Tehran in Panorama

Tehran (تهران - Tehrān) is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.4 million in the city and 14 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is Iran's largest city and urban area, the largest city in Western Asia and one of the largest three cities in the Middle East (along with Istanbul and Cairo).

In pre-Islamic times, part of the area of present-day Tehran was occupied by Rey. It was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century. In 1796, Agha Mohammed Khan chose Tehran as Iran's new capital, in order to remain in close reach of Iran's territories in the Caucasus, at that time still part of Iran, and to avoid vying factions of previous Iranian dynasties. Throughout Iran's history, the capital has been moved many times; Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran.

Large scale demolition and rebuilding took place beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, and Tehran has been the subject of mass migration of people from all over Iran up until the present. The city is home to many historic mosques as well as several 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.

The majority of the inhabitants of the city are Persians, but there are also populations of other Iranian ethnicities such as Azerbaijanis, Lurs, Armenians, Kurds and other ethnic groups who speak Persian as their second language. The majority of people in Tehran identify themselves as Persians.

There has been a desire to relocate Iran's capital from Tehran to another area at some point in the future, because Tehran is prone to earthquakes. Shahroud, Esfahan and Semnan have been suggested as alternative sites.

Azadi Tower

The Azadi Tower (Persian: برج آزادی - Borj-e Āzādi‎), literally the Freedom Tower or Liberty Tower, previously known as the "Shahyad Tower" (Persian: برج شهیاد - Borj-e Ŝahyād‎) meaning "King Memorial Tower", is a monument in Tehran City, the capital of Iran, marking the west entrance to the city, and one of the symbols of the city.

Images courtesy of Willy Kaemena at www.kaemena360.com