Found in: Iranian provincial capitals
Rasht is the capital of Gilan province in northwestern Iran and the largest city along the Caspian sea coast. It is a major trade center between Caucasia, Russia and Iran using the port of Bandar-e Anzali. Rasht is also a major tourist center with the resort of Masouleh in adjacent mountains and the beaches of Caspian the major attractions. Rasht had an estimated population of 560,123 in 2005.
Historically, Rasht was a major transportation field that connected Iran to the abroad and that was why the city was entitiled as the "Gate of Europe" meaning that Rasht is a path for travel and business toward the European countries.
It is said that the holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once traveled to Iran after being appointed as the prophet and then came to Rasht for being acquainted with the cultural and religious capacities of this ancient city, but there is no recorded document in this matter.
Rasht is well-known globally because of its famous martyr of freedom, Mirza Kuchak Khan who dedicated all of his age to fight against the occupation of Guilan by the Russian and British troops during the chaotic periods of World War I.
The people of Rash played a very important role in the Constitutional Revolution. Russian and British army as well as local rebels attacked Rasht City during the World War I (1914-1918). In 1920, Rasht became the arena of revolutionary movements again. When the Red Army conquered Baku in 1918, the navy of White Army took asylum in the Anzali Port, which was under control of British army. The commander of the Red Navy chased them and conquered the Anzali Port and as the result the British Army retreated.
This event encouraged revolutionaries of Gilan to establish an anti-British government under the leadership of Mirza Kuchak Khan. British forces evacuated the city and went to Baghdad. Finally, Iranian army defeated the movement and a treaty was signed with Russia after which they evacuated the city.
Gileki is spoken by more than 3 million people. The vast majority of the speakers live in the Gilan Province of Iran. Gileki belongs to the northwestern branch of the Iranian languages. The Iranian languages form a top-level constituent of the Indo-European language family. It is closely related to Mazanderani and is subdivided into two main dialects: Bie-pas and Bie-pish. Bie-pas dialect is mainly spoken in west of Sefidrud including Rasht and Fuman while Bie-pish dialect belongs to eastern part of Gilan including Lahijan and Langrud.
Gileki is an oral dialect and has no official status in Iran.
Mirza Kuchak Khan
Mirza Kuchak Khan was an early twentieth century revolutionary and is considered a national legend in modern Iranian history. He was the founder of a revolutionary movement based in the forests of Gilan in northern Iran that became known as the Nehzat-e Jangal (Forest movement). This uprising started in 1914 and remained active against internal and foreign enemies until 1921 when the movement was defeated.
Unfortunately, given the shortcomings of the advanced social thinkers and activists of the time on one hand and the stronger establishment of the old autocracy on the other hand, again the same privileged class and their political representatives took control of the new regime. The freedom fighters were not satisfied and in fact were disarmed, in some cases using force. Meanwhile the direct and indirect manipulation of the country's internal politics by Tsarist Russians and the British added to the sufferings of the people and resulted in social unrest.
It was during such tumultuous period that Mirza Kuchak Khan, in collaboration with the Society of Islamic Union, started his uprising in the northern forests (Southern Caspian). Mirza Kuchak Khan's return to Rasht was not easy since he had been expelled from Gilan by the Russian consulate for five years. His cause seems to have been a mixture of that of the newly emerging national bourgeoisie and downtrodden peasants and therefore gained momentum soon after it started. The Jangal forces defeated the local governmental and Russian troops which added to their reputation as potential saviors of the ideas of the constitutional revolution.
On June 12, 1918 Manjil was the site of a battle between the Jangali troops and the joint British and White Russian forces. The latter force (led by General Dunsterville and Kernel Bicherakhov) although formally just trying to organize the return of Russian soldiers back home, in reality was planning to pass through Manjil as the only passage to the Caspian in order to reach Baku and fight against the newly formed Baku commune (led by Stepan Shahumian). General Dunsterville's private diaries and notes, including those kept during his command of the Dunsterforce Mission to North Persia and Baku, are transcribed from the original by General Dunsterville's great granddaughter, and are co-located on the Great War Primary Documents Archive [*]. Mirza Koochek Khan's troops were defeated in this war because of the use of artillery, armored car and airplanes by the joint forces. Mirza's field commander was a German officer (Major Von Pashen) who had joined the Jangal movement after being released by them from the British prison in Rasht.
