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East Azarbayjan

East Azarbayjan


Geography and History

The province is located in the northwest of Iran and covers an area of approximately 45,650 sq. km. According to the latest divisions of the country , the various townships of this province are: Ahar, Bostan Abad, Bonab, Tabriz, Jolfa, Sarab, Shabestar, Kalibar, Maraqeh, Marand, Malekan, Mianeh, Haris, and Hashtrood. The historical city of Tabriz is the reputed city of this province culturally and politically, even in the economic and commercial fields. The said province has common borders with the Republics of Azarbayjan, Armenia and Nakhjavan. A fine network of road and traffic connect East Azarbayjan to various parts of the country and also to the neighboring countries.In the year 2006 this province had a population of about 3.6 million of which approximately 67% lived in urban areas, 33.5% inhabited in the rural areas and a minor percentage were accounted for the non-residents. The city of Tabriz being regarded as one of the most densely populated, having a population of about 1.2 million or more.East Azarbayjan can be accounted for being interesting in the fields of topography and so to speak the relief of the land. The highest peak of the Sahand Mountain is 3,722 m. in altitude lies to the south of Tabriz. Whereas low lying areas can be said to be around Garmadooz (Ahar). Summits and heights of this province are in three sectors in the north namely, the Qara Daq Mountains, the Sahand and Bozqoosh Mountains and the Qaflan Kooh Mountains.


Generally, the East Azarbayjan province enjoys a cold and dry climate, being mainly a mountainous region. But the gentle vapours of the Caspian Sea have some influence on the climate of the low-lying areas. Temperatures run up to 8.9° C in Tabriz, till 20° C in Maraqeh and in winters drops to -1° C . The ideal seasons to visit this province are in spring and summer months.

History and Culture

East Azarbayjan holds its own as being one of the archaic territories in the country. During the reign of Alexander the Macedonian in Iran that is 331 BC, one of the warriors, known as Attorpat revolted in this area then a territory of the Medes. There by naming it Attorpatkan. Since then this vicinity has been known as Azarabadegan, Azarbadgan and Azarbayjan.
Islamic researchers proclaims that the birth of the Zoroaster Messenger was in this area, in the vicinity of Lake Orumieh (Chichest), Konzak city. Needless to say, this province was subject to political and economical upheavals bringing about lasting evidences of interest to outsiders. The most outstanding features from the cultural point of view being the language and folklore. The former is’Azari Turkish’. Apart from this the province boast of numerous learned scholars, Gnostics, 7 poets namely Mowlana Baba Mazeed, Khajeh Abdol Raheem Aj Abadi, Sheikh Hassan Bolqari, Abdolqader Nakhjavani to name a few and the contemporary poet Ostad Mohammad Hossein Shahriyar.

East Azarbayjan Townships

Ahar,Bonab,Bostan Abad, Haris, Hashtrood, Jolfa, Kalibar, Malekan, Marand,Maraqeh,Mianeh,Sarab,Shabestar,Tabriz.


The mountainous township of Ahar can be said to be as one of the oldest sections of Azarbayjan. The center of which being the city of Ahar located 103 km. northeast of Tabriz. Ahar experiences cold and snowy winters and moderate summers. Dense forests cover a major portion of its valleys and the Ahar Chay River flows through this vicinity. This sector being of importance both politically and from the military point of view has proved to be historically sound too. In the early 3rd century AH., this territory was for twenty years one of the bloodiest battlefield between Babak Khorram Din and the Arab warriors.
During the reign of the Qajar dynasty, the city of Ahar was the center of command of Abbas Mirza (the Crown Prince of Fathali Shah) being the commander of Iranian forces during the Iran-Russian war.


Bonab is situated southwest of Tabriz and the east coast of the Orumieh Lake. Its capital city Bonab is approximately 113 km. from Tabriz and 13 km. from the city of Maraqeh. Bonab means ‘A land in water’ or near water. This city was a flourishing one before the Mongol attack, but owed its rebirth to the Safavid era. Its historical, economical and social advancement was influenced mainly by the city of Maraqeh.

Bostan Abad

This township lies in the skirts of the Sahand Mountains with cold winters, moderate springs and summers. The capital is Bostan Abad which lies 55 km. east of the city of Tabriz. Furthermore, Bostan Abad is located north of the archaic and historical city of Ojan. Due to its ideal environment and climate Ojan was said to be the summer residing quarters during the period of the Ilkhanan Mongol, which then by the passage of time was totally ruined.


