The Grand Bazaar of Tabriz, a historic heritage complex selected as a valuable cultural heritage by the UNESCO in 2010, is located in the middle of Tabriz, Iran’s northwestern province of East Azerbaijan and is known as the largest roofed bazaar in the world. Tabriz Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East and the largest covered one in the world sitting on about 67 acres of land with almost 4 miles of covered shops.
Tabriz Historic Bazaar complex situated along the Silk Roade, one of the most popular East–West trade routes, consists of a series of interconnected, covered brick structures, buildings and enclosed spaces for a variety of functions, commercial and trade-related activities, social gatherings, educational and religious practices. To mention a few parts, the Bazaar is made of Caravanserais (central courtyards for pack animals and caravans surrounded by warehouses and traders’ shop fronts, now often abbreviated to Sarras), Hujras (cells, small shops), Rastehs (a row of such shops), Chahar soos (intersections), Teamchehs (small versions of caravanserais, often chambers), and Dalans (alleys and pathways connecting all these parts, lined with shops). Marco Polo and Moroccan explorer Ibn-e- Battute visited the Bazaar and raved about it.
While many other town and city bazaars in Iran may have lost their original functions as the main trade hubs of their local areas and have turned into attractions, the Bazaar in Tabriz has maintained its original purpose and function and remained the economic heart of Tabriz and northwest of Iran for centuries. This outstanding structure has several old sub-bazaars along with numerous modern shops and malls, such as Amir Bazaar (the gold and jewelry bazaar), Mozaffarieh (the carpet bazaar), a Shoe Bazaar, a Spice Bazaar and many others for various goods.
In the past, Tabriz enjoyed an economic boom since it hosted traders from Asia, Africa and Europe frequenting the city through the historic Silk Roade. The golden age of Tabriz and its Bazaar was in 16th century when the city became the capital of the Safavid dynasty. The city lost its status as a capital in the 17th century, but remained important as a commercial hub until the end of the 18th century with the expansion of the Ottoman power. Its Bazaar, however, has always been the most significant international place for commercial and cultural interchange, due to its strategic location, centuries-old east-west trading routes and a wise endowment policy and tax exemption which have made it develop into a socio-economic and cultural complex.
In addition to its primary function, Tabriz Bazaar has been an important spot for political activities and played a vital role in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the last century and also in the Islamic Revolution in contemporary Iran. The Bazaar is used for some important religious ceremonies. The most noted one is Ashura month, during which the merchants cease trading for the first 10 days and religious ceremonies are held inside the Bazaar. Furthermore, there are some mosques built behind the Bazaar and the most prominent one is Jame Mosque. Blue Mosque is another historic site near the Bazaar.
Tabriz Bazaar, an admirable World Heritage Site, was the first bazaar selected by the UNESCO World Heritage Center (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) back in August 2010. The decision was made in the 34th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Brasilia, Brazil. The nominated property contains all the elements that are necessary to convey its significance. The integrity of the 18th century Tabriz Bazaar is well preserved and its architecture conserves a rich repertoire of commercial buildings. The connection between the physical structure and its function is well-kept, too. Through centuries, the Bazaar has remained true to its core function as an economic, social, political and religious complex where different activities and cultures are integrated in a unique living environment.
The Grand Bazaar has witnessed some earthquakes and a flood which caused extensive damage to the structure and made it undergo some reconstruction through years. In 2000, the Historical Heritage Organization of Iran began a restoration project of the Bazaar, with the full participation of the shop owners. The rehabilitation project won the “Aga Khan Award for Architecture” in 2013.
Shopping in Tabriz Bazaar, the opportunity of a lifetime!
Walking in Tabriz Grand Bazaar is going through history and culture, scent and colors. It is probably the best place to buy Persian carpets of all kinds. The distinctive durability of Tabriz Carpet and its unique design have made it a famous brand in the world’s carpet markets. One of the main features of Tabriz Carpet is the weaving style and using special ties that guarantee its durability in comparision with Kashan Carpet. Other than carpet, several other handicrafts are sold in the Tabriz Bazaar, including silverwares, wood engraving, pottery and ceramics, Ghalamzani (Iranian style of Toreutics), Moarraq (Iranian style of Mosaic), Monabat and Embroider.
Furtheremore, High quality leather products (shoes, bags, belts, coats…) can be found in the Shoe Bazaar. There are various shops to sell jewellery, clothes, handicrafts, rugs, ladies/babies and men specialties, spices, nuts, agricultural products and machines, industrial equipment, piping equipment, chemical materials, stationery, books, construction stuff and a lot more. Different resturants in the Bazaar serve traditional Iranian food, especially kebab and Daisy, which make the shopping a nice memorable experience.