The Jangal movement was further boosted and gained gravity after the victory of the Bolsheviks in Russia. In May 1920 the Soviet Navy led by Fyodor F. Raskolnikov and accompanied by Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze entered the Caspian port of Anzali. This mission was declared to be only in pursue of the Russian vessels and ammunition taken to Anzali by the White Russian counter-revolutionary general Denikin, who had been given asylum by British forces in Anzali.
Rasht is growingly turning into an industrialized town such as most of the Iranian large cities and province capitals. Enjoying the Kadus International Hotel and hundreds of tourist attractions, Rasht receives thousands of foreign tourists annually, most of them from Austria, Germany, Netherlands, France, Australia, Japan and African countries like Senegal and Cameroon.
The head consulate of Russian Federation government is located in Rasht and some of the other Caspian region countries are also keen to establish representative headquarters in Rasht alongside their embassies in Tehran.
Due to the high amount of humidity in Rasht which damages and destroys the aged buildings, the primitive and worn-out architectural texture of Rasht is gradually being removed and replaced with the modern skyscrapers and apartments, mostly designed and constructed by European contractors and engineers.
There are lots of commercial centers, big malls and financial institutions in Rasht including one branch of [Exports Development Bank of Iran] which is an international bank dealing with the Iranian exports to different countries.
Rasht is also renowned for its famous building of municipality located in a square named "Meidaane Shahrdari" meaning "the square of municipality. This building was constructed almost 100 years ago but being renovated each year.
The people of Rasht were always regular fans of football which is the prominent beloved sport in the city. Most of them are the fans of Pegah Gilan which is a professional football club playing in the Iranian premier football league, Persian Gulf Cup.
Pegah FC is the newer version of former Esteghlal Rasht football club that belonged to the municipality of Rasht, but purchased later by the Bulgaria-based factory of Pegah and changed its name and properties to Pegah Gilan.
The home stadium of Pegah (meaning dawn in Persian language) is Sardar Jangal Stadium which was established in September 2007 and holds more than 15,000 audiences. This number is increasable to 20,000 and more.
This stadium is the second largest stadium of Rasht after the Azodi Stadium which is an old one dating back to almost 40 years ago and needs basic renovation.
Following football, Wrestling, Judo and Weightlifting are the most popular sports of youth in Rasht and that is due to the enchanting appearance of Iranian wrestlers and weightlifters in the international competitions like Olympics.
The outstanding figure of world weightlifting and the two-time olympics Gold medal winner Hossein Rezazadeh is a main inspirer of Rasht youth to try Weightlifting as their professional job. Asghar Ebrahimi who was the squad captain of Iranian weightlifting team at 2008 Olympics is from Rasht and a successful example of those youth from Rasht who tried this national field of sport after Hossein Rezazadeh.
The culture of Consumerism is more prevalent among the people of Rasht as a cultural and civilized city which was historically engaged in close commercial and political ties with UK, Russia and France.
Some evidences are the University of Guilan which was constructed jointly by the governments of Iran and West Germany for about 40 years ago, the building of IRIB representatives in Rasht which was constructed jointly by the Iranian and Belgian engineers.
However, due to this internationalized culture which makes the people of Rasht more familiar with the industrial, cultural and political developments, the finance and credit institutions are more willing to open representative offices and bureaus in Rasht and it made the city a center of different banks and financial organizations.
The organizers and directors of national Iranian or non-Iranian banks afford to spend considerable amounts of budgets to construct attractive and modern buildings for their offices in Rasht in order to impress new customers and find new investment opportunities.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, there were always requests and applications on behalf of Russian, Turkish and Azeri banks to open branches in Rasht and that is why the city is endowed as the "gate of Europe" in Iran.
The dominant cuisine of Rasht people is the various types of Fish and Rashti people are said to spend much on Books, Cloths and Food.
