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In Tabriz, there exists a particular badge of honor of “a bazaar family.”  This denotes a longstanding association with the city’s ancient bazaar; the only marketplace in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Thanks to a vigorous restoration campaign begun in 2000, which earned the Tabriz Bazaar the Aga Khan Prize for Architecture, the once-crumbling and almost derelict bazaar today stands as the proud cultural, political, and social center of this ancient Silk Road hub.

Tabriz is one of Iran’s oldest cities, located to the west of the country bordering with Turkey and the Caucasian countries. An important link in the commercial and cultural chain that was the Silk Road, Tabriz was a polyglot center for the trade of European Goods as well as an important political and educational center.  Tabriz reached the height of its power and might in the sixteenth century, when it was the capital of the Safavid dynasty.

Frequent earthquakes have demolished earlier iterations of the Tabriz bazaar, which is the Middle East’s largest, but the current building dates back 240 years.  The site covers 67 acres, stretching almost three miles, and estimates to the number of shops and retail establishments range from five to seven thousand.  The linear layout is divided roughly into five zones: in the center are Tabriz’s exquisite carpets and textiles; to the South are found the gold and silversmiths; to the North copper and metal works; head East to explore Tabriz’s famous leatherwork, including famous handmade shoes, and to the West are found the religious and educational institutions, including the bazaar’s fourteen mosques. 

All five of the senses are inundated at Tabriz’s bazaar, but most particularly the eyes, which are drawn to the vibrant colors of carpet silks and spices, the winking of gold jewelry, the lush tones of farm produce, and the breathtaking painted brickwork, which adorns the lofty vaulted arches in the intricate patterns of the region.  Of particular note are the skylights at the top of the arches, by which Tabriz’s merchants tell the time of day:  when the light hits the cobblestones below, it is noon.  

Alexander + Roberts are delighted to add Iran to its list of emerging destinations in 2016.  Speak to one of our knowledgeable reservation agents about our new 14-day itinerary, Persian Moments, which includes a visit to the Tabriz Bazaar as well as Iran’s other ancient monuments.

Posted: 8/29/2016 2:47:40 PM by Alexander + Roberts

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