South Azerbaijan comprises three provinces currently part of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ardebil, whose capital is also called Ardebil, Western Azerbaijan, with its capital in Uromiyeh and Eastern Azerbaijan, with its capital in Tabriz. A forth Iranian province Zanjan, with the capital in the city of the same name, also has a dominant Azeri population and there are important Azeri communities in and around Hamadan, in Tehran, around Qom and Saveh, in the Khorasan province, and are scattered throughout many other parts of Iran.
Ardebil stands about 60km from the Caspian Sea. It is located on an open plain 1,400 m above sea level, just east of Mount Sabalan (4,811 m), where cold spells occur until late spring. Access is made by difficult roads. It is surrounded by vast areas of grazing grounds, without trees. It suffered a major earthquake in 1997, causing hundreds of fatalities.
Being a city of great antiquity, the origins of Ardebil go back to 1500 years ago. This city was the capital of Azerbaijan province in different times, but its golden age was in the Safavid period. Neighbouring on the Caspian Sea and the Republic of Azerbaijan, this city is of great political and economical significance. Enjoying fertile soil and adequate precipitation, Ardebil is an important agricultural centre in Iran. The mineral springs of Ardebil are Beele-Darreh, Sar'eyn, Sardabeh and Booshloo, being famous for their medicinal qualities throughout Iran.
The complex of Sheikh Safi-ad-Din-e-Ardabili is an impressive ancient monument, comprising the following components: the mausoleums of Sheikh Safi and Shah Isma'il, Chini khaneh (meaning the house of chinaware), a mosque, Jannat Sara (meaning the house of paradise), Khanaqah (the house of Dervishes), Cheragh Khaneh (the house of lamps), Shahid khaneh (the house of martyrs) and Chelleh Khaneh (the place where devotees shut themselves up during the forty days of Lent). The mausoleum of Sheikh Safi, the famous dome of which is called "Allah-Allah" has an octagonal interior.
The other significant historical monuments are as follows: the mausoleum of Sheikh Jebra'il, located 2 kms north of Ardebil, the old but always lively bazaar, the Friday mosque, and a few ancient bridges. In addition to these, in many villages of Ardebil, relics of ancient monuments, including tombs have been found.
Covering an area of 18011 sq kms the province of Ardebil has been blessed with splendid natural beauty and numerous sights. This province is bounded on the north by the Republic of Azerbaijan, on the east by Gilan, on the south by Zanjan and on the west by the eastern Azerbaijan. Generally, the weather of the highlands of Sabalan is cold, Ardebil city is mild and the Moghan Plain (Dasht-e-Moghan) is warm. But the distinctive feature of the weather in almost all parts of the province is freshness in summer, attracting a large number of people.
The Talesh mountains, stretching southward, separate Ardebil from the Caspian region. This chain runs northward to meet Mount Salavat Dagh and Mount Khoroosloo which are in the south of the plateau of Moghan. Mount Sabalan and the volcanic peak of Soltan-e-Savalan (4811 metres) are among other mountains of the province. At the top of this volcano, having been inactive in historical times, there is a beautiful pool encircled by snow all year round. The lush pasture and mineral springs on the slopes of Mt. Sabalan create spectacular natural sights. The plateau of Moghan, in the north-west of the province, runs to the Caspian Sea. This fertile plateau is among the most important agricultural regions in Iran.
The lakes are numerous, the largest of which are Ne'or, Shoorabil, Shoor-Gel, Nou-Shahr and Aloocheh that are the habitats of some species of water birds. Lake Ne'or, located in a mountainous area, 48 kms south-east of the city of Ardebil, has splendid natural beauty. This lake, the water of which gushes out from the springs in the bed, covers an area of 210 ha and has an average depth of 3 metres. Lake Shoorabil located in a hilly area south of the city of Ardebil, covers an area of 64 ha. The surface of the lake is covered with a thin white layer of minerals, being useful for healing skin diseases and rheumatism. Near the lake there is the leisure complex of Shoorabil.
The Araz is the largest river of the province, originating in the mountains of the eastern Turkey, flowing along the Iranian borders with the Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia and emptying into the Caspian Sea. The vast plateau of Moghan is watered by this river. Other important rivers of the province are the Darreh-Rood, the Qara-Soo, the Khiyav-Chay and the Namin-Chay.