They spend the leisure times going to cinemas, art exhibitions, music concerts and international book fairs that are being held in the city most of times in a year. Also the municipality kicks off sports, cultural or IT-related competitions to involve the youth in healthy and constructive activities. The most beloved competition is the annual blogging competition which awards the top young bloggers each year.
City of Firsts
First Public Library of Iran [*]
First Branch of the First Iranian Bank (Sepah Bank) was located in Rasht
The Rasht International airport is the only airport in the small province of Guilan and was established in 1969 with an approximate area of 220 hectares. At first, the airport just handled domestic flights to Tehran and Mashhad but after renaming to the Sardar Jangal International airport in 2007 which was committed in honor of Mirza Kuchak Khan, some air routes to the following countries have been established:
United Arab Emirates
The airport is a in close affiliation with hundreds of national and international airlines including Mahan Air, EaseOn Air, Iran Aseman Airlines and Kish Air and receives more than 2000 flights anually.
The Rasht International airport also has direct flights to PSEEZ which is the largest gas field of the world along the seashores of Persian Gulf.
People and culture
The first national library of Iran was established in Rasht under the Qajar dynasty. Furthermore, Nasime Shomal as the first modern newspaper of Iran after the constitutional revolution has been published in Rasht, but later moved its headquarters to Qazvin.
Due to the special climate and high measure of humidity in Rasht which is mostly being accompanied by heavy rains, the people are truely calm and tranquil with peaceful approach toward complexities and controversies.
They are well-known internationally for their exclusive manner of hospitiality and reception of guests with delicious local foods and cuisines.
The people of Rasht speak Gileki as the maternal language and Persian as the national language. In some rural areas near the Rasht, school teachers give their courses in Gileki rather than Persian.
Colleges and universities
University of Gilan [*] ( )
Islamic Azad University of Rasht
Gilan University of Medical Sciences
Institute of Higher Education for Academic Jihad of Rasht ( )
Guilan Technical & Vocational Training Organization [*]
For a more comprehensive treatment of the region, see the history section of Gilan.
Rasht was first mentioned in historical documents in 682 CE, but it is certainly older than this. It has seen the Sassanid era, the armies of Peter the Great and later Russian rulers, and British colonialism. The people of Rasht also played a major role in the Constitutional Revolution of Iran.
682: Rasht is first mentioned in historical documents.
1669: Stenka Razin, a Cossack warlord, plundered the city.
1714: Rasht destroyed by earthquake.
1722 - 1734: Occupied by Peter the Great during the Russo-Persian War, 1722-1723.
1901: A major epidemic plague devastates the city.
1907: First Municipality Council of Rasht.
1917 - 1920: The Russian and British armed forces fight in the port city of Bandar-e Anzali and Rasht. The British retreat and the Russians occupy the area. In 1920 Bolshevik Russians set a great fire in the bazaar, causing many citizens to go into temporary exile.
1920 - 1921 - short-living Persian Soviet Socialist Republic was established with its capital in Rasht
1937: A revolt, sparked by the desire to collect a "road tax" from the Russians, was suppressed.
1974: First university established in Rasht.
Rasht has signed the treaty of city twinning with the following cities:
Rasht district, Tajikistan
But it has also major, close contacts with the following cities to carry out its financial, architectural, political, cultural and academic projects:
Notables of Rasht
Hushang Ebtehaj The intellectual poet of 20th century in Iran
Mahmoud Behzad The father of modern biology of Iran
Aydin Aghdashloo (Born 1940)
Mirza Kuchak Khan One of the prominent martyrs of freedom in Iran
Mahmoud Namjoo The world's weightlifting champion
Mohammad Moin A famous linguistics and literature researcher
Prof. Majid Samii President of The World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies
Ebrahim Poordavood (Born 1885)
Fazlollah Reza Former Iran's ambassador to UNICEF
Arsen Minasian The Armenian founder of the first modern sanatorium in Iran
Ardeshir Mohassess A world-renowned cartoonist from Rasht
Prof. Akbar Zadeh
Dr. Ataollah Fereidouni
Dr. Masih Farhangi
Sheevan Foomani The outstanding folklore poet
Pegah Nosrati (A part-time citizen who loves Iran)
Marjane Satrapi World award-winning film director