Aerial view of East of Tabriz.

Tabriz (Persian: تبریز, Azerbaijani: Təbriz) is the capital of East Azerbaijan province, in the Azerbaijan region of Iran. It is a modern industrialized Iranian city with signs of civilization dating back 2,500 years. Having some of most famous museums, holding some of the cultural events, and harboring a couple of the most prestigious Iranian universities, the city is considered a major hub for science and culture in Iran.



Most of the Tabriz residents consider themselves Iranian Azerbaijani.


Situated at an altitude of 1,340 meters above sea level, 619 km northwest of Tehran, the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960's and one of its former capitals ( with a population of 1,400,000 according to 1992 census), Tabriz is in a valley to the north of the long ridge of Mount Sahand. The valley opens out into a plain that slopes down gently to the northern end of Lake Orumieh, 60 km to the west. The 160-km long Aji ,Chai or Talkheh River is the major river of the city, formed by merging of three smaller rivers, namely the Ab Nahand, Quri Chai, and Ojan Chai, all of which originate from the Sabalan Mountain and the heights in the southeastern part of the town. The river and streams join the Orumieh Lake after passing through the valleys between the Sorkhband and Yekkeh Chin mountain north of Tabriz and Osku district. Mehran River or Maidan Chai, also called Liqvan River, originates from the peaks between Karim and Sultan mountains overlooking the Liqvan village (a: major center of cheese production in Iran) near Esparakhoun and Qeshlaq. Its worst natural disadvantage, however, is its vulnerability to earthquakes, one of which utterly destroyed the city in 858. Rebuilt in a minor key, it was again devastated in 1041, when more than 40,000 people lost their lives.


By virtue of its situation, Tabriz has a continental climate with low humidity (average annual rain fall is 288 mm). It has a modestly warm summer climate and a severely cold winter.


The town has along and checkered history: Although the early history of Tabriz is shrouded in legend and mystery, the town's origins are believed to date back to distant antiquity, perhaps even before the Sassanian era (224-651 AD). The oldest stone tablet with a reference to Tabriz is that of Sargon II, the Assyrian King. The tablet refers to a place called Tauri Castle and Tarmkis. The historians believe that this castle was situated on the site of the present Tabriz. It was the capital of Azarbin the 3rd century AD and again under the Mongol Ilkhanid dynasty (1256-13 53), 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 1 glory and Impotance. Many great artists and philosophers from allover the world traveled to Tabriz. During this same period, Khajeh Rashid od-Din Fazlollah, the learned historian and Minister of Ghazan Khan, built the famous Rob'e Rashidi center.

In 1392, after the end of Mongol rule, the town was sacked by Tamerlane. It was soon restored under the Turkman tribe of r 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 and disease.

Tabriz was the residence of the crown prince under the Qajar kings, themselves of Turkish stock, 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 Persia 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's troops. However, it was returned to Iran following the signing of the Turkmanchai Treaty, a peace and trade settlement that ended the Irano-Russian War of 1826-1828. The Iranian Constitutional Revolution originated in Tabriz and culminated during the reign of Mohammad Ali Shah of Qajar dynasty (1779-1925). Sat tar 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 the 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 increased in significance in the '90s as a result of Iran's friendlier relations with its northern neighbors.


Azerbaijani or Azeri, a Turkic dialect, is the primary language spoken by most Tabrizis, although many people, especially the younger generation, can communicate in Farsi and English up to some level.

Get in

Tabriz Airport

Tabriz is 310 km southeast of Bazargan (at the IranTurkey frontier), 159 km south of Jolfa on the IranAzerbaijan Republic border, and can be reached by road, rail (742 km from Tehran, with connections to Europe and Moscow), air from Tehran, Istanbul and other major cities in the region, and highway (Highway number 1 connects Tabriz to Tehran).

By plane

Airport bus #136 goes to airport from Motahhari st. every 30-40 minutes. Another option is getting a taxi.

Domestic flights

International direct flights to the following destinations exist:

By car

By the newly built bridge over the Urmia lake Tabriz is reachable from Urmia in 1.5 hours.

By train

Tabriz Railway Station

By bus

Get around

Tabriz's El Goli Metro station

City transport, awaiting the Metro currently under construction (and still for a long time) is limited to Taxis, shared taxis and buses.

Taxis can be chartered for a modest fee (around 20 USD if you need a driver and car for the whole day to visit the region!)

Shared taxis are even more of a bargain, but you will need to speak a few words of Persian and risk your life by stepping on the side of the road and scream your destination at passing-by Paykans. However, the experience of sharing a car with 4 locals of both genders and all ages (+ driver) can be fun! Odds are the fare won't be more than 10 cents (1.000 Rials) for a 10-minutes trip. Some drivers even refuse to be paid, the pleasure of chatting with a foreigner about the various plagues of Iran being apparently enough to make their day. (be careful of tarof, though)

Buses are difficult to take (no map, no schedule) and definitely not worth the experience when compared to shared taxis despite being quasi-free.


Saat Tower (Municipality of Tabriz).
Blue Mosque
Gari Bridge
Mozzafarieh alley inside Bazaar of Tabriz.

