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Tabriz Bazaar, the Cultural and Commercial World Heritage

Tabriz Bazaar, the Cultural and Commercial World Heritage
Photo by Mohammad Tajik

The world's first bazaar enlisted in the UNESCO world heritage list has the first rank among all enchanting bazaars in Iran. Tabriz city as the historic commercial center on the Silk Road holds the traditional station of the unique living environment which merges people of different cultures, professions and architectural structures to be one of the most significant international cultural and trading centers in Asia over six hundred years of history.

Covered all over its seven square kilometers length with brick vaults, one thousand -year Tabriz grand bazaar is the perfect combination of history, heritage, and authenticity. One of the biggest bazaars in the middle east, it's also the best embodiment of the Persian culture and Iranian daily life that is visible via the flames of the sun enter through apertures embedded on the roof of bazaar all along.

A prototype for Persian urban design

This city of Northwestern Iran was an important economic hub since the 9th century. Located on the famous Silk Road trading route, thousands of caravans would stop daily on their way between Asia and Europe. Merchants would stop under the arches of the bazaar, to trade fabrics, leathers, coopers, and other goods coming halfway around the globe. The famous Venitian merchant Marco Polo is one of the many world traveler attracted by the radiant city of Tabriz. During spring 1272, he described it as "a great city surrounded by beautiful and pleasant gardens. It is excellently situated so the goods brought to here come from many regions. Latin merchants specially Genevis go there to buy the goods that come from foreign lands.”

However it's most glorious era was during the reign of the Safavid kings, who made Tabriz their capital since 13th century. For 200 years, the city and its bazaar were the heart of economic activities of Persia, and still in the 19th century, the great historical bazaar would trade more goods than the capital, Tehran. It's thus an understatement to say that the place is full of life and radiates with energy.

Tabriz grand bazaar
The socio-commercial and cultural complex of Tabriz bazaar, Mohammad Tajik

Alive heritage of old Silk Road in Iran

The alleys of this masterpiece of Persian architecture, where the smells of spices blend with the voices of merchants, look unchanged for centuries. This magnificent complex of well-designed vaults and domes is decorated with tilework and sculped bricks. It's almost a city inside the city, with plenty of sub-bazaars, caravanserais, traditional bathhouses, schools, and many mosques. Tabriz bazaar has all the components to bear its significance.

 Walking into the lanes, the visitor can feel the same atmosphere as the one described by the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta on the 14th century, entering the lavish Amir Bazaar: “I traversed the bazaar of the jewelers, and my eyes were dazzled by the varieties of precious stones which I beheld."

No doubts Ibn Battuta had been amazed by the wonderful work of craftsmen in the Mozzafarieh section too, the highlight of Tabriz Bazaar, and a worldwide center of carpets selling still remained as the favorite part of bazaar for tourists to be thrown back in time seeing carpet brokers at work while others are busy renovating loose rugs. At the giant gates of Mozaffarieh caravanserai a big samovar offers the bazaar keepers and clients  to grab a hot tea as a cultural routine in daily life of bazaar.

One must get lost into the mazelike heart of the bazaar to explore its hidden gems, which merchants themselves have never laid their eyes on. Other sections display shoes, clothes, hats, and food, intersperse by peaceful caravanserais.

"Nobody pushes to buy" and "People are genuinely friendly at Tabriz bazaar"; what tourists largely state about Tabriz bazaar in excursion experience. The experience of Tabriz bazaar is going to fulfill by having a traditional lunch in Haj Ali restraunt in Kolahdoozan section in bazaar.

Tabriz historic bazaar
Liveliness of bazaar and ancient architecture, Mohammad Tajik

A place of religious and political significance

Tabriz Bazaar is not only a historical place of commercial exchanges. Among its many mosques, the bazaar holds the splendid Jameh Mosque, an important religious monument. During the Shia commemoration of Ashura, this place lives the celebrations like no other. The whole bazaar is lavishly decorated for the event, while the beautiful mosque is the center of gathering. Dating back to the Seljuk Era, a powerful Turko-Persian Empire and the Jameh Mosque welcomes its visitors with two fierce minarets. The interior leaves them in awe, adding to the magic of the great bazaar, with the raw of delicate bricks arches of its night prayer yard. Historically, Tabriz bazaar also had an important political role, thanks to the influence of its powerful merchants. During the Constitutional Revolution, at the beginning of the 20th century, the whole place was entirely shut down for several days.

Still flourishing today, the biggest Iranian bazaar stays an invaluable and living testimony of the Persian Empire's heritage and the greatness of the Persian culture.

 

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