in style, but … It is one of the numerous faces of that complex country. Having a coffee at the museum’s café will get you a perfect occasion to meet all this people and learn more about their vision of the world…
When we’ve been there we’ve been lucky to see one of the most important contemporary art exhibition that we’ve ever seen: Rothko, Picasso, Warhol, Gaugin, Pollock… The collection of the museum is of great rareness, and most of those pieces of art had been missing for years, since the 1979 revolution, hidden in caves and safes. Who knows what you may admire there when you’ll pass by…
Another option to meet alternative youth is to get a piece of cake or a frappé at Nazdik café. Sitting at the end of an old dark corridor on the first floor of a gloomy building, you can walk in front without seeing it! However, Nazdik café has a very strong reputation in Tehran! All the artists, intellectuals, writers, and golden youth of Tehran love to meet here to share a drink (of course a non-alcoholic one!). The cosy ambiance is completed by contemporary art, and on the second floor is a large book shop where you can read Balzac while listening to classical music! There are a few other cafés like this around the city, like the Naderi Café, but Nazdik café is definitely our favourite !
More than discovering cool places in Tehran, our Iranian friend Maryam didn’t forget to show us her favourite shops. Like most of young Iranian girls, Maryam has fashion and style in her veins! Wearing the veil and with the proper make-up is an art here! Jewellery, clothes, and more… We’d love to buy it all! Walking around the shops is another nice way to meet young Iranians, for exemple at Tane Dorost تن درست (Tehran Province, Tehran, District 11, خیابان انقلاب بین چهارراه ولی عصر و کالج پلاگ 1000 Enghelab St, Iran) or at Andya Clothing Store فروشگاه اندیا a little bit further on along the same street, walking in the direction of Ferdowsi metro station.
You’re not into fashion? OK, no worries mate! Get a ride to the Albroz mountains instead! During winter, all the young people love to ride snowboards in the snow fields! In summer, there are heaps of hiking trails and mountain bike tracks! And for the most adventurous of you, you can plan the ascension of Mount Damavand, with its 5671m! That something else than our tiny Mont-Blanc, eh?
Chilling in Tehran
Like all capitals, life in Tehran is fast, allowing few quiet moments to the people who are running to try to catch Tehran crazy pace. But that’s only what it looks like. In reality, Iranians also love to enjoy life and chill with friends in the parks of the city. Picnics (of course!), reading, chatting, and sports ! That’s what a park in Tehran is about. If you walk through a park don’t be surprised to see a lot of people playing volleyball, badminton or soccer! And if you look more closely you can even see a few couple hidden behind bushes for a secret hug (ouh-lala!). That last activity is a high risk one, because of the interdiction of any forms of contact between men and women in a public space. Publicly having a boyfriend or a girlfriend is still nowadays a very complex (even dangerous) thing…
Laleh park is one of the most frequented park of Tehran. First of all because it’s a giant one, but also because of all the beautiful paths under the fresh shadow of the trees and along the water canals. Cats reign as masters of the nature here, looking for mice or little birds behind every flowers…
Danechjou park is more frequented during the evenings. Sitting next to the round-shaped city theatre (teatre-e Shar -تئاتر شهر ), this park is a gathering place for young and old folk alike who loves to sit somewhere around there and relax a bit. A perfect place to meet curious people that are not used to see tourists there at that time of the night! We could have stayed there all night answering questions to all of them. They wanted to know everything about our lifestyle, our politics, why we came to visit their country and what did we think about it, about their fashion, music, and more… Tourists are the only source of international information that differs from what their TV shows them. They are very attentive to your answers and also to the image of Iran you will carry back to your country and your friends. Iranians are proud, and most of them are shocked and alarmed by what they see on TV and will tell you: « But, us, folk, we have nothing in common with our government !!! ». A very nice view of real local life, but be careful not to let the conversation go too far in public. Who knows who listen around. If you want to know more, better to continue talking behind closed doors…
Also called Nature bridge ( پل طبیعت Pol-e Tabi’at), Tabiat bridge is one of the cleverest modern building in Tehran ! Designed by 26 years old genius architect Leila Araghian, this impressive pedestrian bridge links two huge parks which were previously separated by an ugly highway. The audacious project is build on several levels, offering walkers different ways with platforms and benches all along where it’s good to stop and relax for a while with a view all over Tehran and the mountains behind! Families do love to have a walk there at sunset, and so do we!
Last but not least, Azadi tower ( برج آزادی — Borj e Āzādi), also called Liberty tower, can be compared to the Arc de Triomphe in France, but in a modern version. This giant arch stands in the middle of an enormous roundabout around which pass the crazy traffic. All in white marble, this splendid building with beautiful curves was a wonderful innovation when it had been built at the end of the 60’s by Hossein Amanat. There is not much to do around it, unless you want to watch the crazy ballet of yellow taxis and green buses of the huge West Teheran Terminal. We passed there a few times, but what we preferred was to visit the park by night: the spot lights make the Azadi Tower really impressive and even more beautiful !
Tehran : walking in the streets of a modern city
The streets of Tehran are full of numberous points of interest, and other secrets that we didn’t talk about in this article. The iranian capital is a unique experience… Walking in the streets allows you to see the reality of a country too often judged in the west from TV clichés. You’ll discover a city which represent pretty well this powerful and developped country, that unfortunately live everyday in a very fragile geo-politic context, endangered by a complex past, strong religious traditions deeply attached in the everyday life of its folk who still want to turn the page to a more peaceful, open minded futur.
Interesting environment for street photography…
And now, don’t you think Tehran is worth a stay?