6 Great Bookshops that No One Should Miss While Visiting Tehran
from the poster for the 2016 Tehran International Book Festival
Iranians are avid readers. The bookshelves of Tehran feature everything from the poetry of Hafez, to the prose of Sadeq Hedayat, from the existentialism of Jean Paul Sartre, to the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez. Whether you are looking for works in Persian or in translation, Tehran is a city of accommodating bibliophiles, and you should be able to track down whatever you’re looking for. Here we take a look at some of the best bookshops in the capital.
Known as Book City in English, Shahr-e Ketab is Iran’s premier bookshop chain, with several impressive outlets dotted around the capital. The flagship store is located on Hafez Street, and offers customers a comprehensive range of books in all shapes, sizes, and genres. You could easily spend hours nosing around the shelves of Book City – their fancy editions of Hafez, Rumi, and other giants of classical Persian poetry can’t be beaten. Usually stocking some foreign languages books, and works in translation, book lovers from all over the world will feel at home here. The Elahiyeh branch has a nice café on site, too.
Courtesy of the Bookstore
One of Iran’s major literary publishing houses has a first-rate store well worth a visit, near Karim Khan bridge. A few minutes walk from Shahid Nejatolahi Metro station, Nashar-e Cheshmeh offers readers of Persian an excellent range of modern and contemporary Persian literary texts to peruse. The works of Sohrab Sepehri, Mehdi Akhavan Sales, Sadeq Hedayat, Forugh Farrokhzad, as well as lesser known writers and poets, are well stocked here. DVDs, music, and other art world related merchandise are also for sale.
Just south of Valiasr Square, on Valiasr Street, is Hashemi Bookstore – one of the largest and best stocked in the capital. Shelves upon shelves of books of every description are sold at this multi-storey megastore. Friendly staff who know the catalogue of works like the back of their hand make the experience of tracking down your title less stressful than it otherwise might be.
Gita Shenasi Cartography Shop
Park, Shop, Store
This one-stop shop for maps enjoys an unparalleled reputation amongst cartographers of the Persian speaking world. Gita Shenasi
produces and sells detailed maps of all the major cities in Iran, and all the countries in the region. It is an excellent resource for travellers wanting to get off the beaten track an explore the country independently of tour guides and public transport routes. Located centrally just a few minutes away from Daneshju Park, it’s easy enough to pop into when making your way through the city.
Few places in the world can match Enghelab Street for the number of books on sale per square metre. The centre of the Iranian book world, the entire street is covered in door-to-door bookshops. Literature, science, religion, travel, art, photography, languages – any type of book you can think of will be available on this street, at the best prices in town. Antique books and manuscripts are also for sale in specialist shops – head for the small enclave about 30 metres southwest of Enghelab Square if you are looking for something particularly special. Tehran University is also based on this street.
Courtesy of the Tehran International Book Fair
Tehran International Book Fair
Held annually at the beginning of May, the Tehran International Book Fair
is an enormous gathering of domestic and foreign publishers and book sellers spread out over 75,000 square metres of the Mosallah Mosque complex. Millions of visitors attend annually, and hundreds of thousands books are sold. Books of all genres and various languages are available for purchase and bulk order, many of which are on the market for the first time. The event feels like an sort of scholarly fairground, where you can purchase street food and picnic between exploring different sections.