Tabriz, the capital of this province, lies at a point 1,366 m above sea level and 624 km from Tehran. It is one of the most prominent cities of Iran. There are different views regarding the history of Tabriz: some believe its history goes back to centuries before Christ, and some hold the opinion that it only became prosperous and flourished after Islam came to Iran. Archeological excavations carried out close to Tabriz have discovered objects dating back to 5,000 years ago. Tabriz was conquered by the Moslem army circa 642. During the early Islamic period it was a prosperous city whose bazaar was prominent and renowned. This city is one of the few Iranian cities that were not ruined by the Mongol army. Indeed, following the Mongol invasion it became the official capital of Iran and even more prosperous. Some of the historic monuments in Tabriz – such as the Tabriz Arg (Citadel) – remain from this period. Most of the historic monuments of this area, however, have been destroyed in the many earthquakes that have shaken this city, since then. During the Safavid era Tabriz was again the capital of Iran and during the Qajar era, the second capital, the seat of the heir to the throne. It was during this (Qajar) period that Tabriz repeatedly suffered invasions by the Ottoman and Russian empires. During the past 100 years, the inhabitants of Tabriz have played very decisive roles in the political sphere, helping to shape the politics of the country. The Constitutional Uprising of 1906, the oil nationalization movement of 1950 and the Islamic Revolution of 1978 are among the developments in which Tabriz played significant historic roles. Although Azari (a dialect of Turkish with many Persian words adopted by it) is the language predominately spoken in Tabriz, the city has offered many a great poet and writer to the nation who have composed in the Persian language, among them Saeb Tabrizi, Khaghani Shervani, Ohadi Maraghei, Assadi Tossi, Anvari, Qatran Tabrizi, Sheikh Mahmoud Shabestani and the great contemporary poet Mohammad Hussein Shahriar. The people of the entire Azerbaijan region (East and West) also have a large collection of folkloric verses known as “Bayati”.
The province of East Azerbaijan is 45,481 km2 in area and is located in the northwest of Iran. It has the Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia to its north with which it shares Aras River as the border. On its west and southwest lies the province of West Azerbaijan, on its south the province of Zanjan and on its east, that of Ardebil. The capital of this province is the historic city of Tabriz and its other major towns are: Ahar, Bonab, Bonstanabad, Haris, Hashtrood, Kaliber, Maraghe, Marand, Mianeh, Sarab, and Shabestar. According to the last census carried out in 1996, the population of this province then, was 3,325,540. East Azerbaijan is one of the major economic regions of Iran. It has fertile land, large rivers with abundant water which make its agriculture prosperous. Cereals, rice, grains, vegetables, and fruits are the major agricultural products of East Azerbaijan. The province is also an industrial center and there are many major plants that produce machines, tractors, engine pistons, wood products, textile and yarn, soft drinks, petrochemicals, and oil products. East Azerbaijan also has important mining and mineral processing industries, their productions are: coal, decorative stones, gravel, sand, salt and kaolin. Poultry and livestock farming, honey bee breading, and dairy production are other major economic activities of this province. The province`s climate varies from one part to another, but overall this province has a cool climate, with cold winters and relatively mild summers. The average temperature in Tabriz is 14.8°C in spring, 24.8°C in summer, 9.3°C in autumn, and 0.2°C in winter. In a 30-years study carried out on the province’s climate, the minimum absolute temperature in Tabriz was established to have been -25°C and the maximum absolute 42°C, a difference of 65°C. The average annual temperature in this province is 12.3°C; average relative humidity at 06:30 hours is 67% and at 12:30 hours, 44%; average annual rainfall, 295.5 mm; maximum amount of rainfall on a single day, 63 mm; average number of days with the temperature below 0°C, 103.1; average number of hours of sunshine over an entire year, 2,729.9 hours; maximum wind speed, 29 meters per second, blowing in the direction of 360°.
Major Natural Features
Aras River flows along the northern border of this province as a natural boundary between the province and the two republics to its north. This river provides the region with water, hydroelectric power and many opportunities for recreation. Ajichai, also known as Talkhe Rood, is another river of this province which is some 160 km long. It originates in Sabalan Mountains and ends by pouring into Lake Urmia. Gharnghouichai, 150 km long and Aharchai, 132 km, is the other major rivers in this prosperous province. Lake Urmia lies to the west of East Azerbaijan. It has certain unique natural characteristics which have placed it among the internationally recognized world natural landmarks. The water and the silt of this lake are used for curing skin and rheumatic diseases. Every year, a very large number of visitors come to the shores of this lake, to ports like Sharafkhane and Rahmanloo, to benefit from the curing effects of the lake. Lake Ghoorigoul lies close to Tehran-Tabriz road and is one of the main tourist sights of the province. It also has positive effects on the natural environment of the region. East Azerbaijan has many mineral water springs, the most important of which are known as Goshayesh springs, close to Maraghe, to its southeast. They are located on the two sides of the river Moordichai. The water that flows from them contains calcium bicarbonate and gaseous magnesium which help increase the hemoglobin in the blood and to regulate the digestive system.
