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Azarbaijan, a region with hard working peasants and wily merchants. A turbulent region, until recently torn by many invasions and military occupations. A bitterly cold country during long winters, divided up by almost impenetrable mountain ranges with at the bottom of their valleys micro-climates enabling peasants to cultivate a few vineyards and fruit orchards. These are few cliches the traveler brings along in his/her suitcase. They are valid but difficult to verify. There is only one itinerary which is really equipped and open during all seasons: The Bazargan-Maku-Tabriz -Zanjan-Tehran road, the traditional migration route. You need a lot of patience and a tough vehicle to reach these valleys.

At the entrance of Tabriz, coming in from Tehran, a shady road leads to a large park with a wide expanse of water and a central pavilion. From this garden called "il Goli", you can see a large red cliff overlooking the valley of the Tailkel river which runs through Tabriz.

Il Goli (Formerly Shah Goli), Tabriz


Tabriz Saat (clock) Square

In the Bazar, however, one seizes the originality of the town as a major agricultural center. Armenians, Turkomans, Kurds work side by side in stalls pilled ceiling-high with leather boots, woolen headgear, and many-colored fabrics. Here again you find the friendly bustle of the Oriental market with its mysterious discussions and its smell of leather and spices.

Carpet Bazar, Tabriz

Tabriz, the Blue Mosque, 1465. This superb mosque was built under the patronage of Saliha Khanum, the daughter of Jahan Shah Qara Qouonlu. The central domed sanctuary was 16 meters in diameter and decorated with a profusion of some of the finest title mosaic produced in the fifteenth century including a rich inscription with gold highlights.

The Blue (Kabood) Mosque, Tabriz

Nezami Ganjavi (poet), Tabriz

For more information on him click here.


Province of Western Azarbaijan. Altitude 1,340 meters, 25 km off the west shore of Lake Uromiyeh(landing stage at Golmankhaneh). By road 300 km from Tabriz, 280 km south of Bazargan (Turkish frontier, international post), 570 km north of kermanshah

"The most beautiful blue in the world" is how people used to describe that water, which contains a concentration of salt almost as heavy as that of the Dead Sea. The ancient Persians called it the "Royal Sea".


Church of Saint Thaddeus

Apparently in olden times, when the water of the upper reaches of the lake was a good deal sweeter, the region had been even more fertile. There are traces of ancient civilizations all over the place. Nomad tribes frequented that "Riviera" as early as eight thousands years B.C. Legend has it that Zoroaster was born here and we are assured that the Three Wise Men from the East crossed the region on their way to Bethlehem. At Hasanlu, near Heydarabad (80 km
south of Uromiyeh), around the south western corner of the lake, the remnants of tombs have yielded glazed pottery as well as gold and silver objects. Modern Uromiyeh is characterized by the joint activities and coexistence of diverse racial groups and religions.

People of Armenian, Kurdish, Turkish and Persian origin live side by side as did once the Urartes, the Medes and the Assyrians. A Church with a tall, square belfry, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, has for its neighbour for the Shiite Friday Mosque, its exquisitely sculptured mehrab is a splendid specimen of Seljuk art (12th and 13th centuries).


Altitude 1,300 meters, 210 km N-W of Bandar-e Anzali, 70 km from Astara on a mediocre coast road then a twisting mountain track. 260 km E of Tabriz via Ahar or 220 via Sarab

It is surrounded by endless expanses of sheep-grazing ground without tree, snow-covered until April. Hamlets which can hardly be called villages try to shelter from the wind in hollows in the plateau. The houses are the same color as the ground.

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Mosque of Mausoleum of Shikh Safi


When the snow starts melting, people are seized by a kind of fever. Men and animals leave their shelters. The village-dwellers use sharp blades to speed the breaking up of drift-ice on the rivers. As soon as a few square yards of pebbles show up, sheep are put out to graze. On donkey or horseback, according to their condition, the peasants go to reconnoiter. Landowners use binoculars to supervise this tidying-up operations, a revival after a long period of hibernation. Bulldozers and lorries start work while camels, a strange sight, wallow in the mud and soft snow. superb and disdainful, carry large loads of dry straw.

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