Baharestan Square in Tehran
It must feel good to stand in the middle of a square which was once surrounded
by three gardens, but today a magic lantern (with slides from the
Constitutionalists), a cannon ready to fire (memorial of the bombardment of the
Parliament), and the statue of Seyed Hasan Modarres in the middle of the square
have another narrative for it. Baharestan Square in Tehran narrates one of the
most important events in the contemporary history of Iran, and even of the
Middle East. It can even be imagined to be registered as a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. The proof to this is on the one hand, the Constitutional movement, and on
the other, the attempts to nationalize the Iranian oil industry.
The Constitutional movement made Iran the first Asian country with a democratic
legislative parliament. As for the events surrounding the movement for the
nationalization of the oil industry, Iran was a pioneer among the other Middle
Eastern and North African countries, and in both events, Baharestan Square in
Tehran was essential for the realization of the fundamental demands of the
But how was this eventful square formed? Known as Negarestan Square by the end
of the reign of Reza Shah due to the presence of Negarestan garden and palace on
its northern side, Baharestan Square in Tehran was once surrounded by three
gardens. The Negarestan complex was built by the order of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar as
the Shah’s summer house outside Tehran (the place was outside of Tehran back
then). There is still a part of the Negarestan mansion and its pool center in
the current building of the Ministry of Culture and Guidance. At the back of the
Ministry, the former advanced education school, today called Negarestan Garden,
also attract tourists with its historical monuments.
Among the ceremonies that took place during the time of Fath-Ali Shah in
Baharestan Square was the sacrifice of camels on Eid al-Adha. As for Negarestan
Garden, the murder of Qaem Maqam-e Farahani at Negarestan pool center, the
wedding of Naser Al-din Mirza, the then crown prince, with the daughter of Ahmad
Ali Mirza, and the coronation of Mohammad Shah Qajar are among the important
events that happened in this garden, by which Baharestan Square has undoubtedly
been influenced as well.
In the late Qajar era, Negarestan Garden became a home for those who grew in the
school of fine arts with the love of Master Kamal-ol-Molk. Today, the Museum of
National Arts in this part of the square hosts the works of those well-known
artists. The footprint of art can also be followed on the northeastern side of
Baharestan square in the music stores and the old photography studios.
There is also another garden, called Baharestan Garden, on the eastern side of
Baharestan square (the place of the former and current parliament). In 1906,
Mirza Hosein Khan Sepahsalar, the famous prime minister of Naser Al-din Shah,
bought some of the lands and the garden of Mohammad Hasan Khan Sardar Iravani,
known as “Sardar” garden. Sepahsalar built a magnificent residential building
with a mosque, school, water reservoir, qanat and garden in Baharestan Garden.
After the death of Sepahsalar, Naser Al-din Shah captured the garden and the
mansion inside it. Later, during the Constitutional movement, Baharestan mansion
was given to the National Consultative Assembly, and today, the Qajari building
of the old parliament has given a special beauty to Baharestan square. Also,
Sepahsalar mosque on the southern side of the garden is known as Shahid Motahari
mosque and school today. The Library, Museum and Document Center of Iran
Parliament is also located in this garden.
In the south of Baharestan Square, there was also another garden known as
Nezamieh Garden, in which the Masoudieh mansion (located in Ekbatan Street
today) was built. This mansion, belonging to Zell-e Soltan, the son of Naser
Al-din Shah, became a center for constitutionalists and the opponents of
Mohammad Ali Shah during the Constitutional movement. After a handmade bomb
exploded under the carriage of Mohammad Ali Shah near the same mansion, he found
an excuse to bombard the parliament. It went so far that on the day of the
incident, the house of Zahir-od-dowleh and the Masoudieh mansion were also
targeted. Today, on the southern side of Baharestan square in Ekbatan Street,
there is a statue of a cannon ready to fire, as a memorial of those days and the
martyrs of the Constitutional movement.
It is interesting to know that the famous café Lokanta had a branch on the
southern side of the Baharestan Square on the lands of Nezamieh Garden. It was
also known as the parliament Lokanta café due to its vicinity to the parliament.
This café, which was running till 1948, was a hang-out for men and women from
the classes of intellectuals, writers, journalists, politicians, aristocrats and
lords. The café was located among lush trees and a large pool and music was
played in it. There were also small boats on which children could have a fun
time in the pool.
In addition to these, we shouldn’t forget that there were also famous
publishers, newspapers, and printing houses in the alleyways of the square,
whose domain has now stretched to parts of Jomhouri Street and Enqelab Square.
On the northwestern side of Baharestan Square in Tehran, towards the Jomhouri
Street, there is a street called Safi Ali Shah, which contains the Khanqah and
tomb of Safi Ali Shah. At the corner of this same street, there is the Qajar-era
building of Amjad Al-Saltaneh, the representative of the people of Kurdistan.
This building now belongs to the Central Bank and needs renovation.
Here is a summary of the most important events that happened at Baharestan
1. Assassination of Mirza Ali Asghar Khan Atabak (Amin al-Soltan), the prime
minister of Iran, who was shot dead during the Constitutional movement (during
the reign of Mohammad Ali Shah). He was assassinated by Abbas Agha Tabrizi. The
killer was found dead fifty feet away from the door of the parliament with a
bullet in his mouth.
2. Four kings (Mohammad Ali Shah, Ahmad Shah, Reza Shah, and Mohammad Reza
Pahlavi) crossed this square to take oath in the National Consultative Assembly.
3. Bombardment of the National Consultative Assembly in 1908 commanded by
4. Protests against the republic of Reza khan in the late Qajar era
5. Events of the summer of 1941, and the invasion of Iran by the Allies;
protests by different political fractures; uprisings of the summer of 1952;
killing of the followers of Mosaddegh; Qavam ol-Saltaneh becoming the prime
minister; Dr. Fatemi’s speech in Baharestan square during the movement for the
nationalization of the oil industry; pulling down the statue of Reza Shah in the
summer of 1953; and the coup of the same year against Mosaddegh, the then prime
6. The protest of teachers in the spring of 1961, and the killing of one of the
teachers called Abul Hasan Khan-Ali.
7. Assassination of Hasan Ali Mansour, the then prime minister, in the winter of
1964 in front of the National Consultative Assembly by Mohammad Bokharabi, one
of the members of the Coalition.
8. Demonstrations leading to the Islamic Revolution.
9. Terrorist attacks by ISIS against the Islamic Consultative Assembly building
in the summer of 2017.
8/6/2017 10:43:42 AM