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For the administrative subdivision, see Tabriz County.
تبریز · Təbriz
Clockwise from top: Skyline of the city, El-Gölü, Mausoleum of Poets, Bazaar of Tabriz, and the Tabriz Municipality Palace.
Clockwise from top: Skyline of the city, El-Gölü, Mausoleum of Poets, Bazaar of Tabriz, and the Tabriz Municipality Palace.
Official seal of Tabriz
Tabriz is located in Iran
Coordinates: 38°04′N 46°18′E / 38.067°N 46.300°E / 38.067; 46.300Coordinates: 38°04′N 46°18′E / 38.067°N 46.300°E / 38.067; 46.300
Country Iran
Province East Azerbaijan Province
County Tabriz County
District Central
 • Mayor Sadegh Najafi-Khazarlou
 • City 190 km2 (70 sq mi)
 • Urban 2,356 km2 (910 sq mi)
Elevation 1,351.4 m (4,433.7 ft)
Population (2013)[1]
 • City 3,050,241
 • Density 16,000/km2 (42,000/sq mi)
 • Metro 3,470,123
 • Rank 5th in Iran
Demonym Tabrizian, Tabrizli, Tabrizi
Time zone IRST (UTC+3:30)
 • Summer (DST) IRDT (UTC+4:30)
Postal code 51368
Area code(s) 041
Website Tabriz municipality

Tabriz (Persian: ‎تبریز, pronounced [tæbˈriːz] ( ); Azerbaijani: Təbriz) is the fifth most populated city in Iran,[2] one of the historical capitals of Azerbaijan and the present capital of East Azerbaijan Province. It is situated in the valley of Quru River and its elevation from sea level is about 1,350 meters. Tabriz is located in a valley to the north of the long ridge of the volcanic cone of Sahand, south of the Eynali mountain. The valley opens out into a plain that slopes gently down to the north eastern end of Lake Urmia, 60 kilometres (37 miles) to the west. With cold winters and temperate summers the city is considered a summer resort.

The estimated population of the city is around 3,050,241[3] based on results of the Iranian census bureau. Tabriz is the forth most populous city in Iran after Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan. Tabriz is a major hub for heavy industries including automobile, machine tools, oil and petrochemical and cement production.[4]

Tabriz is famous and named as City of Firsts,[5] City without beggars, City of underpasses and overpasses, The safest City of Iran, Iran's healthiest City, Cradle of Iran investment, The second industrial city of Iran, Iran's automotive hub, Parts manufacturing hub for Iran, Diesel engine production hub in the Middle East, Chocolate City of Iran, second university city of Iran, Second City of Tower Construction of Iran, The second pole of Medical Sciences of Iran, the second largest city in attracting health tourists in Iran, and one of the most important host cities in Iran.[5]

With a rich history, Tabriz contains many historical monuments, but repeated devastating earthquakes and several invasions during frequent wars have substantially damaged many of them. Many monuments in the city date back to the Ilkhanid, Safavid, and Qajar periods,[6][7][8] among them is the large Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex which is inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2010.[9][10] The oldest signs of the civilization in the city is an excavation site and museum in the city center with a history that dates back 2500 years.


Early accounts[edit]

Zahhak's stucco found in Hashtrud, 200 BC (Azerbaijan Museum).

The early history of Tabriz is not well documented yet. Some archaeologists suppose that the Garden of Eden was probably located in present day location of Tabriz.[11] The earliest known inscription about Tabriz is Tarui or Tauris is on theAssyrian King Sargon II's epigraph in 714 BC.[12] Tabriz has been chosen as the capital for some rulers commencing from Atropates era and his dynasty.

A recent excavation at the site of the Iron Age museum, in the north of the Blue Mosque site, uncovered a grave yard of 1st millennium BC. The new founding connect the history of civilization in the city to the 1st millennium BC.[13] More likely the city has been destroyed several times either by natural disasters or by the invading armies.

