Take a look at these amazing photos of Iran before the revolution

Pahlavi CoronationPD-IRANShah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi crowning Empress Farah at their coronation ceremony in 1967

In the decades before the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran was ruled by the Shah whose dictatorship repressed dissent and restricted political freedoms. But he also he pushed the country to adopt Western-oriented secular modernization, allowing some degree of cultural freedom.

Under the Shah’s rule, Iran’s economy and educational opportunities expanded. Britain and the US counted Iran as their major ally in the Middle East, and the Shah forcefully industrialized large segments of the country. However, the Shah’s own increasingly authoritarian measures and his eventual dismissal of multi-party rule set the stage for the infamous revolution.

Still, for a period of close to 40 years, the Shah led Iran through a series of sweeping changes.

From 1941 to 1979, Iran was ruled by King Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah.

Shah Muhammed Reza Pahlevi, his wife, Queen Fawzia and the little Princess Shahnaz in the Grounds of their Palace near Teheran, Iran, in 1942.

Due to Iran's large supply of oil, proximity to India, and sharing a border with the Soviet Union, Britain and the US fully backed the Iranian government.

Sepah Square, the main square in Tehran, Iran April 20, 1946.

However, even before the Islamic Revolution, the Shah's grip on power was unsteady.

This is the White Palace of the Shah of Iran at Saadabad, Tehran, as it looked in Aug. 1953, after the government upheavals. Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi returned to power Aug. 22 when his supporters ousted Premier Mohammed Mossadegh, who had forced the Shah to flee a few days earlier.

Communists and religious members of society disliked the Shah and his pro-Western government.

Cars and pedestrians travel on Ferdowsi Ave. in Tehran, Iran April 20, 1946.

In 1953, the Shah had to flee Iran after a western backed coup to overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh failed. A second coup succeeded in overthrowing Mosaddegh, who wanted to nationalize the Iranian oil industry to Britain's chagrin, and the Shah returned to the country.

Pedestrians and cars travel through the main intersection of Tehran, Iran April 20,1946. Lalezar Ave. runs up the center of the photo toward the north. The intersection running left to right is Istanbul Ave.

Like Ataturk in Turkey, Reza Shah undertook a series of reforms aimed at turning Iran into a modern westernized nation.

These reforms included the structuring of Iran around a central Persian identity, the often brutal suppression of tribes and their laws in exchange for strong a central government, and the expansion of woman's rights.

Like Ataturk, Reza Shah attempted to make religious observation subservient to the state.

Part of Iran's method of achieving this was the banning of veils in public.

Women were also encouraged to attend school and receive an education.

Although Reza Shah's intentions were to turn Iran into a modern Western state, his bans on religious garments alienated and frustrated religious conservatives and traditionalists.

Despite the backlash of religiously observant members of society, the Shah managed to create a cosmopolitan seeming city life.

Women and men mixed freely, and educational opportunities were greatly extended. Western clothing and norms also became ingrained into large segments of the Iranian population.

Leading the charge for westernization was the Iranian royal family. Pictured below is Empress Soraya.

Empress Soraya of Persia (Iran) poses in the studio of Italian fashion designer Emilio Schuberth, left, with an evening dress made of white Organdy as the designer adjusts some pleads of his creation in Rome, Italy, May 13, 1953.

Under the royal family's invitations, Iran became a popular destination for celebrities and heads of state. Here, an Italian actress and her husband visit a sports competition as guests of Iranian Princess Ashraf.

Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida and her husband Milko Skofic (both center) pose for photographer with Iranian sportsmen at the ZurKhaneh (house of strength) stadium, Persia, May 20, 1963. They attended an Iranian sports competition. The actress and her husband have been invited to spend a vacation, by Princess Ashraf, sister of the Shah of Persia.

The Iranian royal family likewise reciprocated and widely toured the world's capitals. Here, the Shah and his wife met with Winston Churchill in London.

British premier sir Winston Churchill poses with the Shah and Queen Soraya of Persia on February 21 at his official London residence, 10 Downing Street, after they lunched with him there. The Shah and Queen Soraye are on a private visit Britain.

Towards the end of the Shah's reign, the royal family attempted to rally the country around an increasingly historic nationalism based on the preceding Persian empires.

A street scene showing pedestrians on a footpath, June 16, 1970, Tehran, Iran.

In 1967 the Shah took the old Persian title 'Shahanshah,' or King of Kings, at a coronation ceremony in Tehran.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi crowning Empress Farah at their coronation ceremony in 1967

Government funded celebrations were also launched throughout the country to honour the Persian roots of Iran. Here, gymnasts take part in a celebration in 1975 honouring the founding of the Persian Empire.

General view of celebrations honouring the founding of the Persian Empire, Oct. 16, 1975. Persia is now Iran.

Despite Iran's views of the past, the government continued to value education and child development.

A street scene showing pedestrians threading their way between bumper-to-bumper traffic, June 16, 1970, Tehran, Iran.

Tehran funded Iranians to study abroad in Europe, and schools and clinics were built throughout the Iranian countryside to care for poorer children as part of the Shah's 'White Revolution.'

A street scene showing pedestrians on a footpath, June 16, 1970, Tehran, Iran.

High oil prices and relative Middle Eastern stability contributed to a growing business class in the major Iranian cities. Here, bumper to bumper traffic is seen in Tehran.

A street scene showing pedestrians threading their way between bumper-to-bumper traffic, June 16, 1970, Tehran, Iran.

Here, Iranians swim in an octagonal swimming pool at the guest house of Iranian National Oil Company.

By 1975, Reza Shah abolished the multi-party system of Iran and concentrated ever greater amounts of power in his own hands under the government's permitted Rastakhiz (Resurrection) party.

Pictured here is a view of Tehran, Iran, July 1971.

By January 16, 1979, Reza Shah fled Iran during the Iranian Revolution. The revolution started off as a popular movement fuelled by outrage against government extravagance, corruption, brutality, and the suppression of individual rights before being taken over by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Seen here are visitors at a vacation resort in Iran on the Caspian Sea, July 1971.

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