It is easy to stereotype Iran with religious revolutions, militancy, extreme laws, and censorship. But that is only one side of the coin. For all the bad press it generates year on year, blame it on the stringent, strange laws of the land and even stranger lawmakers, Iran is a fairly interesting country teeming with unusual culture, talent, and people. From renowned astrologer, mathematician, and poet Omar Khayyam to celebrated theologian Jalal ad-Din Muhammed Rumi and from award-winning movie director Majid Majidi to Persian composer Mohammed Reza Lotfi, Iran has produced a wad of really gifted men and women. That is right! These Iranians have contributed to make rest of the world pro-Iran with their gargantuan contribution in diverse fields of art, literature, cinema, music, religion, dance, poetry, theologian, sportsmen, and politics. Read the biographies of famous Iranians and trail their timeline, trivia, and facts to unearth everything about their lives.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Cyrus the Great

Cyrus the Great
Famous As: Founder of First Persian Empire
Birthdate: 0590 BC
Birthplace: Anshan, Iran
Died: 0530 BC

Cyrus II, or Cyrus the Great, founded the first Persian empire, the Achaemenid Empire. His kingdom extended from Western Asia to Central Asia. He advocated centralized administration, with the help of local governors. The biblical Edict of Cyrus, named after him, talks about the return of the Jews to Israel.

 2 Avicenna

Famous As: Persian polymath the most significant physiciansand writers of the Islamic Golden Age, and the father of early modern medicine.
Birthdate: 0980 AD
Birthplace: Afshona, Uzbekistan
Died: May 31, 1037
Renowned as father of early modern medicine, Avicenna was an illustrious Persian polymath. He is specifically distingusihed for his contributions in the fields of medicine and Aristotelian philisophy. He is best-known for his works namely, The Canon of Medicine and The Book of Healing. The corpus of his writings also include alchemy, geology, psychology, geography, physics, poetry and Islamic theology.

 3 Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyam
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 18, 1048
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nishapur, Khorasan, Iran
Died: December 4, 1131

Omar Khayyam was a Persian polymath, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, and poet. In the field of mathematics, he is best known for his work on the classification and solution of cubic equations. As an astronomer, he designed a solar calendar known as the Jalali calendar. His philosophical attitude towards life had elements of pessimism, nihilism, Epicureanism, and fatalism. 

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 4 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Famous As: Shah of Iran (1941-79)
Birthdate: October 26, 1919
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
Died: July 27, 1980

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi served as the last king of Iran from 1941 to 1979. During his reign, Iran witnessed rapid military and industrial modernization and several social and economic reforms. During his rule, Iran also enjoyed a spike in economic growth, surpassing France, England, and the US. However, the Iranian Revolution, which was unusual in many ways, overthrew the king.

 5 Xerxes I

Xerxes I
Famous As: King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire (486-465)
Birthdate: 0519 BC
Birthplace: Achaemenid Empire
Died: July 31, 0466

Xerxes I ruled the Achaemenid Empire from 486 to 465 BC as the fourth King of Kings. During his reign, Xerxes I supervised the completion of several construction projects at Persepolis and Susa. A popular ruler, his life has been adapted into several plays and films; in the 1960 movie Esther and the King, Xerxes is played by Richard Egan.

 6 Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī

Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī
Listed In: Scientists
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: 0973 AD
Birthplace: Beruni, Uzbekistan
Died: 1050 AD

Apart from being a pioneer of Indology and geodesy, Persian scholar Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī also worked on subjects such as anthropology, math, and ethnography. It is believed he didn’t know his father. He had penned many works, such as the encyclopaedic volume The Chronology of Ancient Nations.

 7 Darius the Great

Darius the Great
Listed In: Emperors & Kings
Famous As: King of Persia
Birthdate: 0550 AD
Birthplace: Iran
Died: September 30, 0487

Darius the Great was a Persian ruler. He served as the third King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 522 BCE until he died in 486 BCE. The empire was at the peak of its glory under his reign and included much of Western Asia and parts of the Balkans. He invested a lot in construction projects.  

