Tabriz Bazaar at a Glance
Tabriz, the capital of the northwestern province of East Azerbaijan, is the most important tourist destination in western Iran. This historic city with its diverse and varied historical monuments attracts and surprises all its visitors. Among all the historical monuments of Tabriz, the Grand Rooftop Bazaar occupies a privileged position. It is registered as one of the longest global bazaars in the world.
Tabriz's historic bazaar complex, a twisting maze of interconnected covered passageways that totals around 5 km, has been a melting pot of cultural exchange since ancient times and once a hotspot on the historic Silk Road. The bazaar, which has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, includes countless shops, more than 20 caravanserais, and inns, around 20 vast domed halls, public baths, and mosques, as well as other brick structures and enclosed spaces for different functions.
The history of the Tabriz Bazaar dates back over a millennium, however, the majority of the beautiful brick vaults that catch the eye of most visitors dating back to the 15th century. Most labyrinths and passages offer certain goods such as carpets, ironwork, toys, clothing, jewelry, kitchen appliances, traditional spices, herbal remedies, and natural fragrances. You can also come across colorful grocers, bookbinders, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, boilermakers, tobacconists, tailors, flag sellers, cloth sellers, carpenters, shoemakers, and cutlers. There are several carpet sections divided across the bazaar that allows visitors to view or purchase hand-woven Persian carpets and rugs with varying knot densities and other characteristics.
The bazaar was also well-known and prosperous in the 13th century when Tabriz became the capital of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736). The city lost its capital status in the 16th century, but remained important as a commercial center until the end of the 18th century, with the expansion of Ottoman power. It is one of the most comprehensive examples of Iran's traditional trade and cultural system.
Incidentally, the city moved away from its heyday when the capital moved east to Qazvin in the 16th century, but the bazaar remained more or less vital as a trading hub. Tabriz Bazaar is unique in that, unlike Isfahan, it functions primarily as a local "shopping mall" for the local population, with tourists being the minority there. You can spend hours here enjoying cultural sightings, if that interests you, or just wandering the back streets only to realize that you actually don't know whether you've been here before or not...
"Beautiful bazaar with lots of good things to buy" The impressive bazaar is probably the best reason to visit Tabriz. It's beautiful, and you can buy anything here. As a tourist it is fascinating to discover the huge selection of nuts, dried fruits, mountains of tea, and spices in abundance - you feel like buying it all.