Flooring project begins at historic Tabriz bazaar

TEHRAN – A flooring project is underway at the Amir Shomali covered passage of the UNESCO-listed Tabriz Bazaar in the northwest of the province of East Azerbaijan.

To preserve, strengthen and redevelop the covered passages of the historic bazaar, the project is being carried out in collaboration with traders, said Hossein Esmaeili, the director of the World Heritage site, on Sunday.

The project is expected to be completed within a month, the official added.

The historic Tabriz Bazaar complex has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010 and was mentioned by Marco Polo when he traveled the Silk Road in the Middle Ages.

A jumble of interconnected covered passages that stretches for about five kilometers, the bazaar has been a melting pot of cultural exchanges since antiquity.

It includes countless shops, more than 20 caravanserais and inns, some twenty vast domed halls, public baths and mosques, as well as other brick structures and enclosed spaces for different functions. Its history dates back over a millennium, however, the majority of the beautiful brick vaults that catch the eyes of most visitors date from the 15th century.

Tabriz became the capital of Mongolian Il-Khan Mahmud Gazan (1295-1304) and his successor. Timur (Tamerlan), a Turkish conqueror, took it in 1392. A few decades later, the Turkmens Kara Koyunlu made it their capital, it was during the construction of the famous Blue Mosque in Tabriz.

The ancient city retained its administrative status under the Safavid dynasty until 1548 when Shah Tahmasp I moved his capital west to Qazvin.

Over the next two centuries, Tabriz changed hands several times between Persia and the Ottoman Empire. During World War I, the city was temporarily occupied by Turkish and then Soviet troops.

Bazaars in Persian cities

The bazaar is originally a public market district of a Persian town. The bazaar of the ancient Islamic world has been vividly described in the folk tales of “A Thousand and One Nights”. Located in a separate part of a city, it was busy and noisy during the day unlike the quiet residential areas. Access was prohibited after sunset.

Distinctive architecture characterized some bazaars, such as those built in Kashan and Isfahan in Iran in the 17th century. They were usually covered for protection from the scorching desert sun, either with a single roof, with individual domes or vaulted domes, or with canopies.

From another point of view, bazaars are also synonymous with food, with their must-see colorful stalls of vegetables, herbs and spices. Yet most of these ingredients can be mysterious to a foreign eye. Tea rooms punctuate the stroll and a traditional restaurant is the ideal place for lunch.

Walking through a traditional bazaar can offer new experiences and new perspectives on ancient land. These excursions can be done either in person or by “off the beaten track” tours. It is not only the opportunity to discover dozens of unique local ingredients, but it is also the opportunity to taste food and street specialties, in a traditional bakery known only to locals and traders.

Watching people and even mingling with them in the bazaars is one of the best ways to take the pulse of the country. Bazaars are traditionally the main economic and social centers of all Iranian cities.


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