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Soltaniyeh Dome and Museum Tour in Tehran

On our way from Zanjan to Tehran we stopped in Sultaniyeh to visit the town’s dome which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sultaniyeh Dome is currently under restoration and the inside of the dome is covered by a massive scaffold why we could only imagine its full beauty. The dome is one of the largest brick domes in the world and contains the mausoleum of Öljaitü who was an Iranian ruler. The inside of the dome is covered in beautiful mosaics and from the top of the dome you have an excellent view over the city and the surrounding mountains.

When we arrived in Tehran we checked-in to our hotel which was situated right in the heart of the city. Our driver Sam went to park our truck in a secured parking area which took a while since the traffic in Tehran is crazy. As soon as Sam was back our local guide Mehdi took us on a tour to visit some of the city’s major museums.

The first stop of our tour was the Jewelry Museum showing major parts of the Iranian Crown Jewels. To go there we split our group into three taxis out of which two actually arrived at the museum. The third taxi got lost somewhere in the city. Although I wasn’t too keen on visiting the Jewelry Museum the visit was actually worth it. It’s said the collection is the largest jewelry collection in the world. I’m not sure if this is actually true since everything I saw was in just one room located in the Central Bank of Iran. But the items displayed were very shiny and different, all in a special Persian style. When we finished our visit the guys from the third taxi showed up and we continued our tour.

The next stop was the National Museum of Iran. In this museum I had an actual interest and was hoping to learn more about the country’s history. In fact the museum was rather small and there were no explanations to the exhibits displayed, at least not in English. Therefore, we could more or less only walk through the exhibition and imaging what everything was about. One of the most interesting exhibits was probably the “Salt Man”. It’s the head of an approx. 37 year old man which was found in a salt mine in 1993. Scientists determined the body of the “Salt Man” is approx. 1,700 years old and he must have been a highly ranked man due to his long hair and beard and a golden earing.

The third and last stop of our museum tour was the Glassware and Ceramics Museum of Iran. Same as the Jewelry Museum I wasn’t too excited about it until I actually entered the museum. It’s located in a beautiful building which used to be the Egyptian Embassy for many years. The building features nice woodwork, red carpets and candelabra which gives it a very special atmosphere. The glass and clay work displayed in the museum was also very shiny, well presented and a joy to look at.

After we visited the three museums we had the feeling we have already visited the major sights of the city. Tehran is with its nine million inhabitants a pretty large city but it has no special flair which makes it enjoyable to walk through the streets. It’s all very business-like and except for the city’s parks there are not many spots where you would like to spent a couple of hours and watch the world passing by. Interesting to know is there are mountains very close to the city. In winter-time you can go skiing or snowboarding in the Dizin ski resorts which is with 3,600m one of the highest in the world.

In the evening Mehdi took us to the restaurant of a four star hotel which is supposed to be the best restaurant in walking distance to our hotel. While Patricia and Emilie sampled some eggplant dish, I had fish and the boys had meat with French fries since they cannot see rice anymore. There was also a local folk band playing in the restaurant which was partially enjoyable and partially annoying since the tune sounded very depressing. We also went to this specific restaurant since it features a piano. Our driver Sam is a passionate piano player and he was very keen on playing the piano for a bit. Unfortunately he wasn’t allowed to do so since there was a wedding and they considered piano music inappropriate for this occasion. We will try again tomorrow…

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