Thursday, January 30, 2014

The den of US espionage

It cannot be properly considered a monument, but the former US embassy in Tehran, and the events surrounding it, had a profound impact on the recent history of the country, and is worth a visit.

In 1953, from a bunker beneath the building, the CIA organized a coup d’├ętat which brought down the government of the at that time Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, guilty of having nationalized the Iranian petroleum industry controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, and re-installed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah, as absolute monarch.

26 years later, on November 4, 1979, a few hundreds of Iranian students supporting the Iranian Revolution assaulted and occupied the US Embassy and held hostage 52 Americans for more than one year.

Today the embassy is a museum which displays incriminating documents that were painstakingly pieced back together after being shredded as the embassy was being taken over (if you have seen Argo, you may remember this scene…). (Unfortunately the museum is open only a few days per year, and not in December - so we could not visit it).

The former embassy' surrounding walls have been covered with murals which portray, without even being too allusive, the ‘Great Satan’: the US.

Obama and Rouhani have a lot of work to do…

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The deal of the century?

A couple of weeks before I travelled to Iran, there have been a lot of talks on a possible agreement between the world nuclear powers and Iran. This agreement would have reduced international sanctions against Iran in return of Iran’s partial reduction of its uranium enrichment programme.

Western public opinion generally welcomed this possible agreement as a sign of the improving relationships between the US and Iran which followed the election of the moderate Hassan Rouhani as President of Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the contrary, ironically defined this possible agreement ‘the deal of the century’, believing Iran will not reduce its nuclear enrichment capacity.

Here it is how Iranian newspapers presented the deal.

Shall we get worried???

Al Friday Market (2)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Al Friday Market

Chaotic, colourful, a bit vintage, the Friday Market (or Jomeh Bazaar) is a weekly flea market held on a multi-storey car park in central Tehran.

You can find almost everything here, from clothing to carpets, from jewellery to paintings, ceramics, musical instruments… even old gramophones! 

Per le strade di Tehran - Italia Street

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Per le strade di Tehran

The Supreme Leader is watching you

Ruhollah Khomeini, known as Ayatollah Khomeini, is considered the spiritual leader of the Iranian revolution, the father of modern Iran.

Serious, severe, belligerent… Khomeini died in 1989, but his presence still dominates the roads of Tehran. And the lives of the Iranians…

Friday, January 24, 2014


Chaotic, polluted. Traditional and modern. Grey and colourful.

In some neighbourhoods, you feel like in movie of the seventies; in others in a Western capital.

Tehran. Not a beautiful city, on the contrary - but with an undefinable charm…