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 8 Golshifteh Farahani

Golshifteh Farahani
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 10, 1983
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

Golshifteh Farahani is an Iranian actress renowned for her achievements on the international stage. She is one of the few Iranian actresses to have worked in Hollywood films and many of her films have received international recognition. Farahani has also been advocating for the eradication of tuberculosis in her home country and often gets involved in environmental causes as well.

 9 Christiane Amanpour

Christiane Amanpour
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: January 12, 1958
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
British-Iranian journalist Christiane Amanpour is best known as the anchor of the CNN interview show Amanpour. She has also hosted PBS’s Amanpour & Company. She was criticized for her biased and pro-Muslim coverage of the Bosnian War. She has also been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression.

 10 Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani
Listed In: Scientists
Famous As: First Iranian to Be Honored With the ‘Fields Medal’, the Most Prestigious Award in Mathematics
Birthdate: May 12, 1977
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
Died: July 14, 2017

Maryam Mirzakhani was an Iranian mathematician best remembered for her innovative methods and research involving different branches of mathematics like symplectic geometry and ergodic theory. On 13 August 2014, she became the first Iranian and only woman to date to be honored with the prestigious Fields Medal. Maryam Mirzakhani died of breast cancer when she was 40 years old.

 11 Farah Pahlavi

Farah Pahlavi
Famous As: Widow of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Birthdate: October 14, 1938
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

Farah Pahlavi was the Shahbanu of Iran from 1961 to 1979, as the wife of Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Though she was not allowed to hold a political role, she worked for many charities and helped found Iran's first American-style university. She has continued her involvement in charity work even after her husband’s death in 1980. 

 12 Ali Daei

Ali Daei
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Football player - Striker, Football manager
Birthdate: March 21, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ardabil, Iran

Iranian football legend Ali Daei has been one of the best strikers from his country. His international record of scoring 109 goals was broken by Cristiano Ronaldo later. Apart from serving the Iranian team for 13 years, he also represented teams such as Bayern Munich. Post-retirement, he coached several teams.

 13 Rezā Shāh

Rezā Shāh
Listed In: Leaders
Famous As: Shah of Iran (1925-41)
Birthdate: March 15, 1878
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Alasht, Iran
Died: July 26, 1944

Rezā Shāh was a military colonel who founded the Pahlavi dynasty and reigned as the Shah of Iran from December 1925 to September 1941. He was also the prime minister of Iran from October 1923 to November 1925. His tenure saw the introduction of many social, economic, and political reforms, and he is regarded as the founder of modern Iran. 

 14 Mohammad Mosaddegh

Mohammad Mosaddegh
Listed In: Leaders
Famous As: Political Leader
Birthdate: June 16, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran
Died: March 5, 1967
Born to an Iranian public officer, Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh had an elite education in Switzerland. His oil-nationalization act brought about an economic crisis in the country. He was known to be an eccentric person who met visitors in pajamas, from his bed, and also cried in public.

 15 Nader Shah

Nader Shah
Famous As: Shah of Iran (1736-47)
Birthdate: October 22, 1688
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dargaz, Iran
Died: June 19, 1747

Nader Shah reigned over Iran as the Shah of Iran from 1736 until his death in 1747. He is widely regarded as one of the most powerful rulers in the history of Iran. He has also been described as the Napoleon of Persia, thanks to his military genius, which was evident in his several campaigns.

 16 Al-Ghazālī

Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1058 AD
Birthplace: Ṭūs, Iran
Died: December 19, 1111

Al-Ghazālī was a Persian Muslim polymath best remembered for his work in the fields of philosophy, theology, logic, and Sufism. Such was his popularity that al-Ghazali was awarded the honorific title Hujjat al-Islām during his lifetime itself. Among his other works, the Incoherence of the Philosophers is considered a landmark in the history of philosophy.

