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Karaj is a city in the western part of the Tehran Province and one of the major cities in Iran. Recently it became the capital of newly formed Alborz Province.


Karaj (Persian: كرج‎ pronounced [kæˈɾædʒ]) is a city in and the capital of Karaj County, Alborz Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 1,377,450, in 385,955 families, making it the fifth-largest city in Iran. It is situated 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Tehran, at the foothills of the Alborz mountains. The city is surrounded by mountains which give it great landscapes.

The history of Karaj dates back many centuries. The stone built Zoroastrian fire temple of Takht-e-Rostam from the Parthian era is a testament to this.

The Soleimanieh palace (currently housing a college of Agriculture), the mausoleum of Shahzadeh Soleiman, Imamzadeh Rahman and Zeid Palang Abad-e-Eshtehard are other historical relics of the Karaj area.

During the Pahlavi dynasty era, the Morvarid Palace was constructed in nearby Mehrshahr district, designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Especially after the Islamic Revolution thousands of people started to migrate to this pleasant small town making it one of the biggest cities of Iran in less then 3 decades. Currently Karaj is the center of Alborz province located at west of Tehran. Alborz province itself is the youngest and smallest province of Iran. It is named after Alborz mountain range, which is located at the north of Iran. It also provides a great share of water supply of Tehran because of its rich resources such as rivers and springs.

It is connected by freeway, railway to Tehran 40 km east and Qazvin 100 km northwest, and by commuter rail to Tehran subway system (Metro).

Karaj's climate is a bit cooler than Tehran and it receives 260 mm of rain annually. The economical base for Karaj is its proximity to Tehran, where transportation of products between the capital and the Caspian Sea is central. Chemicals, fertilizers and processed agricultural goods are also produced here. It possess importance in agriculture and industry. Many of the most important factories of Iran are located near it.

Karaj is a multicultural city, due to migrants from all around Iran, that is why Karaj is called as Little Iran.

Get in[edit]

By Train: Karaj is easily accessible using the metro system of Tehran. Line 5 takes passenger to the city in less than an hour. There are 3 metro stations in Karaj at the east, center and west. The trains are very comfortable and the price is less than 500 Tomans.

By Car: Karaj is connected to Qazvin (80km) in the west and Tehran (35km) in the east. It takes less than an hour to drive from Tehran to Karaj. Since there are a lot of people who drive between these two cities every hour, there is a very high chance to do hitch-hiking as well. People are very nice to foreigners and most of them are very happy to drive you between the two cities. From Mazandaran province Karaj is connected to Chalous city by the famous Chalous road. It is one of the most beautiful roads of Iran, which runs between mountains. However it is not recommended in the winter season because the road may become a little slippery because of possible snow.

By Taxi: There are many taxi routes which are between Tehran and Karaj, most of which pass through Tehran-Karaj Highway. The best places where you can get a taxi to Karaj in Tehran are: Azadi Square, Vanak Square, Tajrish Square etc.

Get around[edit]

By Metro: The Karaj Metro is an efficient way to travel inside the city. At the moment there is only one line which connects to the west and east of the city. It continues eastward until Tehran. On its way to Tehran, it stops at Chitgar Park and Azadi Stadium. The second line of Karaj metro (north to south) is currently under construction.

See[edit][add listing]

Karaj has a very pleasant climate in all four seasons. It is very famous for the natural attractions. The stunning Alborz Mountainrange provide a natural beauty to the landscape of Karaj. Karaj is also the starting point for a pleasant drive along spectacular Chalous road forced north through the alborz mountain to the Caspian Sea.

