City of Water, Paris of Iran, City of Religions, Creeds and Ethnicities, Land of Vigor
The capital of West Azarbaijan Province, Urmia is a city surrounded by several mountains and borders Lake Urmia in the east, Turkey in the west, the cities of Mahabad, Naqadeh and Oshnavieh in the south and the city of Salmas in the north. Urmia has semi-arid climate and its weather becomes hot during the summer and extremely cold during the winter.
The name Urmia consists of the Assyrian words ‘Ur’ meaning ‘city’ and ‘Mia’ meaning ‘water,’ winning it the nickname ‘city of water.’ During the Pahlavi era (1925-1979), Reza Shah (1878-1944) changed the city’s name to Rezaieh but its name was changed back to Urmia after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Excavations at Tepe Hassanlou archeological site southwest of Lake Urmia have found that this area was continuously inhabited from the 6th millennium BC to the 3rd century CE. However, Urmia as a city is believed to have a 3 to 4,000-year history.
Urmia is a city where different ethnicities and religions have lived alongside one another in harmony for centuries. The city has considerable Assyrian, Kurdish, and Armenian communities.
Urmia has numerous historical and natural attractions. Some of the most notable historical attractions of the city include an 11th century Jame Mosque, the Qajar era (1785-1925) Sardar Mosque, Naneh Maryam Church or the Church of East Assyria, which was built in the year 32 CE, and the 18th century Sepurghan Church. The city has a museum where over 26 thousand ancient artifacts from the 7th millennium BC to the Qajar era are on display.
Urmia’s natural attractions include Saholan Cave, which is the country’s second largest water cave, Marmishou Lake and waterfall, and Lake Urmia. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Lake Urmia was once valued for the threptic properties of its water but the lake has been rapidly disappearing in recent years.
Urmia has a new ski resort named Khoshako which is a great destination for snowboarders.
Top things to do:
Top foods to try:
- Noql-e Bidmeshk- A chewy sugar-coated candy scented with musk willow and served with black tea.
- Soujouq (basloq) - A soft starch-based candy infused with rosewater and completely coated with shredded coconut and topped with walnuts. This candy is usually served with unsalted nuts and black tea.
- Yar-ma-shour-baseh- A thick tomato-paste based bulgur soup made with kidney beans, potato, bell pepper, onion, fried dried mint and turmeric, served with fresh lime juice.