Introduction to Tabriz Grand Bazaar
One of the factors that have always influenced the economic prosperity of a city which caused profound changes, not only in a city, but also in a country throughout history was trade. However, trade relations lead to cultural prosperity and possibly cultural changes. But how do these changes and transformations penetrate the roots of a city and change it as if it had just been born? Markets in every city are a breeding ground for the intricacies of these transformations, so that they enter the hands of the people in the hands of the caravan and spread its fragrance all over the fabric of the city. Tabriz Grand Bazaar is the oldest fast that has been away for centuries to enter and expand changes and awareness of other nations and has caused the city of Tabriz to play its role as a gateway from east to west.
History of the Most Important International Bazaar in Persia
There’s no exact information about the time of constructing the building, but since great explorers like Marco Polo, Jean Chardin and others who had passed through Tabriz from 10th to 18th century had mentioned about Tabriz Bazaar in their travelogue, it is understood that this building ages more than 8 centuries. The peak period of Tabriz’s importance was during the Mongol Ilkhanate. During this period, by the efforts of Khajeh Rashid al-Din Fazlullah, the minister of Ghazan Khan, one of the Ilkhanate kings, Tabriz was chosen as the capital and the main road of Silk Road, which would pass through Baghdad, fell into disrepair and shifted to Tabriz, from where it headed for Europe. The Silk Sub-Road, which had previously been less important due to the difficulty of the road, now regains its prosperity due to high security, and Tabriz suddenly became the growing growth of trade.
After the 13th century, Tabriz became the main trade center between Europe and the northern regions of Persia. It was also known as the main center of Persian trade with Central Asia until 1906 A.D. The bazaar was destroyed by a horrific earthquake in 1779 A.D, but after a while it rebuilt by skilled architects. The current bazaar dates back to the late Zandieh and Qajar eras.
Architecture of Tabriz Grand Bazaar
Distinctive Arch and Dome
The space design of Tabriz Bazaar includes (Rasteh) rows, corridors, Timchehs, caravanserais, mosques, baths and schools that many different stuff are sold in the commercial spaces among them. The oldest map of Tabriz which was drawn by Motraqchi and relates to 1534 A.D, and important places like Timche and Caravanserai that are named in the map, is housed in a museum in Turkey.
Timchehs and Saraas have three floors and each floor is dedicated to a specific activity; The lower floor is for storage of stuff and products, the second floor is for occupation, sales and trade, and the third floor is for resting. The sub-rows (Rasteh) connect the main (Rasteh) rows to each other and in the spaces between them, the Timchehs and the Saraas are built. Beautiful high-rise domes, connected brick structures, shop layouts, the large number of Timchehs, schools and mosques located next to the merchant houses make this Bazaar a great example of Islamic and Eastern business environment.
Timcheh is a space with a domed roof and brickwork, with large and strong doors that is open during the day and closed at night or on holidays. Each Timcheh has guards and in term of usage is divided into four parts. Two Timcehs in Tabriz Bazaar are more popular than others;
- Amir Timcheh is one of the most picturesque architectural masterpiece and the most famous Timcheh of Tabriz Bazaar.
- Mozaffariyeh Timcheh (which is named after the name of Mozaffar Al-din Shah – the king of its time) known as the Tabriz Carpet Bazaar that has a special importance, not only in Persia but also in the global carpet trade because it is one of the significant centers for export and trade of Azerbaijan and Persia.
The public passages with roofs in Bazaars are called as Rasteh which has no entrance door and are used as the main transit paths in bazaars and Perhaps are the most complete parts of Tabriz bazaar in terms of the variety of guilds and stuff that provides a calm and safe atmosphere for buyers and pauses them in front of the openings of the cell (Hojreh). Among the guilds in this category, we can mention carpet sales, towel sales, clothing stores, decorative accessories, banks, and so on.
Many explorers such as Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Jackson, Evliya Celebi, Yaqut al-Hamawi, Gaspar Drewville, Alexey Saltykov, Jean Chardin, Robert Grant Watson, Hamdollah Mostofi and Moghaddasi have praised the prosperity and glory of Tabriz Bazaar. Frenchman Jean Chardin considers Tabriz Bazaar to be one of the greatest bazaars in Asia and described the beautiful domes and the spectacular, vast Caesarea Bazaar with its unique 8-corner shape as the most stunning and breathtaking part of Tabriz Great Bazaar. Ibn Battuta, a famous explorer, talks about this bazaar: “Tabriz Bazaar was one of the best bazaar I have seen in all the cities of the world.” Jean Baptiste Tavernier has visited Tabriz Bazaar and praised it.
