Tehran-Public parks, prominent in cities across Iran , are considered an important aspect of city life. The capital, Tehran , alone, has over thirty parks. These open spaces are not only for lounging in the sun; many provide entertainment for visitors and include libraries, cinemas, race tracks, and water sport facilities. In the early years of outgoing President Mohammed Khatami’s rule, reformists sought to transform one of the parks in the center of the capital into a “Speaker’s Corner”, modeled after Hyde Park in London, where visitors would speak out openly on matters of interest and communicate with others. The authorities, however, objected to the idea judging it not in the best interests of the Islamic Republic.
Despite this setback, public parks across Iran have, in effect, become centers of free speech on political and personal topics, in a country where the young are still trying to develop independent ways of expression, away from the authority of the Islamic State.
Some of the more celebrated parks used to belong to previous Iranian monarchs, such as the “ Qyatariyah Park ”, built for a Prime Minster during the Qajari Dynasty, and the “ Shafaq Park ”, which housed a garden for a Persian King, and was designed following the French style. Another park that stands out is “ Shataranj Park ” ( Chess Park ), with its giant chess boards and seats modeled after the game. In addition, there is a park exclusively for children, distinguished by its swimming pool and open-air facilities, where kids can be seen skating or playing football. In general, green spaces have become abundant throughout Iranian cities. This is because city municipalities are involved in a concerted effort to transform empty spaces into green oases, going as far as planting trees on land the local authorities do not own.
In Tehran , the city counsel is currently involved in building outdoor parks especially for women. Mohammed Jawad Mohammadi Zadeh, the Services Union Assistant for the capital, revealed the authorities’ intention of completing the work by the end of the current year. The new park, designed to give women maximum freedom, will be called “Al Um” (the mother) and will be part of the “ Ezadakan Park ” in South Tehran .
In cities across the Islamic Republic, parks and public gardens are very popular with everyone. Families use them to escape their small apartments and enjoy the fresh air, especially during the weekend. Retired employees and businessmen are also fond of these open spaces and spend their time reading or playing chess. For their part, couples seek refuge in the parks to flirt and engage in romantic conversations. What is prohibited on the streets of Iran is usually more acceptable in green spaces, where both the private and public sectors intersect.