Provincial capital of Eastern Azerbaijan, it is 310 km southeast of Bazargan (Iran- Turkey frontier); 159 km south of Jolfa on Iran-Azarbaijan Republic border, and can be reached by good road; rail (742 km from Tehran, with connections to Europe and Moscow), and air from Tehran, Istanbul and other major cities.
Situated at an altitude of 1,340 meters above sea level, 619 km northwest of Tehran, the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960's and one of its former capitals ( with a population of 1,400,000 according to 1992 census), Tabriz is in a valley to the north of the long ridge of Mount Sahand. The valley opens out into a plain that slopes down gently to the northern end of Lake Orumieh, 60 km to the west. The 160-km long Aji ,Chai or Talkheh River is the major river of the city, formed by merging of three smaller rivers, namely the Ab Nahand, Quri Chai, and Ojan Chai, all of which originate from the Sabalan Mountain and the heights in the southeastern part of the town. The river and streams join the Orumieh Lake after passing through the valleys between the Sorkhband and Yekkeh Chin mountain north of Tabriz and Osku district. Mehran River or Maidan Chai, also called Liqvan River, originates from the peaks between Karim and Sultan mountains overlooking the Liqvan village (a: major center of cheese production in Iran) near Esparakhoun and Qeshlaq. Its worst natural disadvantage, however, is its vulnerability to earthquakes, one of which utterly destroyed the city in 858. Rebuilt in a minor key, it was again devastated in 1041, when more than 40,000 people lost their lives.
By virtue of its situation, Tabriz has an agreeable summer climate, but the cold in winter is severe. Altogether it has a continental climate with low humidity. The average annual rainfall is 288 mm.
The town has a long and checkered history: Although the early history of Tabriz is shrouded in legend and mystery, the town's origins are believed to date back" to distant antiquity, perhaps even before the Sassanian era (224-651 AD). The oldest stone tablet with a reference to Tabriz is that of Sargon II, the Assyrian King. The tablet referrers to a place called Tauri Castle and Tarmkis. The historians believe that this castle was situated on the site of the present Tabriz. It was the capital of Azarbin the 3rd century AD and again under the Mongol Ilkhanid dynasty (1256-13 53), although for some time Maragheh supplanted it. During the reign of Aqa Khan of the Ilkhanids, as well as under the reign of Ghazan Khan, Tabriz reached the peak of 1 glory and importance. Many great artists and philosophers from allover the world traveled to Tabriz. During this same period 1 Khajeh Rashid od-Din Fazlollah, the i..: learned historian and Minister of Ghazan , Khan, built the famous Rob'e Rashidi center. In 1392, after the end of Mongol rule, the town was sacked by Tamerlane. It was soon restored under the Turkman tribe of r the Qara Qoyunlu, who established a short-lived local dynasty. Under the Safavids it rose from regional to national capital for a short period, but the second of the Safavid kings, Shah Tahmasb, moved the capital to Qazvin because of the vulnerability of Tabriz to Ottoman attacks. The town then went into a period of decline, fought over by the Iranians, Ottomans and Russians and struck by earthquake and disease.
Tabriz was the residence of the crown prince under the Qajar kings, themselves of Turkish stock, but the town did not return to prosperity until the second half of the 19th century .The greatest boost to Tabriz came with the opening up of Persia to the West at the turn of this century, when it became the main staging post between the interior of Iran and the Black Sea and, for a short time, the economic capital. In 1908 it was the center of a revolt against Mohammad Ali Shah, which was only put down with the brutal intervention of the Russians.
In the second Irano-Russian War the city was occupied by the Czar troops. however, it was returned to Iran following the signing of Turkmanchai Treaty, a peace and trade settlement that ended the Irano- Russian War of 1826-1828. The Iranian Constitutional Revolution originated in Tabriz and culminated during the reign of Mohammad Ali Shah of Qajar dynasty (1779-1925). Sat tar Khan and Baqer Khan were the two most prominent leading figures behind the movement. Tabriz was occupied by Russians several times in the first half of this century, including most of both world wars. A railway line to the border at Jolfa, built by the expansionist Russians, was of little importance until recently, but it has increased in significance in the '90s as a result of Iran's friendlier relations with its northern neighbors.