 17 Nazanin Boniadi

Nazanin Boniadi
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 22, 1980
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

Nazanin Boniadi is an Iran-born English actress and activist best known for her portrayal of Nora in the popular American sitcom How I Met Your Mother. She has also played important roles in several other American television series like Homeland and Counterpart. From 2009 to 2015, Nazanin Boniadi served as a spokesperson for the popular non-governmental organization Amnesty International.

 18 Hafez

Listed In: Poets
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1315 AD
Birthplace: Shiraz, Iran
Died: 1390 AD

Hafez was a Persian lyric poet whose works are considered by many as an apex of Persian literature. Even today, his works are found in the homes of the Persian-speaking world and people learn his poems by heart as they find them extremely useful. Not surprisingly, his poems are used commonly among speakers of Persian as everyday proverbs and sayings.

 19 Mansour Bahrami

Mansour Bahrami
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Tennis player
Birthdate: April 26, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Arak, Iran

Born to an Iranian hill tribesman, Mansour Bahrami grew up to be one of the greatest Iranian tennis players and a Wimbledon champion. The Islamic Revolution in his country later tagged tennis as capitalist, leading him to focus on gambling and backgammon, though he later returned to tennis.

 20 Muhammad of Ghor

Muhammad of Ghor
Famous As: King
Birthdate: 1149 AD
Birthplace: Ghor, Afghanistan
Died: March 15, 1206

Muhammad of Ghor of the Ghurid Empire went down in history as the man who established Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent and set the tone for the upcoming Mughal dynasty. He ruled over a vast area, which included India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, among others, along with his brother, Ghiyath ad-Din Muhammad.

 21 Asghar Farhadi

Asghar Farhadi
Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: May 7, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Khomeyni Shahr, Iran

Asghar Farhadi is an Iranian screenwriter and film director. In 2016, Farhadi became one of the few directors to receive two Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film. While his film The Salesman earned him an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2016, he had previously won an Oscar for his 2011 film A Separation.

 22 Alireza Jahanbakhsh

Alireza Jahanbakhsh
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Iranian footballer
Birthdate: August 11, 1993
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jirandeh, Iran

Iranian footballer Alireza Jahanbakhsh is best known as an attacking midfielder/winger for the Dutch football club Feyenoord. Often compared to legendary Iranian player Mehdi Mahdavikia for his playing style, he gained praises from netizens in 2022, when a clip showing him helping a camerawoman get up after being knocked down went viral.

 23 Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami
Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Photographer, Film producer, Poet, Film editor
Birthdate: June 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tehran
Died: July 4, 2016

Abbas Kiarostami was an Iranian screenwriter, film director, film producer, photographer, and poet. Over the course of his illustrious career, Kiarostami was honored with numerous awards such as the Jury Special Award at the Tehran International Film Festival and Best Film Award at the Iranian Film Festival for Children and Young Adults. 

 24 The Iron Sheik

The Iron Sheik
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Retired Professional Wrestler
Birthdate: March 15, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Damghan, Iran

Legendary Iranian wrestler Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, better known as The Iron Sheik, scripted history by becoming the only Iranian with a WWE championship win. Known for his signature suplex and Camel Clutch tactics, he later also forayed into showbiz, acting in movies such as Operation Belvis Bash.

 25 Roxana

Listed In: Miscellaneous
Famous As: Alexander the Great's wife
Birthdate: 0340 BC
Birthplace: Sogdia
Died: 0310 BC

Roxana was a Bactrian or a Sogdian princess who married Alexander the Great after the latter defeated Darius and invaded Persia. Roxana played a significant role in the life of Alexander. Hence, she is often included in the tales and stories that narrate Alexander's greatness and valor. In the 2004 epic historical film Alexander, Roxana is portrayed by Rosario Dawson.

