Past Cities

Ardabil, Iran

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Ardabil is a city located in the northwestern region of Iran, in the province of Ardabil. It is situated at an altitude of 1,263 meters above sea level and has a population of approximately 529,374 inhabitants as of 2021. The city is renowned for its silk and carpet weaving industry and is also a major producer of honey.

The history of Ardabil dates back to the Sassanid era, when it was known as Artavil. During this period, it was a strategic city, as it was located on the Silk Road trade route that linked China to the Mediterranean. The city was also a hub for the Zoroastrian religion, which was the dominant faith in Iran at the time. In the early Islamic period, the city came under the control of the Arab caliphate, and it remained under Arab rule until the end of the 9th century.

In the 10th century, Ardabil was ruled by the local Shaddadid dynasty, which was a vassal state of the Buyid Empire. The Shaddadids were overthrown by the Seljuq Turks in the 11th century, and the city became a part of the Seljuq Empire. During the Mongol invasion of Iran in the 13th century, Ardabil was devastated, and much of the city was destroyed.

In the late 14th century, Ardabil was rebuilt by the Safavid dynasty, which established its capital in the city. The Safavids were a Shia Muslim dynasty that ruled Iran from 1501 to 1736. Under their rule, Ardabil became a center of Shia Islam and a major pilgrimage site. The Safavids built a shrine to Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, in the city, which became the centerpiece of the Ardabil Shrine Complex.

In the 18th century, Ardabil came under the control of the Afsharid dynasty, which was founded by Nader Shah, a former Safavid military commander. Nader Shah conquered much of Iran and Central Asia, and he established his capital in Mashhad, but he continued to use Ardabil as a secondary capital. During the Qajar period, which began in the late 18th century, Ardabil became a provincial capital and remained an important center of Shia Islam.

During the 20th century, Ardabil played a key role in the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which overthrew the monarchy of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and established an Islamic republic. The city was a hotbed of political activity, and many of its residents participated in the revolution. In the years since the revolution, Ardabil has experienced significant economic and social development, and it has become a center of education and research.

The geography of Ardabil has played a significant role in its history. The city is located in a mountainous region that is rich in natural resources, including mineral deposits and fertile soil. The region is also known for its harsh winters and heavy snowfall, which has made it difficult to travel and trade in the past. Despite these challenges, Ardabil has remained a vital center of commerce and culture, and its people have adapted to the harsh environment.

Ardabil is a city with a rich and complex history that reflects the political and cultural changes that have occurred in Iran over the centuries. From its role as a strategic hub on the Silk Road to its status as a center of Shia Islam, Ardabil has played a pivotal role in the development of Iranian civilization. Its people have overcome numerous challenges, including wars, invasions, and natural disasters, and have built a vibrant and dynamic city that continues to thrive in the modern era.