First walk around TehranMarch 23 in Iran
We had a nice first day in Tehran. After enjoying breakfast, we headed out by foot to take in some impressions of the city.
Our first target were two museums around the government, museum and university district. We first stopped at the massive entrance gate to these quarters. Due to the fact that the gate is dedicated to an army commander, painted machine guns features heavily on the decoration of the gate, which was a bit out of place for us...
Anyway, we then went to the Islamic Museum, which was very interesting. It features the artistic history of Iran since after the Muslim conquest of Persia (Iran) in 633-654 AD. We saw decorated paintings, scripture, glassware and pottery as well as carpets and clothing from all the ages of the Iranian Muslim past.
We then went to the special exhibition, which featured loaned exhibits from the Louvre and also an interesting photo exhibition from an artist who took pictures of people looking at art in the Louvre. It was fun to see :-)
Finally, because it was right around the corner, we went to the National Museum of Iran which features pre-Islamic (i.e. pre-633 AD) artefacts. This did not grab our attention that much, maybe because we were tired but maybe also because looking at arrow-heads and flint-stones isn’t really that exciting (they kind of look the same all over the world to us...).
We then wandered on through some bazars and sat down for coffee and tea. The bazaars were not really all that busy today due to it being Friday (the Muslim equivalent to “our” Sunday). Most shops were closed, but it was still nice to walk along the paths and see the buildings :-)
In the evening we went to a great place in the north of central Tehran. The Tabi’at bridge is a three-storey foot bridge, designed to allow pedestrians to cross a major city highway. But it really is an outdoor-park for many Tehranis. It has food-stalls on one floor and a viewing area and promenade on the top level. We gad a great view over Tehran as the sun was setting. There were loads of people, some of whom chatted us up (wanting to know where we are from, how long we would visit Tehran and so on) and took pictures with us :-)
After that it was dinner in a very nice traditional restaurant and then back home with the metro :-)
PS: While walking through Tehran today and also during the conversations with the locals we both noticed how the preconceptions we had about Iran are mostly wrong or perhaps exaggerated. This is most noticeable in the female dress-code. While we read that it’s not all too strict here (you can show some hair), we noticed that most women actually have their hair about 2/3 uncovered. Many young Iranians also briefly remove their headscarfs before they take pictures of themselves and then put it back on.
We also had a longer conversation with the owner of our hotel (Fatima) who told us how she is regularly surprised that Westerners believe couples would have to be married to be allowed to sleep in the same room together. As she sees it, that’s just not the case and she doesn’t really care if people are married or not. We, too, thought that this was the case and apparently we were wrong. In the end, it seems (unsurprisingly) that Iranians are much like other people: they want to get on with their lives and not let politics or religion interfere too much with it. Let’s see how our journey will continue :-)Read more