Daily flights from Tehran on Iran Air, Iran Aseman and other companies. Fare is 490,000 Rials for 1-way. Direct flights from Dubai have just started on Tue and Sat, operated by Kish Air (around 200 USD for 2-way). Direct flights from Tbilisi (2 flights per week), operated by ATA air.Direct flights from Baghdad have just started on Fri and Mon, operated by ATA Air. Direct flights from Baku (1 flight per week) have just started on Tue and Sat, operated by Kish Air. Direct flights from Gaziantep have just started on Tue, operated by Sky Airlines. Direct flights from Istanbul (13 flights per week), operated by Turkish airlines (7 flights), Iran air (2 flights) and ATA air (4 flights); fare is around 250 USD for 2-way.There are also direct flights from Damascus.
Flights to other Iranian cities are scarce. Ask your favourite Iranian travel agency for schedules.
By the newly built bridge over the Urmia lake Tabriz is reachable from Urmia in 1.5 hours.
Train times within Iran can be found on the unofficial Iranian Railway Website [www.iranrail.net]. It's wise to confirm the scheduled times at a guesthouse or railway station.
Daily train from Tehran takes 12 hours, 152,500 Rials for one-way.
Daily train from Jolfa (border town to Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan exclave) in the afternoon (about 3h). Might be also interesting option if you cross from Armenia to Iran (at Nordooz) and take a taxi from there to Jolfa.
Until 2015, trains ran twice a week to Turkey: one between Tabriz and Van, the other ("Trans-Asia Express") between Tehran and Ankara. It is not known when these might resume.
Bus relations with major cities. 6-8 Hours travel from Tehran (normal ticket cost around 150,000 Rials for one-way).
City transport, awaiting the Metro currently under construction (and still for a long time) is limited to taxis, shared taxis and buses.
Taxis can be chartered for a modest fee (around 20 USD if you need a driver and car for the whole day to visit the region!)
Shared taxis are even more of a bargain, but you will need to speak a few words of Persian and risk your life by stepping on the side of the road and scream your destination at passing-by Paykans. However, the experience of sharing a car with 4 locals of both genders and all ages (+ driver) can be fun! Odds are the fare won't be more than 10 cents (1.000 Rials) for a 10-minutes trip. Some drivers even refuse to be paid, the pleasure of chatting with a foreigner about the various plagues of Iran being apparently enough to make their day. (be careful of tarof, though)
Buses are difficult to take (no map, no schedule) and definitely not worth the experience when compared to shared taxis despite being quasi-free.
With a very rich history, Tabriz used to house many historical monuments. Unfortunately, many of them were destroyed in repeated invasions and attacks of foreign forces, negligence of the ruling governments, as well natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. What remains now mostly dates back to the Ilkhanids, the Safavids, and the Qajars. Some of the monuments are unrivaled masterpieces of architecture. The Shahrdari Square is the center of the town, on the south-west of which stands the imposing edifice of Municipality. The railway station (5 km from the center of the town) is at the western edge of the town. The Quri Chai river runs through Tabriz, and most places of interest to the visitor are to the south of this river and alone or north of Imam Khomeini Avenue.
Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity and its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centres on the Silk Road. Located in the center of the city of Tabriz, Iran, this spectacular structure consists of several sub-bazaars, such as Amir Bazaar (for gold and jewelry), Mozzafarieh (a carpet bazaar), a shoe bazaar, and many other ones for various goods. The most prosperous time of Tabriz and it's bazaar was in 13th century when town became the capital city of Safavid kingdom. The city lost it's status as capital in 16th century, but it's bazaar has been being important as a commercial and economic center. Although, numerous modern shops and malls have been established nowadays, the bazaar of Tabriz has remained economic heart of both the city and northwestern of Iran. It is worthy of mention that Tabriz bazaar has been being an important political place, and one can point out its importance in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the last century and Islamic Revolution in the contemporary time.
The interiors of the dwellings, usually divided into a living and a bed room, are dimly lit; however, the villagers are used to it. The interconnecting corridors are very narrow. From the outside, the dwellings look so similar to each other that one may easily get lost in the village. Steep pathways and steps are made of rock pieces for animals as well as human beings. As the legend goes, the first people to settle here were the soldiers involved in military operations nearly 800 years ago, who found the cones by chance and used them as their temporary camouflage and accommodation. However, among archaeologists, it is considered to be of Pre-Islamic Period.
If you have (lots of) money, the Tabrizi carpets are among the finest in the world, and you will find masterpieces in shops and inside the Bazaar. Tabrizi rugs are among the most decorative rugs and frequently use colors like pink, red and cream. Rugs here are about 50% less than what you pay in the West, but you can typically only take 2-3 rugs back to your home country without paying a customs fee.
