Tehran is the most important city and political and economic center of Iran, being in fact its capital, as well as the province of the same name. It is located in the north of the country, on a plateau, at the foot of the Alborz Mountains (also called Elbourz), specifically between the coordinates 35 ° 41′46 ″ N 51 ° 25′23 ″ E at an altitude of 1,191 masl (meters above sea level) and covering an area of 716.9 km². Due to its population (8,429,807 residents according to an estimate of 2010) it ranks as one of the most important cities in the Islamic world along with Cairo, Istanbul, Karachi, Baghdad and Jakarta. It is important to note that more than half of the country’s industries are located in it, mainly textiles, sugar, cement and automotive, among others such as those related to oil.
Currently there are various theories about the origin of the name of the city, one of them affirms that “Tehran” comes from the Persian words Tah, which means end or bottom, and Ran, which means side of a mountain, which when linked they literally give rise to the phrase: end of the mountainside. And since Tehran is actually located in the foothills of the Alborz Mountains, this seems to be the closest to reality among all the other theories.
According to history, Tehran was originally a town located seven kilometers from the great historic city of Ray, being in fact one of the first towns that emerged north of this city. Its residents took refuge in Shemiran, Qasran and in the plains of the Elbourz in order to flee from the heat of the southern desert. Remains of human existence during the Neolithic and even earlier periods (as found in Chesm-e Ali, located in the center of Ray) have been discovered in Tehran and in Ray.
The data linked to the history of Tehran are better known from the moment they appear recorded in historical writings such as those of Yāqut, which refers to the city in 1220 and the writings of Qazvini, dated in 1275. These historians describe it in their accounts as an important commercial city, divided into twelve neighborhoods. Due to the prevailing insecurity, the residents hesitated to go to another neighborhood that was not their own and each neighborhood was run by an old man.
At this time the economy of the city was based on the trade of fruits and vegetables grown in the gardens of the city.
From 1228 after the destruction of Ray by the Mongols, Tehran began to take on more importance and although the city also suffered the Mongol invasion, the decline of Ray prompted its residents to take refuge and settle in Tehran.
In 1340 Tehran was a small, sparsely populated but important city in the region. As early as the 14th century, four departments formed the Mongolian province in the area and one of them was Tehran. In this period the city began to predominate over Ray.
By 1404 Tehran had become a great city and Ray was practically abandoned and in decline.
Between 1553 – 1554 a bazaar was built in the city, as well as a wall with 114 turrets on the instructions of the second sovereign of the Safavid dynasty, the great SahTahmasp I, the 14 turrets alluded to the azoras of the Koran.
According to NATUREGNOSIS, the reasons why the Safavids decided to stay and then expand in Tehran were several, among which stands out the fact that Sayyed Hamza an ancestor of the Safavids was buried in Ray, another reason was that Tehran for centuries was a refuge for Shiites, but it was historical situations that prompted the Safavid Shah Tahmasp to take refuge in the city, as he had already been forced by the Ottoman Empire to move his capital from Tabriz to Qazvin and as Tehran was a fortified city with large gardens full of multiple varieties of fruits and located 150 km east of Qazvin, this offered a good refuge in case of danger. Thus over time the city became a regional administrative center.
At the end of the 18th century, Tehran was not a great provincial city but it had acquired great importance for the Iranian sovereigns. In 1722, the city was invaded by Mir Mahmoud Hotaki’s troops which led to a period of crisis.
In 1779, Tehran was involved in a fight for its control between Qafur Khan, faithful to the Zand dynasty, and Agha Mohamed Khan, of the Qajar dynasty, which ended in 1785 when the city fell into the hands of an ally of the Qajars, Agha Mohamed Khan Qajar, who was declared the first king of the dynasty and triumphantly entered the city on March 12, 1786, making it the capital of his kingdom.
Nasseredin Sah was actually the one who managed to give Tehran the status of capital and between 1870 – 1871, he destroyed the old walls to build new ones. The new walls as a whole took an irregular octagonal shape of 19.2 km in circumference and they had 12 immense doors adorned with ceramics. Nasseredin Sah also renovated the buildings, improved the city’s water supply, created rectilinear avenues, built large squares among a wide variety of works of all kinds.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Tehran already had a population of more than 250,000 residents, most of them residing outside the walls.
In the period that developed the Second World War, the city was occupied twice, once by the English and once by the Soviets.
Between 1980 – 1988 stage of the war between Iran and Iraq, the city was attacked on several occasions by Scud missiles but at the end of the war the damage caused by the Scud was quickly repaired. This war brought among other consequences the massive arrival of refugees to the capital, which is why the population of the city increased greatly.
At present, the city has been modernized to a great extent, although due to the construction disorder, historical buildings of great heritage value have been sacrificed.