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Tabriz

Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan Province, is set in a valley at the foot of the Sahand Mountains, 294 kilometres northwest of Zanjan. The second biggest town in Iran, it has a population at present of almost 3,000,000 and has become an important industrial and trade centre for business between Tehran and Turkey.

Tabriz is one of the historical capitals of Iran, and the present capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Tabriz is located at an elevation of 1,350 meters above sea level in the Quru River valley between the long ridge of the volcanic cone of Sahand and Eynali mountain. The valley opens up into a plain that gently slopes down to the eastern shores of Lake Urmia, 60 kilometres to the west. With cold winters and temperate summers, the city is considered a summer resort.

The city has a long and turbulent history with its oldest civilization sites dated back to 1,500 B.C. It contains many historical monuments representing the transition of Iranian architecture in its long historical timelines. Most of the preserved historical sites in the city are belong to Ilkhanid (of Mongol Empire), Safavid, and Qajar area, among them is the grand Bazaar of Tabriz which is inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2010.

Tabriz was devastated by several earthquakes during its history (e.g., in 858, 1041, and 1721) and as a result, from numerous monuments only few of them or part of them have survived until now. Moreover, some of the historical monuments have been destroyed fully or partially within construction projects (e.g. the Ark of Tabriz is in danger of destruction now, because of ongoing construction project of "Mosal'laye Emam" in close proximity). Nonetheless, there are still numerous monuments remaining until now.

A fascinating bazaar, a deeply human heart and passionately helpful guides make this gigantic, sprawling city a surprisingly positive introduction to Iran. It had a spell as the Iranian capital and has proven extremely influential in the country's recent history. Sometimes stiflingly smoggy and hot in summer, it can be freezing cold in winter, but the Azari welcome is generally very warm any time of year. Don't miss an excursion to Kandovan, Iran's 'Cappadocia'.

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