Of Sarab, Abras and Valehagh in the city of Sarab, and Taptapan and Varachooi in Maraghe, are other major mineral water springs of this province. In the charming village of kandovan, whose plan and pattern follow the rock formations and the highlands, there is another potable mineral water spring whose water is believed to cure renal diseases. Kabuotar cave close to Maraghe is the largest cave of this province and is famous for the wells that run deep down its floor, and for its striking lime sediments and stalactites. The island of Eslami, 347 km2, is the only inhabitable island in the Lake Urmia, and has a population of 8,000. While it is surrounded by the highly saline water of Lake Urmia, there are many fresh water springs on the island. It is green and fertile and a habitat to many birds such as the flamingo and pelican. Kaboodan Island is larger than the other entire 101 island in Lake Urmia. It is habitat to some rare species notably the Iranian yellow gazelle. The ram and the panther are among the other animals of this island. In the region surrounding Ahar, Maraghe and Hashtrood, lovely forests can be found which are of great environmental, economic and tourist interests. The dormant volcanic mountains of Sahand, which extend along the south of the city of Tabriz, include the highest peak in the province, known as the Jam Daghi peak, 3,750 m above sea level.
At the feet of Sahand Mountains, forests, foliage, wild flowers and greenery please the eye of the viewers, and fascinate them, especially in springtime. This mountain range is undoubtedly the most beautiful mountain in Iran, perhaps Asia. Its other major peaks are Kiamaki, 3,347 m high and Soltandaghi 3,410 m. The Kiamaki refuge, 844 ha near Marand, and the Arasbaran preservation around Kalibar, 7,246 ha, are home to rich varieties of flora and fauna. So much so that UNESCO has nominated the area as one of the world’s biosphere reserves.
Name: Babak Castle
Type: castle. Description: This castle lies on a mountain and is surrounded by deep valleys. Babak Khorramdin, Azerbaijani warrior, and his followers fought against the Arab army from this castle for 22 years.
Name: Alishahi Citadel
Type: An old mosque. Description: These are the remains of a magnificent mosque which was decorated with impressive tile works .It has sustained heavy damages from repeated earthquakes.
Name: Kaboud Mosque
Type: A historic mosque. Description: These are the remains of a grand mosque, a large part which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1778. The impressive and tile worked portal and exquisite inscriptions greatly add to its magnificence.
Name: Maghberat- ol – Shoara
Type: Notables tomb. Description: This is a place where a large number of poets and Sufis have been buried, notably khaqani, Asadi Toosi, Anvari Abiverdi, Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani, Mohammad Hussein Shariyar, the contemporary poet. Its beautiful building offer immense attraction.
Name: El Guli Building
Type: pond and Building. Description: Covering an area of 54,675 m2, this pond lies next to a green hill; 7km southeast of Tabriz .It provides great opportunities for recreation.
Name: Maraghe’s Five Tombs
Type: Old Tomb. Description: There are five old tombs in Maragheh, among which the red Dome is of the greatest antiquity. This tomb, which was constructed in 1147 A.D, has brick and tile works and impressive inscriptions .Other four domes are Kaboud Dome, Modavar Dome, Ghafariyeh Dome and Gouie Tower.
Name: Khaneye Mashroutiyat (house of constitution)
Type: An old house. Description: This house used to be meeting place for the leaders of constitutional movements in Tabriz. This building display impressive decorations.
Name: Mianeh Bridge
Type: An old. Description: This bridge dates back to at least 650 years ago , and has been renovated several times since then . Chardin Knight visited this bridge in 1664 A.D.
Name: Tabriz Bazaar
Type: An old bazaar. Description: This bazaar is one the most prominent bazaars of Iran, as regards its architectural style, the numbers of Saras (trade houses ) and rastehs (section of bazaar) and also the volume of transaction. About 6000 trade guilds are engaged in various activities in this bazaar. Its carpet and jewelry markets have become famous throughout the world.
Name: Saint Stepanous’s Church
Type: An old church. Description: This grand church is one of the most significant monuments in northwest of Iran, as regards both historic importance and architectural style. It has a combination of Iranian, Greek and Roman architectures.
Tabriz: Agh Gonbad Castle, Municipality palace, Rob-e-khorhidi building, Are collection of old Graveyard near Tabriz.
Ahar: Kardasht Bathhouse and castle, Ahar Bazaar, Jame Mosque, sheikh shahb –al-Din s Tomb
Bonab: Zahak’s Castel, Mehr Abad Mosque
Kaliber: Ghahghahe, Payam and Nowrouz Historic castle, Khoda Afarinn Bridge, a Collection of Historic Hills
Maraghe: Ohadi Maragheie’s Tomb, Jame Mosque, Moezedin Mosque, Imamzadeh Ma’soum
Mianeh: pole Dokhtar (Daughter’s Bridge), Jamal Abad Caravansera
Shabestar: Jame Mosque, Sheikh Mahmood Shabestari’s Tomb
The major handicraft of this province is carpet weaving which has become famous throughout the world other handicrafts of East Azerbaijan are pottery, ceramic, basketwork, silk, blanket and Jajim weaving.