The township of Haris is located in the eastern sector of the province. Haris is 98 km. from Tabriz. It is one of the most fertile regions in this province. To the north of which are the mountains of Qooshadaq, Bozqoosh and Sahand. The summers of Haris being moderate and winters are cold. Haris is one of the historical regions of the province, and according to the records during the reign of Qazan Khan Mongol was extremely a prosperous area. A few ancient relics are found here too. Carpet weaving in Haris and in its surrounding rural areas have won both national and international fame.


This township is to the southeast of Tabriz, its capital city being Hashtrood is 122 km. far from Tabriz. This vicinity has a rural setting with 8 important rivers flowing through this area ( as its name suggests Hasht means eight and Rood means river). Hashtrood has a variable climate, a part of its western sector, being mountainous and cold, part of its central portions are moderate. The remnants of the famous castle of Zahak is situated here, and earthenware related to much before the birth of Christ have been found in this territory. This castle was in use during the Esmaili reign.


This township is in the northwest of the province and the Aras River flows through the north of which, near the borders of Iran and the Republic of Azarbayjan and Armenia. Jolfa being the capital city of the township, located 150 km. from Tabriz. It has warm summers and moderate winters due to its relief, rainfall and vegetation are scanty.


This mountainous township is located to the northeast of this province. Its capital city Kalibar being situated in a beautiful valley, 45 km. from Ahar and 148 km. from Tabriz. Being under the influence of climatic conditions from the Caspian Sea, most of its higher areas are usually foggy. Kalibar also has forest areas and the Aras River flows through the north of this vicinity. The famous peak of Babak or Jomhori stands at an altitude of 2,600 m. west of Kalibar.


The township of Malekan is located in the south-western limits of the province of East Azarbayjan and west Azarbayjan and the province of Kurdestan within 10 km. of the Lake Orumieh. In the south of Malekan is the remains of the historical city of Leilan. Malekan was a thriving and flourishing region due to its position in the communication network between Tabriz and East Azarbayjan to Kurdestan and West Azarbayjan. Further more, its fertile soil proves excellent for gardening and agricultural purposes. The main agricultural products being dried fruits, fruits, vines and cereal products. Its weather is cold in winters, warm and moderate in summers.


Marand lies northwest of the province and is semi mountainous. The historical city of Marand is 71 km. from Tabriz, having cold winters and moderate summers. Marand has been famous from long past such as the Assyrian and Kaldeh when it was a center of importance. It is narrated as being a place of burial of the prophet Noah. Its name being derived from the Pahlavi word Madvand meaning the ‘living place’ of the Medes. This area has also been subject to upheavals in the past.


The township of Maraqeh is located to the south of Tabriz and in the southern slopes of the Sahand mountains. The historical city of Maraqeh is 126 km. from the center of the province and has variable climate, such as in the higher areas being of mountainous type, and in the regions around the Orumieh lake being warm. Throughout history, this city has been brought plenty of upheavals such as the battles of Babak Khorram Din against the Arabs. In the year 628 AH., when it fell into the hands of the Mongols, in the year 656 AH. become the center of command under Hollakoo Khan Mongol. The remains of the famous observatory which is reputed in the world stands here from these times.


Mianeh lies in the eastern most region of the province between the Bozqoosh and Qaflan Kooh mountain ranges. Mianeh stands 170 km. southeast of Tabriz. It has a warm Mediterranean climate with a maximum annual temperature of 19° C on an average.


Sarab is located east of the province of East Azarbayjan and towards the province of Ardabil. Its capital, Sarab city is 636 km. from Tehran, 130 km. from Tabriz to the east of Bostan Abad. This township resting amongst the high mountains of Bozqoosh and Sahand. It has a mountainous and moderate climate, with extremely cold winters and pleasant summers. Sarab being one of the oldest towns of this province bears ancient monuments. Due to the surrounding volcanoes, mineral water is in abundance.


The township of Shabestar is northwest of Tabriz and its capital city Shabestar is 60 km. northwest of Tabriz. It is en route on the railway line running between the city of Tabriz and Turkey, and is a part of the hilly region of Mishoo and northwest of the Lake Orumieh. It experiences hot temperate summers and cold, moderate winters. During the Safavid era the famous passage of Tabriz – Tarabuzan passed through this city. Shabestar is noted to be one of the oldest cities of the province of East Azarbayjan. Reputed personalities such as Sheikh Mahmood Shabestari, Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani and Mirza Ali Akbar Mo’jez Shabestari are from this area.


