Crowded, chaotic, noisy and polluted, Iran’s capital can also be very green. It might be Iranians’ love for nature or the municipality’s firm resolution to put an end to the soaring pollution, but it seems that all kinds of parks in Tehran are becoming the trend.
The important role nature has always played in Persian culture, starting from the celebrations of Persian New Year to the decorations embellishing mosques, carpets, and enriching architectural elements, is part of daily life in Iran.
The reproduction and respect for nature in all its forms bear deep roots in Iranian culture and society since time immemorial, and this is probably one of the reasons why Tehran’s former Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, strove to create a pleasant city to live in and visit. Especially during spring thanks to the lovely Tehran weather and in the wake of Iran travel industry’s booming, with hotels fully booked months in advance and tourist figures keeping soaring by the day.
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Top Parks in Tehran to Visit at Last Once
Apart from the huge meadows around the city, the parks in Tehran are more intended for relaxing and chilling out rather than playing or sunbathing. Usually bearing a specific theme, they all are well equipped with benches and cafes. Anyone visiting Iran for the first time will notice how much outdoorsy Iranians are, never missing the occasion to just get out in the fresh air, and as it happens when you are abroad, it’s hard to resist the temptation to join the locals.
1. Iranian Garden
Of fairly recent construction, the Iranian Garden is one of the parks in Tehran that was built with the aim to chase and adapt to the different times and climates of the year. I visited it in Spring and it was filled with tulips of all species and colours. Many Iranians were there to celebrate the tulip season, just to relax in nature, take pictures or have a walk.
Populating and enlivening the Iranian “Tulip” Garden were children playing, women chattering their evening away and families relaxing. Here there are several benches but no cafe. Although, I’m ready to bet it won’t take long for the municipality to create a tea-sipping space.
2. Tehran’s Nature Bridge (Pol-e Tabiat)
Very fascinating is the combination of Nature Bridge (Pol-e Tabiat) and the nearby Water and Fire (Ab-o-Atash) Park, named after two of the most important natural elements very much cherished in Persian culture and gardening style. Nature Bridge, designed by architect Leila Araghian when she was 26, is majestic from wherever you look at it, be it from afar or right from the top. Relaxing by day, it’s especially architecturally attractive by night thanks to the colourful lights enhancing its unusual features and shape.
Walking along Nature Bridge from one side to the other, I stumbled on any type of sight. From photographers going wild with its atypical shapes and lines, to couples enjoying the view on the city and its mountain range, to groups of friends chilling out at the many cafes that populate the bridge, Pol-e Tabiat is always busy.
In the end, I arrived at the Water and Fire Park, where extravagant metal sculptures representing the fire element were combined with a base from where water comes out in the form of fountains creating a spectacular scenic effect. I wasn’t very lucky when I went because the fountains weren’t operative, but in the warm season they are and children can’t wait to have fun with the dancing waters.
For as stunning as this bridge/park combo is, it’s not the only garden worth mentioning as part of the oases contributing to creating a green Tehran.
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3. Mellat Park
One of the most popular public gardens in Tehran, Mellat Park offers great views of the snow-capped Alborz mountain peaks frame of the city.
One year, I arrived in Tehran on April 1st, the last day of Nowruz, and since everything was closed, all I could do with my parents was to join the crowds of Iranians picnicking and enjoying some nature before the end of the holidays.
The wonderful Mellat Park was a feast of dancing fountains, sculptures, benches, cafes, alleys and flowers near the long and important Valiasr Street. If you are spending some time in Tehran, I suggest you visit Mellat Park to relax and wind down from the hectic traffic.
4. Artists’ Garden
Greatly inspiring is the Artists’ Garden, an urban park that, apart from tree-lined alleys, water pools, benches and even a small billiard table, hosts Iran’s Artists’ Forum. Here you can find exhibitions of independent as well as established, movie events, and concerts at any time of the year.
Close to the former US embassy in Tehran, shut down after students stormed in during the 1979 Revolution, the Artists’ Garden is also the place of a lovely vegetarian restaurant. In case you are tired of kebabs and want some greens in your life, that is.
5. Jamshidieh Park in Tehran
One of my favourite parks in Tehran is the rocky Jamshidieh Park, also known as the Stone Garden.
Located in Niavaran area at the foot of Kolakchal mountain, close to the former palace of the last Shah Pahlavi, Jamshidieh Park was originally the crown’s private garden dedicated to the Empress Farah Diba. It was made public in 1977.
Strolling around Tehran’s Jamshidieh Park you will find waterfalls, a lake, rock sculptures, water channels as well as cafes, restaurants and picnic areas.
6. Ferdows Garden
For a quiet and sunny afternoon, I headed to Ferdows Garden (Bagh-e Ferdows) located in Tajrish area and hosting the historical Mohammadieh Palace, a Qajar-era royal mansion.
While there is no written historical evidence establishing the exact date of its construction, we know Ferdows Garden dates back to the time of Mohammad Shah Qajar. Falling into decay under different owners, around the ’60s, Bagh-e Ferdows was devoted to art and cultural events. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, it was assigned to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and used as a training centre for filmmaking. Now it’s the location of the Cinema Museum of Iran. In their halls, you can see images and equipment used in old and modern Iranian cinema.
A small garden in Tehran, it’s a lovely place to walk and have a coffee or a bite in the delicious local cafe.
7. Laleh Park
One of Tehran’s largest urban gardens, Laleh Park is a favourite green area in Iran’s capital. Like most parks in Tehran, also Park-e Laleh is a peaceful oasis and perfect place to run away from the city traffic.
One of the top Tehran sights, Laleh Park is located near Enghelab Street. From here you can either take a quick taxi ride or some 15 minutes walk. While strolling in the park, don’t miss Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Carpet Museum of Iran.
A large expanse of dancing fountains, tree-lined boulevards and green areas for picnics, Laleh Park features a mosque, and volleyball and basketball courts.
Close to Valiasr Street, when you want to go back to the mundane life, you can go window shopping in this exclusive quarter or enjoy a meal or a cake and tea at one of the many coffee shops along Enghelab Street popular among the nearby Tehran University.
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8. Chitgar Park and Lake
Before leaving Tehran, I visited also Chitgar Lake, an artificial lake located in northwestern Tehran near Chitgar Park. With an area of about 160 hectares and a capacity of 10 million cubic meters of water, Chitgar Lake was built with the purpose of reducing the city’s air pollution in combination with its nearby park. Today a popular recreational area, the lake is home to paddleboats, fountains and migrating birds.
I haven’t seen all parks and gardens in Tehran, but as usual, when it comes to a region of the world I want to visit again, I like to think that the ones I’m missing are the perfect reason for me to go back.