Perspective of Iran’s Leader on Russia and the Caucasus in the 19th Century

In 1874, the travel diary of Iran’s ruler Naser al-Din Shah was published in English for the first time, giving readers a unique glimpse into his historic trip through Russia, Western Europe, and the Caucasus in the previous year. This journey marked the first of its kind by an Iranian ruler, and the details shared by the shah offer fascinating insights into the transformation of Iran.

The diary recounts the shah’s initial impressions of Russia as he traveled by ship across the Caspian Sea and entered the Volga River, marveling at the vastness of the landscape and the warmth of the Russian people he encountered. As he journeyed through southern Russia by rail, the shah experienced the novelty of train travel for the first time, describing the sights and sounds with awe.

Upon reaching Moscow, the formalities of the tour began, with visits to historic landmarks and cultural performances that left a lasting impression on the shah. In St. Petersburg, he met with Tsar Alexander II in a diplomatic exchange that held significant implications for the relationship between their two countries.

The shah’s travels continued through Western Europe, including stops in Germany, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, before returning to Georgia on his way back to Iran. In Georgia, the shah encountered a diverse mix of tribes and nationalities, each leaving a unique mark on his memory.

The journey through various empires had a profound impact on the shah, leading to diplomatic successes upon his return to Iran. It inspired him to begin work on establishing a small railway near Tehran, laying the foundation for further modernization and development in the country.

The publication of Naser al-Din Shah’s travel diary offers a fascinating glimpse into a pivotal moment in Iran’s history, showcasing the ruler’s experiences and observations as he traversed through different lands and cultures. It serves as a reminder of the importance of diplomacy, cultural exchange, and the enduring legacy of historic journeys.



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