Inside Tabriz

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. The Shahrdari Square is the center of the town, on the south-west of which stands the imposing edifice of Municipality. The railway station (5 km from the center of the town) is at the western edge of the town. The Quri Chai river runs through Tabriz, and most places of interest to the visitor are to the south of this river and alone or north of Imam Khomeini Avenue.

Maghbarato-Shoara (Poets' Tomb).

Around Tabriz

Kandovan Village.
Babak Castle.
St. Stepanos Monastery.
The lake and remnants of Royal Palace in Takhte Soleyman.

Around Tabriz there are many historically and scenery interesting places to visit. The mountainous region of south Azerbaijan offers breathtaking views and excellent treks among castles, rocky paths and remote villages.


El-Goli park
Mountain peak Eynali


Tabriz is the site for some of the major Iranian universities including University of Tabriz, Sahand University of Technology, Azad University of Tabriz, and Azerbaijan University. The entrance to this universities for Iranian nationals is through nation wide entrance exams. Tabriz University however offers degree programs for foreign nationals through the regular application without entrance exam.

There are couple of big libraries in the city including Tabriz National Library which are holding some of the oldest handwritten Iranian literature as well as modern texts.



Traditional Shopping Center

Modern Shopping Centers

The three big modern supermarket are: Refah, Sepah, and Laleh. There are small supermarkets all around city and some other smaller arcades in the city center in Tarbiat St.


Traditional Meals: Kabab, rice, Abgousht (Meat Broth), Kufte Tabrizi (Big Meat Ball) some restaurants serve them all, but if you step inside a more modest Chelowkebabi, odds are you won't have much choice apart from the traditional rice and kebab. But still you can find some restaurants which serve all, for instance there is a historical bath Nowbar Bath in city center which is renovated as a traditional restaurant in recent years and it serves Abgousht, Kufteh, and other foods.

Fast foods: There are small fast food restaurants for pizza, and sandwiches all around the city.

Drinks: The most common drink in Tabriz (likewise many other middle eastern cities) is tea which is served in tea houses along with option of qaliyan (shusha). The famous traditional cold drink is dough (yugurt juice) which is served in restaurants and it is also being sold in supermarkets along the cities. Officially there is no Cola, Fanta or other western soft drinks because of sanctions, but there are local brands like Zam Zam and Koolak which have similar tastes as the western brands.

Confectioneries and dried nuts: Tabriz is famous for its confectioneries and dried nuts. Some of the most famous confectioneries are Qurabiya, Tabrizi Luvuz, Zulbia, Pashmak, Nuga(or Nuqa), and Ris. There are no chain stores like in many big cities so you have to go to confectionery store. Some of the famous ones are: Karimi (in Vali Asr district), Eftekhari, and Reks (in Imam Ave close to Shahnaz St.).

Fruits and vegetableː fresh fruits and vegetables can be purchased from Rahli Bazar in the city center. There are also smaller shops around the city for fruits and vegetables. Sometimes vendors also sell fruits and vegetables from the back of their trucks for a cheaper price. Fruits and vegetables are normally brought to Tabriz from gardens and farms around the city as well as gardens of other parts of Iran.

Cold and Frozen Deserts: In summer time Ice Cream and Faloodeh is sold in some of the fast food style restaurants in the city center. Many of these ice-cream places is a family business and they have their own secret recipe for ice cream. The recipe passes from generation to the next generation inside the family. The most famous ones are: Shams (in Imam Ave close to saat), and Vahid (in Ark Alley).

Hot Appetizers: Labou (hot boiled sweet red-beet) and Pakhla (salty boiled Fava Beans) are sold normally in winter time by peddlers in street sides.


Nightlife may not have the same meaning in Iranian towns as it means in western cities. Apart from private parties, there is nothing even vaguely close to a nightclub in the whole country. However, places for getting out at night in Tabriz include ice-cream & juice houses, kebab restaurants, Qalyan (hubble bubble), and tchaikhaneh. Going to theaters and walking around some of the major streets (Valiasr district, Abrasan, and Shahnaz Shariati St.) is one of the major hobbies of the youngsters in Tabriz. In summer times families go to some of the big parks to have their supper in a public area in a picnic style way.



El Goli hotel

The hotels are convenient but relatively expensive. The hotels in city center are recommended if you are looking to see the historic cites of Tabriz and feel the life of Tabriz residents. While the hotels in new suburbs are far away from the city center and mostly used by business travelers. Here is a list of major hotels in Tabrizː

Guest Houses

Guest Houses are mostly located in Ferdowsi Street and Amin Street.




Stay safe


Even though thefts and rubbery is not common but you can apply for money-card to have additional safety. Bank-e Melli-ye Iran (National Bank of Iran) which is a state-owned bank in Iran, provides an ATM debit card service (plastic magnetic card) for tourists who visit Iran. Tourists can apply for this card at any branch of this bank. Information on this service can be found here. You may also purchase gift card from banks as well. They are similar to the ordinary ATM debit cards, but once they get empty, they cannot be recharged. Sepah Bank or Bank -e- Sepah is another state bank that has a current account service for foreigners which provides both ATM debit card and cheque writing option. A list of permitted Iranian banks can be found here

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 22, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.