National Museum of Iran No visitor can afford to miss the National (Archaeological) Museum of Iran (in Imam Khomeini Ave), the country's mother museum established in 1937. If you make for the Louvre on arrival in Paris, this Museum is your spiritual home in Tehran, where objects unearthed during recent excavations are to be found side by side with objects representing the great periods of history and pre-history. It can be seen in one visit, but we recommend you two visits: one to the pre-historic, Achaemenian, and Sassanian finds on the first floor, and another to the Islamic objects on the second floor.
In a full day's visit, the tourist gets a comprehensive idea of Iranian art and culture through the ages. Prehistory and history merge in Iran: the dazzling sense of scale at Persepolis is anticipated in these very early works of decorated pottery. But most visitors come to admire a few much photographed items which have become famous all over the world: Sialk pottery with astonishingly "modern" stylized decorations (11th-16th century BC); terra cotta animals of the same period from the Caspian and Azarbaijan regions; several famous Lurestan bronzes (8th century BC); the famous delicately chiseled Marlik gold tankard with its decor of winged rams (10th century BC); and a copy of the Louvre's Code of Hammurabi to remind us that the original was excavated at Susa.
Visitors who do not have time to go to Persepolis or Susa will find in the National Museum of Iran significant vestiges of Achaemenian decorations: enameled brick panels, bull-head shaped column capitals, gold plates engraved with royal decorations in three languages (ancient Persian, Babylonian, Elamite) and so on. Mosaics, coins, jewels, and household objects date back to the period of the Achaemenian and Sassanian kings.
The most striking section of the Museum, however, is the one showing the upheaval imposed by Islam on Iranian life and arts. It is another world which is reflected in Kuffic writing on wood, stone, precious fabrics, pottery, and parchment. Glasswork, ceramics with infinitely varied compositions, tapestries and jewels show to what extent this civilization treasures everything which can bring beauty to everyday life. Visiting hours: 9:00-12:00 and 13:0016:00
Address: 30th Tir St, Imam Khomeini Ave.