Valiasr: Tehran’s Longest Avenue
Monday, March 21, 2016
Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review
Valiasr Avenue is Tehran’s longest avenue that connects its southernmost point to the furthest northern end. It is considered one of Tehran's main thoroughfares and commercial centres. It is also the longest street in the Middle East, and was reported as one of the longest in the world by former BBC (now Al Jazeera) journalist Rageh Omaar during the television documentary Welcome to Tehran.
It is also considered one of the most historical parts of the city. Along the avenue are located historical houses and sites dating back to different eras.
Most of these historical monuments have been registered on the National Heritage List and are functioning as museums.
Valiasr Avenue was established upon the order of Reza Shah Pahlavi with the initial aim of connecting the Pahlavi complexes, including different palaces and luxury houses to Tehran’s Railroad Station.
The large numbers of sycamores, planted on both sides of the avenue, give it a very pleasing appearance. In fact, sycamore and Tehran are ancient friends. The name of Tehran reminds visitors of sycamores.
A famous Italian tourist, Peter Delavale, who traveled to Iran 400 years ago, has described Tehran as the country of sycamores in his travelogue.
Iranian farmers knew sycamores as the king of trees and planted them in the vicinity of their farms.
Sycamores have high importance in the ancient culture of Iran, as they are considered sacred.
The street was built by Reza Shah Pahlavi's order and called the Pahlavi Street. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution the street's name was changed initially to Mossadeq Street (in reference to former nationalist prime minister Mohammad Mossadeq) and later to Valiasr (a reference to the 12th Shi'ite Imam).
Valiasr Avenue is the hub of different activities in Tehran and innumerable shops and restaurants as well a large number of parks (like Mellat Park), highways, cultural centers are situated along this long avenue.
Valiasr Avenue is the main Shopping street in Tehran and whole Iran. Many Foreign chain stores have branches on this street like Benetton Group (3 stores), Reebok, Adidas and etc… Many important Shopping centers of Tehran are located on the Valiasr Avenue like the Tandis Center (located at northest point of the street at Tajrish Sq.), the Safavieh Mall, the Eskan Shopping center and many more. Many luxury jewellery and accessories stores like Rolex, Tag Heuer and etc. are located on this street. Furthermore hundreds of other local stores are located at Valiasr.
Known as the Shahanshahi Park (Imperial Park) prior to the revolution of 1979, it is one of the largest recreation areas in Tehran. It is situated at the foot of the Alborz mountains adjacent to Valiasr Avenue in the east, and extends to the Chamran Expressway (Parkway) and Seoul Street to the west.
The park lies south of the Tehran International Fair grounds and the Enghelab Club. It has pathways for walking and shade for picnics and relaxation as well as facilities such as snack bars, coffee shops, and a small aviary. At the edge of the park is a new Cineplex. Mellat Park is watered by the winter-snow streams coming down from Mt. Tochal close to 4,000 m high.
The Mellat park is also the location of one of the steam-powered locomotives used on the first Persian railway section built during 1886-1888. The No. 664 locomotive was built by the Belgian Ateliers de Tubize and commissioned on 1887.
Mellat Park is home to the first musical fountains in Tehran. Since July 2008, they attract and entertain many families at night.
Mellat Cinema Complex
The Mellat Cinema Complex was opened during a ceremony at the Mellat Park on November 9, 2008. The number of cultural and artistic centers in metropolitan Tehran has been increasing in recent years and that is happening according to some detailed planning. The complex is in an area of 6000 square meters in southwestern part of the Mellat Park.
It contains four theater halls with 280 seats, a cinematheque with 30 seats, and space for holding exhibitions and marketing cultural products.
The complex has been designed and built to the same standards of quality as Tehran City Theater, Vahdat Hall and Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts.
Tehran Railroad Station
Almost all historical sites situated along the avenue have been registered on the National Heritage List and Tehran Railroad Station is the first registered historical site.
