Perhaps Azadi tower is the most famous and recognized symbol of the capital city of Iran, Tehran. You may have already seen the picture of this white tower with its special architecture. It is also a well-known symbol for Iranian people who live in other cities of the country. It is a must to take a picture in front of it when you travel to the capital! In this article, we will explore the history of this tower. We will also provide you with some interesting information about its background.
This beautiful tower was formerly known as Shahyad tower. After the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the government decided to change its name to Azadi tower. It means liberation, as this place played an important role during this historic event. In 1970, the prominent Iranian architect, Hossein Amanat, designed the actual structure of the tower. The aim was to construct a new symbol of modern Iran and a memorial of Centenary Celebrations. Celebrations were in commemoration of the 2,500th year of the foundation of the Imperial State of Iran. Besides, the picture of this tower was printed on a banknote of the second Pahlavi dynasty.
The tower was constructed in the middle of a square in the west of Tehran, which at that time was called Shahyad Square. Currently, the square is called Azadi.
The election process of the designer of the tower has also an interesting background. In 1966, a competition was held among the Iranian architecture to design a symbol for the country. Amanat, who was only 24-year-old at that time, won the competition. It is also interesting to know that for the first time, the Cyrus Cylinder or Cyrus Charter was unveiled for the first time in the ceremony of the inauguration of the tower. It is the oldest, most important existing human rights document in the world.
The architecture of the tower demonstrates a combination of Achaemenid, Sassanid and post-Islamic designs in Iran. The motifs in the square which form the surrounding gardens were inspired by the interior design of Sheikh Lotfollah mosque’s dome in Isfahan. But instead of being a circle, it has changed to oval. The interesting logarithmic relationships in the geometry and dimensions of the dome illustrate the deep mathematical knowledge of Iranian architects in the past eras.
The water and fountains in the surrounding areas are also inspired by Persian gardens, as water is the main element of these gardens. The height of the Azadi Tower is 45 meters. The architect had the intention to make the visitors raise their heads while approaching the tower. But as it is located close to the Mehrabad Airport, they couldn’t construct it taller than that.
The main arch of the tower is a symbol of Taq Kasra or the Iwan of Khosrow, which is an amazing example of the 3rd–6th-century Sassanid era monuments. The interior design of the tower is a combination of tradition and modernism. It is more evident especially in the roof of the second floor. Each of the stone doors at the entrance of the tower has a weight of about 3.5 tons and they are made of granite stone. In total, forty-six thousand pieces of cut and polished stones have been used in the construction of the Azadi Tower.
At the top of the tower, there is a space similar to a wind catcher. On the upper floors of this structure, there are vertical grooves resembling a wind catcher. In addition to its undeniable beauty, these lines also help with air conditioning.
Today, the building consists of three floors with four elevators, two staircases and 286 stars. The tower is 63 meters, but its height from the ground is 45 meters. In the basement of the Azadi tower, there are several theaters, galleries, libraries, and museums. In fact, the tower has turned to a cultural center which is home to many interesting events, concerts and shows.
There is also an interesting museum, located on the basement floor. Inside the floor, there are black austere walls, and a concrete mesh forms the ceiling. The giant doors of the basement open onto a crypt with subdued lighting. Each section showcases an object and the museum houses a number of gold and enamel pieces, painted pottery, marbles and paintings. There are about fifty objects in this museum and each one represents a particular period in the history of Iran.
“Gate of Words light Show” was another important event held in Azadi Tower in 2015. The German artist Philipp Geist organized a projection mapping installation on the tower. It was to celebrate German Unity Day. The artists showcased different topics such as freedom and peace. The lights showed colored words in different languages and abstract compositions of images reflected on the tower.