A city touching the snowcapped Albroz Mountains, Tehran is Iran’s capital city and the hub of its economy and politics. Bustling and brimming with a mix of past and present, Tehran has many places to explore as the first stopping point on a Persian journey.

The Treasury of National Jewels has priceless gems and precious metals that adorned the monarchs of various dynasties and were brought from as far away as India and Europe. The Peacock Throne made in the Qajar era is crafted of wood, covered in gold, and encrusted with jewels. Search for Iran on a globe that is studded with over 51,000 gemstones. Seas and oceans are depicted with emeralds, countries with rubies, and Iran is covered in diamonds.

The Golestan Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the oldest sets of buildings in Tehran. Walk past the glimmering pools and admire its painted tiles and stained glass windows. This was the seat of government for the Qajar family which came to power in 1779 and made Tehran the capital of the country.

Learn more about the Shahs and 19th-century Iran at the Iranian Painting Gallery. Feel like a king in the Talar-e Ayaheh, Mirror Hall, built between 1874 and 1877 and used for royal weddings and a coronation. The Talar-e Berelian, the Brilliant Hall, has mirrored glass surfaces and twinkling chandeliers made by Iranian artisans.

For a more contemporary feel, visit one of the city’s many museums and then take a break at one of the cafes and tea houses with a sip of chai or a puff on a hookah. Cool down with a carrot and ice cream concoction that is garnished with cinnamon and nutmeg at the Grand Bazaar, a sprawling market with roof domes and an endless maze of vendors selling everything from gold to woven rugs. This is the buzzing life of Tehran with residents eating, socializing, and shopping in one place.