Tabriz was the place where I touched down in Iran in 2005, after a long flight from Sydney via Bangkok and Kuwait City.
Tabriz is the capital of Northwestern Iran. It borders Turkey, and the people who live here are in fact of Turkish background and speak a Turkish-related language. When the Soviet army dropped by for a visit during World War One, the area became part of Iran by default and has remained so ever since. So it’s everything I expected it to be – very Turkish, very Persian, a dollop of Soviet style atmosphere and a even a hint of Mongolia. Set in the Northwestern mountains, it was exciting, bustling and cold.
Cold, but not unpleasant – much like Sydney in May/June. The day after I arrived, I took a walk around the central park, visited the Turkish Museum and walked through Tabriz‘s Blue Mosque.
Tabriz is fabled to have been the historical site of the Garden of Eden, although a walk down the main street in peak hour would make you wonder why. Anyhow, there have been Christians in Tabriz for nearly as long as there have been Christians, and my visit to the Christian area of the city opened my eyes to a new kind of church, a much more traditional, subdued affair compared to anything I had seen in Australia.
I have also had the pleasure of eating a local specialty, dizi, which is a delicious meat, vegetable and bread stew. I assure you it tastes much better than it sounds, and to get it I had to go to a subterranean canteen in the Tabriz bazaar – how cool is that?
On Wednesday I enlisted the help of the so-helpful-he-gets-aggressive Nasser Khan of the Tabriz tourist office to book a tour to the nearby stone-age village of Kandovan, a village carved out of rocks on the side of a hill, similar to the much more famous Cappadocia in Turkey – more on that next time 🙂