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The Tale of Lalehzar

In the nineteenth century, Tehran’s famous Lalehzar area, meaning tulip garden because of its many wild tulips, was a popular park on the edge of the capital and a place of recreation for the upper classes.


Nasiruddin Shah (the fourth Qajar ruler from 1848 to1898) decreed that an avenue be built through the middle of Lalehzar, similar to Paris’s Champs-Elysees Avenue.  Trees were cut, fences dug out, and Lalehzar Avenue was born.


Lalehzar had a unique position as the modern street with its own style of art, and a trend setter.  Both the production of the first Iranian silent film and the showing of the first Iranian talking movie were in Lalehzar.


Later, it also became well known for its fashion stores, many cinemas and several famous theatres, and eventually for its cabarets, cafes, and guest houses, bringing a lively buzz to the street.


However, the theatres and cinemas closed one by one, and Lalehzar lost its life and lustre. The modern day avenue is now a road of small shops and street sellers in the bustling overcrowded old downtown of the capital. Where the first magnificent modern hotel was built by Qajar princes, a middle aged man now sits selling wire, screws and electrical parts, at the entrance.


There are still traces along Lalehzar of its old glory, with ornamental tiling, plasterwork and brickwork remaining in places.  In this multimedia report we visit this historic landmark in Tehran, going through both its glory days and its present incarnation.

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