For millennia, na-4 (13)umerous cities on the Iranian plateau have emerged as significant cultural centers whose influences spread across the Eurasian landmass and Africa. Tehran ranks nowhere close to the longevity of historically significant Iranian cities such as Shiraz and Nishapur. However, since the nineteenth century, Tehran has been an important, if not the principal, cultural center of Iran. Tehran has housed much of the artistic and academic institutions, as well as the gist of the talent that modern Iran has produced. The Iranian capital is also a melting pot of peoples from all over the country. Although the majority of the city’s residents are Shia Muslims, the city is also home to diverse and dynamic religious and ethnic communities. Sunni Muslims, Armenians, Assyrians, Zoroastrians, and Jews are only some of the minority groups who inhabit Tehran in large numbers. Among the countless mosques, one finds dozens of churches and synagogues scattered all over the city. A large portion of Tehran’s population is also of Azeri background. Tehran is Iran’s most dynamic and busiest city. Traffic reaches biblical proportions during rush hour. Many Tehranis, therefore, prefer the bus or the subway as their means of transportation. Much of the city is awake and lively until late in the evening. Tehran’s cafes and restaurants serve a variety of traditional, foreign, and innovative drinks and meals. Its many bazaars and shops likewise appeal to the demands of a very diverse consumer base. Tehranis love to picnic in the city’s many parks with family and friends to momentarily relieve themselves from the noise and pollution of Tehran’s traffic scenes. Sites, hookah lounges, and restaurants along the Alborz mountain range, especially in the Darband area, attract many Tehranis on the weekends. The hike from Darband will take one to the Tochal peak, near where the younger segments of the population spend their pastime skiing. Soccer is the most popular sport in Tehran. When Esteghlal F.C. and Pirouzi F.C., the city’s main rival soccer clubs, lock horns, an intensive atmosphere takes hold of the Azadi Stadium and the entire city. Travelers should find Tehranis warm and hospitable. One could count cordial greetings in the Tehrani accent in any given encounter in the city.