Arts & Entertainment

Tehran’s Azadi Tower marks 50 years as contradictory symbol of Iran

By Artemis Razmipour

Tehran, Oct 15 (EFE).- In the 50 years since its founding Tehran’s emblematic Azadi Tower has become a landmark for the most important events in Iranian history, from royalty to revolution and revolt.

“The tower is a national symbol of Iran,” the monument’s director, Abas Azimi, tells Efe from his office.

A national symbol indeed, but a complex one.

It was first inaugurated on October 16, 1971 as the Shahyad Tower, commissioned by the last monarch of Iran, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to mark the 2,500th anniversary of Persia.

Later that decade it was appropriated as a symbol of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, which was established in 1979 following the Shah’s ouster, and given its current name, the Azadi Tower, which means “freedom.”

Three decades later, the tower was a meeting point for the huge protests that rocked Iran during the 2009 Green Movement against erstwhile president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

On less tumultuous days, however, the tower attracts young Tehranis, families and couples as a pleasant place to stroll and chat.

Its origins began back in 1966 when the Shah held a contest to appoint an architect for the monument.

Recent graduate Hossein Amanat, just 24 at the time, was awarded the job for his design that united classic Persian architecture with the Islamic identity of modern Iran. The 45-meter structure is made from concrete and clad in marble.

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