Tehran Grand Bazar, a roofed up historical labyrinth, is all-revealing when it comes to Iran's culture and economy. From an economic and social point of view, Tehran Grand Bazar is one of the oldest and most significant bazars in the entire country. The present bazar is a remnant of the Qajarid Era, i.e. 19 century, and, in the eyes of foreign diplomats and tourists, from those very days, has always been regarded as the biggest production, export, and import center of the time. Tehran Grand Bazar certainly should be considered as one of the most attractive spots to visit while being in Tehran.
Economically speaking, this bazar is very complex and includes a set of commerce lots, wholesalers, retailers, warehouses, and production workshops welcoming tens of thousands of Tehraners along with the people from other cities and foreign tourists on daily basis. With its maze-like pathways and passages and architecture beyond compare, visiting Tehran Grand Bazar can justly fulfill the ideal tour that tourists and travelers desire to have in Tehran. Imam'zadeh Zeyd's Shrine, Imam Mosque, and Tehran's Jameh Mosque are the religious monuments of Tehran that breathe a spiritual air into the clamor of daily business. Some of the key events of Iran's contemporary politics, including the 1980's Revolution, have been economically and financially backed by this mysterious place.
With a glance at the background of Tehran, it seems probable for a part of Tehran Grand Bazar to have been once, that is, before Safavid Era, the main center of the ancient and back-then-a-village Tehran. Due to the strategic importance of that area, in the 16th century, Shah Tahmasb raised a wall all around it with many a towers and placed a bazar with moderate size within it. Since Tehran was no less than a modest village before becoming the capital in the 18th century, its bazar, too, did not hold any significance at the time compared with the similar bazars of the other major cities of the country, including Tabriz, Isfahan, Shiraz, and Mashhad.
Tehran, after Becoming the Capital of Iran
Aqa Muhammad Khan, announced Tehran as the capital of his kingdom in the year 1795. After him, his successor, Fath'ali Shah, constructed new buildings and districts in the city from among which some of the most significant ones were Imam's Mosque or Shah's Mosque of Tehran Grand Bazar. In the era of Nasir'aldin Shah, his bright-minded chancellor, Amir Kabir (commonly referred to as the "Great Chancellor"), spent a lot of effort to develop the capital and started the construction of Amir's Caravanserai or Inn and Tehran Grand Bazar which, later, were to be completed after the tragic termination of his chancellery. In the north of Tehran, back in those days, there was the Arg or citadel district considered as the governing center of the time. At the heart of this district was Golestan or Orchard Palace, the king's residence. The Palace, along with Shah's Mosque, Tehran Grand Bazar, and the quintuple districts of Tehran, all together, formed the key areas of Dar-ol Khalafeh or the governing center which was the political capital of Nasser-al'din Shah's reign.
Tehran Grand Bazar was located in the southern part of the monarchical citadel. Sabzeh Maydan (lit. Green Square), the remnant of Safavid Era, and the main great entrance gate of Tehran were all located in there. Around 1847, following the order of Amir Kabir, Green Square was developed and thanks to the construction of new buildings around it, the Bazar eventually opened to the other elements of the city. The main entrance of Tehran Grand Bazar is located in the southern part of the square decorated with tiles and bricks leading to the Shoemakers' Bazar which, back then, was considered the most significant area of commerce in the entire capital. At that time, the latter was the main entry through which one could gain access to the other parts of Bazar which was mostly constituted of rows of alcoves in both sides of its passageway operating as shoemaking workshops. Nowadays, there's no sign of these workshops left, yet, thanks to the diversity of local and foreign goods flourishing in this stretch, it is still among the most crowded and frequently visited areas of Bazar.
The Most Famous Serais of Tehran Grand Bazar
Bu'ali and Vezir or Chancellor's Serais are among the other important areas of Tehran Grand Bazar where mostly carpets and rugs are sold.The eastern part of Tehran Grand Bazar has always (that is, since the days of Nasser'al-din Shah until the present day) been a lively hub. Some of the most famous and well-attended serais, stretches, and some other constructions like Amir Serai and Bayn'al Haremein (lit. "Between the Two Shrines"), the Grand Bazar, The Goldsmiths' Bazar, are all located in this part. It is worth mentioning that the Goldsmiths' Bazar is among a few financial key players who decide the value of gold in the entire country. The Shrine of Imam'zadeh Zeyd'ibn Ali'ibn Hussein, the son of the fourth Imam of the Shiites, which was built before the Safavid Dynasty, and in the margin of the northern Tehran of the time, is considered as one of the most important sacred places of the city. With Tehran having been chosen as the capital and owing to its further development, the ancient construction of the shrine was demolished and the current one took its place. In the campus of this shrine lies buried the forever young king of Zand Dynasty, Lotf'Ali Khan, who was buried there after being killed by Aqa Muhammad'Khan.
The Oldest Monument of Tehran
Shah's Mosque, which is today referred to as Imam Khomeini Mosque, is among the other religious places in Tehran Grand Bazar, which was constructed at the time of Fath'Ali Shah (1772-1843), the king of Qajarid Dynasty. Its campus and entrance have long been a place regularly visited by people who wanted to perform their religious rituals in there or those who had briefly stopped there in their way to the Bazar for shopping. Perhaps, the ancient Jameh Mosque of Tehran, located in the Bazar, is the oldest monument of the city. Probably, it dates back to the pre-Islamic Era. It has been said that the chamber located in its eastern side, known as Chehel'Sotoun (lit. the Forty-Fold Columns), used to be a worship temple of the Zoroastrians. Different parts of this mosque render different styles of architecture which suggest its gradual construction.
The best way to get to Tehran Grand Bazar is to use the 15th of Khordad subway station.Tehran grand Bazar is located in the traffic zone and thus in order to commute to that area with private means of transport, you are required to have a special permit. In one of Bazar's sideways, horses and carriages, and trams are used for traditional decorative purposes.
8 am - 5 pm
When visiting Tehran Grand Bazar, you will be faced with large crowds of people in the sideway. For this reason, you should take a good care of your valuable items and also be aware not to be left behind your companions. If you wish to have lunch at one of the famous restaurants of Tehran Grand Bazar, you should keep in mind that one single portion they offer can fully feed two or even three people. Planning to visit this place should be scheduled in way that it ends by 5:00 P.M.