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Tehran is the capital, largest city and central hub of Iran. A sprawling, modern city whose contemporary architecture belies its rich history, Tehran is home to nearly 8 million people, though unofficial estimates are almost 50% higher. Tehran lies at the base of the Alborz mountain range in northern Iran.
Thanks to the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah, who believed historical buildings had no place in a modern city, many of the symbols of Tehran's history were systematically destroyed over the past half-century. There are, however, a few notable exceptions, such as the Golestan Palace. There are also a number of modern buildings, such as the Maydun-e Azadi or Freedom Square which is the icon of the city.
Nowruz, the celebration of Iranian New Year, starts on March 20 and is considered the most important holiday in Iran. Festivities take place over 12 days and usually involve the cleaning of homes, the giving alms and the visiting of relatives. There are regional variations, with the Kurds celebrating using fire.
This Iranian festival takes place every two years and attracts leading puppeteers from all over the world to Tehran. Dating back to 1989, participants have included acts from Germany, Canada, Austria, and England. Although event dates vary, it usually takes place in June.
The Tehran Book Fair is one of the leading publishing events in the region. It takes place annually in May or June and attracts roughly five million visitors and thousands of domestic and international publishers. It is one of the pre-eminent book events in the Middle East and Asia, and usually takes place on the Grand Prayer Grounds in Tehran, a special venue for visitors to pick up rare and out-of-print literature.
The Tehran International Short Film Festival has been taking place every year in October or November since 1983. It is a wonderful opportunity to see contemporary Iranian artistic talent. Movies are screened at various venues in Tehran, usually in the Mellat Cinema Complex.
Tehran generally has warm to hot weather. Average summer temperatures (June to September) are between 32 °C and 37 °C, but highs of 43 °C have been recorded. Nights are still warm, around 20 °C. Winters are mostly mild during the day, between 7 °C and 11 °C from December to February, but drop below zero in January mainly. Nights of around -20 °C have been recorded. May to October is almost completely dry, while most of the rain (and some snow, but sparce) falls from November to April. Humidity is fairly low year round, somewhat higher in winter.
|Avg Max||7.2 °C||9.9 °C||15.4 °C||21.9 °C||28 °C||34.1 °C||36.8 °C||35.4 °C||31.5 °C||24 °C||16.5 °C||9.8 °C|
|Avg Min||-1.1 °C||0.7 °C||5.2 °C||10.9 °C||16.1 °C||20.9 °C||24 °C||23 °C||19.2 °C||12.9 °C||6.7 °C||1.3 °C|
|Rainfall||37.2 mm||34 mm||37.4 mm||27.8 mm||15.2 mm||2.9 mm||2.5 mm||1.4 mm||0.9 mm||13.7 mm||20.6 mm||36.3 mm|
Iran Air is the main national airline of Iran and is based at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) near Tehran. It flies to a significant number of cities in Europe, the Middle East and Asia and destinations include Bangkok, Rome, Amsterdam, Beijing, Istanbul, Paris, Moscow, London and Beirut. Dozens of other airlines serve the airport, for example with budget airline Air Arabia from Sharjah, Air Asia X from Kuala Lumpur, and Air France and KLM from Paris and Amsterdam. Most airines are within the region, serving cities like Damascus, Kuwait and Dubai and several cities in Central Asia.
Iran Air and Aseman Air among a few other airlines have an extensive network of domestic flights. The main destinations from Tehran include Tabriz, Mashad, Esfahan, Shiraz, Kish and Zahedan, but there are several more options that might come in handy. Prices are very low compared to many other countries and a one hour flight generally won't cost much more than around 40 USD.
To/from the airport
Although it's still the busiest airport in the country, the Mehrabad International Airport is now mostly used for domestic flights, cargo and special Haj and Umrah flights.
The Trans-Asia Express travels on a weekly schedule between the gateway to Asia, Istanbul, and the Tehran. Trains leave Istanbul Wednesdays at around 11:00pm and arrives in Tehran about 70 hours later. In the opposite directions, trains leave Tehran Thurdays around 6:30pm and take about the same time. The trainride is divided into two parts, one from Istanbul to Lake Van and one from Lake Van to Tehran and only one carriage actually is moved over the lake to make the entire journey.
There is a weekly train travelling from Damascus to Tehran, stopping in Aleppo in Syria and Tabriz in Iran along the way. Like the train from Istanbul to Tehran, the journey contains two stages, one to Lake Van and one from Lake Van onwards.
Raja Trains offers a number of comfortable, reliable and cheap rail links across the country, some of which are really spectactular like the Tehran to Mashad overnight train. The main routes include Tehran - Jolfa, Tehran - Gorgan, Tehran - Bandar-e-Abbas, Tehran - Mashhad and Tehran - Khorramshahr. Notable stops on the routes are Qom, Kashan, Shiraz, Esfahan and Yazd, which are all reachable by train.
|Pariz Hotel||17, Mina Blvd, Afrigha Ave. Tehran||Hotel||-|
You'll find internet cafes in most cities and even smaller towns now have access to the world wide web. Like other countries with a very strict censorship, the country has strict rules about using the internet and also has a very restricted domestic version, highly unlikely to be used by travellers. Connections are generally good and it's cheap to use as well.
See also International Telephone Calls
The international country calling code of Iran is +98. Special numbers include 110 for the Police, 115 for Ambulance, 125 for the Fire Department and 112 for calls from mobile phones. Iran Telecom is the main telecommunication company in the country and provides, together with Irancell, almost all mobile services as well.
You can find a complete list of telephone codes at Farsinet.com.
The I.R. Iran Post Service is the national postal service in Iran. Services are fairly reliable and cheap, but rather slow. It usually takes at least several weeks for your letter or postcard to arrive in European countries, longer for other Western areas. Post officies generally are open from around 7:30am to 3:00pm Saturday to Thursday, so the main offices in big cities tend to have somewhat longer hours. Your best bet is to visit in the morning if you need to use their services. Stamps can usually be bought at small shops and kiosks as well. Sending parcels is more expensive but also quicker and more reliable with international companies like FedEx, DHL, TNT and UPS.
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