 26 Shams Tabrizi

Shams Tabrizi
Listed In: Writers
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1185 AD
Birthplace: Tabriz, Iran
Died: 1248 AD

Shams Tabrizi was a Persian poet best remembered for playing an important role in the life of the popular poet and scholar, Rumi. Having served as a spiritual instructor of Rumi, Tabrizi is referenced with reverence in many of Rumi's poetic collection. An important historical figure in Iran, Tabrizi's tomb has been nominated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

 27 Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi
Listed In: Writers
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 22, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rasht, Iran

Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novelist, illustrator, cartoonist, children's book author, and film director. Satrapi achieved international recognition in the early-2000s after releasing her critically acclaimed graphic novels. She is best known for writing and directing an animated biographical drama film titled Persepolis, which received nominations at prestigious award ceremonies, such as the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globes.

 28 Al-Razi

Listed In: Physicians
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: 0854 AD
Birthplace: Ray
Died: October 15, 0925

 29 Darius III

Darius III
Listed In: Emperors & Kings
Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0381 BC
Birthplace: Iran
Died: June 30, 0330

Darius III was the last Achaemenid King of Kings of Persia. He reigned from 336 BC to his death in 330 BC. Alexander the Great began his invasion of the Persian Empire in 334 BC and subsequently defeated the Persians in several battles. He then pursued Darius III. Before Alexander could reach him, Darius was killed by his relative Bessus. 

 30 Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran

Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Famous As: Founder and leader of the self-styled National Council of Iran
Birthdate: October 31, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

Reza Pahlavi is the oldest son of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, and his wife Farah Diba. He was the crown prince before the Iranian Revolution overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979. He is the founder of the self-styled National Council of Iran and a prominent critic of Iran's Islamic Republic government. 

 31 Jabir Ibn Hayyan

Jabir Ibn Hayyan
Listed In: Writers
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: 0721 AD
Birthplace: Tous, Iran
Died: 0813 AD

Eighth-century alchemist and physician Jabir Ibn Hayyan has been credited with too many written works. Experts believe his vast works may not have been written by a single person. The Jabirian corpus, a collection of his works, is known for its "method of the balance" and its focus on chemistry.

 32 Alireza Firouzja

Alireza Firouzja
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Chess player
Birthdate: June 18, 2003
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Babol, Iran

Born in Iran, chess Grandmaster Alireza Firouzja initially represented his country but later began representing France. In 2021, he became the only teenager ranked among the world’s top 15 chess players. A 2-time Iranian champion, he has been a chess prodigy and had started training in chess at age 8.

 33 Zoroaster

Famous As: Founder of Zoroastrianism
Birthdate: 0000 BC
Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, was an Iranian spiritual leader who founded the religion Zoroastrianism, which challenged the traditional religious ideas of Ancient Persia. There is no record that states the exact period of his existence with certainty. He is said to have authored the Gathas and the Yasna Haptanghaiti.

 34 Cambyses II

Cambyses II
Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0559 BC
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: June 30, 0522

Cambyses II was the second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire. He ruled from 530 BC to 522 BC. He was the son of Cyrus the Great and Cassandane. Before claiming the throne, he served as the governor of northern Babylonia under his father. His reign was relatively brief and marked by his conquests in Africa, notably Egypt. 

 35 Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari

Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Famous As: Former Actress, Second wife of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Birthdate: June 22, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Esfahan, Iran
Died: October 26, 2001

 36 Ramin Karimloo

Ramin Karimloo
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 19, 1978
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

 37 Artaxerxes I of Persia

Artaxerxes I of Persia
Famous As: King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire (465-424)
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Susa, Iran
Died: 0424 BC
Son of Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I of Persia, ascended to the throne after commander Artabanus killed his father. When he came to know of the crime, Artaxerxes killed Artabanus in a fight. He was also known as Longimanus, or long-handed, due to right hand being longer than his left.

