Azarbayjan is one of the most archaic territories in Iran. During the
reign of Alexander of Macedon in Iran (331 BCE), a warrior known as
Attorpat led a revolt in this area, then a territory of the Medes, and
thereafter it was called Attorpatkan. Since then this vicinity has been
known as Azarabadegan, Azarbadgan and Azarbayjan.
Islamic researchers proclaim that the birth of the prophet Zoroaster
was in this area, in the vicinity of Lake Orumieh (Chichesht), Konzak
City. Needless to say, this province was subject to numerous political
and economic upheavals, attracting the interest of foreigners. The
Russians in particular have tried to exert a lasting influence in the
region over the past 300 years, occupying the area on numerous
occasions. The constitutionalist movement of Iran began here in the late
Ethnic tensions in Azarbayjan can visibly trace their origins back
to the colonialist policies of the Soviet Union and Imperial Russia. In a
cable sent on July 6 1945 by the Central Committee of the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union, the local Soviet commander in Russian
(northern) held Azarbayjan was instructed as such begin preparatory work
to form a national autonomous Azarbayjan district with broad powers
within the Iranian state and simultaneously develop separatist movements
in the provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, Gorgan, and Khorasan".
According to The Cambridge History of Iran, Tabriz was founded in early Sassanids times in 3rd or 4th
century AD or, more probably, in 7th century. During the Islamic
conquest of Iran, Arab armies in Azarbayjan mostly turned attention
toward Ardebil and Tabriz was not even listed among the cities of
Azarbayjan that Iranian armies were mobilized. These accounts suggest
that Tabriz was not more than a small village at this time.
Blue Mosque is built during Kara Koyunlu dynasty.
After the conquest of Iran by Muslims, Arab tribe Azd from Yemen
resided in Tabriz and development of post-Islamic Tabriz began as of
this time. Yaqut, the Islamic geographer says that Tabriz was a village
before Rawwad from the tribe of Azd came to Tabriz. In AD 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 Azarbayjan until sacked by Timur in 1392.
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
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
Between 1585 and 1603, Tabriz was occupied by the Ottomans but was
then returned to the Safavids after which it grew as a major commercial
center, conducting trade with the Ottoman Empire, Russia, central Asia,
and India. In 1724 the city was again occupied by the Ottomans and
retaken by Iranian army. In 1780, a devastating earthquake near the city
killed over 200,000 which is regarded as 25th most deadly disaster of
Thanks to the vicinity to the west and to the communications with
nearby countries' enlightenment movements, Tabriz became center of the
Iranian Constitutional Revolution. This made Tabriz a major pole for
Iranian Constitutional Revolutionary movements between 1905 and 1911,
which led to the establishment of a parliament in Iran. Sattar Khan and
Bagher Khan two Tabrizi reformists whose led Tabriz people's solidarity
had a great role in achievement of this revolution. After World War II,
the Soviets set up the communist Azarbayjan People's Government in
north-west Iran with its capital at Tabriz. The new communist
government, under the leadership of Ja'far Pishevari, held power for a
year from 1946, after which Tabriz returned to Iran after the forced
In 2002, during a construction project at 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 is dated back to more than 700 years
ago and was established in Ilkhanid period.
Tabriz was known as capital of Iran several times: during Kara
Koyunlu dynasty from 1375 until 1468, then during Ak Koyunlu within
1468-1501, Some of the existing historical monuments including Blue
Mosque are belonged to Kara Koyunlu period. Finally, it was capital of
the Iranian Empire within the Safavid period from 1501 until their
defeat in 1514.
During the Qajar dynasty, Tabriz was residence of Iranian Crown Prince (1794–1925).
Due to its location as a western gateway of Iran, many modern
developments have been adopted first in this city, leading to its
moniker as a "city of firsts". These include:
Iran's first printing house was founded in Tabriz (1811).
Iran's first modern school was founded in Tabriz by Hassan Roshdieh
(1888). The language of instruction was Persian and Azari Turkic.
The first Iranian special school for deaf children was founded in Tabriz by Jabbar Baghcheban (1924).
The first Iranian special school for blind students was founded in Tabriz by a German mission (1926).
The first Iranian kindergarten was founded in Tabriz by Jabbar Baghcheban (1923).
Iran's first modern-style municipal government was set up in Tabriz.
Tabriz Chamber of Commerce was the first of its kind founded in Iran (1906).
The first public libraries in modern Iran were founded in Tabriz.
Iran's first cinema was founded in Tabriz (1900), while the first cinema in Tehran was founded by a Tabrizi (1921).
Tabriz was the first city in Iran to install a telephone system (about 1900).