Ardabil

Ardabil or Ardabil is about 70 km from the Caspian Sea, 210 km from the city of Tabriz. It has an average altitude of 1263 m and total area of 18.011 km². Neighboring on the Caspian Sea and the Republic of Azarbaijan, this city is of great political and economical significance. The Province of Ardabil has been blessed with splendid natural beauty and numerous sights. It is located on an open plain 1,500 m above sea level, just east of Mount Sabalan (4,811 m), where cold spells occur until late spring.

History

The province is believed to be as old as the Achamenids (ca. 550–330 BC). It is mentioned in the Avesta, where prophet Zoroaster was born by the river Aras and wrote his book in the Sabalan Mountains. During Parthian era the city had a special importance among the cities of Azarbaijan. Some Muslim historians attribute foundation of Ardabil to king Piruz I of Sassanid Empire. The Persian poet Ferdowsi also credits the foundation of the city to Piroz I. Ardabil suffered some damages caused by occasional raids of Hums between 4th to 6th century AD. Piroz repaired those damages and fortified the city. Piroz made Ardabil the residence of provincial governor (Marzban) of Azarbaijan.

During the Arab invasion, Ardabil was the largest city in North Western Iran, and remained so until the Mongol invasion period. Ardabilis fought the Mongols three times, however the city fell after the third attempt by Mongols. They massacred not only the Ardabilis but inhabitants of neighboring villages and killing everyone they could find. Incursions of Mongols and Georgians left the city in ruins for nearly three centuries til the advent of Safavids.

Safavid Shah Ismail I started his campaign to nationalize Iran's government and land from here, but consequently announced Tabriz as his capital in AD 1500. Yet Ardabil remained an important city both politically and economically until modern times. She was sacked by Ottomans 14 times between 1514–722 and in 1915 and by Russians in 1813, 1828 and in 1916.

Tomb of Sheikh Safi Ardabili

The complex of structures known, at present , as sheikh Safi's Mausoleum, ranks among the finest historical achievements of Iranian art. Sheik Safi was a grate Iranian soufi who lived in 13th and 14th century Ad. He was grandfather of Shah Ismail, founder of Safavid dynasty.

The tombs are surrounded by finely engraved wood panels with extraordinarily delicate ivory and precious metal inlays. Apart from the above structures, the construction of the main portal of the mausoleum and three domes decorated with exquisite faience tile give considerable charm and splendor to this attractive historical monument. The decorative elements of the complex, both internal and external, consist of paintings, plaster, moldings, stuccos, and gold-toned stalactite decorations.