Subject: Iran - Part 7
On to Tehran: From Esfahan you can take either a bus or the train to Tehran, we decided to take the bus as it was much more frequent and more convenient. We took a bus from the Kaveh bus terminal located on the north side of Esfahan. We had no difficulty getting tickets and were on a bus within a few minutes of arriving at the bus station. Many of the people on the bus were traveling to the holy city of Qom (Ghom), most of the woman were totally covered with black chadors. The trip from Esfahan to Tehran took almost eight hours. The road traffic near Tehran was extremely heavy, trucks traveled on a separate highway. It took a lot of time to get to the bus station once we were in the city. The station was on the north side of the city near our hotel. We had previously booked our hotel and had no problems getting a taxi to the Omid Hotel.

Our main reason for going back to Tehran was to visit the National Jewels Museum. The museum has very restrictive opening hours, it was only open on Tuesday from 2 to 4pm. The Treasury of the National Jewels, is a collection of the most expensive jewels of the world, collected over the centuries, starting from about 1500 AD. The collection is located in a vault in the basement of the central branch of Bank Melli (Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran). It was no surprise to see the heavy security, with armed guards, ser valance cameras, and alarmed glass cases. The collection of jewels is stunning and is displayed in 37 display cases. The value of the collection is priceless. A couple of the highlights were: The Globe of Jewels, which was made in 1869. The diameter of the globe is 26 inches, the gold used weighs 75 pounds, the total number of stones used is over 50,000 pieces. The oceans and seas are in emeralds and lands are shown in rubies. SE Asia, Iran, England and France are in diamonds, India in pale rubies, Central and South Africa in sapphires . The equator and other geographical lines are in diamonds and rubies. The stand for the globe is also of gold and studded with gems. Another jewel is the Darya-i-Nur, Sea of Light diamond, it is the largest pink diamond of the world, the weight is approximately 182 carats. The frame for the diamond is set with 457 diamonds and 4 rubies. It is believed that the Darya-i-Nur was originally part of a diamond weighing 242 carats which was split into two stones. The 60 carat part becoming Nur-ol-Eyn, which is mounted in middle of a platinum tiara set with 324 diamonds.

The Treasury, on one hand, depicts the culture and civilization of the Iranian people who have had an adventurous past, and on the other hand, repeats the silent tears of oppressed people who worked hard and instead the rulers, could show off their arrogance and power with their gold and jewels, a sign on display in the lobby of the museum.

The museum was outstanding almost unbelievable. For a view of the jewels in the Treasury go to the following web-site: and click on Imperial Jewels.

We also visited the National Museum of Iran and the Islamic Arts Museum, both are located near the Jewels Museum. Both had some interesting collections, however after seeing the Jewels Museum were rather anticlimactic.

When we were going to the Jewel Museum we passed the German Embassy, a group of people were protesting with signs and posters. We later read in the paper that a German politician was visiting and that they were protesting against Germany, they claimed that Germany supplied many of the chemicals that were used by Iraq in chemical weapons during the Iraq/Iran war.

During our stay in Tehran we went to the former US Embassy, known as the US Den of Espionage. The wall paintings had recently been repainted and a faded shadow of a Bald Eagle symbol could still be seen. The souvenir shop, which apparently once sold anti-American propaganda, looked like it had been closed for a long while. Throughout Tehran you see large wall paintings of the religious and political leaders of the country.

We found that the greatest danger in Tehran was the road traffic, the traffic is some of most congested that we have ever seen. The streets are built for 3 lanes in each direction but filled with 5 lanes of vehicles. Cars are all within inches of each other, all space is filled. Some of the streets also have bus lanes, which go against the flow of traffic, so you must be very careful crossing the street.

Before we left Tehran we went to Lale Park to do our final souvenir shopping. Because of the lack of tourist prices are generally low and the quality is high. The best known product of Iran is the Persian Carpet however other items are also available. We purchased some small kilms, which are a light carpet, as well as some pottery, metal work items, miniature paintings, and other items.

After a couple of days in Tehran we were on our way again. We left Tehran by overnight train back to Tabriz.

FG Saunders Victoria BC