A growing town 35 km to the west of Tehran, 1,320 meters above sea level, with more than 2.5 million inhabitants, and occupying an area of 6,000 square kilo meters, Karaj is situated in the crossroads and starting point of the road to Chalus over Alborz mountains. As the second largest town of the province of Tehran, Karaj is considered a favorite excursion spot for the inhabitants of Tehran and even foreigners who, from spring on, like to come out on Fridays and holidays to enjoy the coolness of the countryside near the swiftly flowing Karaj river. In the past, the town had no noteworthy buildings. However, modern Karaj has the water ski facilities on Amir Kabir Dam, the interesting Morvarid Palace-Museum. The Morvarid (Pearl) Palace which belonged to the former king?s sister (Shams Pahlavi), is also called Shams Palace. It is located inside the Mehrshahr Cultural Complex, occupies a roofed area of 1,500 square meters, and stands in a beautiful 170-hectare garden. Designed by Italian and American architects, its floors are connected with ramps. There are some houses, indoor swimming pool, a cinema, and artificial ponds, all under a fiberglass ceiling. All the interior decorations are imported.
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