The station was built under the supervision of Karim Taherzadeh Behzad, the brother of renowned Iranian miniaturist, Hussein Behzad, and a Ukrainian engineer named Veladislav Veladislavic Garaditski, who was buried in the Armenian graveyard of Tehran.
The design of Tehran Railroad Station was inspired by ancient Persian architecture.
The modern building of City Theater, located at the junction of Enqelab and Valiasr avenues, is another eye-catching monument of Tehran.
City Theater is surrounded by a park named Daneshjou (students). It is Iran’s largest theater complex comprising five halls, namely the Main Hall, Chaharsou, Qashqaie, Sayeh and a rehearsal hall in the basement.
Amirali Afkhami supervised the construction of City Theater, which is among the first postmodern buildings of Tehran.
The house of Professor Adl, one of the first Iranian surgeons, is another historical site built alongside Valiasr Avenue. The old mansion was built by a Russian engineer named Markov.
Surrounded by tall pine trees, the mansion is spread over 2,700 meters and blends Russian and Persian architecture. The facade of the building has been decorated with attractive carvings.
The traditional Azari Teahouse is another historical site on Valiasr Avenue.
Teahouse paintings by eminent masters, including Ismaeilzadeh, Davoud Zanjani, Ahmad Khalili and Hussein Behjou, can be seen on the walls of the teahouse. The paintings have been installed there to remind attendees the concepts of heroism and religion in ancient Iran, apart from giving the teahouse a unique beauty.
Anis-od-Doleh Mansion is another relic located on one of the corners of the avenue. It has been registered on the National Heritage List. Anis-od-Doleh was the first wife of Nassereddin Shah who had a great influence on the king and played a political role.
The mansion is a two-story building that was once surrounded by a large beautiful garden, which has been destroyed during construction projects and only a small yard remains.
The building enjoys beautiful plasterworks and has been recognized as one of the most attractive monuments remaining from the Qajar era in Tehran.
Two other historical sites include the Qajar-era mansion named Ahmadshahi situated in the heart of “501 Hospital of Iran’s Army Forces” and Tehran University’s Institute of Archeology built during the Pahlavi era.
One of the most important attractions of the avenue is Bagh-e Ferdows (Ferdows Garden) which extends over 20,000 square meters. A two-story house named Ferdows Mansion sits in the middle of the garden. It was built by Husseinali Khan Moayyer-ol-Mamalek, a Qajarid political figure.
Imamzadeh Saleh is a historical shrine situated in Tajrish near the northernmost point of Valiasr Avenue. There is an inscription in the courtyard stating that Imamzadeh Saleh is the son of Imam Musa Kazem (AS).
Tajrish is a former village in Shemiranat County, Tehran Province, Iran, which has since been absorbed into Tehran.
Tajrish neighbourhood is located along the northern edge of Tehran. This neighbourhood is one of the oldest parts of Tehran and during the last few decades have become popular with the upper- classes of the society as a result of the low levels of pollution, in turn created by the area's favorable location along Tehran's northern hills. Tajrish is situated in the Shemiranat County.
The name Tajrish is given from "TAT" which was the official language of shemiran before choosing Tehran as the capital.
Pahlavi tigr means "arrow", in the same family as Old Persian tigra- "pointed" (compare tigra-xauda), Modern Persian têz "sharp" because of its mountainous topography and also Tajrish river in this region. Tigris in Mesopotamia has a same name and etymology.
Valiasr runs from the Tehran's railway station (1117 meters elevation above sea level) in the south of the city to the Tajrish square (1612 meters elevation above sea level) in the north. Valiasr runs for 12 miles (19.3 kilometers), north to south, and is filled with traffic at all hours, even until the early hours of the morning. The shops stay open late and the kiosks sell fresh fruit juice, coffee and newspapers.
More By Firouzeh Mirrazavi:
*Masouleh, Village On the Rooftops: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Masouleh-Village-On-the-Rooftops.htm
*Iranian Painting: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iranian_Painting.htm
*Qara Kelisa, St. Thaddeus Church: Day of St. Thaddeus: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Qara_Kelissa_St_Thaddeus_Church.htm