Does the world have a new “largest bookstore”? While that title has belonged to the Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue in New York City (which has some 12 miles of shelves across 150,000 square feet), the newly inaugurated Book Garden in Tehran, Iran is on another level.
The enormous book shop, offering over 400,000 titles for children alone, is housed in a larger educational and entertainment complex containing 10 movie theaters, an art gallery, prayer room, restaurant, and robotics clubs. The massive 700,000 square foot structure, capped with faceted green roofs and network of stairs, resembles a set of hills or modern earthworks.
"The opening of the Book Garden is a big cultural event in the country, so that our children can make better use of this cultural and academic opportunity," said Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.
The Book Garden was first conceived of in 2004 as a permanent complement to Tehran’s annual International Book Fair—a cultural haven to encourage Iranian kids to be “active and creative.” Construction kicked off in spring of 2016, and wrapped earlier this summer. It’s taken months to fully outfit the space with books and educational resources.