Tehran’s Grand Bazaar: Picturing History and Magnificence

Madi Jahangir * – People would go and come nonstop, pupping up into the frame of my camera and careless about me struggling to photograph the structure with none of them included. My last visit to Tehran’s Grand bazaar was almost end of summer holidays and students (and parents obviously!) were getting prepared for schools. For that matter, Tehran’s Grand bazaar was much more crowded and noisy at the time, by shoppers, sellers and bargainers of both sides. Although the market is no quiet place any other time too. Throughout the year, It is common scene to see many people including Tehranis, Iranians from other cities, street  hawkers, wholesale merchants and tourists to hang out in the place.

Entering Grand bazaar / Photo: Madi Jahangir

Entering Grand bazaar / Photo: Madi Jahangir

As a non-Tehrani who lived quite a while in Tehran before, Tehran’s Grand bazaar is definitely one of the destinations I take my foreign friends to, those of whom interested in exploring the glorious spirit of a traditional Iranian mall while enjoying a good bargain over modern materials or antiques.  The other reason is that the market is easily accessible by metro via 15 Khordad subway station and that will save a great deal of time away from the traffic of the mega capital. Even one more reason: It is steps away from beautiful Golestan palace.

Multiple arches / Photo: Madi Jahangir

Multiple arches / Photo: Madi Jahangir

The bazaar which is situated in then southern heart of Tehran is claimed to be the largest mall on the planet.  + Though, nobody knows when  exactly this bazaar appeared on the face of the earth, however, such market construction has thousands years of history in Iran and Rey (now part of Tehran), for instance, was a center of Silk road trade in old times.

The shops appear in 2 floors / Photo: Madi Jahangir

The shops appear in 2 floors / Photo: Madi Jahangir

The word bazaar has many different meanings for Iranians. In some regions like northern Iran, bazaars are usually held as open air markets. While in central and southern Iran, ancient bazaars have been kept in a certain place with beautiful geometrical brick ceilings and amusing ceramic artworks.

The ceramic artworks / Photo: Madi Jahangir

The ceramic artworks / Photo: Madi Jahangir

Tehran’s grand bazaar was built following the ancient tradition. The structure of Tehran’s market has been under restoration plan lately,  to keep the historical bazaar-like architecture as it is in the older corridors.

The geometry / Photo: Madi Jahangir

The geometry / Photo: Madi Jahangir

Beside being architecturally notable, Tehran’s bazaar holds its significance in the Iranian contemporary history too. The middle class traders aka Bazaris in Iranian traditional marketplaces are often from more religious communities, viewed as strong support behind Tobacco Protest against a British monopoly tobacco concession in 1891-92 and the Iranian Revolution of 1979.  + For that matter it is quite possible to spot the religious symbols in different corners of the market.

A pillar just outside the main entrance with calligraphic name of Shiite Imams / Photo: Madi Jahangir

A pillar just outside the main entrance with religious calligraphy / Photo: Madi Jahangir

Iranian architecture makes use of abundant symbolic geometry, using pure forms such as circles and squares, and plans are based on often symmetrical layouts featuring rectangular courtyards and halls. +

The ceiling / Photo: Madi Jahangir

The ceiling / Photo: Madi Jahangir

Grand bazaar may not be the greatest example of Iranian architecture. There are plenty of structures all over Iran, much greater in the matter of art and history. The wild growth of the capital has greatly affected the condition of the market as well. However, it remains, for visitors, a reminder of a magnificent past in the faceless Tehran, before they disappear in the crowd and traffic.

The colors of entrance at Tehran's Grand bazaar

The colors of entrance at Tehran’s Grand bazaar / Photo: Madi Jahangir

* Madi Jahangir is editor at DreamOfIran.com. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

3 Responses to Tehran’s Grand Bazaar: Picturing History and Magnificence

  • Rachid says:

    Salam

    Amazing. Nice piece as usual. I often follow you on FB but i thought i could cheer you up directly on the website

  • Cliff says:

    Salam,
    I too follow you on Facebook and often visit this page as I find it so informative. I’m always amazed at the architecture and designs of Iran.
    I feel the World is becoming more aware of Iran and it’s beauty, also the hospitality of it’s people.

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