The city of Tabriz is situated 619 km. northwest of Tehran and 150 km. from the borders of Iran and the Republic of Azarbayjan. This city is generally cold but due to its environment the climate is extremely pleasant. Rivers such as Ajy Chay, Liqvan Chay, Maidan Chay and Soofian Chay flow through this area. In an inscription related to Sangar II one of the Assyrian rulers 714 BC, the name of Tabriz has been mentioned in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD when the city of Tabriz was of great importance.For the first time in the 4th century AH., the Raavadian family proclaimed Tabriz as their capital. During the said period and the Mongol reign, Tabriz experienced many earthquakes causing it to become a ruined city. But after the Mongol conquests this city was made capital by ‘Abaqakhan’ of the Ilkhanan. During the reign of ‘Mahmood Qazan’ (694 AH.) the city thrived . Mosques such as Alishah, Robe Rashidy, and Shonab Qazan were constructed during this period. During the Safavid dynasty Tabriz was the capital of Iran. The Kabood Mosque is a relic from the time of the Turkamans. In later centuries Tabriz has been the seat of great warriors facing the Ottomans and Russians.Personalities such as Sattar Khan and Baqer Khan in their fight against despotism is on historical record. In the year 1911 AD., Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani (one of the clergymen) revolted against the colonialist policies of the British government. The Islamic revolution owes its success partly, because of the participation of the people of Tabriz and their heroic deeds.

Historical Monuments

Atash Neshani Tower, Tabriz

It is one of the oldest towers in the city, which dates back to about100 years ago. Its structure has architectural value.




Babak Castle, Kalibar

This castle is located 5 km. southwest of Kalibar, at 2,600 m. above sea level. Surrounding the castle are valleys and only access to this structure is through a narrow track. It was from this castle that Babak Khorram Din and his followers fought against the Arabs for 22 years. Historical evidences show that this castle was the center of rule in the 6th and 7th century AH., of the territory. This castle has been repaired by The Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran.




Dokhtar ( Qiz Qalasi ) Castle, Mianeh

The castle is located south of Pol-e-Dokhtar of Mianeh and the caravansary or ancient inn of Jamal Abad, one of the masterpieces of architecture.



Kordasht Castle, Kalibar

This castle is on the fringes of the Aras River, in the village of Kordasht and is related to the Qajar era.




Zahak Castle, Maraqeh

The castle is situated 28 km. east of Ajabsheer on the eastern banks of the Lake Orumieh. According to historical evidences, this castle dates back to pre Islamic period.




Eil Goli Edifice, Tabriz

The former Shah Goli or the present Eil Goli (the Shah’s pool) is one of the recreational areas of Tabriz and Iran located to the north east of Tabriz. The initial date of construction is not specified but this edifice has been repaired in the year 1970 according to the former lines of architecture.




Khajeh Nasir Observatory, Maraqeh

This famous observatory was constructed in the year 657 AH. during the rule of Hollakoo Khan under the orders of the great Iranian scholar Khajeh Nasiroddin Toosi. Archeologists have excavated sections of this aggregate, the most important of which being the central tower and library besides other evidences of this observatory.There is also a historical cave in this vicinity from the Sassanian era known as the Talib Khan Cave.






Shahr Dary ( Municipality ) Palace, Tabriz

This building is located in the downtown of Tabriz in the famous clock (Sa’at) square. This structure was constructed in the year 1933 AD. under German supervision before World War II. The stony edifice is constructed on a ruined and ancient graveyard. There is a tower with a four sided clock on this building and at present is the municipality building of Tabriz.






Kabood Dome, Maraqeh

This dome is noted for its beauty, being a ten-sided prism like in shape. It is said to be the tomb of the mother of Hollakoo. This structure dates back to the 6th and 7th century AH.




Ohady Maraqehei Tomb, Maraqeh

Dated 670-738 AH. he is reputed for his famous poem ‘Jaam-e-Jam’. It is located in the midst of a verdant garden close to the building of Cultural Heritage Directorate.




Shoara ( poets ) Tomb, Tabriz

Maqbaratol Shoara is to the east of the mausoleum of Seyed Hamzeh. This is where famous personalities such as scholars (both in the field of literature and art) are laid to rest. Such as Homam Tabrizy, Khaqani Shirvani, Asadi-e-Toosi, Abol Alla Falaki, Zahirudin Faryabi, Anvari Abiverdi, Qatran Tabrizy, Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani, Seqatol Islam, and the contemporary famous poet of Iran, Ostad Mohammad Hossein Shahriyar.




