If you are tourist in Tehran yearning to see the best and the most of Iranian handicrafts in one place, I suggest you pay a visit to the ‘Friday Bazaar’ at Parvaneh Parking Garage on Jomhouri Street.
As the name suggests, the bazaar is set up on Fridays only (any other day, it’s just an ordinary, multi-floored parking garage jampacked with cars), open from 8 AM to 4 PM (better to visit in the morning, though, as the place becomes overcrowded and difficult to navigate through as the day progresses). The easiest way to get there is to use the subway. While it is true that being underground deprives you of much sightseeing, Tehran’s subway system is actually pretty decent, very clean and efficient, if only a bit bland in appearance, and it helps you avoid traffic jams and the scorching sun if you made the brave choice of traveling to Tehran during summer. On the subway, get off at Sa’adi Station on Line 1, and from there, it’s a four-minute walk up the Jomhouri St. to your destination.
Over the years, the ‘Parvaneh’ Friday Bazaar has become an iconic spot for many artists, artisans and sellers from all across Iran, who gather every Friday in downtown Tehran to put their handicrafts, antique objects, and so many trinkets and weird-looking works of art that you can’t find anywhere else, on sale for the interested visitors and tourists.
The first floor gives you a staggering view of a huge collection of new and second-hand antique objects, such as very old jewelry that probably has a more spiritual and aesthetic value than a monetary one, paintings, books, phonographs and old vinyls, really old telephones that don’t work, typewriters, polaroids, traditional samovars (a metal container for boiling water for tea), sewing machines, and many more weird household appliances that have stopped being much of use a long time ago.
But the second floor is probably where you’d like to see first before you get yourself lost in the sea of items on sale or squashed in the rushing crowd. This place is basically a handicrafts heaven. I have seen many tourists (especially the European ones) charmed and awed (and maybe a little bit intimidated, too) by the insane variety of colorful traditional clothes, leather products, hand-woven rugs, delicate wood and metal works, copper, brass, or silver containers inlayed with turquoise (these are a true work of art), ‘Termeh’ handwoven cloths (so beautiful and subtle and intricate you’d cry), ‘Ghalamkari’ on hand-painted tapestries, and fantastic works of art created by vitreous enamel on metal, glass, ceramics and stones.
The third floor, meanwhile, is probably less traditional in its collections of handicrafts, but the modern works of art created by young artists (clothes, jewelry, toys, buttons, etc.) lack nothing in creativity, aesthetics, intricacy and colors. Many of these artists have a profile on Instagram, showcasing their merchandise. If you see something you like, you can place an order for it, and go pick it up at the bazaar on a Friday.
There is too much too see (and buy!) in this place, so make sure you plan carefully for your purchases (or risk having to go back home on foot and with empty pockets.) But you don’t have to worry about buyer’s remorse, at least. The things you have bought at the Friday Bazaar (or Jomeh Bazaar, as is said in Persian), rest assured, you can’t find them anywhere else in the world.