The earliest elements of the present Tabriz are claimed to be built at either at the time of the early Sassanids in the 3rd or 4th century AD, or later in the 7th century.[14] The Middle Persian name of the city was T'awrēš.

From the Muslim conquest till constitutional revolution[edit]

16th-century schematic map of Tabriz by Matrakçı Nasuh

After the conquest of Iran by Muslims, the Arabic Azd tribe from Yemen resided in Tabriz. The development of post-Islamic Tabriz began as of this time. The Islamic geographer Yaqut says that Tabriz was a village before Rawwad from the tribe of Azd arrive at Tabriz.[15] In 791 AD, 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.[6][16]

After the Mongol invasion, Tabriz came to eclipse Maragheh as the later Ilkhanid capital of Azerbaijan until it was sacked by Timur in 1392.[17] Chosen as a capital by Abaqa Khan, fourth ruler of the Ilkhanate, for its favored location in the northwestern grasslands,[18] in 1295, his successor Ghazan Khan made it the chief administrative center of an empire stretching from Anatolia 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 caravansarais were erected to serve traders traveling on the ancient Silk Road. The Byzantine Gregory Choniades is said to have served as the city's Orthodox bishop during this time.[citation needed] In the 13th century many western expediters who visit Tabriz in their way to the east, all of them amazed by the richness of the city, its magnificent buildings and institutions.[19] Marco Polo who traveled thorough the silk road passed Tabriz about 1275 describe it as: "a great city surrounded by beautiful and pleasant gardens. It is excellently situated so the goods bring to here from many regions. Latin merchants specially Genevis go there to buy the goods that come from foreign lands."[20]

During the Middle Ages, a Jewish community existed in the town. In the 16th century a Jewish Yemenite traveler to the town described the deteriorating conditions of Jewish life there.[21] From 1375 to 1468, Tabriz was the capital of Kara Koyunlu state in Azerbaijan,[22] until defeat of Kara Koyunlu ruler, Jahan Shah by Ak Koyunlu warriors. Ak Koyunlus select Tabriz as their capital from 1469 to 1501. Some of the existing historical monuments including the Blue Mosque belong to the Kara Koyunlu period.

In 1501, Shah Ismail I entered Tabriz and proclaimed it the capital of his Safavid state. In 1514, after the Battle of Chaldiran, Tabriz was temporarily occupied by the Ottomans, but remained the capital of Safavid Iranian empire until 1548, when Shah Tahmasp I transferred it to Qazvin to avoid the growing threat of Ottoman army.

Between 1585 and 1603, Tabriz was occupied by the Ottomans but liberated by the Safavid king, Abbas I of Persia after which it grew as a major commercial center, conducting trade with the Ottoman Empire, Russia, central Asia, and India. In summer of 1721 a large earthquake shocked Tabriz killed about eighty thousands of its residents. The devastation continued later on 1724-1725 by the crucial invasion of the city by Ottoman army during which they imprisoned and killed of about two hundred thousands of Tabriz inhabitants.[23] The city was retaken later by the Iranian army. In coming years widespread of the hunger and disease killed more number of the city residents. In 1780, a major earthquake hits near Tabriz killing over 200,000.[24] The tragic devastation reduced the number of inhabitants to about thirty thousands and turned the city to a mere ghosts town. At the end of the 18th century the city was divided to several districts each of which was ruled by a family, until 1799 when Qajar Prince Abbas Mirza appointed as the governor of the city.[25]

During Qajar dynasty the city was the residence for the Crown Prince during. The crown prince normally served as governor of Azerbaijan province as well. One of the most important events in this period was the war between Iran and Russia. With the last series of the Russian-Iranian wars the city was captured by Russia in 1826. After signing the peace treaty the Russian army retreat from the city however the Russian political and military influence remained a major issue up to the fall of Russian empire in the early 20th century. After retreat of Russian army Abbas Mirza, Qajar prince of crown, started a modernization scheme launched from Tabriz. He introduced Western-style institutions, imported industrial machinery, installed the first regular postal service, and undertook military reforms in the city. He rebuilt the remnants of Tabriz and established a modern taxation system.[26]

Contemporary age[edit]

Thanks to the closeness of the west and to communications with nearby countries' enlightenment movements, Tabriz became the center of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution movements between 1905 and 1911, which led to the establishment of a parliament in Iran. Sattar Khan and Bagher Khan, two Tabrizi reformists who led Tabriz people's solidarity against absolute monarchy, had a great role in achievement to the goals of Iran's constitutional revolution.

