News ID: 124056
Published: 0233 GMT August 07, 2015

Historical Tabriz Bazaar

Historical Tabriz Bazaar

Tabriz, in the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan, has long been the venue of cultural exchanges and its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centers on the Silk Road.

Tabriz Historical Bazaar Complex is a maze of interlinked and roofed brick structures, buildings and enclosed areas serving a variety of functions. Tabriz and its bazaar flourished and gained fame during the 13th century CE, when the town served as the seat of the Safavid kingdom.

Tabriz however lost its status as the capital city in the 16th century while remaining  an important commercial hub until the end of the 18th century, with the expansion of Ottoman power. It is one of the most evident instances of traditional, commercial and cultural system of Iran.

The historic Tabriz Bazaar Complex, located along one of the busiest east-west trade routes boasts of covered brick structures, buildings, and enclosed areas for a variety of functions ― commercial and trade-related activities, social gatherings, and educational and religious practices.

Tabriz Bazaar Complex was one of the most important international trade and cultural centers in Asia and the world between the 12th and the 18th centuries CE in view of its location along the east-west trade routes.

Tabriz Bazaar is an exceptional prototype of an architectural-urban commercial area, which is reflected in its highly-integrated architectural buildings and spaces. The bazaar is one of the most sustainable socio-economic structures, and its great complexity attests to the richness in trade and cultural interaction of Tabriz.

The bazaar is an exceptional physical, economic, social, political, and religious complex that provides evidence to a civilization that is still flourishing. Over the centuries, Tabriz Bazaar developed into a socio-economic and cultural system in which specialized architectural structures, functions, professions and people from various cultures integrated into a unique living ambiance.

The historic Tabriz Bazaar is an outstanding example of an integrated multi-functional urban complex in which interconnected architectural structures and spaces have been shaped by commercial activities. A large number of specialized buildings and structures are concentrated and interconnected in a relatively compact area to form what is almost a single integrated structure.


Integrity and Authenticity

The designated property contains all the elements that convey its significance. The integrity of the 18th century Tabriz Bazaar is well preserved. The connection between the physical structure and its functioning is still clearly legible, and in many cases alive.

The texture of bazaar still exhibits the design, workmanship and materials of the time it was reconstructed after the 1780 earthquake. The bazaar is still vibrant and economically active, attesting to its rich and long-lasting economic, social, and cultural exchanges.

Protection and management

Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex was officially protected in 1975. Three different protected areas which have been established (a nominated area, a buffer zone, and a landscape zone), are subject to special regulations.

Any kind of activity within these areas requires authorization from Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), which is the institutional body in charge of preserving the historical monuments.


Historical description

Archeological evidence bears witness to human settlement in Tabriz since the Bronze Age.

Tabriz was an important military base in the ninth century CE. The city began to prosper as an economic and business center. It was the capital of the country in the 12th and 13th centuries CE.

 The destruction of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1,258 CE increased the importance of Tabriz as a trading hub.

Tabriz attained its zenith in economic and social fields between 1316 and 1331 CE. Globetrotters such as Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta described it as one of the richest trading hubs in the world.

The town's prosperity rose thanks to its strategic location during the 14th and 15th centuries CE.

Sahebabad, the first vast official and ceremonial space, was created in Tabriz in 1258 CE ― around which the most important public buildings were built. The Safavid rulers chose Tabriz as the capital in early 16th century CE. The city became a powerful government headquarter, even though the capital was moved first to Qazvin in 1548 and then to Isfahan, which were considered safer in the face of threats by the Ottoman empire.

Tabriz witnessed economic depression in the last quarter of the 17th century. Nonetheless, the city's revenues earned from travelers depicted Tabriz as an important trading spot.

The 18th century brought a period of political instability triggered by Ottoman attempts at expansion. The most destructive earthquake in the intense seismic history of Tabriz totally ruined the town in 1780, at the beginning of Qajar reign. It was, however, rapidly rebuilt.

Another earthquake in 1817, caused a great deal of damage to the mosques and to the town. Tabriz was occupied by the Russians in 1826, but was retaken by the Qajar rulers two years later. Several changes were made in the town during the 19th century. The governmental headquarter moved from Sahebabad ― where public buildings were arranged around a vast square in north of Mehranroud River ― to its present location, south of the river, near Aala Gate. Saheb-ol Amr Square was built in the historical area of Sahebabad, and Tabriz Jame' Mosque was restored.

A flood caused extensive damage to the bazaar in 1871, which was mapped and evaluated by means of a field survey. These records provide information about the condition of the bazaar at that time. Renovation works were conducted for various structures in the following years. For example, Mozaffarieh Timcha (Carpet Bazaar of Tabriz) was completed in 1905.

Tabriz became the center of the Iranian Constitution Movement in 1906: The bazaar was closed and the people demonstrated against the government since the constitution was signed by the king and the first Parliament was established.

During the 20th century, several wide roads were established, leading to certain sections of the bazaar.

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