Rapidly expanding Rasht is the capital of green province of Gilan and by far the largest city on Iran's Caspian Sea coast.
Nestled between the Zarjub and Gowhar-rud rivers, Rasht is distinctive in appearance from other Iran cities; for instance, its local bazaars are not roofed and it is not surrounded by gated walls.
Such distinctive features, characteristic of urban settlements in Caspian Iran, have been noted by various historical travelers and emissaries.
Historically, Rasht was a major transport and business center which connected Iran to Russia and Europe using the port of Bandar-e Anzali, and was therefore entitled the "Gate of Europe".
The importance of Rasht in contemporary history lies in its role as a link between Iran, Russia, and the West, and as a pathway to techniques, ideas, and lifestyles which has made it known as a symbol of a modern city with a traditional melody.
Rasht is also a major tourist center with the resort of Masouleh in the adjacent lush mountains and the beaches of Caspian as some of the major attractions.
The city boasts over 170 recipes making it a great place to taste the garlic-stoked, vegetable-rich Gilan cuisines including Mirza Qasemi, Torsh-e Tareh, Anar-Bij, Sir-Qelyeh, Baqali-Qatoq and kal Kabab.
Rasht has also made it into UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network for its gastronomy (the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food) and is one of the best places in the world as far as cookery is concerned.
The city is now among 47 cities from 33 countries that are part of the network in seven creative fields — crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts and music.
Although 15km inland, Rasht is a popular weekend and holiday destination for Tehranis, for whom the greatest attraction is its refreshing climate and year-round downpours.
Open-mindedness to new ideas originating in Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus and pleasure-seeking propensity have helped make Rasht an avant-garde city.