The Tabriz Grand Bazaar walking tour
Walking in traditional and old spaces is very exciting. If you like to experience the atmosphere of a historical Bazaar and see one of the most stunning sights in Tabriz, come with us. A trip through history by going to the old chambers, in which one can imagine the pleasant and ordinary commercial world of the past people. We are on our way to one of the largest indoor bazaars in Iran and the largest roofed and interconnected brick complex in the world, the Tabriz Grand Bazaar. An old bazaar with a length of one kilometre has passed through various historical events and has reached us today as a valuable heritage.
A bazaar that has an area of more than one square kilometre and consists of 6500 Hojrehs (Chambers), 35 Saras, 20 Rastehs (the main passageways with shops of the same guilds), 25 Timchehs (large and small, enclosed areas for selling heavy-weighed and expensive goods) and 40 business types. Next to them, you can see a bathhouse, a school, a mosque, a caravanserai, a library, etc., and you can feel the history in the brick walls, wooden doors, and the texture and traditional architecture of the bazaar. Upon entering the bazaar, you will notice the arches and domes which line up in one direction and attract everyone’s attention with their specific order. Also, you can visit many Rastehs, Timchehs, and Hojrehs with Persian architecture that tells a large part of the culture of Tabriz. In the old bazaar, working traditionally in various businesses and trades caused the bazaar to maintain its oldness. Among the most substantial items sold in the historical bazaar of Tabriz from the past to the present, we can mention hand-woven Tabriz carpets, leather products, fabrics, handicrafts, spices, glass, etc.
Tabriz Grand Bazaar Walking Story
The unique geographical location of Tabriz on the Silk Road had made the Grand Bazaar of Tabriz the main centre of goods exchange in the world in the distant past. Many commercial caravans from all over the world came to the bazaar and traded there. Tabriz, after Tehran, was famous as the most influential city from the time of the Ilkhanids until the end of the Qajar rule. The Tabriz bazaar was considered one of the largest bazaars in the world and the gathering centre of reputable merchants from the East and the West.
Many works of travellers who have travelled to Persia since the 10th century A.D, such as Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Jean Chardin, Yaqut al-Hamawi, Gaspar Doraville, Jamali Cardi, Hamdallah Mustawfi, etc., have mentioned and praised the bazaar. According to Chardin, the French traveller, the Tabriz bazaar was built around 1446 A.D. And after it was severely damaged in the city’s severe earthquake two hundred years later, it was rebuilt by Najaf Qoli Khan Bigler Begi in 1780 A.D was restored. The Persian-Islamic architecture of the bazaar plays a significant role in the value and importance of the Grand Bazaar of Tabriz.
The interior of the Tabriz Grand Bazaar
The two main Rastehs of the indoor bazaar include Saras, caravanserais, and famous timchehs, such as Amir, Mozaffaria, etc. Each Timchehs or Saras of Tabriz bazaar contains stunning corridors, and domed arches cover the intersection of Rastehs in Chahar-Souq. The largest dome of the bazaar is the Timcheh Amir dome. And the most stunning part of the bazaar is Timcheh Mozaffarieh, one of the most important centres of carpet and rug trade in East Azerbaijan province. You can find the most exquisite hand-woven carpets of Tabriz in Timcheh Mozaffarieh. In the part of the bazaar, in addition to buying and selling carpets, they design and repair all kinds of rugs and Pictorial carpets. There are no machine-made carpets in the Timcheh, and every rug you see is the result of the art of Azari artists. Amir Bazar, a gold and jewellery exchange, is one of the busiest parts of the bazaar in Tabriz and one of the sightseeing spots in the city.
The function of the Tabriz Grand Bazaar
The function of the bazaar will change during holidays and special days, such as Muharram and Nowruz days. In this way, in Timchehs and especially parts such as Jame Central Mosque, people hold various rituals and distribute offerings instead of preparing and distributing goods in the bazaar. The main centre of mourning in the bazaar is Timcheh Mozaffarieh, and the mourning ceremony in the bazaar is registered in the list of national rituals of Iran. Tabriz Grand Bazaar is one of the vivid historical bazaars in Iran due to its significant architectural and commercial features. The complex was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in August 2010 and today shines as the giant work of Iran’s world registration in the list of works registered in UNESCO.
UNESCO World Heritage criteria of Tabriz Bazaar Complex
Criterion (ii): Tabriz Historical Bazaar Complex was one of the most important international and cultural trade centers in Asia and the world between the 12th and 18th centuries. The main reason for this was the location of Tabriz City on the Silk Road. Tabriz Bazaar is one of the great examples of urban commercial architecture that shows the diversity and integration in architecture, buildings and space very well.
Criterion (iii): Tabriz Historical Bazaar has one of the most complete socio-cultural and commercial complexes among other Bazaars. This bazaar is a great example of religious, political, social, economic and physical collections that is exceptionally alive. Over the centuries, due to its strategic location and intelligent tax and financial assistance policies, the Tabriz Bazaar grew in a cultural and socio-economic context. The growth of this structure is well illustrated in the architectural structures, the functioning of the bazaar, and the people who gathered from opposing cultures under one roof and traded goods.