Kordasht Bath, Kalibar

This ancient bath of Kordasht (Kalibar) is located in the village of Kordasht, and from the point of view of internal arrangement and wall paintings is spectacular. Water for the bath is obtained from the Aras River and after being warmed finds its way to different pools within the bath. This bath is over two centuries old and is under ground level.




Ceiling of Kordasht Bath

Mashrootiyat (The Constitution) House, Tabriz

This ancient building or ‘house’ was the gathering place for the constitutional revolutionary leaders. In the year (1868 AD) This building was constructed by the leader of the movement ‘Haj Mehdi Koozeh Kanani’.




Besides above, there are other ancient houses too such as ‘Harirchi House’ Tabriz, Sharbat Zadgan house, Tajer Bashi house, Doctor Ganjehie house, Mirza Hassan Vayiz house to name a few.


Sharbat Auqli House, Tabriz

Tabriz Bazaar, Tabriz

The same being one of the historical, largest and beautiful bazaars in Iran and the middle east. Its excellent and fine architecture displays the commercial and oriental mode of life. The aggregate of this Bazaar consists of various sections.


Ceiling of Tabriz Bazaar

Mirza Shafi Arcade

Religious Monuments 

Ark Mosque, Tabriz

This great edifice is the remnants of the mosque built in the years 716-724 AH., by the Minister of Soltan Mohammad Khodabandeh and Abu Sa’eid Bahador Khan. In those times it was tile-worked with marble columns and inscriptions. Later on it came down to ruins. In the year 1320 AH. (1941 AD), its courtyard was turned into a public park known as Baq-e-Melli or national garden. To which a few buildings such as official buildings and a hall have been added. But these in recent years have been demolished and the courtyard is now used as a place for Friday prayers in the city of Tabriz.




Saint Stepanous Church, Jolfa

This church was erected between the periods of the 4th and 6th century AH. and is one of the important historical and religious structures of the city of Orumieh in the province of Azarbayjan. This church is located in the famous Darreh or valley of ‘Sham’, 16 km. from Jolfa.






There are other churches too in the vicinity beside the above mentioned. Some of which are Shoqat and Protestan Churches in Tabriz, Mojoombar Church in Kandi Mojoombar Village of Tabriz and Sahraqeh Church in Marand.


Sahraqeh Church

Tabriz Jame’ Mosque (Jomeh Mosque), Tabriz

It is one of the historical mosques of the area. Throughout the ages this mosque has flourished and today is the seat of theology and place for religious ceremonies.




Natural Attractions

Orumieh Lake, East Azarbayjan

Lake Orumieh is one of the largest and permanent lakes of Iran and has characteristics of its own. This lake is located to the northwest of the province and stretches from north to south, thereby dividing this territory into two that is East Azarbayjan and West Azarbayjan. It is one of the most magnificent lakes of the world. It is saturated with salt which is said to help in treatment of some kinds of remedies. Regarding the size, depth, chemical composition, sedimentation, ecology, water currents and wild species, this lake bears special characteristics. Such that it has been recorded as a National Park by the Department of the Environment as well as internationally as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.




A number of ports have been set up along the coasts of the Lake Orumieh in order to transport passengers and cargo. The most important of these is the port of Sharaf Khaneh. The said is on the eastern coast of the lake within the limits of Shabestar. It has full port facilities including large warehouses. In the summer months the place swarms with visitors who come for leisure and therapeutic purposes, both by mineral springs and the “sludge” present in the region. The port of Aq Gonbad ia also another important port. The others namely, Rahmanloo, Danaloo, Qobadloo and Zeenatloo ports are on the eastern coast of the lake.The Orumieh lake has about 102 islands both large and small. Five of these islands can be noted here such as the Islands of Islami (Shahi), Kaboodan, (Qoyoon Daqi), Ashk Daqi, Espir and Arezoo. The said come under the political and commercial sectors of the province.




Sahand Mountain, Tabriz

This is one of the highest mountains in Azarbayjan, in addition to being an important dormant volcano in the country. The Sahand mountains are 50 km. south of Tabriz, the highest peak of which is Jam Daqi at an attitude of 3,750 m.. Approximately 17 peaks can be accounted for as being over 3,000 m. in height. Due to the presence of a variety of flora and fauna, the Sahand mountains is known as the bride of mountains in Iran. The lower slopes and skirts of which are summer residing quarters for some tribes here.




