Cities of Iran

Tabriz
The capital of East Azarbaijan (or Aturpatgan) province, the land of the nobles of Iran


Ark-e Tabriz (Citadel of Tabriz)
Tabriz is the capital of one of the most famous provinces of Iran, The Azarbaijan or Aturpatgan. It is the land of Azargoshnasp temple; The fire temple of the Kings and the Nobles of Iran. It is perhaps the birth place of Zaratushtra.

Tabriz, Being the provincial capital of East Azarbaijan ( Aturpatgan ), has slightly more than 1,700,000 population and was the second largest city in Iran until the early 1970's. Tabriz has been the capital city of Iran on numerous times throughout the old history of this country. Tabriz is located in a valley to the north of the beautiful Mount Sahand. The valley opens out into a plain that slopes down gently to the northern end of Lake Orumieh, about 60 km to the west. Tabriz is 310 km southeast of Bazargan (Iranian-Turkish frontier); 159 km south of Jolfa on Iran- Aran (Azarbaijan Republic) border, and can be reached by very good roads, rail (742km from Tehran, with connections to the Europe and Moscow), and air from Tehran and other major cities.

The city has a long and turbulent history although the early history of Tabriz is shrouded in legend and mystery, the town's origin is believed to date back to distant antiquity, perhaps even before the Sassanian era (224 - 651 A.D.). The oldest stone tablet with a reference to Tabriz is that of Sargon the second, the Assyrian King. The tablet refers to a place called Tauri Castle and Tarmkis. The historians believe this castle was situated on the site of the present day Tabriz. It was the capital of Azarbaijan in the 3rd century A.D. and again under the Mongol Ilkhanid dynasty (1256 - 1353), although for some time Maragheh supplanted it.

During the reign of Aqa Khan of the Ilkhanids, as well as under the reign of Ghazan Khan, Tabriz reached the peak of glory and importance. Many great artists and philosophers from all over the world traveled to Tabriz. In 1392, after the end of Mongol rule, the town was sacked by Tamerlane. It was soon restored under the Turkman tribe of the Qara Qoyunlu, who established a short-lived local dynasty. Under the Safavids it rose from regional to national capital for a short period, but the second of the Safavid kings, Shah Tahmasb, moved the capital to Qazvin because of the vulnerability of Tabriz to Ottoman attacks. The town then went into a period of decline, fought over by the Iranians, Ottomans and Russians and struck by earthquake.

Tabriz was the residence of the crown prince under the Qajar kings, but the town did not return to prosperity until the second half of the 19th century. The greatest boost to Tabriz came with the opening up of Iran to the West at the turn of this century, when it became the main staging post between the interior of Iran and the Black Sea and,for a short time, the economic capital. In 1908 it was the center of a revolt against Mohammad Ali Shah, which was only put down with the brutal intervention of the Russians. In the second Irano-Russian War the city was occupied by the Czar troops. However, it was returned to Iran following the signing of Turkmanchai Treaty, a peace and trade settlement that ended the Irano-Russian War of 1826-1828.

House of Constitution
The Iranian Constitutional Revolution originated in Tabriz and culminated during the reign of Mohammad Ali Shah of Qajar dynasty (1779-1925). Sattar Khan and Baqer Khan were the two most prominent leading figures behind the movement. Tabriz was occupied by Russians several times in the first half of 20th century, including most of both world wars. A railway line to the border at Jolfa, built by the expansionist Russians, was of little importance until recently, but it has increased in significance in the '90s as a result of Iran's friendlier relations with its northern neighbors.

With a very rich history, Tabriz used to house many historical monuments. Unfortunately, many of them were destroyed in repeated invasions and attacks of foreign forces, negligence of the ruling governments, as well natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. What remains now mostly dates back to the Ilkhanids, the Safavids, and the Qajars. Some of the monuments are unrivaled masterpieces of architecture.

There are many factories and great industrial and productive sites in Tabriz which have changed it into one of the industrial centers in the country. The most important factories are as follows: Tractor, machinery and ball-bearing manufacturing factories, refinery and so many other centers such as carpet weaving sites.

Ark or Citadel of Tabriz
Ark-e Tabriz in Persian (also called Masjid-e Alishah, Arg-e Alishah) is the impressive remainder of a great and imposing building in the town. The Arg, a huge and crumbling brick citadel, is a notable landmark that was built in the early 14th century on the site of a massive mosque which collapsed over 500 years ago, and which must been one of the largest ever constructed.

Inside the Citadel there is nothing except two arches and an indication of the position of the mehrab; Ali Shah's court has been covered with ignoble buildings, the sanctuary walls have been rebuilt and propped up, and it is hard to believe that any part of this place was ever a mosque.

Constitution House
The Constitution House is located next to the Tabriz grand bazaar, on Motahari Ave. During the years which led to the Constitutional Revolution and afterwards, the house was used as the gathering place of the leaders, activists, and the sympathizers of the movement, among them Sattar Khan, Baqer Khan, Seqatoleslam and Haji Mirza Aqa Farshi.

Shah Gholi Park
The two-story building was constructed in 1868 by Haj Vali Me'mar-e Tabrizi. It has numerous rooms and halls. The most beautiful part of the house is a skylight and a corridor decorated with colorful glasses and mirrors.

Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque (or Masjid-e Kaboud) on the north side of town, is a 15th-century structure destroyed partially by one of Tabriz's recurrent earthquakes. The entrance portal with its two minarets appears to have been connected with the main prayer hall (Shabestan) under the largest cupola of the mosque, by means of vaulted corridor. On both sides along the corridor, there stand the remains of the chambers with vaulted roofs. The walls of the mosque have been riveted with marble slabs and decorated with superb mosaic tiles. Some of the blue mosaics in the mosque's portal are heavily damaged and half missing.

Shah Goli
Do not miss El Goli (former Shah Goli), a pleasant hillside garden and park around an artificial lake to the area of 54,675 square meters. El Goli, only 4 km south of downstream Tabriz, is so lovely a place that it deserves an illustration.

It is a popular weekend resort for the locals. A hill in the eastern side of the park leads down to the pool with steps, and a fountain from top of the hill flows down to the pool. In the center of the pool there is a grand hexagonal building. The pool itself is said to have been built during the reign of Aq Qoyunlu kings. However, it was extended by the Safavids.

Bazaar
Strolling in the center of Tabriz, one is reminded very forcibly that it is a commercial city: one cannot miss its very large and 15th-century covered bazaar. It is already much diminished in its variety of goods, but still a great place for getting hopelessly lost amid its dusty architectural splendors. Its architectural style, numerous caravansaries, mosques, and schools have added further beauty and glory to this complex.

Bazar of Tabriz
Exact information on the history and origin of the bazaar is not available; however, historical buildings such as the Jam's Mosque, Talebieh School, and Sadeqieh School indicate that the complex is one of the oldest structures of the city. The present structure of bazaar dates back to the closing years of the Zand dynasty (1750-1779 A.D.).

Churches
From the earliest days of Christianity there has been a sizable Armenian community in Tabriz, and the city boasts a number of churches, including one mentioned by Marco Polo on his travels.

Nowadays, Tabriz has six churches, the most important of which are: Saint Serkis Church, located in Armenian quarter of Tabriz, Baron Avak, which was renovated in 1845; probably the most interesting and the oldest but substantially rebuilt Church of St. Mary (Kelesa-ye Maryam-e Moghaddas) which was completed in 1785, on the corner of North Shari-ati Ave. and Jomhuri Ave; Able Mary Church which was built in 1910 and is on Miar Miar quarter of Tabriz.