Tabriz City Guide
Visiting Tehran is part and parcel of any journey to Iran but Tabriz is not to be underestimated. Leading universities, large museums and many important institutions make the second city of Iran a cultural and scientific centre in its own right. There's plenty to see and explore in Tabriz, from the biggest bazaar in the world to beautiful gardens, tranquil historic sites and lovely ice-cream shops. The choice is all yours.
Sightseeing and recreation
Tabriz has a rich heritage as a city of learning, culture and power. Many rulers of different dynasties reigned over the region from Tabriz and the city even served as the capital of Iran at one point in history. Numerous historic buildings in and around Tabriz bear testament to the glorious past of the city, making it a great destination for anyone who is interested in history, culture and art.
You can start your day by visiting the Citadel Ark. This remnant of the ancient city wall and citadel has undergone many transformations over the centuries. At one time it was a mosque and at another a defensive fortress. Today it is a curious landmark worth seeing if you want to get a sense of the rich heritage of Tabriz. Another splendid cultural and religious site is the Blue Mosque. Although much of its original decorations have been completely dilapidated over the centuries, some parts of the ornate blue tiles remain, as a reminder of the fantastic work of the artists and craftsmen who decorated this 15th-century temple.
Tabriz has been a hub of learning for many centuries. The Rob-e-Rashidi complex housed a famous academy that was a melting pot for scientists and artists as far back as the 13th century. The ruins of this ancient academy are accessible to tourists while modern arts and sciences have their home in the many museums throughout the city. For an in-depth lesson in history and culture, check out the Azerbaijan Museum, whose vast collection is dedicated to life in the Azerbaijani region of Iran. Here you can spend hours admiring artwork, armoury, coins and pottery as well as other archaeological finds from different eras. If history is not your cup of tea, head to the Natural History Museum, for a chance to see taxidermy showcasing the rich fauna of Iran and the Middle East, or have a laugh while exploring funny pictures in the Museum of Cartoons.
When you tire of sightseeing, it's time for a visit to the El Goli garden. Also called Shah Goli (or the shah's garden) the place was once the summer residence of the Iranian royalty and aristocracy. Today it is a serene public park with a large artificial lake. A hexagonal hall with a restaurant is perched on a peninsula in the middle of the lake. You can also buy refreshments or sit down for a meal in the various restaurants and cafés throughout the park.
Shopping in Tabriz
Tabriz offers shopaholics a mix of modern and traditional shopping outlets, all of them with their own merits. There's a smattering of department stores around the city, the most popular of which is Leleh Park mall. Under its roof, a variety of international and local brands offer everything from fashion and cosmetics to toys and furniture.
Despite the variety of contemporary outlets, the most alluring shopping spot in the city remains the bazaar, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Not only is Tabriz bazaar among the oldest in the region (it was an important stop on the Silk Road for centuries) but it is also the largest in the world. The bazaar consists of many sub-bazaars specialising in different products. The two most popular sections sell the finest exports of the region – jewellery and carpets.
Big purchases aside, Tabriz is also famous for its confectionery, dried fruits and nuts, which make it a heaven for the sweet-toothed travellers. The bazaar and many confectionery shops around the city sell a variety of local sweets while the city centre is dotted with tempting ice-cream parlours. Nightlife here is not what it is in western countries but dining is important and given the choice of restaurants, cafés and ice-cream shops you are bound to have a good time.
When visiting this wonderful city you are going to need somewhere to sleep in Tabriz, fear not we have some great places catering for all budgets.