During World War I, Iran declared neutrality. However despite Iran's neutrality, Tabriz was occupied by Russian and later by Ottoman troops. By rising up the revolution in Russia and by the failure of the Ottomans in the war both forces retreated from the city. After this short period of occupation by the foreign forces a new area in the county's history has begun. By a coup d'état of the Reza Shah declared himself the king of the county. He started new modernization programs in Iran which was concentrated in the unification and uniforming of the country by the name of one country one nation. This include centralization of the power and restrictions on the local culture, local heritages, and local language of the Azerbaijanis in Iranian Azerbaijan, and Tabriz.[27]

At the final phase of the World War II the country was occupied by the allied forces because of the neutrality declaration by the Iranian government. The allied forces forced Reza Shah to abdicate and installed his son Mohammad Reza as the new king of the country. After World War II, aided by Soviets, a Federalist local government called Azerbaijan People's Government was set up in northwest Iran having Tabriz as its capital. The Ja'far Pishevari held power for a year starting from 1946. Pishevari's government gave more freedom to speech and education in local Azerbaijani language and promoted local cultural heritage. After withdrawal of Soviet forces, the federalist government was defeated by the Imperial Iranian army and Iran's central government took control of the city. This movement itself was a result of formation of Azerbaijani identity which has been ceased for decades by Reza Shah. One of the major establishments in this period was the opening of the University of Tabriz. The university and its student movements played a major role in the later events in the region.[28][29] Part of Pishevari's program which most impressed the peasants was land reform. When Iranian army returned to Azerbaijan, on the heels of the soldiers came landlords. They caused a tragic situation, an account of which was later reported in western media.[30]

For the next 30 years, after the collapse of Azerbaijan's autonomous government, Tabriz enjoyed a stable era until the revolution in 1979. During this period the city enjoyed a lot of investment in industries and turned to a heavy industries hub in northwest of Iran. The need for work force increased the immigration from all around Azerbaijan toward Tabriz. During this time a city development plan was used. During this era and because of continuous policy of centralizing government in Tehran, the city lost its historical dominance of being the gate for reform and modernization in the country.

Starting with 1978 and with the heat of the revolution, Tabriz played a major role in the revolution. After the revolution however the city was still unsatisfied mainly because of the demand for rights of the Azerbaijani minority and, on top of that, the city's support of the more liberal cleric grand Ayatollah Shariatmadari, who was basically resisting against most of the new government aim for combining of the religion and state. The resistance was crushed in February 1980.[31]

Aerial view of northeast Tabriz, May 2012

Influenced by the war in the 1980s (Iraq-Iran war) as rest of the country, most of the construction and development projects in the city were ceased to fund the war costs. In addition to the indirect effects of the war city's industrial zone, specially the oil refinery was also a major aim for air strikes by Iraqi's air forces because of the closeness to the Iraqi border lines, and their strategic roles in the country's economy. These air attacks later turned into the random strikes on the residential areas of the city in the later phase of the war.[32] In recent years, Tabriz is much more stable and the new developments in the city are rapidly changing the face of the city.

Capital of Iran[edit]

Tabriz was chosen as the capital for the couple of state by several rulers commencing from Atropates era. It was capital of Ilkhanate dynasty since 1265. During Ghazan Khan era, who came into power in 1295, the city reached to its highest splendour. The later realm was stretched from Amu Darya in the East to the Egypt borders in the West and from the Caucasus in the North to the Indian ocean in the South.[33] It was again capital of Iran during Kara Koyunlu dynasty from 1375 to 1468 and then during Ak Koyunlu within 1468–1501. Finally, it was capital of the Iranian Empire within the Safavid period from 1501 until their defeat in 1555.[34]

During the Qajar dynasty, Tabriz was used as residence center of Iranian Crown Prince (1794–1925).