Kandowan Village, Tabriz

This village lies 62 km. southwest of Tabriz and 22 km. south of Oskoo. From the architectural point of views this village is interesting, as the settlements are rocky dating back to the 7th century AH. or even the pre-Islamic period. These ‘houses’ resemble caves, being ‘dug out’ in the mountains and therefore are reputed worldwide. Mineral water in this area is also used for treatment of diseases. There are various other interesting villages in the province having specific architectural features.




Culture and Art

Azarbayjan Museum, Tabriz

This large edifice is located in Imam Khomeini avenue in Tabriz and is noted for its wide collection of historical valuable vestiges. It houses over 2,300 antique pieces that are on record, and more than 100 pieces are being studied to be recorded. There are around 100 hand written books, 7 2,500 printed historical books and several others relating to archeology and scientific fields. On an average annually approximately 100,000 people visit this museum.


An Ancient Bracelet, Azarbayjan Museum


An Old Rose-Water Sprinkler, Azarbayjan Museum

Mashrootiyat (The Constitution) Museum, Tabriz

This ancient building or ‘house’ was the gathering place for the constitutional revolutionary leaders. In the year (1868 AD) This building was constructed by the leader of the movement ‘Haj Mehdi Koozeh Kanani’.


Colored Glass Windows of Mashrootiyat House


The Governmental universities in East Azarbayjan province

Sahand University of Technology,Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, University of Tabriz, Azerbaijan University of Tarbiat Moallem,Tabriz Islamic Arts University, University of Maragheh, Engineering and Technical College of Bonab, Faculty of Engineering and Technology-Mianeh, Faculty of Engineering and Technology-Marand, Payameh noor University of Tabriz, Payameh noor University of Maragheh, Payameh noor University of Bonab, Payameh noor University of Marand, Payameh noor University of Mianeh, Payameh noor University of Shabestar, Payameh noor University of Azarshahr, Payameh noor University of Oskou, Payameh noor University of Ahar, Payameh noor University of hashtrood, Payameh noor University of Malekan,University College of Seraj-Tabriz, University College of Rabe Rashidi-Tabriz, University College of Nabi Akram-Tabriz, University College of Daneshvaran-Tabriz, University College of Seraj-Tabriz.

The Islamic Azad universities in East Azarbayjan province

Islamic Azad University of Bonab, Islamic Azad University of Tabriz, Islamic Azad University of Shabestar, Islamic Azad University of Maragheh, Islamic Azad University of Miyaneh, Islamic Azad University of Ahar, Islamic Azad University of Malekan, Islamic Azad University of Hashtrood, Islamic Azad University of Azarshahr, Islamic Azad University of Marand.

Handicrafts and Souvenirs, East Azarbayjan

The province of East Azarbayjan is reputed for its handicrafts in Iran namely a variety of carpets, rugs, Kilims (coarse carpet), Jajeem (loosely woven cloth), satchels, shawls, earthenware, ceramic vessels, baskets, wooden articles, materials woven out of silk or wool, embroidered fabrics, crochet articles, towels, blankets, local shoes, silverware and jewelry. Nuts and dry fruits are also important items of this area and are highly favored everywhere.




Local and Regional Foods, East Azarbayjan

Azarbayjan is well known for its colorful and variety in cuisine. Breakfast is accompanies with a wide range of jams, cream, a variety of fresh bread and…. For lunch and dinner a number of dishes made out of meat, vegetables accompanied by a variety of pickles. To name a few of the ‘Aash’ of a kind of soup: Aash Sheer, Aash Dooq, Aash Aanar, Aash Maast, Koofteh or Meat-Balls such as Koofteh Tabrizy, Turkey, and Koofteh Farangi. Other dishes such as Badamjan Shekam Pareh, a vaiety of Kookoos and the famous ‘Chelo-Kabab and Kabab (Turkish) to name a few.


Traditional Bazaar

Local Music and Dances, East Azarbayjan 

From ancient times the music of Azarbayjan owed its fame to the presence of the ‘Ashiqs’ who were self made artisans contributed to the local music by composing lyrics and displaying their ability on the musical instruments in use. They performed in various ceremonies thereby securing an income too. Beside this special form of music other tunes are also played by different performs, being the music played throughout the other parts of Iran.Music in Azarbayjan has been influenced by classical western and Russian music.
The dances of Azarbayjan have from the very beginning intermingled with their life style, that is the folklore native mythology. The most famous of these traditional dances are : Lesgie, Chooban, Zoorkhaneh, Finjan-Finjan, Koosagelin, Vasf-e-Hal, Minjeq-Salma, Dolma-Dolma, Alma-Atmaq to name a few.