TABRIZ TRAVEL GUIDE
Things to Do in Tabriz – Activities & Attractions
Tabriz, the capital of the Province of Eastern Azerbaijan, is located in Northwestern Iran and is one of Iran’s oldest and most important cities.
The plain is surrounded in three directions by mountains or rolling hills and it borders Lake Urmia in its western edge. The highest mountain in the proximity of Tabriz is Mt. Sahand, which lies 50 km to its south. In between the two are scattered hills with an average additional height of 500-600m, relative to the plain, called Yanix Dāgh (Burnt Mountains).
The city of Tabriz extends to Marand and Ahar in the north, Maragheh and Hashtroud in the south, Sarāb and Mianeh in the east and to Lake Urmia in the west. The eastern side of this city borders the Sorkhāb Mountains, and to a lesser extent, borders the Rafieieh and Oghbeh Mountains.
The west side of the city lays on open plain and the major feature of the landscape is the Khojast sea which is also called ‘Shāha’; a name that is incorporated, in part, in the name of a small village in the Area, Shāhi, which lie in the outskirts of the city.
Tabriz contains many historical monuments, representing Iran’s architectural transition throughout its deep history. Most of Tabriz’s preserved historical sites belong to Ilkhanid, Safavid and Qajar.
Among these sites is the grand Bazaar of Tabriz, which is designated a World Heritage Site. From the early modern era, Tabriz was pivotal in the development, movement and economy of its three neighboring regions; namely the Caucasus, Eastern Anatolia and Central Iran. In modern era city played a vital role in the history of Iran.
As the country’s closest hub to Europe, many aspects of early modernisation in Iran began in Tabriz. Prior to forced ceding of Iran’s Caucasian territories to Imperial Russia, following two Russo-Persian Wars in the first half of the 19th century, Tabriz was at the forefront of Iranian rule over its Caucasian territories. Until 1925, the city was the traditional residence for the crown princes of the Qajar dynasty.
Edwards in his book, Iranian Carpet, describes the geography and situation of Tabriz: “Tabriz, like most of other important cities of Iran is at the junction of several roads where caravansaries pass but its importance is more than that of a connection center as it is located in the heart of vast and fertile province of Azerbaijan and is a guard and protectors one of the gates of Iran.”
Tavernier, French Explorer writes in this regard: “Tabriz is one of the most famous cities in Asia because or its great role in trade and commerce. This city has permanent commercial relations with Ottomans, Arabs, Georgians, Mongols, Iranian, Indians and Moscow government and Tatars and its bazaars are covered and full of high quality goods.”
Minorsky in his book, History of Tabriz, writes: “As Gharaje Dāgh is a mountainous area and Sahand great mountain occupies the interval between Tabriz and Maragheh and Tabriz is the only proper way to reach the east (along Astara, Ardebil, Tehran, Ghazvin, Mianeh and Tabriz), west (along Trabuzon, Erzurum, Khoy and Tabriz) and north (along Tbilisi, Yerevan, Jolfa, Marand and Tabriz). As the foothills of Sahand Mountain created a narrow passage to the east coast of Urmia Sea, so the consignments to sent between north (beyond Caucasus, Gharaje Dāgh) and south (Maragheh, Kordestan) should pass through Tabriz.”
Knowing about geographical situation of Tabriz, we will note that this city deserves being an important economic, social, political and cultural center in northeast of Iran and has been considered as one of the most important cities of Iran since many centuries ago. Minorski continues in that book: “So, Tabriz is the capital of the vast and fertile province of Azerbaijan because of its top geographical situation and is one of the most populated cities situated between Istanbul and India and no other city reaches it in terms of importance except Tbilisi, Tehran, Isfahan and Baghdad which are similar to Tabriz.”
Historically Tabriz has been located in a geo-politically sensitive area due to its strategic location.
Tabriz has a humid continental climate with regular seasons (Köppen Dsa). The annual precipitation is around 320 millimetres (13 in), a good deal of which falls as snow during the winter months and rain in spring and autumn.
Iran is geo-climatologically, divided into four major areas:
1. A temperate and moist subtropical area, categorized by lush vegetation and moderate to thick forests consisting mostly of the Iranian land on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea.
2. A mountainous and cold area categorized by numerous mountain chains and intermittent valley systems found in the western portion of Iran mainly among, but not limited to, the Zagros Mountains.
3. A warm semi-arid to arid area characterized by vast plains and scattered mountain ranges with more fertile plains adjacent to river systems and containing occasional sand or salt deserts. This area consists mostly of the inner Iranian Plateau
4. A hot and humid area consisting mostly of the southern coast of Iran bordering the Persian Gulf along with the Khuzistan Plain. Tabriz lies in the second category of the above mentioned climate areas, namely the mountainous and cold area of Iran. More detailed specifications of this climate are as follows:
The western mountains, including the western foothills of Iran’s Central Ranges are considered climatically cold due to an average temperature of less than -3˚C in the coldest month throughout the region.
The western mountain ranges in Iran act like a dam and prevent the flow of moist Mediterranean Air in to the Iran Plateau. Due to the easterly flow of the moist Mediterranean Air, the western foothills of these mountains are considerably greener than their plateau counterparts.
Another characteristic detail of this climate area is the development of very hot weather in the valleys during the summer months, due to the intensity of sunlight during the summer.
These valleys also show more temperate climate than the mountainous highlands during the winter months, even though the intensity of sunlight is considerably lower during the winter months in these valleys. Winters, in this area, are considerably cold and snow accumulates on the ground for at least four months until the thawing of spring arrives.
Precipitation is generally low in the summer months and considerably higher in the winter. The mountains stretching higher than 3000m are continuously, covered in snow. This region extends to the Fars province in the south including the major city of Shiraz. Other cities located in this climate area are Urmia, Sanandaj, Hamedan, Ardabil, and Khorram Abad.