Criterion (iv): The historical bazaar of Tabriz is a prominent example of an interconnected urban complex that has several functions. This unity is well reflected in the architectural structures and spaces that shape business activities. Here, a large collection of specialized buildings are interconnected in a compact space and from the outside it looks as if the market is an integrated structure.
Location of Tabriz Bazaar
If we imagine the center of Tabriz as a square, Tabriz Bazaar is located in the center of this square, so that, Aali Qapo, the complex of the palaces of the Crown Prince is located in the north and the Grand Mosque is located in the west of this square and Mehran River (the Chai Square River) flows through the square, dividing the market into northern and southern parts.
Where to eat near Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
- Hosseini Restaurant: This restaurant serves one of the best Kofteh Tabrizis in Tabriz Bazaar. The architecture of this restaurant gives the visitors a sense of nostalgia. By the way, you can only have your lunch in this memorable restaurant.
- Quran Chelokbabi: One of the oldest Chelokbabis in Tabriz is Quran Chelokbabi. If you are planning to go shopping or sightseeing in the center of Tabriz and exploring the great bazaar of Tabriz, We recommend you trying the taste of kebab of this restaurant.
- Shazdeh Resturaunt: Shazdeh restaurant in the historical bazaar of Tabriz is one of the most famous restaurants in Tabriz. The reputation of this restaurant has a special place among the people of Tabriz due to the unique atmosphere and traditional food of Tabriz.
The restaurant is located inside one of the market rooms, the traditional form of which is the first thing that catches the eye of customers upon arrival. The dishes used in the Prince’s Restaurant are old-fashioned and made of copper, and the traditional space is decorated with a combination of vivid and cheerful colors in the old style, which provides a warm and cheerful environment for customers. You can sit for hours and drink tea and talk and welcome you with traditional dishes in the heart of Tabriz’s history.
When to visit Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex:
Tabriz has a moderate weather, but it gets very cold on autumn and winter. From the beginning of March to the end of April and from the beginning of September to the end of November is the best time to visit this area. Notice that the busiest time to visit the Bazaar is from 10 am to 5 pm.
Where to stay near Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
- Tabriz International 4* Hotel: With its unique architecture and pleasant, spacious interiors is located in one of the best central neighborhoods of Tabriz with great amenities and beautiful views in the heart of the historic part of Tabriz. The amenities at the hotel are satisfying, the restaurant is qualified enough to bring you comfort during your residence in Tabriz city.
- Hotel Esteghbal: This hotel is one of Tabriz famous and old neighborhoods, giving you easy access to Tabriz sights.
- Park Hotel: Tabriz Park Hotel is located in the center of Tabriz and with more than half a century age, is one of the oldest hotels in this city and so good to mention that the distance from this hotel to Tabriz Bazaar is only 6 minutes by car!
- Pars Elgoli Hotel: Pars Elgoli 5* Hotel with a full glass view is one of the best hotels in Persia on the roof of Tabriz City, which is one of the best accommodation options in Tabriz. This hotel is close to Tabriz shopping malls. Guests can enjoy a relaxed, pleasant setting with a unique view of Ail Goli Park. The hotel’s revolving restaurant, with its eye-catching views and varied Persian dishes with delicious taste, is always ready to welcome the dear guests of this hotel.
- Shariar Hotel: Tabriz Shahriar International 5* hotel is a unique hotel located in the heart of Tabriz in a green area. Due to its convenient location, the accessability to places of interest and shopping centers in the city, such as the traditional bazaar of Tabriz, has become very easy. Shahriar Hotel offers its services in accordance with the latest international hotel standards and with the aim of providing comfort and convenience to the guests. The hotel has a large Cactus and Landscape Restaurant, multi-purpose reception halls, conference rooms, a variety of shops, special services for the disabled, a coffee shop, and an amphitheater.
How to visit Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
You can start exploring around the area from the Grand Mosque, the closest tourist attraction to Tabriz Bazaar which has an entrance route to the bazaar which usually is open during prayers. By the way! Don’t miss visiting the Museum of the Constitutional House of Tabriz, which reflects the story of the Persian Constitutional Revolution.
A tip: There are signs in the bazaar for guidance, but you’d better visit The Bazaar with a local person.
How to get to Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
Flying to Tabriz is one of the best and fastest ways to reach this city. Tabriz Martyr Madani International Airport (TZB) hosts domestic and foreign flights and is one of the most well-equipped international airports in the country. Tabriz Airport also provides you with transportation access to various locations. Traveling by train would make your journey poetic and romantic while you can watch the view of Aras Baran Jungles through the train window and imagine yourself among the Aras Baran trees, the dewdrops on your skin, and the cool breeze that blows through your hair.