The Islamic Republic of Iran, also known as Persia, is located in Western Asia, and is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Iran is also the second largest country in the middle east, bordered by Iraq, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And with about 83 million inhabitants, the 17th most populous country in the world. This documentary series aims to introduce you to the most popular and lesser known things to do in Iran, as well as the Persian cuisine, a bit of history, and the super friendly locals me and my buddy David met on our more than 3 week lasting trip, starting with the capital, Tehran, in this episode. Welcome to Inside Iran. Salam from Iran! Me and my buddy David, we just landed in Tehran. And, we’ll be discovering Iran in the next few weeks together. Where are we now? [David] This is the Azadi monument. [Steve] It’s one of the most iconic buildings here in Tehran. So, let’s dive in and explore Tehran together. Tehran is the capital of the country, with a population of about 15 million in the metropolitan area. And with that, also the country’s largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center. The Borj-e Azadi, meaning freedom tower, is one of the symbols of Tehran, and marks the west entrance to the city. It was commissioned by Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, to mark 2,500 years of the Persian Empire. I love the symmetry of that thing. In Tehran, the easiest way to get around is taking the Metro. They have a pretty good system here. And, it’s just about 10 cents- 10 euro cents. Another must thing in Tehran is the Golestan Palace, which literally means the palace of flowers, because of the beautiful gardens they have inside. And, it is also the former royal Qajar complex. The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal dynasty that followed the Zand dynasty and ruled Persia from 1785- 1925. The Golestan Palace is one of the oldest historic monuments in the city of Tehran, and belongs to a group of royal buildings that were once enclosed within the mud thatched walls of Tehran’s Citadel. It consists of gardens, royal buildings, and collections of Iranian crafts and European presents from the 18th and 19th centuries. For some, it might be surprising how modern Iran, and especially Tehran, is. A good example for that is the sheer amount of coffee shops. You can find here…really hip places. So, I want to show you around a bit and introduce you to my favorite coffee shops in town. And I start this one with- [Omid] Ivan Café. A good spot to go on Fridays is the 30th Tir Street where you can find all these van cafes and food places. It is time to feast- typical Iranian. We went to Sofre Khune, a very typical Iranian place. And, we’ve ordered the national dish, which is kabab and Dizi, which is kind of a stew. Another indicator that Iran and Tehran is so modern, they also have apps like we have Uber, for example. But here, it is called Snapp. It works basically the same way. And today, my driver is Armin. Armin is taking me to the other side of town. Our friend, Ghazal from Tehran took us up here to the roof of Tehran, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city. And this is what we’re going to do now. Mount Tochal is located right next Tehran, making it a popular recreational region for its residents. The Bam-e Tehran is a viewpoint located near the bottom station of the gondola lift, and a great spot to see the scale of the metropolis. That’s another cool thing you can do in Tehran: race down the Tochal on this track. As Iran is located on the silk road, the trading business always played a major role til today in Iran. This is why you should visit the big bazaar here in Tehran. Which, is a true maze of more than 11km of corridors. So now we’re thinking about buying a carpet because we maybe fly to Isfahan tomorrow. That looks nice. When you visit the Grand Bazaar, you also need to buy something. So, we got some nuts for us. Another great bazaar to visit in Tehran is the Tajrish bazaar, which is located in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tehran. Now, in front of the former US Embassy. And if you know a little bit of history behind it, you know there’s no embassy in Tehran anymore. Instead, you have a lot of very interesting murals here, because Iran and the US don’t have, historically, the best relationship. So, what used to be the US Embassy is kind of a weird museum. Not far away from the US Embassy is this beautiful park. And I’m here with my local friends Mona and Maria. Where are we? [Mona] We are in Artist Park. And it’s popular because of the house of artists. [Maria] And cafes as well. [Steve] A local recommendation for a restaurant here, which is called Ada Restauran which is close to the Saadi Metro. And we have today, one dish we were looking for, for like a week now, which is called Tahchin. Which is basically rice that is baked. And we get with that, eggplant and chicken. Mmm, really tender. Tender, juicy, …a really nice dish. I recommend it. Another popular tourist destination you should consider visiting is the 300 hectar Sa’dabad Complex in the north of Tehran, which was built in the 19th century by the Qajar and Pahlavin monarchs. And, basically served as their summer residence. After the revolution, it got turned into a museum. So, nowadays, it encompasses palaces, museums, but also a 180 hectares big natural forest. So, it’s a great getaway from the hustling and bustling city center of Tehran. We now took a Snapp to get to the 6th largest tower in the world, called Milad Tower. And I guess, you have the best view of Tehran from up there. So, let’s check out the view. The Borj-e Milad, also known as the Tehran Tower, is also the 17th tallest freestanding structure in the world, standing at 435 meters from base to the tip of the antenna. The tower is a part of the complex called International Trade and Convention Center of Tehran. The complex also includes a 5-star hotel, a convention center, a world trade center, and an IT park. Even though Tehran is a quite busy city with more than 15 million inhabitants, you can find green spots like Negarestan Garden throughout the city, which you can use to unwind and relax. So, the tour of hidden gems continues with the Masoudiyeh Palace which happens to be just around the corner from the Negarestan Garden and is one of the most beautiful palaces of the Qajar dynasty. As Tehran is always full of surprises, I stumbled upon this square here- it’s called the Mashq Square-on the way to the next spot I want to take you. This square was also built during the Qajar dynasty. And interesting enough, at the time it was built, it was outside of the city limits. It was north of Tehran. Pretty impressive, actually. See? You have this gate here, for example. You have these massive buildings here. And now, this square is right in the city center. And the next hidden gem I’m going to show you is the Moghadam Museum, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful houses here in the center of Tehran. And it is also from the Qajar period. So, if you’re wondering about nightlife in Tehran, there are two options here: you don’t have nightlife, or you have friends in Tehran, or around Tehran, and they invite you to their home. Like today, we have a little barbecue with friends, and tea, of course. And this is how you get to know the culture in Iran. And this is really recommendable. In the next episode, we will show you one of the largest squares in the world, visit some impressive mosques, and introduce you to even more delicious Persian food. Make sure to subscribe to keep following the series. And, check out the related Iran travel guide, where you can find all information needed, including the mentioned spots and restaurants for your trip to Iran.