Iran Holy Defense Museum

Top choice museum in Tehran

This epic-scale museum, on a landscaped site of 21 hectares, is dedicated to the Iran–Iraq War, a bloody eight-year conflict that claimed a million lives. The main building consists of seven halls that commemorate the war's martyrs and run you through the history of the conflict in forensic detail. It may sound harrowing, but it is, in fact, a fascinating and imaginative response to a deeply scarring episode in modern Iranian history.

At times the displays swerve into the surreal, such as the section that depicts the glittering vision of heavenly paradise the soldiers (many no more than teenagers) were sent to their deaths believing, and the one that places you at the heart of an aerial bombardment complete with sensory effects.

Outside, huge rockets and tanks flank the Garden Valley, at the centre of which is a 6000-sq-metre lake where, in the summer months, a fountain and laser-light show plays. The complex also includes a separate silver-sphere building where you can view a 15-minute film shown on a panoramic screen that depicts the besieged town of Khorramshahr before, during and after the conflict. Near the exit to the subway station is a replica of the Khorramshahr mosque covered in yellow and turquoise patterned tiles.