Boxed into a soaring rocky canyon, central Maku has a handful of minor sights and makes a sensible base for visiting the old Armenian church of Qareh Kalisa. Long a key fortress guarding the Ottoman-Persian frontier, Maku was one of many Azerbaijani khanates that gained semi-independence in the chaotic period following the death of Nader Shah in 1749. Although rejoining Iran in 1829, the khanate was only finally abolished a century later. Shops and all hotels are within 500m of little Chahara Sq on central Imam St. The bus terminal is 3km southeast.
The sad, crumbling remnants of Old Maku's former citadel lead up to the Abu Fazl Mosque and a series of degraded brick fortifications cupped beneath an impressively huge cliff overhang. Fine views justify the sweaty 25-minute hike on steps and footpaths directly north from Chahara Sq.
The celebrated but empty Kola Ferangi is a century-old mansion with filigree wraparound balconies, hidden away in a mined garden accessed through the unmarked grey gates of a clinic on Taleqani St, just north of Chahara Sq.
Baqcheh Juq Palace Museum
(9am-1pm & 3-5pm Tue-Sun) This attractive mansion was originally built for the sardar (military governor) of Qajar Shah Muzaffar al-Din (r 1896-1907). Eclectically furnished rooms with colourful, quaintly tacky fruit murals are set around a wonderfully over-the-top mirror-tiled atrium. It's set in a walled orchard at the base of appealing, tree-dappled Baqcheh Juq village whose timeless hay-topped mud houses are backed by a mgged chasm. It's 2km off the main Bazargan road, about 7km west of Chahara Sq.
Getting There & Away
From the main terminal buses run to Tehran (three daily), Tabriz (four hours, six daily, last at 1.30pm), and Orumiyeh (4.5 hours, hourly) via Khoy. Rare savaris to Bazargan depart from Taleqani St at Chahara Sq.