There’s nothing subtle about the graphic displays (suitable for adults only) in the one-time prison of the shah’s brutal secret police. A prime example of pro-revolution propaganda, visitors are expected to follow a protracted tour, conducted in Farsi, of the incongruously attractive building, with wings radiating from a circular courtyard. Some exhibits, which include brutal tableaux of torture recreated with waxwork dummies and liberal doses of red paint, have brief explanations in English, though little interpretation is required.
During the 1970s, hundreds of political prisoners were held in tiny cells and, in many cases, tortured by the Anti Sabotage Joint Committee, a branch of the despised Savak (National Intelligence and Security Organisation). The shah’s henchmen are depicted wearing neckties (a pro-Western symbol in modern Iran) and looking brutish (check the eyebrows). There are numerous photos of the former royal family – just in case you forget who was responsible.
This prison was undoubtedly a terrible place to end up, and the people running it guilty of brutality on a grand scale. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that stories of what goes on at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, run by the current ruling regime, are just as horrifying.