Kandovan (UNESCO Site): A troglodytic village, great for discovering both the odd beauty of the place and the daily life of an Iranian village, among sheep, donkeys, hens and cats. Women in printed chadors can go outside and playing kids are all around. Resistant walking shoes are mandatory if you want to climb up the village. A living example of human adaptation to exceptionally unusual natural surroundings, Kandovan village is located 50 km to the south of Tabriz. There are a number of natural springs to the north of the river, the water from which has traditionally been used for the treatment of kidney stones, according to the locals. The physical structure of the village looks like images from fairy tales. Natural cones, scattered over a vast area, serve as human dwellings on rock formations which themselves seem to have been the work certain sculptors.
Armenian Monastic Ensembles (UNESCO Site): The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, in the north-west of the country, consists of three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith: St Thaddeus and St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor. These edifices - the oldest of which, St Thaddeus, dates back to the 7th century – are examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions. They bear testimony to very important interchanges with the other regional cultures, in particular the Byzantine, Orthodox and Persian. Situated on the south-eastern fringe of the main zone of the Armenian cultural space, the monasteries constituted a major centre for the dissemination of that culture in the region. They are the last regional remains of this culture that are still in a satisfactory state of integrity and authenticity. Furthermore, as places of pilgrimage, the monastic ensembles are living witnesses of Armenian religious traditions through the centuries.
Blue Mosque: Originally built in 1465, this mosque which was once certainly superb, but was severely damaged in an earthquake in 1778, leaving only the entrance Iwan. It was reconstructed at early 1900 by the Iranian Ministry of Culture. The inside of the mosque is tiled with superb blue ceramic, unfortunately, many pieces went missing during the quake and were simply replaced by painting instead of tiles - some of the original tiles can be found around the entrance. Entrance fee is 100,000 rials (~$3)
The Bazaar of Tabriz: (UNESCO Site) This Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars of the Middle East and the largest covered bazar in the world. Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity and its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centers on the Silk Road. Located in the center of the city of Tabriz, this spectacular structure consists of several sub-bazaars, such as Amir Bazaar (for gold and jewelry), Mozzafarieh (a carpet bazaar), a shoe bazaar, and many other ones for various goods. The most prosperous time of Tabriz and its bazaar was in 13th century when town became the capital city of Safavid kingdom. The city lost its status as capital in 16th century, but its bazaar has been being important as a commercial and economic center.
Azerbaijan Museum: This muesum comprises three main sections - the first contains the oldest archeological finds from the 5th millennium BC until the Sassanian dynasty (212-656 AD), the second section contains more Islamic archeology and coins and seals. The third section contains sculptures by Ahad Hosseini and a large collection of padlocks. There are good English signs for all the archeological exhibits and sculptures with a panel explaining the sculptors’ history in English, Farsi and French.
Ark-e-Alishah: also known as Arg e Tabriz, is a remnant of a fortress built in the Ilkhanate period. Currently it was located in the center of Tabriz. Historians believe that it was used as a military castle but clerics claim that the structure was initially used as a mosque in its early days. The structure today stands 28 meters high, and is still used as part of a space for holding Friday prayers.
El Goli (formerly Shah Goli): A superb park around a square artificial pond. In the center, a small hall is on an island and hosts a restaurant. Very nice for eating some tchelokebab or sip some tea while enjoying the freshness of the park in summer.
Constitution house: a house retracing the story of the Iranian constitutional revolution in the early 20th century, Tabriz being a high place of the uprising. Quite well documented and well kept, although few English translations are available. During the years leading up to the Constitutional Revolution and afterwards, the house was used as the gathering place of the leaders, activists, and the sympathizers of the movement, among them Sattar Khan, Baqer Khan, Seqat ol-Eslam and Haji Mirza AqaFarshi.. It has numerous rooms and halls. The most beautiful parts of the house are a skylight and a corridor decorated with colorful glasses and mirrors.
Orumyeh Lake: It is a salted lake with salt beaches and improbable bathing spots (gender separate, of course). Numerous migratory birds stop there on their long trip for some rest and food.
Babak Castle: A breathtaking castle, nested on a rocky peak at an altitude of 2,700 m. Babak was apparently one of the last Zoroastrian heroes fighting the Islamic invasion, 1400 years ago. A 2-hours walk to get up there, but definitely worth it.
Mount Sahand big dome topping at around 3,700 m. Interesting to climb in summer, or for skiing in winter (1 lift available, another in project)
Maqbaratol-Shoara: The most potent symbol of Iran’s devotion to art and culture, Maqbaratol Shoara (Poets’ Tomb) is Tabriz’s monument par excellence, putting it on the world map like nothing else. The area around this tomb, a modern structure where more than four hundred Persian poets are buried, is decorated with the poets’ likenesses and poems. When you step inside, you are immediately captivated by the other-worldly atmosphere of a temple. This is a place where you can close your eyes and hear and feel poetry, where the moment you are in can itself become a poem. Exactly like Tabriz itself.