The mineral springs are numerous, among which the hot springs of Sar'eyn in Ardebil and the mineral springs of Khlkhal, Sardabeh and Booshli are of more importance. The forested areas in Khalkhal and Ardebil are covered with oaks, beeches, maples and hornbeams. In the mountainous region of Sabalan and Talesh there are lush pastures which are used by villagers and pastoral nomads for animal husbandry. Wildlife includes wolves, bears, leopards, gazelles, mouflons, ibexes, eagles, partridges pheasants, poisonous snakes and alligators.
The majority of the people are Muslim, faithful to the religious traditions. In some regions of the province, especially in Moghan, where the tribes of Ilsavan and Qara Dagh live, there is tribal life. The roads aren't always good, but they are very scenic, passing through the forested and mountainous areas and the lush pastures, you find one splendid view follows another during journey between different places.
The cities of Ardebil and Pars-Abab, having airports capable of handling jets, are served by regular flights to and from Tabriz and Tehran. Fertile soil, adequate water and the establishment of "Kesht-o-San'at-e-Moghan" comprising agricultural, animal husbandry and industrial units, have made this province a major centre for producing corn, fruit and meat. The said establishment, being unique in its kind in the Middle East, utilizes modern methods, techniques and machinery for producing and harvesting the crops, improving the fertility of the soil and the quality of the seeds, and producing and caring for domestic animals. This establishment also includes a sugar mill. Wheat, barley, beet and cotton are important crops. In addition to these, apiculture is an active industry and the honey produced in Ardebil province has nation-wide fame.
Handicrafts, such as carpet weaving, jajim (a fine carpet made of wool or cotton) and gelim (a rug mad of goats' hair) weaving and pottery also play a main role in the economy of the province. Mineral resources consist of copper, limestone and sulphur. Besides Ardebil there are five other cities: Khalkhal, Meshkin-Shahr, Moghan, Bileh Savar, and Pars-Abad.
Other places of interest in the Ardebil province:
Situated 29 kms west of Ardebil, this town is an important centre of mineral water. The nine hot and mineral springs with medicinal qualities and the centre of hydrotherapy are significant tourist attractions. Facilities for recreation and accommodation are thriving, so that in the near future Sar'eyn will be one of the largest leisure centres in Iran.
It is a border town located in the north of the province and neighbouring on the Republic of Azerbaijan. It mainly consists of flatlands enjoying a mild climate. This region, in which agriculture is a significant activity, is watered by the Araz River. Having fertile soil, favourable climate and adequate precipitation, it has rich pasture and impressive natural beauty. The establishment of "Kesht-o-San'at-e-Moghan", including units for producing sugar, compotes, conserves and a unit for winnowing cotton, has flourished the economy of the town.
Located in a mountainous area to the west of the mountains of Talesh, this town is mild in summer and cold in winter. The mineral spring of Khalkhal Sooyee and the hot spring of Givi having medicinal value, and natural beauty and pleasant fresh weather of this town attract a large number of visitors. Winter sports are among recreational activities fascinating for many tourists. Among handicrafts, shawl weaving is of more importance and Khalkhal's shawls are well known.
This town is situated to the west of Ardebil and the north of Mount Sabalan. It is temperate in summer and cold in winter. The rich pastures of this region are largely populated by pastoral nomads. Although in the villages many people are engaged in handicrafts, the economy is mainly dependent on agriculture and animal husbandry. Being an ancient town, Meshkin-Shahr's historical monuments are of great significance. The following are among well known ones: The Castle of Arshoq, the mausoleum of Sheikh Heydar and a petrograph belonging to Shapur II (a King of the Sassanian dynasty). The most well known mineral springs in this region are the springs of Googerdi and Qotoor Sooyee on the slopes of Mt. Sabalan, and the springs of Shabil, Aqsoo, Malek Soo'i and Ilandoo.
It is a plateau, warm in summer and cold in winter. The capital of this region is Germi which is an important centre for agriculture. This fertile plateau is watered by the Araz River.
sources: Sharif Cultural
Institute, Osinga, Persia.org
|see also: Hotels in Ardebil, history, Uromiyeh, Tabriz, Zanjan, South Azerbaijan, Iranian visas, places, photos|
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