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Tehran Cultural Life

Even though the city is the meeting point of many ethnic and linguistic groups, it is dominated by the Persian culture and language, as well as the Shīʿite branch of Islam, with which the majority of the population identifies. The Iranian Revolution had a distinctive cultural impact, limiting particular forms of expression while nurturing others. Within this framework, traditional arts such as calligraphy and music have seen a revival, with many educational institutions and galleries involved. Alongside the more traditional centers of cultural activity, a number of youth clubs, cultural centers, and libraries were established to cater to the young urban population.

Tehrān plays a noted role in the arts. The Tehrān Symphony Orchestra has performed both at home and for international audiences abroad, and the Fajr International Theater Festival was held annually in Tehrān. A number of major museums, also in the city, are specialized in a range of themes. The National Museum of Iran specializes in ancient Iranian heritage, the Carpet Museum of Iran displays masterpieces of this national craft, and the Tehrān Museum of Contemporary Art holds works from a number of major international artists. Iran’s film industry, based in Tehrān, has been internationally recognized for its new realist school of cinema and its award-winning films.

Persian cuisine is characterized by the use of lime and saffron, the blend of meats with fruits and nuts, a unique way of cooking rice, and Iranian hospitality. Food is subtly spiced, delicate in flavor and appearance, and not typically hot or spicy. Many recipes date back to ancient times; Iran’s historical contacts have assisted in the exchange of ingredients, flavors, textures, and styles with various cultures ranging from the Mediterranean Sea region to China, some of whom retain these influences today.

Tehrān is a modern, vibrant city. Its skyline is dominated by snowcapped mountains and proliferation of high-rise buildings, topped by the Borj-e Mīlād (Milad Tower); completed in the early 21st century, the tower rises 1,427 feet (435 meters) above the city. Tehrān’s architecture is eclectic; while many buildings reflect the international Modernist style, others display postmodern, Neoclassical, and traditional Persian styles. Tehrān’s vibrancy is marked by large crowds of young people, numerous shopping malls, commercial streets, and fast-food outlets, an expanding network of highways, and bustling public squares.