House of Guidance, Home of Mysticism, House of Sanctuary, Sacred city
The city of Ardabil in northwestern Iran is the Capital of Ardabil Province. Ardabil neighbors the Republic of Azerbaijan and the city of Meshgin Shahr in the north, the city of Namin and Gilan Province in the east, Nir and Kowsar counties in the south and East Azarbaijan Province and part of Meshgin Shahr in the west.
Surrounded by Mount Talysh and Mount Sabalan of the Alborz Mountain Range, Ardabil is one of the coldest cities in Iran and experiences freezing winters and mild summers.
Ardabil is believed to be at least 3,000 to 5,000 years old. In Sumerian tablets Ardabil has been mentioned as Arta. In the Avesta (Zoroastrian sacred texts), the city has been mentioned as Artaville. ‘Arta’ meaning ‘sacred’ and “ville” meaning “city.”
The city is also where the Safavids, the most significant Iranian dynasty after the fall of the Sassanid Empire (226-651 CE) who created a unified Iranian state, hailed from.
Ardabil has several historical sites, the most important of which are Sheikh Safi al-Din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble, Virgin Mary Church (also known as Maryam-e Moghaddas or Moqaddas Church), Haft Cheshmeh Bridge, Shater Tower, Mullah Hadi Bathhouse, Ershadi House, Jom’eh Mosque and Sheikh Amin al-Din Jibrael Mausoleum.
The famous Ardabil Carpets originate from this city. These 16th century carpets were a pair that once adorned the Sheikh Safi al-Din Shrine. After an earthquake damaged the shrine, they were sold off to fund its renovation. Today, the larger carpet, which is considered the oldest dated and one of the most beautiful and historically important carpets in the world, is housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum of London. The other smaller carpet is housed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Top things to do:
Top foods to try:
- Ash-e Dough- A soup made with chickpea, rice, fresh dough (a salted yogurt drink), wild leek, parsley, dill and fresh garlic.
- Ash-e Miveh or Fruit Soup- This sweet and sour dish is made with dried apricot, plum and sour cherry, tomato, chard, parsley, wild leek, coriander, minced meat , kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas.
- Torshi Garma Stew- A dish made with cherry plum, meat chunks, cowpeas, fried onion and saffron.