City of Bridges
The capital of Khuzestan Province, Ahvaz is built on the banks of the Karoun (Karun) River, the largest river and the only navigable waterway in Iran. Ahvaz has a desert climate and experiences hot summers and short, mild winters. Ahvaz is one of the hottest cities in Iran with summer temperatures reaching 45 to sometimes 50 degrees centigrade. The city is often subject to sand and dust storms.
Some historians believe that Ahvaz was named Tareiana in the Achaemenid era (550-330 BC). Others believe that it is the city of Aginis referred to in Greek sources.
The founder of the Sassanid Dynasty Ardashir I (180-242 CE) rebuilt the city on both sides of the river, designating one half for God and the other half for himself and naming it Hormoz-Ardashir. In the Sassanid era (224–651 CE) the city became a center for textile production and a trade hub.
By the time of the Arab attack, half of the city was inhabited by nobles and named Hormshir and the other half was inhabited by merchants and called Hujestan-vacar (market of Khuzestan). After the Arab attack only the market half of the city remained intact.
In the early Islamic era, Ahvaz flourished as a market town and became known as Souq al-Ahvaz (Ahvaz Market). However, the city fell into ruin in the course of centuries of conflict and endless power struggles.
In the Qajar era Nasser-al Din Shah (1831-1896) built a port next to the city and renamed it Naseri or Naserieh. The founder of the Pahlavi dynasty Reza Shah (1878-1944) changed city’s name to Ahvaz. The city was severely damaged during the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s.
Ahvaz is known as the city of bridges for the 9 bridges that have been built over the Karoun River namely Pol-e Sefid (White Bridge), Black Bridge (Victory Bridge), Naderi Bridge (Fourth Bridge) and Gofteguye Tammadonha (Dialogue of Civilizations Bridge).
The city has a considerable Mandaean community (Sabian), who are the followers of John the Baptist. The Mandaeans can often be seen performing their weekly baptism rituals along the River Karoun.
There are several wetlands near Ahvaz including Bamdezh (Bamdej) Wetland and Gandoman Wetland.
Top things to do:
Top foods to try:
- Qalieh Mahi- A spicy, sour stew made with fish and herbs like cilantro, fenugreek and garlic, simmered to perfection in red pepper and tamarind sauce.
- Sambouseh or Samosa- A triangular, deep-fried pastry filled with spiced potato, onion and bell pepper.
- Emgesht –A rice dish consisting of slated fish with coriander, dill and raisins.