 38 Ferdowsi

Listed In: Writers
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 0940 AD
Birthplace: Tous, Iran
Died: 1020 AD

Ferdowsi was a Persian writer and poet best remembered for authoring Shahnameh which is considered the greatest epic in Persian speaking countries. Shahnameh is also one of the longest epic poems ever composed by a single poet. One of the most celebrated figures of Persian literature, Ferdowsi is also counted among the greatest in the history of literature.         . 

 39 Ismail I

Ismail I
Famous As: sovereign, poet, writer
Birthdate: July 17, 1487
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ardabil
Died: May 23, 1524

Ismail I was the originator of the Safavid dynasty and ruled as the Shahanshah of Iran from 1501 to 1524. His reign is considered one of the most vital in Iranian history and his empire is regarded as one of the greatest in the history of Iran and one of the most powerful empires of the world during its peak. 

 40 Nasir al-Din al-Tusi

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Listed In: Architects
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 18, 1201
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tous, Iran
Died: June 26, 1274

Persian polymath Nasir al-Din al-Tusi lost his jurist father in childhood and then went around as a scholar, learning subjects such as math and philosophy. He made invaluable contribution to astronomy and later served as a scientific advisor of the Mongols. One of his notable written works was Akhlaq-i Nasiri.

 41 Googoosh

Listed In: Singers
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 5, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tehrān, Iran

 42 Sardar Azmoun

Sardar Azmoun
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: January 1, 1995
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gonbad-e Qabus

Known as the Iranian Messi, Sardar Azmoun is one of the most popular Iranian footballers. While he spent his youth career playing for influential Iranian clubs such as Sepahan, he began his senior career with Russian clubs such as Rubin Kazan and later also represented the German club Bayer Leverkusen.

 43 Saadi Shirazi

Saadi Shirazi
Listed In: Poets
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1210 AD
Birthplace: Shīrāz, Iran
Died: 1291 AD

Saadi Shirazi was a Persian prose writer and poet of the medieval period. He is often counted among the greatest poets who explored the classical literary tradition. Nicknamed the Master, Shirazi has also been quoted in the Western traditions. One of his best known works Bustan has been named by The Guardian in its 100 greatest books of all-time list. 

 44 Tomyris

Famous As: Ruler
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Iran

A legendary figure, Tomyris was the fabled queen of the Massagetai, an Iranian tribal population. She is perhaps best remembered for her campaign against Cyrus II the Great of Persia, whom she attacked and killed, thus defending her forces. She has been the subject of many literary and artistic creations.

 45 Maz Jobrani

Maz Jobrani
Famous As: Comedians
Birthdate: February 26, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

 46 Mehdi Taremi

Mehdi Taremi
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Football player
Birthdate: July 18, 1992
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bushehr, Iran

Iranian footballer Mehdi Taremi is best known as a striker for Porto. While he began his senior career with the Iranian club Shahin Bushehr, he has also played for the Qatari club Al-Gharafa and the Portuguese club Rio Ave, winning the Qatari Stars Cup with the former.  

 47 Navid Negahban

Navid Negahban
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 2, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Iran

 48 Shahnaz Pahlavi

Shahnaz Pahlavi
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Famous As: First child of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Birthdate: October 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

 49 Execution of Navid Afkari

Execution of Navid Afkari
Listed In: Sportspersons
Famous As: Wrestler
Birthdate: July 22, 1993
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Shiraz, Iran
Died: September 12, 2020

Navid Afkari Sangari was an Iranian professional wrestler who was executed in Shiraz for killing a security guard as part of the 2018 Iranian protests. The execution took place despite opposition from the USA and IOC President Thomas Bach. Interestingly, an audiotape recording later indicated that Navid Afkari had no connection with the murder. 

 50 Bardiya

Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Pasargadae, Iran
Died: 0522 AD

Born to Cyrus the Great of Persia, Bardiya was also known as Tanyoxarces. Though most sources believe he was the king of Persia, some sources claim an impersonator ruled Persia, pretending to be the real son of Cyrus. Both historian Herodotus and king Darius believed the impersonator was Gaumata, a magus.