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(täbrēz`), city (1991 pop. 1,088,985), capital of East Azerbaijan prov., NW Iran, on the Aji Chai (Talkheh) River, in the foothills of Mt. Sahand, at an elevation of c.4,600 ft (1,400 m). The fourth largest city in Iran, it is a summer resort and a commercial, industrial, and transportation center. Its manufactures include carpets, textiles, food products, shoes, and cement. There is also an extensive bazaar.

Historically, much of the city's importance has resulted from its strategic position for trade to the north (now the nations of Commonwealth of Independent States) and to the west (now Turkey). Tabriz, then known as Tauris, was (3d cent. A.D.) the capital of Armenia under King Tiridates III. It was sacked by the Oghuz Turks c.1029, but by 1054, when it was captured by the Seljuk Turks, Tabriz had recovered and was a provincial capital.

In 1295, Ghazan Khan, the Mongol ruler of Persia, made it the chief administrative center of an empire stretching from Egypt to the Oxus River (Amu Darya) and from the Caucasus to the Indian Ocean. Under his rule new walls were built around the city, and numerous public buildings, educational facilities, and caravansaries were erected. Tabriz was captured by Timur in the late 14th cent., and Shah Ismail made it the capital of his empire from 1501 until his defeat (1514) by the Ottoman Turks.

The Ottomans occupied Tabriz on a number of occasions thereafter, including the period from 1585 to 1603. Nevertheless, by the 17th cent. it was a major commercial center, carrying on trade with Turkey, Russia, central Asia, and India. Later, the city was again occupied (1724–30) by the Ottomans, and it was held by Russia in 1827–28. Tabriz played an important part in the Persian constitutional movement at the beginning of the 20th cent. After World War II it was the scene of a revolution led by the leftist Tudeh party, and a Tudeh regime, which had the support of the Soviet Union, held power for a few months in 1946.

The city has often been devastated by earthquakes (e.g., in 858, 1041, and 1721) and has few historical remains; of these, the most important are the beautiful Blue Mosque (15th cent.) and the Ark, or Ali Shah, Mosque (14th cent.), whose walls are 85 ft (25.9 m) high. Tabriz is the site of a university (founded 1946) and the Azerbaijan Museum.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(ancient Tauris), a city in northwestern Iran and capital of Eastern Azerbaijan Ostan. Situated in the valley of the Aji Chai River, at an elevation of 1,364 m. Population, 510,000 (1974).

Tabriz is both an important highway junction and a major railroad transit point in Iran’s trade with the USSR and Turkey. Its industries include machine building, railroad-car repair, and radio assembly. Among the local products are handwoven rugs, knitwear, leather goods, matches, and foodstuffs, including canned and dried fruits. The city also has a university, established in 1946.

Founded in the third or fourth century by the Sassanid dynasty, Tabriz has had a varied history. From the late 13th to the early 16th century, for example, it served as the capital of a series of temporary states formed in what is now Iran. In 1571–73 it was the scene of an uprising by artisans and poor townspeople. Capital of the Tabriz khanate in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the city became the official residence of the crown princes of the Qajar dynasty in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It also became, in the first half of the 20th century, a center of democratic and national liberation movements in Iran (as, for example, the uprising of 1908–09 and the popular movements of 1920 and 1945–46).

Several major architectural monuments are preserved in Tabriz, prominent among them the Cathedral Mosque of Ali-Shah (built 1310–20; made into a citadel in 1809) and the remains of the Blue Mosque (1465). Built according to a simple and compact plan, the Blue Mosque has a domed hall and is flanked on three sides by porticoes; it is distinguished for its decorations in glazed tiles. The city also has a park, Bag-e Golestan, containing several pavilions. In the Middle Ages, Tabriz was a leading center of artistic crafts and representational painting, especially miniatures (see).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a city in NW Iran: an ancient city, situated in a volcanic region of hot springs; university (1947); carpet manufacturing. Pop.: 1 396 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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