Tabriz Travel Guide
Tabriz is unlike the rest of Iran, as it sits close to neighbouring Azerbaijan. It is famous for its bazaar, as it was a former Silk Road city, but it also features mosques, museums, parks, and much more.
You’ll find enough here to keep you occupied for 2-3 days.
Come check out our full travel guide to Tabriz as we cover the best things to do in Tabriz, Iran.
After you’ve gotten settled, make the Bazaar of Tabriz your first stop. It is one of the oldest markets in the Middle East. Because of this, the United Nations inscribed it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its location of the famed Silk Road is a big reason for its historical prominence. Marco Polo paid this trading centre a visit during its wanderings, along with countless merchants over the ages.
Tabriz lost its status as a capital after the fall of the Safavids in the 17th century. However, thanks to its bazaar, its commercial prowess remained intact, keeping this city on the map. The Iranian government spearheaded a restoration of the structure in 2013, which returned it to its former glory. As a result, the place is worth seeing for its arches and ceiling, as well as its spirited vendors.
If you can, attempt to visit during the Days of Ashura. Shops close for ten days during this important Shiite religious festival, as ceremonies are held inside. Come near the end, so you can witness the rituals and the resumption of trading in the bazaar.
Next, make your way over to the Kabood Mosque. This historic masjid, also known as the Blue Mosque, was commissioned in the 15th century by ruler Jahan Shah. After its completion, it wasn’t long before this beautiful masjid fell on hard times. The Safavids were toppled by the Ottomans in the 16th century, who looted the entire place. A massive earthquake irreparably damaged the building in the 18th century.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that government undertook work to return the masjid to its former state. While many walls and structures are still cracked and broken, it is no longer a ruin. To fund further works, authorities charge an admission fee of 150,000 rials. A little pricey, yes, but if you’re into mosques, it is worth it for the photo opportunities.
You’ll note that Tabriz is quite close to the border with Azerbaijan. As a result, this city has much in common with this country. Learn more about this heritage by visiting the Azerbaijan Museum. It contains artifacts unearthed during archaeological expeditions held in East Azerbaijan Province through the years.
Items date back as far as 5,000 BC and include items like jewellery, pottery, plates, coins, glassware, and more. This place contains three galleries of these treasures – set aside at least three hours if you love museums.
As asserted above, humans have called the Tabriz area home for millennia. Wandering through the cave village of Kandovan will give you a sense of this legacy. Researchers date the oldest homes at 800 years. However, it is likely people have lived here longer than that.
While it feels like a Star Wars settlement, remember that you’re in an active village. Respect the privacy of residents – always ask permission to take pictures, or to enter dwellings.
Want to learn more about the history of the Tabriz area? Pay a visit to Amir Nezam House. Also known as the Qajar Museum, this institution tells the story of the Qajar Dynasty. This house of rulers governed the Tabriz area from the late 18th century to the early 20th century.
Appropriately, authorities located this museum in the former home of a Qajari diplomat. Within, you’ll find clothes, musical instruments, weapons, and other implements common to that period. If you’re big on museums, two hours is enough time to take in the entire place.
While in the area, plan a day trip out to the Colorful Mountains of Tabriz. These peaks, its minerals subjected to oxidation over the years, look striking compared to their drab counterparts. Unlike similar sights in China and Peru, they are mostly unexplored and unspoiled by tourism. Guides in Tabriz give tours there – ask around and you’ll find someone willing to show you these hidden gems.
Need a break from sightseeing while in Tabriz? Take a rest in Shahgoli Park. Translating to English as Royal Park, this greenspace’s lushness certainly seems fit for a king/queen. While its trees are a welcome break from this region’s arid landscape, its highlight is its artificial lake.
At its centre, you’ll find an island with a small structure on it. This served as the summer palace for members of the Qajar Dynasty more than a century ago. After the Islamic Revolution, leaders shed its royal connotations, renaming it El-Gölü, or the People’s Park.