Historically, much of the city's importance has resulted from its strategic position for trade to the north (now the nations of Commonwealth of Independent States) and to the west (now Turkey). Tabriz, then known as Tauris, was (3d cent. A.D.) the capital of Armenia under King Tiridates III. It was sacked by the Oghuz Turks c.1029, but by 1054, when it was captured by the Seljuk Turks, Tabriz had recovered and was a provincial capital.
In 1295, Ghazan Khan, the Mongol ruler of Persia, made it the chief administrative center of an empire stretching from Egypt to the Oxus River and from the Caucasus to the Indian Ocean. Under his rule new walls were built around the city, and numerous public buildings, educational facilities, and caravansaries were erected. Tabriz was captured by Timur in the late 14th cent., and Shah Ismail made it the capital of his empire from 1501 until his defeat (1514) by the Ottoman Turks.
The Ottomans occupied Tabriz on a number of occasions thereafter, including the period from 1585 to 1603. Nevertheless, by the 17th cent. it was a major commercial center, carrying on trade with Turkey, Russia, central Asia, and India. Later, the city was again occupied (1724-30) by the Ottomans, and it was held by Russia in 1827-28. Tabriz played an important part in the Persian constitutional movement at the beginning of the 20th cent. After World War II it was the scene of a revolution led by the leftist Tudeh party, and a Tudeh regime, which had the support of the Soviet Union, held power for a few months in 1946.
The city has often been devastated by earthquakes (e.g., in 858, 1041, and 1721) and has few historical remains; of these, the most important are the beautiful Blue Mosque (15th cent.) and the Ark, or Ali Shah, Mosque (14th cent.), whose walls are 85 ft (25.9 m) high. Tabriz is the site of a university (founded 1946) and contains the Azerbaijan Museum.
Tabriz (تبریز, تبریز) is the largest city in northwestern Iran. It is situated north of the volcanic cone of Sahand, south of the Eynali mountain. It is the capital of East Azarbaijan Province. Tabriz lies at the junction of the Komur River (Mehran River) and the Aji River.
According to some sources, including Encyclopedia Britannica, the name Tabriz derives from "tap-riz" ("causing heat to flow" in Iranian languages), from the many thermal springs in the area. Other sources claim that in A.D. 246, to avenge his brother's death, king Khosraw I of Armenia defeated Ardashir I of the Sassanid Empire and changed the name of the city from Shahistan to Tauris, deriving from "ta-vrezh" ("this revenge" in Grabar). In A.D. 297, it became the capital of Tiridates III, king of Armenia.
In A.D. 791, Zubaidah, the wife of Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, rebuilt Tabriz after a devastating earthquake and beautified the city so much as to obtain the credit for having been its founder.
After the Mongol invasion, Tabriz came to eclipse Maragheh as the later Ilkhanid capital of Azarbaijan until sacked by Tamerlane in 1392. Chosen as a capital by Arghun Khan, fourth ruler of the Ilkhanate, for its favored location in the northwestern grasslands, in 1295, his successor Ghazan Khan made it the chief administrative center of an empire stretching from Egypt to the Oxus River and from the Caucasus to the Indian Ocean. Under his rule new walls were built around the city, and numerous public buildings, educational facilities, and caravansaries were erected. The Byzantine Gregory Choniades is said to have served as the city's Orthodox bishop during this time.
In 1501, Shah Ismail I entered Tabriz and proclaimed it the capital of his Safavid dynasty. In 1514, after the Battle of Chaldiran, Tabriz fell for a few months to the Ottomans, yet was returned and remained a capital of Safavid Iranian empire until 1548, when Shah Tahmasp I moved Safavid capital to Qazvin.
The Ottomans occupied Tabriz on a number of occasions during and after the Safavid reign, including the period from 1585 to 1603. Nevertheless, by the 17th century it was a major commercial center, carrying out trade with the Ottoman Empire, Russia, central Asia, and India. Later, the city was again occupied (1724) by the Ottomans, and it was held by Russia in 1828.
Tabriz was the city where the Constitutional Revolution of Iran started in 1906 and where its leaders, Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan came from. An American who died defending the Constitutional Revolution, Howard Baskerville, is buried in Tabriz.
Because of the location of Tabriz (as a gate to the west for Iran), many signs of modern life in Iran have first appeared in this city. Because of this, Iranians have described Tabriz as a "City of firsts". These include:
The famous Iranian historian, Ahmad Kasravi, was born in a nearby village called Hokmavar. Samad Behrangi, a famous writer and musicians, as well as Ali Salimi, Vahid Houseini, and Bigjeh-Khani were Tar (lute) specialists from this city.
