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It has a rooftop garden and free books. 

Talia Avakian
August 29, 2017

Book lovers can now explore a massive complex in Iran that’s been dubbed the largest book complex of its kind in the country — and possibly in the entire world.

Opened in July of this year, the Tehran Book Garden complex in Tehran, Iran, spans a whopping 65,000 square meters (almost 700,000 square feet), and includes a theater, display halls, research halls, and a variety of book stores designed for customers of all ages.

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Related: The Independent Bookstores Every Booklover Should Visit in the U.S.

While Guinness World Records lists the former Barnes and Noble Bookstore (154,250 square feet) at 105 Fifth Avenue in New York City as the largest individual bookstore in the world, the book store closed down in 2014, making the Tehran Book Garden a contender for the title.

The Tehran Book Garden won't just sell books, however. Visitors will find an art gallery, a prayer room, a restaurant, and even a robotics club here. The venue will also host literature-based events like book festivals, painting workshops, and meet-and-greet sessions with authors.

The bookshop has thousands of titles divided into sections for children and adults, and plans to distribute more than 1,000 books to visitors enjoying the seating areas of the complex’s 25,000-square-meter rooftop garden that doubles as a public park.

Related: The Best Books to Read in 12 Cities Around the World

The project was pitched as a year-round alternative to the city’s popular International Book Fair, with construction wrapping up last year.

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“The project aims to teach our children to be active and creative through modern methods and equipment,” parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, said during the building’s opening ceremony in July.

“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,” he added.

According to the World Economic Forum, only about 1,500 book shops remain in Iran today, as the country has significantly censored writing and literature. But the opening of this bookshop could signal new possibilities for locals and travelers to engage with literature — and a general opening of the country.

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