The Azadi Tower is the symbol of Tehran, Iran, and marks the entrance to the city.
Built in 1971 in commemoration of the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire, this "Gateway into Iran" was named the Shahyad Tower (meaning "Remembrance of the Shahs (Kings)") but dubbed Azadi (Freedom) after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It is the symbol of the country's revival, and intended to remind coming generations of the achievements of modern Iran under the Pahlavi Dynasty. It is 50 metres (148 feet) tall and is completely clad in cut marble.
The architect, Hossein Amanat, won a competition to design the monument. Ironically, he practices a religion — the Baha'i Faith — that is persecuted by the current government. Azadi Tower combines Sassanid and Islamic architecture styles. Amanat also integrated a degree of Baha'i symbology in the design, such as having exactly nine stripes on each side, and exactly nine windows either of the long sides of the building. It is part of the Azadi cultural complex, located in Tehran's Azadi square in an area of some 50,000 m. There is a museum and several fountains underneath the tower.
On February 11, 2007, during the celebration of the 28th anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution, an Iranian man named Amir Moussavi, 32, fell to his death in front of tens of thousands celebrating while free climbing the tower. He was only three meters from the top when exhaustion set in and he was unable to climb anymore.
Built with white marble stone from the Esfahan region, there are eight thousand blocks of stone. The stones were all located and supplied by Ghanbar Rahimi, whose knowledge of the quarries was second to none and who was known as "Soltan-e-Sang-e-Iran". The shape of each of the blocks was calculated by a computer programmed to include all the instructions for the building work. The actual construction of the tower was carried out and supervised by Iran's finest master stonemason, Ghaffar Davarpanah Varnosfaderani. The main financing was provided by a group of five hundred Iranian industrialists. The inauguration took place on October 16, 1971.
The entrance of the tower is directly underneath the main vault and leads into the basement. The black walls, the pure, sober lines and the proportions of the whole building create an intentionally austere atmosphere. Heavy doors open onto a kind of crypt where lighting is subdued. The shock is immediate. The lighting there seems to issue from the showcases placed here and there, each containing a unique object. Gold and enamel pieces, painted pottery, marble, the warm shades of the miniatures and of the varnished paintings glitter like stars among the black marble walls and in the semi-darkness of the concrete mesh which forms the ceiling of this cave of marvels. There are about fifty pieces selected from among the finest and most precious in Iran. They are in excellent condition and each represents a particular period in the country's history.
The place of honour is occupied by a copy of "Cyrus's Cylinder" (the original is in the British Museum). The translation of this first "Declaration of Human Rights" is inscribed in golden letters on the wall of one of the galleries leading to the museum's audio-visual department; opposite, a similar plaque listed the Twelve Points of the "White Revolution". Next to the "cylinder" a magnificent gold plaque commemorates the presentation of the museum to the Shah by the Mayor of Tehran.
Square flag-stones, gold sheeting, and terra cotta tablets from Susa covered with Cuneiform characters of astonishingly rigorous geometry are the earliest testimonies of Iran's history. Potteries, ceramics, varnished porcelains like the beautiful seventh-century blue and gold dish from Gorgan, an illuminated Koran, and a few exceptional miniatures display milestones in the country's annals up to the nineteenth century, which is represented by two magnificent painted panels from Empress Farah Pahlavi's collection.
A first show, devised in 1971, was replaced in 1975 by a new one which invited the visitor to discover Iran's geographic and natural diversity along with its fundamental historical elements. The landscapes and works of art, the faces and achievements, calligraphied poems and technical undertakings, the life and hopes of a population were shown through its ancient miniatures as well as through the smiling studiousness of Iran's new children generation.
This creative "Sound and Light" performance was devised by a Czechoslovak firm. 12,000 metres of film, 20,000 colour-slides, twenty movie projectors and one hundred and twenty slide-projectors were required. Five computers operated the entire system.
Azadi tower is situated in the middle of Azadi Square ( in Persian ), (translation: "Azadi (Freedom) Square") a very famous square in Tehran, capital of Iran.
Called Shahyaad , (Translation: "Remembrance of the Shahs (Kings)") Square before the Iranian revolution, it is the place where many of the demonstrations leading to the Iranian Revolution on 12 December 1979, took place.
List of city squares by size
List of towers