Most tourists don’t like to spend many days in Iran’s capital, Tehran. The main reason is that they consider Tehran a cosmopolitan destination, full of traffic and pollution! For this, they usually drop this great city from their itineraries while visiting Iran or spend just a day or two here. But the city has a lot to offer to those who are eager to discover it. Apart from great museums and collections, Tehran’s historical monuments and neighborhoods can entertain any traveler. And above all, there is a unique attraction which I recommend you to visit even if you have only a day in Tehran and that’s the grand bazaar.
Bazaars have always played an important role in Iran’s history. They have been the main trade centers of the country. In each city of Iran, you are going to visit a bazaar with hundreds of shops and stores. Bazaars are the links between producers and the middle-class traders. The grand bazaar of Tehran was- and still is- a significant commercial center of the country. As well as being a wonderful destination for shopping, Tehran grand bazaar is a tourist attraction itself. So, join me to discover this great place together.
The bazaar is located in the old texture of the city in southern Tehran. There are many other historical attractions such as Golestan Palace or National Museum of Tehran close to the grand bazaar. So, you can visit all in a single-day trip.
This huge complex splits into many corridors over 10 kilometers in length. So, it’s very easy to get lost here, even for locals! Each corridor is dedicated to a specific type of good. Depending on your taste, you will have the chance to discover those that interest you.
For reaching this historic neighborhood, the most convenient way would be by Metro. If you take line 1 (the red line) and take off in Panzdah-e Khordad station, you will reach the bazaar. As you get there, you better join the crowd and move toward Sabz-e Meydan square, where the main entrance is. There are also other entrances to the bazaar which you can try.
The history of bazaars in Iran generally dates back to 4th millennium BC. Although the history of the surrounding areas of bazaar goes back to 6th millennium BC, the bazaar itself is not very old. It is estimated that after the conquest of Iran by Muslims, the bazaar of Tehran started to emerge in its current location. During the Safavid era, the bazaar started to expand and grow. The oldest passages of the bazaar are around 400 years old, while many parts of it were constructed or rebuilt within the last 200 years. The main growth of the bazaar happened during the reign of Reza shah though, when Tehran was expanding and transforming rapidly.
As mentioned earlier, the grand bazaar of Tehran is a huge local market and is one of the biggest bazaars in the world. You can find almost anything here, from Persian ingredients and spices to clothes, gold, and handicraft. As well as the stores, there are mosques, guest houses and restaurants located in this complex. Among all the places to visit, there are some must-sees which you should not miss while visiting this complex. Imam Zadeh Zeid Shrine, the Imam Mosque, the carpet and jewelry sections, and the smallest tea house of Tehran are just a few places to visit there.
The shrine is a beautiful monument with beautiful mirror works and colorful tiling. The teahouse is called Haj Ali Darvishi teahouse and is less than 3 or 4 square meters! It is a very interesting place to have a shortstop and a very delicious tea! Then, you can visit the Imam Mosque which is one of the oldests in Tehran and relax for a few moments in its beautiful courtyard.
Apart from all these tourist destinations in this wonderful bazaar, there are some local restaurants which are very popular among the locals. In fact, eating in the bazaar is one of the main attractions for the people who spend their day shopping and window-shopping! Although there are many options for you here, I recommend Moslem restaurant, Sharaf-ol Eslami restaurant and Oudlajan Dizi Sara. All are among the best traditional places to eat in Tehran grand bazaar. Keep in mind that the portions are huge in these restaurants and it is better to share it. You will also see a long line in front of the restaurants as they are mainly crowded during the lunchtime. It is not a place to sit and relax, but to enjoy your meal and pass your table to the next person rapidly! But the food and the unique atmosphere is really worth it.
Remember that during spring and summer, the shops are open from 8 AM to 10 PM. They normally close around 9 PM in autumn and winter.