If you’ve packed your suitcase and bought the tickets to Iran for an exciting holiday, you must have jotted down some of the most interesting places that you want to visit while in the country. Bookstores are one of the best places to explore as a prominent element of urban life in any country, especially if you are a bookworm yourself! Here’s a list of the coolest bookstores and libraries that you must visit in Iran to get familiar with the intellectual society of the country, socialize with artsy college students and get a better understanding of Iranian youth.
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Bagh-e-Ketab, World’s Largest Bookstore
For any Tehran traveler, a tour to Bagh-e-Ketab (Book Garden) must be part of their trip. It’s the largest bookstore in the world and features a cinema complex, several cafes, studying desks – for students and scholars who need a quit space for studying and writing – and a game center for kids and teenagers besides having two huge sections for adults and children books.
As an adult, you will be astonished by the many bookshelves that you find here which display numerous books with different topics, from Persian literature to Russian novels, from English tales to history. No matter what your field of interest is, you will never exit Bagh-e-Ketab before buying at least one book.
The Children section is a perfect place to buy books for kids from any Iranian publisher alongside plenty of board games appropriate for any range of age. It also features a playhouse and a kids’ café that serves children-friendly snacks. The most interesting thing about the café is that children are allowed to enter the kitchen and help the baristas!
In addition, having a robotic club and a scape room are other reasons this great bookstore complex has become so popular among Iranian teenagers.
National Library of Iran, Nostalgic and Brilliant
The most prominent library of the country, Ketab-Khane Melli-e-Iran had long been the most popular place for university students to choose for studying. Not only is this library known as the largest library campus in the Middle East, but it also features a valuable collection of many rare manuscript and old books. Ketabkhaneh Melli-e-Iran is an old huge building with a nostalgic atmosphere. It’s far different from the modern and eye-catchingly colorful Bagh-e-Ketab but it carries history and character. That’s why we bet you will fall in love with this library.
Bookstores of Enghelab Street
Traveling to Tehran and not visiting the famous Enghelab Street is a mistake you don’t want to make! It’s one of the most characteristic streets of the capital of Iran and it owes its liveliness to the university students who hang out there before and after their classes. In other words, it’s a street towards the intellectual world of Iranian youth. Home to numerous bookstores and quirky cafes, Enghelab Street has been the hangout for Iranian students, bookworms and artists for decades. If you want to see what Iranian hipsters look like, where they gather together, what music they listen to and which books they choose to read, strolling this vibrant street and spending hours in its cafes and bookstores must be on your Tehran trip bucket list.
Ketabkhane-Melli-e-Kerman, the National Library in Kerman
If visiting Kerman is part of your itinerary, make sure you visit the beautiful National Library in Kerman which is one of the architectural attractions of this city. Built in 1934, this library was originally built to be used as a large spinning studio and was used for this purpose for 40 years. But later, due to political incidents, it was shut down and abandoned. In 1992, the building was restored and opened as a National Library which is now regarded as one of the most important cultural centers of the city. It contains 121000 books and features old manuscripts, books about the history and culture of Kerman as an important province, children books and an exhibition for introducing books that have been recently published.
Fereshteh Book City, Shahr-e-Ketab-e-Fereshteh
One of the coziest bookstores of Tehran that has many admirers due to its lovely interior, the diversity of books it presents and cultural events that it hosts, Fereshteh Book City is more than a usual bookshop. Piled high with books, it hosts many book reading sessions and music performances.
It also has a cute café that has become a favorite spot for people to hangout, read books that they’ve bought from the shop or simply chill after enjoying an independent concert. By the way, this café has surprisingly delicious meals, so treat yourself to a light supper after you’ve finished buying books and/or watching a splendid music performance.
Saales Book Café
Saales is one of the most reputable publishing companies in Iran and Saales Book Café is a bookstore and a cafe owned by the company in downtown Tehran. Saales Book Café is a small yet adorable place to buy books and enjoy a cup of coffee at the same time. The shop features a great selection of books and music albums of Iranian and non-Iranian artists and the café is just upstairs. The booksellers don’t mind if you take a book to the café and read a few pages without intending to buy it. Saales Book Café is also very popular among famous Iranian artists, poets and writers who prefer to spend their free time in a laid-back café.
In/Ja Book Café: a Different Library
In/Ja (meaning “here”) is a unique kind of library that you must visit while traveling in Tehran. In fact, the owners of this place present it as a cultural center that people need to register in order to be allowed to use. But don’t worry about the registration since you don’t need it for your first time visit. It’s an old house with all of the elements of an old Iranian household and a courtyard with a pool that make for a comfortable place that has an authentic homey feel to it.
The first floor of the book café is used as a space for reading, studying and borrowing books and the second floor is used for conducting arts and performance workshops organized and supervised by two of the very famous theatre artists of Iran, Saber Abar and Pantea Panahiha. No need to mention that you should expect to see many young Iranian artists here! So if you want to know what artistic bookstores of Iran look like, make sure you visit In/Ja!