The Gates of Tehran

Some say that 19th century Tehran had six city gates. Other sources talk about seven or even eight. Of course, in the course of a few decades, one or two gates may have been added to serve the increasing traffic and expanding suburbs.

Unfortunately, little to none is left of the city walls and gates that Tinco Lycklama saw during his visits to  Tehran in 1866 and 1867. There is photography of these constructions, and it is quite possible that much material is still hidden in archives, waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately, many photographs available online seem to deliver conflicting attributions.

On this page, we wish to bring together a definitive and documented view on Tehran’s main infrastructure in the 1860s. As we wish to develop a visual reconstruction of the Tehran that Tinco Lycklama saw, this page will evolve and include photography (or, alternatively, drawings) that dates from as close as possible to the 1866-67 period.

Tinco confirms the existence of seven city gates in the years 1866-67. This is how he calls and describes them (see “Voyage…”, Vol. II, page 183…) :

  • Derwazèh-i-Dooulet (Porte Royale)
  • Derwazèh-i-Chimrân (Porte de Chimrân)
  • Derwazèh-i-Dooulab (the way to Rey)
  • Derwazèh-i-Châh-Abdoul-Azim (the way to the Abdol Azim mosque)
  • Derwazèh-i-no (Porte Neuve)
  • Derwazèh-i-Kaswin (the roads to Qazvin, Ghislan and Isfahan)
  • Derwazèh-i-Mahomeddjèh (named after the father of Naser al-Din Shah)

(Please note that “Derwazèh” is Tinco’s spelling of the more modern “Darvazeh” – meaning “gate”).

The most contemporanean map of Tehran available to us today is the one made by August Krziz, an Austrian artillery instructor at the Dar-al-Funun – the Shah’s elite school. According to sources, Naser al-Din Shah engaged infrastructural changes in Tehran between 1869-1874 – which makes us believe that the August Krziz map is pretty accurate for how Tinco Lycklama found the city.

Having said that, Tinco mentions seven gates, but the Krziz map only shows six in the city walls. One internal gate, namely the access to the royal citadel, could be counted as an additional gate, but this one is not mentioned by Tinco as a gate in the city wall. Thus, the gate we haven’t yet identified is Derwazeh-i-no (“new gate” – but Tinco definitely describes it as a gate in the wall. In addition, he tells is that a square adjacent to this gate served as a public execution ground). Perhaps Iranian sources (and yet-undiscovered maps) may reveal more to us in the future.

Below, we first give the map by August Krziz, together with a schematic drawing. Next, we show the Krziz map as an overlay on Google Earth including the location of the identified gates (with thanks to the help of members the Qajar Heritage group).

Further below follows again the list of gates described by Tinco, together with some photography. Some of the photos (Pesce, Montabone) dates from very close to Tinco’s time in Tehran. Others are of a later date but are probably representative of what Tinco saw. We will continue our research and update with better information and illustration, when available. (Thanks to all readers for any helpful advice).

 

1858 map by August Krziz - High Resolution
1858 Map of Tehran – by August Krziz
Drawing by Ali Madanipour
Tehran City Gates (1866-67) with Google Earth and overlay of August Krziz map of 1858
Tehran City Gates (1866-67) with Google Earth and overlay of August Krziz map of 1858

The Tehran City Gates


Dowlat Gate

  • Derwazèh-i-Dooulet (Porte Royale)
  • GATES TEHRAN - Dowlat Gate
    Dowlat Gate – Darvazeh Doulat, Tehran

Shemiran Gate

  • Derwazèh-i-Chimrân (Porte de Chimrân)

Doulab Gate

  • Derwazèh-i-Dooulab (the way to Rey)

Shah Abdol Azim Gate

  • Derwazèh-i-Châh-Abdoul-Azim (the way to the Abdol Azim mosque)
  • GATES TEHRAN - Shah Abdol Azim Gate
    Shah Abdol Azim Gate – Darvazeh Shabdolazim, Tehran

New Gate

  • Derwazèh-i-no (Porte Neuve)
  • GATES TEHRAN - New Gate 1850s by Luigi Pesce - Collection Getty
    Porta Nuova, Teheran. Album fotografico della Persia compilato dal Sig.r Luigi Pesce, Tenente Colonnello; Instruttore d’Infanteria al servizio dello Shah, Teheran, 1860. (Collection: Getty)

(Direct link to image location…)

Qazvin Gate

  • Derwazèh-i-Kaswin (the roads to Qazvin, Ghislan and Isfahan)
  • GATES TEHRAN - Qasvin Gate 1900
    Qazvin Gate, Tehran

Mohammadiyeh Gate

  • Derwazèh-i-Mahomeddjèh (named after the father of Naser al-Din)

 


Internal Gates


Citadel Gate (internal gate to the Arg)

  • Darvazeh Arg
  • GATES TEHRAN - Porta della Cittadelle 1862 by Luigi Montabone - Biblioteca Marciana
    Porta della Citadella, Teheran. 1862. Luigi Montabone Ricordi del viaggio in Persia della missione italiana 1862 (Collection: Biblioteca Marciana)

    (Direct link to image location…)

 



Notes

  • One source for the Tehran map by August Kriz is…
    • J.E. Pollak, Topographische Bemerkungen zur Karte der Umgebung und zu dem Plane von Teheran, 1877, L.C. Zamarski, Vienna (see reference on WorldCat…)
  • Possibly interesting literature about Tehran’s urban development…
    • J.E. Pollak, op. cit.
    • P.G. Ahrens, Die Entwicklung der Stadt Tehran , 1966, Opladen
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