Excavation sites[edit]

See also: Iron Age museum

In 2002, during a construction project at the north side of the Blue Mosque (Part of Silk Road Project), an ancient graveyard was revealed. This was kept secret until a construction worker alerted the authorities. Radiocarbon analysis by Allameh Tabatabi University has shown the background of the graves to be more than 3800 years old. A museum of these excavations including the Blue Mosque was opened to public in 2006.

There is another excavation in Abbasi Street at site of Rab'-e Rashidi. This academic institution dates from more than 700 years ago and was established in Ilkhanid period.



Tabriz is located in northwest of Iran in East Azerbaijan province between Eynali and Sahand mountains in a fertile area in shore of Aji River and Ghuri River. The local area is earthquake-prone and during its history, the city has been devastated and rebuilt several times.


Tabriz has a semi-arid climate climate with regular seasons (Köppen BSk). The annual precipitation is around 380 millimetres (15 in), a good deal of which falls as snow during the winter months and rain in spring and autumn. The city enjoys mild and fine climate in spring, dry and semi-hot in summer, humid and rainy in autumn and snowy cold in winter. The average annual temperature is 12 °C. Cool winds blow from east to west mostly in summer.[35] The inhabitants' overall evaluation of climate is pretty negative; there is a popular saying that "Təbrizin alti ayii qişdir, altisi də qəmişdir!" (in Tabriz, six months of the year are winter and the other six months are a nuisance).

Climate data for Tabriz
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.0
Average high °C (°F) 1.2
Daily mean °C (°F) −3.2
Average low °C (°F) −6.6
Record low °C (°F) −25.0
Precipitation mm (inches) 25.8
Avg. rainy days 11.1 10.4 13.4 13.7 13.0 6.2 2.0 1.8 2.5 9.0 7.9 9.7 100.7
Avg. snowy days 10.0 8.5 4.3 1.2 0 0 0 0 0 0.5 1.6 6.2 32.3
 % humidity 72 70 63 57 51 40 34 35 37 51 64 71 53.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 122.4 137.7 172.6 195.3 267.0 337.5 354.5 335.1 302.2 228.3 174.8 128.3 2,755.7
Source: NOAA (1961-1990) [36]

Air pollution[edit]

Due to the emergence of vehicular traffic, and modern industries such as the thermal power plant, petrochemical complex, and the oil refinery in the west of the city, air pollution levels have increased continuously, since the second half of the 20th century. However, due to the efforts of local industries to comply with the new limits on pollution, as per the Environmental National Code, the level of industrial pollution has been reduced to 558,167 tons of pollutants per year. Although this is a significant improvement, air pollution remains a serious challenge.[citation needed]

An immediate environmental disaster is looming on Tabriz due to the rapid shrinkage of Urumya Lake. The lake has been facing a grave crisis since the late 20th century. Reduction of water depth, increasing water salinity to saturation level, and appearance of huge salt fields around the lake is alarming indications of gradual total desiccation of the unique ecosystem, which has occurred due to global warming and ever increasing demand for the inadequate fresh water sources in the basin are. It is feared that in foreseeable future low-lying cloud of airborne salt and minerals can hover over large areas around the lake including Tabriz and pose serious health hazards.[37]


Further information: List of Tabriz Mayors

Authority for the city, lies with the Mayor, who is elected by a municipal board. The municipal board is periodically elected by the city's residents. The Municipal central office is located at the Tabriz Municipality Palace.

Old districts[edit]

Tabriz is divided into 10 municipal districts. Each municipal district retains a number of the older neighbourhoods that are of cultural and historical interest. Please refer to the following table, for further details.

Modern districts[edit]

This is table of modern Tabriz districts.