  • The stony fire-temple of Takht-e-Rostam belong to Parthians and Sassanian eras,
  • Shams Palace also called as Pearl palace remained from Pahlavi dynasty. It is located in Mehrshahr district. It was built on 1966 for Shams, the twin sister of Mohammad Reza Shah. The whole complex is around 50,000 square ft. There is an artificial lake surrounding the main building.
  • Soleimanieh palace (which is currently part of the Agriculture faculty of University of Tehran), once inside the university, you can visit Museum of Zoology and Muzaffari Falahat school; enterance is restricted to the students in working days but if you ask students they take you inside with them,
  • Shah Abbasi Caravanserai(from Safavid Era),
  • pre-Islamic bridge
  • Mausoleum of Shahzadeh Soleiman are among Karaj's cutural heritage.
  • Imamzadeh Hasan a mosque and tomb to one of Shiaa Imamzadehs(Saints).
  • Taleghan town an amazing old town beside Karaj with stunning landscapes of lakes and mountains. Beside that, Taleqan is quite rich in culture and history. There are numerous pre Islamic and medieval fortresses. The most famous are Arjang qale, Qale Keiqobad, Qale Mansoor, Qale Dokhtar and so on. There is a graveyard which dates back to Iron age and several tombs around the town. A glacier is located near Khodkavand Village beside Taleqan. The town itself has a very old structure, in which most of buildings are from several centuries ago.
  • Gachsar on Chalus road. It is very famous for its Annual Tulip Festival. The mountains and the road which runs through the forests makes it one of the most beautiful roads of Iran. There are a lot of different types of traditional restaurants(Sofre khane, Kababi, and so on) on its way which let you enjoy various types of Iranian foods or Smoking Qalian(Hubble bubble) beside Cahlous river in the forest.
  • Urs Tree a 2500 years old tree located at Shahrestunak, a beautiful village near Karaj. It is 17meters high.
  • Baraghan is a small village near Karaj with a fascinating nature. It is surrounded by a forest with a lot trees which possess different colors from green, yellow, orange and red. The Village which has a very long history, is preserved well. In Baraghan you can visit a 700 years old mosque, the Greater Hussainieh, a Safavid era bridge and several other things. Baraghan is home town of some of leading figures of Iranian contemporary history including Shahid e Sales and Fatemeh Baraghani the founder of Baiani faith. To get to Baraghan you can take a taxi from Baghestan district of Karaj for 150000 IRR. Another route is through Kordan village.
  • Apple Garden a huge garden located at Mehrshahr. It makes stunning landscapes in spring and summer. It is 400 Hectares and located near Shams Palace.
  • Yakhmorad cave a very intersting cave in Gachsar area. It is located 2640m above the sea level. The best time of the year to visit it is February-April and it is characterized by amazing icicles. The other unique feature of this cave is that it is consists of different floors. The fossils of molluscs at its entrance suggest that the cave used to be beneath the seas 50 million years ago.
  • Atashgah Atashgah is a village, which lies deep in the Alborz mountain range north of Karaj. It needs 20 km of drive in a very beautiful road. The village is very old, and has a lot of ancient structures. One of the most interesting things is Atashgah itself. It means the Zoroastrian fire temple. It belongs to preIslamic era, possibly during Sassanid Empire.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Hiking Azimie mountain is very fun activity. On Fridays a lot of people come there for Picnic and spending the weekend from the early morning. The mountain is easy to climb but gives opportunity to meet a lot of people. Climbing takes 2 to 3 hours to first peak. There are different routes for coming back. The nearest one ends in a spring with a pleasant water drink which is located in a small park with some of facilities for exercise, relaxing as well as Tea houses. The other route continues to Chalous Road which has stunning nature during spring and fall but it needs probebly half a day to come back to city.
  • Amir Kabir dam lake in the road of Chalus. This area is used for sports such as canoeing, fishing, water skiing, swimming and gliding. The lake behind the dam makes a stunning view to enjoy your time.
  • Skiing Karaj surrounded by mountains provides an amazing spot for skiing. There are a lot of resorts around it. Dizin Ski resort is one of the oldest and the longest route in whole middle east and one of the longest in the world. The other resorts are Khur ski resort and so on. All of them provide all services including cable cars, equipment renting etc. The extremely cheap price beside its great quality makes skiing one of the best attractions of Karaj for Iranian and foreign tourists.
  • Khanevadeh Park - biking roads.
  • Road to Chaloos which is the most beautiful road in Iran.
  • Varian Village; the only means of accessibility to the village of Varian is by canoe from the lake of the dam.
  • Yakh Morad Cave, the cave is situated in the district of Gachsar. Low temperature within the cave is as such that even till the months of May/June icicles can be still observed here.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Mahestan is one of most well-known shopping malls in Karaj. There, beside cloths and other things you can find souvenirs and handicrafts from different parts of Iran.

Fardis street is one of the liveliest parts of Iran. you can find anything you can imagine from traditional foods of different regions of Iran till handicrafts, Qalyans, clothes etc. There are many traditional tea houses. The street is located in suburb so the prices are very low.

Gohardasht very similar to Fardis, but with higher standards. The prices are of course higher.

Taleghani street another shopping district, full of shopping malls restaurants, etc. You can walk eastward from Taleghani crossroad to reach Imam Khomeine crossroad(known as Karaj square) which is one of oldest districts of Karaj.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Khansalar tea house A hardcore men-only traditional tea house. Here you can eat very traditional Iranian foods such as "Dizi" and smoke Qalyan in a very traditional atmosphere. One of things that you can try here Khwansar Qalyan which is real traditional Iranian Qalyan with natural Tobacco. The place is to be found near Imam Khomeine(Karaj) squere; beside Hejrat Cinema. Since it is in old and poor district of Karaj the prices are very cheap.

Shah Abbasi Carvansaray a recently restored Carvansaray from Safavid era. While taking a look is free, the Carvansaray has a traditional restaurant, which you can enjoy Iranian foods listening to traditional live music. The prices are unbelievably very reasonable. The carvansaray is located in old district of Karaj close to Imam Khomeini square.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]


Get out[edit]

Routes through Karaj
Qazvin  W 100px E  Tehran

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Karaj is located on main highways. [Qazvin] is a historical city near Karaj. Take bus or taxi or simply hitch hike on Tehran Qazvin highway. From Kalantari bus terminal you can find comfortable(VIP) buses that leave to major western cities; [Tabriz] 35000Tomans, [Rasht] 20000 Tomans. There are also buses to Kermanshah, Hamedan, Sanandaj, Ardabil, Astara, Qom, Kashan, Isfahan, Shiraz and all other major cities. The buses leave hourly and they are very comfortable.

Karaj train station is located not far from the metro station. From there you can get train to different directions including Mashhad, Tabriz, Ahwaz etc