The City of Pioneers
Tabriz is the most populated city in the Iranian Azerbaijan, one of the historical capitals of Iran, and the present capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Located in the Quru River valley between the long ridge of the volcanic cones of the Sahand and Eynali mountains, Tabriz’s elevation ranges between 1,350 and 1,600 meters (4,430 and 5,250 ft) above sea level. The valley opens up into a plain that gently slopes down to the eastern shores of Lake Urmia, 60 kilometers (37 miles) to the west. With cold winters and temperate summers, the city is considered a summer resort. With a population of about 1.8 million, Tabriz is the biggest economic hub and the biggest metropolitan area in North West of Iran. The population consists mostly of Iranian Azerbaijanis and the most spoken language in the city is Azeri Turkish. Under the Safavids it rose from regional to national capital for a short period, but the second of the Safavid kings, Shah Tahmasb, moved the capital to Qazvin because of the vulnerability of Tabriz to Ottoman attacks. The town then went into a period of decline, fought over by the Iranians, Ottomans and Russians and struck by earthquake and disease.