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Iran – Discovering the Traces of Old Persia in the Islamic Republic – Discovering Teheran. Episode 3

Things to see in Teheran: Golestan Palace, palace of Qajars

Our second day in Teheran. If yesterday it was a bit cloudy and ugly, during today’s morning I could see a beautiful sun. I went down to breakfast where the war against the Americans was forgotten when it came to coffee – the coffee brand was… Americafe…

Oh well, when something is good, even Allah sometimes closes an eye. We leave and we pick up the subway. The opening of the subway in Teheran was probably the best thing that happened to the worldwide environment protection during the last decade. Hundreds of thousands of polluting cars and motorcycles became less and less used, saving a considerable part from the Planet’s ozone layer…

The underground was built by the Chinese, so it cannot be only but modern. Well, it is not like the one in Shanghai, but it is modern, a lot over the one in New York, for example. It also has a women’s carriage… In the case of public transportation, the men are discriminated – the women can sit in any carriage (and you are obliged anyway to offer them your seat), while in the women’s carriage, no man ever sets foot. This is also valid for the “Lady Taxi” – you can only order one by telephone, the dispatcher is a woman, the drivers are women, only women can board…and some say that the women are discriminated in Iran…

Obviously, I did not board the women’s carriage, but I found out from my girl friend that it was full of saleswomen with nail polish, make up and many other products not exactly of Islamic type… But about the fashion of Iranian women I will talk on another occasion – because very few people on Earth are more fashion conscious than the Iranians.

The first destination – Golestan Palace. The last two dynasties were the Qajars and the Pahlavis. The Pahlavis are the ones who were overthrown by the Islamic Revolution and the Qajars are the ones that were overthrown by the Pahlavi. If the Pahlavi built their palaces up north, near the mountain, the Qajars preferred to live in the south, two steps away from the Bazaar. And the Golestan palace was their residence.

As we exited the metro, we passed by the Palace of Justice (do not think that sharia is just like that, a justice made on one’s knees, on the corner of the street, it is a very complex judicial system) where the international congress of Islamic prosecutors was taking place and we reached the front of the Golestan palace… Just like in India, the palaces and the parks are an oasis of silence in the middle of a crazy world dominated by car horns. Unfortunately, around the palace, there are various kinds of ugly blocks of flats, so you cannot “transport” yourself in the 19th century, but it is still worth to visit.

The palace is not very tall, but it is spread out. It is also the first place in which I took contact with the passion of the Persian architects for glass – entire rooms are decorated with glass from ceiling until floor, thus creating an unforgettable shining ambience… Obviously, like in any country where water is scarce, they simply couldn’t miss some pools full of water, little artesian fountains, but also a huge throne that welcomes you from the entrance.

Although it was Sunday, a working day in Iran, the place was full, especially with young students groups. Actually, throughout all Iran, at all the tourist attractions were full of pupils arrived from the most obscure corners of this pretty vast country… And since the foreign tourists are relatively few, we simply couldn’t be treated otherwise but like super-stars… That is being surrounded, asked where are we from, if we like Iran and many other questions about us and our country…and we felt that every word of ours was sipped by the whole audience… And the ones that did tot speak English looked visibly uncomfortable because they had to ask the more “internationalized” ones about what we were talking about. We had similar attention in other places as well – like India, Syria and maybe Thailand, but in no other place I felt better like in Iran to talk to the people – they seemed really interested and I did not find them annoying at all… even if we had to deal with countless groups :).

I should note that at the Golestan palace, we have also met the famous and superb Persian mosaics – the most splendid ones I will find though in Esfahan, but let’s not anticipate.

We took the meal in a traditional restaurant next to the Bazaar. As the majority of the restaurants are up north, I had to search for this restaurant staring at the Lonely Planet map, but it was well worth it. It was my first experience with the kebab buried into a sea of rice, with the Persian sauces, but also trying to comfort the disappointment of the waiters who were not able to find the Romanian flag in their flag collection in order to put it at our table. Otherwise, the great majority of the restaurants had an impressive collection of flags that were used anytime a foreigner stepped inside, even the dirtiest backpackers being treated like an official delegation. In some cases, some restaurants found the Romanian flag, although they had to borrow it from a place from the other part of the city!

The after lunch program was even more glowing. We went to the National Museum of Jewelry. Unfortunately, I cannot offer photos, because photography was forbidden, but I can only say that I have had a double fracture of my mandible of how much I walked with my mouth open through this bunker inside the Melli Bank. I can only say that right from the entrance, the famous Peacock Throne welcomes you like in defiance (it’s a kind of bed encrusted with no less than 26.000 gems!) which opens a true Ali Baba cave – crowns, the Darya-ye Nur (the Sea of Light) diamond, the “brother” of the famous Koh-i-Nur, pinched by the British and the pride of the British Queen’s crown. Darya-ye-Nur is the largest uncut diamond in the world. But despite all the crazy stuff from there, for me, the jewel that made my mandible grumble was the incredible Globe of Jewels – an Earth globe weighing 34 kilograms and built out of 51.366 gems that reveal the map of the Earth – the seas are made of emeralds, while the earth is made of rubies with the exception of Iran, England and France which are made of diamonds! Back then, England and France were Iran’s best friends.

Honestly, I exited dizzy… But I had to recover quickly. Besides the National Museum of Jewelry is the street with the currency exchangers… and I had to work hard in order to count the brick of Rials resulted from the change of about 200 Euros… And in order to completely recover from the dizziness determined by gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and papers with the Khomeini photo on them, I will continue in the next episode… Just stay tuned !

Pictures of Teheran:

Americafe, American coffee in Teheran :)

Down with USA? Maybe in the cup

 Logo of Teheran metro

The symbol of the subway :)

The modern Chinese-made Teheran metro

On the platform

Conference in Teheran

Even the Islamic prosecutors sometimes meet

Things to see in Teheran: Golestan palace

Golestan Palace

Things to see in Teheran: Golestan Palace, palace of Qajars


Things to see in Teheran: Golestan palace

Tiles of Golestan Palace

In the old times, the women were not covered (anyway, the image is quite pornographic)

Picture with young Iranian students

We are super stars!

Things to see in Teheran: Golestan palace

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the shiniest room in the country?

Things to see in Teheran: Golestan palace


Cool girls in Teheran

Cool in Teheran – a cap over the scarf, sun glasses and rebellious bangs.

Things to see in Teheran: fountains

Golestan Palace

Tiles in Iran

Who is more colorful?

Things to see in Teheran: Golestan Palace, palace of Qajars

What a beard !

Beard was in fashion at the Qajaris

Wonderful flowers at Golestan Palace Teheran

The flowers are also loved in the Islamic Republic

Iranian restaurant near Teheran bazaar

A traditional restaurant

Iranian food

Enjoy your meal!

Any foreign guest should get a flag

And we did not cough because we did not have the Romanian flag on our table

Transportation in Iran

A very tidy parking

Chaotic Teheran traffic

The traffic of Teheran

National Jewelry Museum in Teheran, Iran

The Globe of Jewels



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