After World War II, the Soviets set up the communist Azerbaijan People's Government in North Western Iran with its capital at Tabriz. The new communist government, under the leadership of Jafar Pishevari, held power for a year from 1946, then Tabriz was taken back by Iran (on 1947) after the forced Soviet withdrawal.
In 2002, during a construction project behind the Blue Mosque (Part of Silk Road Project), historical graves buried in a special way have been found. The construction company had hidden the finding for several months. Finally, the site was revealed by one of the workers who was involved at the construction site. Analysis has shown that the background of the graves to be more than 2000 years old.
There is another excavation site in Abbasi alley where the Robe Rashidi was.
City authority lies with the mayor, who is elected by a municipal board. The municipal board is periodically elected by the city residents.
Tabriz City Hall (Saat Tower building) is used as the Municipal central office.
Tabriz has a dry continental climate (Köppen BSk). The annual precipitation is around , a good deal of which falls as snow during the winter months. In the summer, the weather is typically hot, dry and clear.
The music and folksongs of Tabriz are popular and traditions have a long history among its people. Prominent Iranian Azeri poet Mohammad Hossein Shahriar was born in Tabriz. The handicrafts in the Bazaar of Tabriz, and in particular the Tabriz rug is famous worldwide. The culture, social values, language and the music is a mixture of what exists in rest of Iran as well as the.
ساربانا بار بگشا ز اشتران
شهر تبريز است و کوی دلبران
Oh Sārbān, have camels' cargo unloaded,
For Tabriz is neighborhood of the beloved.
عزیزی در اقصای تبریز بود
که همواره بیدار و شبخیز بود
A beloved lived in Tabriz away from sight,
who was always alert and awake at night
―Bustan of Sadi
تا به تبریزم دو چیزم حاصل است
نیم نان و آب مهران رود و بس
As long as I live in Tabriz, two things I need not worry of,
The half loaf of bread and the water of Mehran River are enough!
Nowaday Tabrizian carpets are the most wanted in world markets, having many customers in western countries from Europe to California.
Tabrizian rugs and carpets usually have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. Rugs and carpets often have very symmetrical and balanced designs. They usually have a single medallion that is surrounded with vines and palmettos and are of excellent quality.
Tabrizian modern rugs are in many different designs and colors.
In contrast to the mugam traditions of Central Asian countries, Azeri mugam is more free-form and less rigid; it is often compared to the improvised field of jazz.
UNESCO proclaimed the Azerbaijani mugam tradition a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" on November 7, 2003.
Ashiqs are travelling bards who sing and play the saz, a form of lute. Their songs are semi-improvised around a common base.
kufta Tabrizi (Azeri:Tabriz kufta si) is a special food prepared in Tabriz. Some restaurants offer kufta Tabrizi on their menu but the quality is not as good as when it is prepared by Tabriz families at home.
Tabriz is also famous for its delicious cookies, some of which are Tabriz specialities, including Ghorabiye, Eris, Nogha and many others. They can be bought at markets: the most famous markets for this purpose are Rex (in Imam Ave near to Ferdowsi Ave.), Tashrifat (Abrassan Sq.), Karimi (Valieasr Quarter) and Eftekhari (Mansour Street)," Ayubi"(Abrassan Sq.) ,"Tesaj"(serah Sq.)
Several times in its history (e.g., in 858, 1041, and 1721), Tabriz was devastated by earthquakes which wiped out most of the historic monuments. One important monument that has survived these earthquakes is the Tabriz Citadel (Ark-e Tabriz or Ark-e Alishah), a ruin of vertical book-shaped elements. The Blue Mosque of Tabriz (مسجد کبود Gouy-Masjed) is another important monument in the city. Here is a list of city's monuments:
There are eight major museums in Tabriz:
Since ancient times Tabriz has been known as a transportation center between West and East. It lies on the ancient Silk Road.
Tabriz does not have a completed subway train network at the moment. The government of Iran had planned to finish 6km of line No.1 of subway urban train network of Tabriz in 2006 but they could not reach to this goal because of financial problems.
Tabriz University is one of Iran's most prestigious schools of higher education. A list of the universities and research centers in the city follows:
Tabriz also has two stadiums for soccer:
For a complete list see: List of people from Tabriz