Packed onto the lower slopes of the Alborz Mountains, this is Iran’s capital city, a modern, vibrant city which attracts students from across the country. Tehran’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. The city mixes tradition with modernity.

With a dramatic topography reflective of its proximity to the highest peak in the country, Tehran is Iran’s gateway to the outside world. Its highest peak, Mount Damavand (Demavend), has an elevation of more than 18,400 feet (5,600 meters) and is visible from Tehran on clear days. The symbolic significance of this site and its location on the historic east-west trade route (silk Road) has ensured that this area has been the site of significant settlement for several millennia. The highest point in Iran, Damavand is also higher than any other peak among the summits to its west in Asia and Europe. Figuring prominently in persian legend, Damavand holds for Iranians much the same significance as Mount Fuji offers the Japanese. The panoramic views afforded in the city are particular elements of beauty. By day, a modern commercial superpower, filled with a mixture of historic and modern architecture, all set to a breathtaking backdrop of the Alborz; but by night the city is transformed into a twilight paradise of colors.

Its skyline is dominated by snowcapped mountains and a proliferation of high-rise buildings, topped by the Milad Tower; completed in the early 21st century, the tower rises 1,427 feet (435 meters) above the city. Tehran’s architecture is eclectic; while many buildings reflect the international Modernist style, others display postmodern, Neoclassical, and traditional Persian styles.

Most Iranian industries are headquartered in Tehran, including the manufacturing of automobiles, electrical equipment, textiles, sugar, cement, and chemical products. Tehran is also a leading center for the sale of carpets and furniture. Today, the city contains various religious minorities, and has many historic mosques, churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples.