Finally, after almost two months in the country, we made it to the Iranian capital, Tehran. We heard that Noruz was a great time to visit as most people return to their villages or hometowns for the New Year celebrations leaving Tehran much quieter and much less smoggier than it usually is. This proved true – the roads were very quiet, it was possible to get a seat on the metro and the air was fine to breathe!
We headed to a lovely area on the outskirts of Tehran for views of the city and for an insight into the opulence of the royal family in the 20th century. It must have been wonderful for them in the heat of the summer, to escape to the hills to their summer residence at Sa’adabad for some fresh and slightly cooler air.
On the outskirts of Tehran lies the Sa’adabad complex, on 110 hectares of land at the foothills of Darband and Tochal. During the Qajar era (1794- 1925) it was the summer palace of the Royal family and after the coup of 1921 by Pahlavi it was expanded and became the summer residence of the Pahlavis too – both Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Shah and their families enjoyed spending time here. During the Pahlavi era (1925-1979) eighteen small and large palaces were built in the lovely grounds.
Since the revolution in 1979 Sa’adabad was turned into a museum complex. Each museum has its own fee, in addition to the fee to get into the grounds, which for foreigners is quite expensive. Museums include the Royal Weapons Museum, Royal Tableware Museum, Miniature Museum, Royal Kitchen Museum, Fine Arts Museum, Royal Car Museum, Military Museum, Water Museum, Nations Arts Museum and so the list goes on. We paid the fee for the grounds and chose just one museum- the White Palace, which is the largest mansion in the collection of buildings at Sa’adabad. Outside the White Palace are the famous boots of Reza Shah (pictured above). The boots are all that is left of what must have been a huge bronze statue of the last royal leader of Iran.
When we visited, there were some musicians and a dancer dancing some kind of traditional dance outside the White Palace. It was great to watch. The palace, which was used as a summer residence of Reza Shah and queen Farah, was huge, over 5000 square metres. Some parts were open to viewing, with rooms set out as they would have been before the Revolution sent the Royals packing.
We didn’t go into the military museum but had a look at some of the aircraft and other military vehicles outside before leaving the complex.
After wandering around Sa’adabad we walked up the road for 2.5 km to Darband. At the base of the mountain there are quite a number of stalls along with a few hotels and restaurants. Here we took the skilift up the hill to get some great views over Tehran and enjoy the mountains. We walked around up there and eventually walked back down, passing a guy on a donkey and a few others out walking. It was pretty quiet though compared to the streets below.
After the day’s adventures we took time to look at the decorative eggs that were in a park near where we were to take the metro back into town. These eggs were all over Tehranperhaps something to do with the Noruz holiday. All different styles as you can see below. All in all we had an enjoyable trip to this area on the outskirts of the city.