You can buy gold from Amir Bazar.
Tabrizi nuts are very famous.
Kabab(or Kebab), rice, Abgousht (Meat broth) some restaurants serve them all, but if you step inside a more modest Tchelowkebabi, odds are you won't have much choice apart from the traditional rice and kebab. But still you can finid some resturants which serve all, for instance there is a historical bath in tabriz which now has became a traditional resturant and it serves both Abgousht, Kufteh, and other foods. Kufteh Tabrizi (Meat ball) Tabrizians most popular food; very delicious.
Confectioneries and Dried Nuts there are lots of confectioneries which are speacially for tabriz Qurabiya is one of the most delicious and famous ones, there are other confectioneries such as Nuga(or Nuqa), others like Ris, there are also lots of other kinds of confectioneries, you may name Tabriz as the capital city for eating! Nuts just one thing: you don't wanna miss them, although they are a bit expensive but it's worth, they're very delicious. you can enjoy Tabriz so much, if you have a guide it will help you out to find and go to lots of monuments and also to save up lots of money, because they know how to and where to buy things to be affordable so the money you pay for your guide makes you enjoy, it depends on your luck if you find a good guide or not, but you can ask for it from tourist information.
Tea, dough, tea, Zamzam Cola, tea, Fanta, tea...
You could say that Iran isn't really a destination for binge drinking. It's more the kind of place for Tea and Hubble Bubble (Qalyan) lovers. Or sipping a glass of dough over some Tchelowkebab.
"Nightlife" may not have the same meaning in Iranian towns. Apart from private parties, you won't find anything even vaguely close to a nightclub in the whole country. However, places for getting out at night in Tabriz include ice & juice houses, kebab restaurants, Qalyan (hubble bubble), tchaikhaneh and walking around the Valiasr district. Nothing really exciting, but good enough for spending the evening chatting with friends or trying to meet young locals.
Recently Hotels and Guest Houses (Mosaferkhaneh) have to offer a same tariff for nationals and foreigners. In case of doubt, ask a local to compares your price by the one written on price board in Persian. Main place for regular Guest Houses in Tabriz is Ferdowsi Street and Amin Street. For Japanese Darya Guest House is more friendly. Some richer Turks often go Darya Hotel in Rah-Ahan Street, otherwise one of those in Ferdowsi Street. From best to worst:
Inner-Iranian train schedules can be checked at the Unofficial Iranian Railway Website . It's wise to confirm the scheduled times at a guesthouse or railway station. For more information you can also visit Iranian Passenger Railway website  or Comprehensive Train Travel Site .
There are comfortable night trains to Tehran. There is 2nd class sleeping train (6 people in one room) that leaves Tabriz at 8.30PM and arrives to Tehran at 9.30 AM. (Current price unknown). The more comfortable choice is to take 1st class train for 420 000 IR. This train leaves at 5.30 PM and arrives to Tehran at 6 AM. There are 4 bed-rooms with TV and dinner is included in that price. To get the ticket you need to use some of travel agencies it the city or in the train station (this option only for recent day registration).
There is a daily early morning train to Jolfa (about 3h) if you want to go to Nakhcivan or Armenian border (further on at Nordooz by taxi) or just to visit the gorgeous Aras river valley (i.a. Armenian St. Stephanos monastery 17 km west of Jolfa).
There are also buses to Tehran, significantly cheaper than the train. The current price for a VIP bus (July 2015) is 380.000 IRR. The trip takes 8 hours with frequent comfort stops and one 30 minute lunch break at a a service station. The buses leave early in the morning, every 30 minutes until 9.30, then again in the evening every 30 minutes after 7pm until 11pm or such.
There is also a bus to Yerevan (Armenia) and Van (Turkey, crossing at Bazargan / Gürbulak, east of Doğubeyazıt).
Shared taxis run to Jolfa (about 40$ for the taxi, i.e. 10$ p.p. when full, about 2h), ask at your guesthouse or a taxi driver to drop you at the savari gathering point in Tabriz.
It is possible to ship the bicycles on the bus as well as on the train. The cargo on the bus will cost 150.000 IRR, but they might try to charge you more. Stick to the 150.000. If you ship the bikes on the train, it will cost you a fixed price of 7 USD, but you have to be at the train station 2 hours before departure, to hand in the bikes and wait 2-3 hours after arrival in Teheran, to receive back your cargo. It's safe, but a hustle, so you'd be better off with the bus.