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Tabriz (تبریز)

The city of Tabriz, its name derived from the words ''tap riz" meaning "heat flow" due to surrounding hot springs, is located in the northwestern section of Iran, and is the capital of the East Azarbayjan Province. Located near Lake Orumiyeh in the foothills of Mt. Sahand, it has an elevation of approximately 1,372 meters above sea level. The main spoken language in Tabriz is Azeri Turkish, reflective of the city's Azarbayjani character.

In its early history, Tabriz was known as Tauris and was the capital of Atropatene, the realm of one of Alexander the Great's generals. During the third century, it became the capital of Armenia under King Tiridates III. Throughout the centuries, Tabriz would change hands on numerous occasions. It became the capital of a Mongol dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries, and then passed into Turkoman hands in the 14th century. With the emergence of the Safavid Dynasty in 1501, Tabriz became its administrative center until the capital was moved to Qazvin in 1548. Though its geographical position made it prone to earthquakes which periodically destroyed much of the city, it also proved to be an ideal strategic and administrative location, explaining the number of times it has been made capital by various groups.

During the Qajar Dynasty, Tabriz regained a level of prominence it had lost after the Safavids moved the capital. With the opening of trade with Europe, Tabriz became an economic center as a trade hub between interior Iran and Europe. With its renewed commercial prominence, Tabriz became the seat of the Qajar Crown Prince. It was during the Qajar Dynasty in 1850 that the Bab, the leader of the Babi Movement, was executed along with thousands of his followers in Tabriz. It was also in Tabriz that an uprising began during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906. Upset over Mohammad Ali Shah's efforts including the bombardment of the Majlis in Tehran—to render the 1906 Constitution and its democratic institutions ineffective, constitutionalists rose up in protest, an uprising which would spread throughout Iran. By 1909, Tabriz was blockaded by the Shah's forces. A force led by Sattar Khan broke the Tabriz blockade, albeit at great cost. It was during this offensive that the American missionary Howard Baskerville died in his efforts to aid the constitutionalists.

Throughout the 20th century, Tabriz remained important strategically and geopolitically. During World War II, the USSR, occupied the city to protect transportation links into Iran that allowed United States war materials to get to the Soviet Union. Though the Allied Forces agreed to withdraw from Iran after the war, the Soviets remained and installed a puppet government in Azarbayjan with Tabriz as its capital. This led to the Azarbayjan Crisis. With the United States taking the lead, and involvement of the newly formed United Nations, eventually the Soviets withdrew. The city reverted to Iranian control. Into the 21st century, Tabriz remains, consistent with its historical role, one of the most important cities of the Iranian state.

 Refrence(s):

Lorentz, H. John. 2007. Historical Dictionary of Iran: Tabriz. Lanham, Maryland, Toronto, Plymouth, UK. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Second Edition. Pp. 322-323

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