Among the five major historical districts of the Safavid-era Tehran, Sangelaj district has best retained its liveliness and persistent trend of urban life, compared to the other four, namely Arg, Bazar, Udlajan and Chaleh-Meydan districts.
Continuous residence and its longtime inhabitants are the main reasons for the urban vitality of this historical area of Tehran.
The abundance of historic monuments and relics resulting from permanent habitation in Sangelaj District distinguishes this historic area of Tehran from the others.
Old alleys and passages, local bazaars, mosques, madrasas water cisterns, caravanserais, and Tekyehs1, along with numerous old private residences are each a page of the history book of Tehran.
Another outstanding feature of Sangelaj district is the existence a range of the historic monuments and landmarks of Persian architecture history.
These landmarks most of which are situated in the northern part of the district, mainly belong to a period in the history of urban and architectural developments of Tehran which is referred to as the early modern era.
Parke-e-Shahr (the city park), welfare organization of Iran, Keshavarzi Bank, Tehran municipality, Sangelaj theater, Shahis fahmideh Zurkhaneh2, Takhti stadium, and several private residences mark the transitional trend of Iranian architecture from ancient time to the modern era. Urban elements such as Vahdat-Eslami (Shahpur), Panzdah-e-Khordad (Buzarjmehri), Khayam and Mowlavi streets as well as Hasanabad (Pahlavi) and Shahpur squares formed by the urban developments aimed at accommodating motor transport in Tehran, instill a sense of attachment to the history and identity of the city in those who pass through Sangelaj District.
The continuous trend of life in Sangelaj District has eternalized the name of certain characters of Tehran, including Mirza Yusuf Mostofi Al Mamalek and Dust Ali Khan Moayyerol Mamalek, both having left precious public monuments such as mosques, schools, alleys, and Saghakhaneh3 under their names in this district.
Holy George Church is still frequent by Christians of Tehran and includes a retirement home for the elderly.
The abovementioned institutions and monuments are the identity building-blocks of Sangelaj District which can be considered as identity assets of an ever developing City.
Despite the historical prominence and valuable social assets of Sangelaj District, this precious jewel has been overlooked and damaged by the expansion of manufacturing units of Tehran Bazar into the surrounding neighborhood and the construction works done in contrast with the identity and historic relic of the district.
Sangelaj District can, in fact, be regarded as passing through a transitional phase. The following report is intended to give a brief account of the historical background and social assets of Sangelaj District.
1. tekyeh: space dedicated to Congregational mourning and praying rituals especially during the month of Muharram.
2. Zurkhaneh is a traditional Persian gymnasium, usually in the form of a domed structure partly below the ground level, hosting a traditional system of athletics recognized by UNESCO as among the world’s longest-running forms of such training.
3. Saghakhaneh: traditional public water dispensers built and endowed by people based on religious beliefs.