Maku

🕒 3 minute read
Maku is the name of an small town in north west of Iran that belongs to West Azerbaijan province of Iran. It’s very popular for tourism especially being located in vicinity of Black Church may bring several visitors from all over the world.

Yearly several tourist from all over the world will go visiting Maku and surrounding especially Black church (locally called Qara Kelisa) that is known as one the earliest cathedrals around the world.

Maku is also known as one of the free-zone industrial spots that enables all traders and locals having their own job at this spot and make more money. This is the reason because of its geographical location many Turkish and Azeri traders come to this pot.

According to the history of this region, many historians and archaeologists are of the opinion that Maku belongs to old Armenia back to 800 BCE. Maku castle is one of the remained historical monuments from those days that was ruled by Amatuni family.

Back & forth, Maku has always been in the center of attention among different kingdoms and dynasties. Especially in Islamic periods, several kings and rulers were interested in ruling this town.

Nowadays there are several activities to do such as visiting Bagcheh Joop Palace, Farhad’s home, Ruins of the old fort or even Panj Cheshmeh, Hiking, Rick climbing, etc. It’s well noted that from early 2017 regular passport holders can travel to Iran via Maku with tourist visa and can stay for 2 weeks.

Lake Urmia

🕒 2 minute read
Today we are willing to well introduce to you Lake Urmia as it is one of the most amazing spots of Iran. This lake is located in northwestern of Iran in between Tabriz and Urmia.

It’s been always in the center of attention for everyone even in ancient days as it is the 6th largest lake in the world and largest one in the middle east. Many people are of the opinion that this lake was dried up due to persistent general drought in Iran, but also the damming of the local rivers that flow into it, and the pumping of groundwater from the surrounding area.

Luckily, many organization and departments were struggling to preserve this lake and stopped most of activities that caused issued and from early 2019 this is filling up once again. It was the home of several species and birds that immigrated yearly to this spot and many birds watchers came across the world to visit.

Nowadays, it’s one of the highlights of traveling to Urmia and as travel consultants, we would highly recommend visiting this lake either early in the morning or for sunset.

Urmia Bazaar

🕒 1 minute read
One of the most common places to visit in Urmia is old bazaar which dates back to 17th century under Safavid Empire. Its Azeri architecture, caravansaries and singeGog are the attractions for any traveler as well as providing sweets, pastries, knives and different shawls.

Walking randomly is highly recommended in this bazaar that every single lane enables to experience different types of products such as typical shoes, Knives as well as Jewelry market. What makes this bazaar quite interesting is, seeing citizens of Urmia who shop from the same market rather than malls.

Apart from these businesses, spice shops are the most familiar place for travelers to experience the local products, however, nearby bazaar, there are several activities to do such as fruit market, selling baked bit-roots as well as visiting Friday Mosque, Sine Gog, etc.

Anthropology Museum

🕒 2 minute read
There is no doubt that one of the most common activities to do in Urmia is visiting Anthropology museum that has been built in 20th century and was used as main office of municipality until a decade ago that it has been converted to a museum.

History of this building dates back to early 20th century that it has been built in city center by order of Reza Shah, the founder of Pahlavi Dynasty in order to have a military base. It is well noted that the architecture of this monument is Mr. Hosein Memar who was one of the most well-known architects of Iran back then.

The structure of this building is the combination of Iranian-European in 2 floors and it looks like an eagle. The entrance of this building is in eastern face and main material of this monument is mostly bricks, wood, stone as well as cement, however, its roof has been designed by gable.

A decade ago in 2007 local government decided to convert this building into an anthropology museum in order to present local lifestyle, music instrument, farming tools as well as culture and tradition of Urmia.

It is well noted that way of presenting objects and Items are considered from three different views of;
1- Human & Environment
2- Human & human
3- human resources.

There are several halls and passages in this museum that enables everyone to visit exciting items and from travelers point of view those halls that represents local costumes of men, women as well as Nomadic dresses that is the most exciting part of the whole museum

As travel consultant we would highly recommend visiting Urmia and surrounding in a guided tour for few days especially stunning lanscapes in north and southern Urmia aside from museums.

Assyrian Church

🕒 1 minute read
It is known as St. Mary or Mart Mary which is one of the oldest churches of the world. Most of archaeologists are of the opinion that this Assyrian Church could have been the 2nd oldest church of the world after Bethlehem in Palestine.

History of this ancient church dates back to Sassanid dynasty and it has been used as a fire temple, however, Assyrian & Christian authors are of the opinion that locals converted to Christianity back then and it has been used as a church.

It is well noted that those Zoroastrian priests who were attending in this temple, traveled Jerusalem in order to greet the birth of Jesus as the preventor of the entire world and as soon as they returned, they changed the function of this temple into a church.  

There are few buildings in this complex that represents their residential & holy places of Assyrians in Urmia. The older construction contains a tiny entrance which leads everyone toward main hall or altar. There are some tomb stones in one of the rooms inside building that are belonged to priest’s who have taking care of this sacred place.

Se Gonbad

? 1 minute read

Let’s get acquainted with one of the most beautiful spots of Urmia. Three Domed Tower, also known as Se-Gonbad has been built in 12th century AD in southeastern side of city as an historical site from Seljuk period.

About history of this building, Several stories have been mentioned, however, it seems there are not such enough evidence to prove those but many people are of the opinion that this monument has been built above the ancient fire temple of Sassanid. Another common story is there were of towers in the past that two of were gone and this is the reason to be called Three Domed Towers.

The fact is, the building has been built in 12th century AD and had to be as a mausoleum of Seljuk monarch who was named Sheys Qa’ate Mozafari because of having few calligraphies on façade which proves this monument has been built in Moharam of 580 AH. Although there is no tomb stone in such a monument people strongly believe this has been related to Monarchs.

In terms of architecture it looks like other monuments of Seljuk such as those that are in Maraghe or other Central Asian countries but the only difference is it has been divided into 2 floors of cellar and main hall. Unfortunately internal design has been damaged sharply and there are only three little calligraphies preserved.

As a travel consultant we would highly recommend to take a look at this spot in a walking tour because this spot is very close to Bazaar and Friday mosque. Apparently visiting this historical site would not take that much time but relatively recently it has been used a Stone Museum too because of persevering several stones from different locations and periods.

Azerbaijan Museum

? 1 minute read

One of the most common activities to do in Urmia is Azerbaijan Museum which is located in city center and presents several objects that have been discovered from all over Iran.

There is no doubt that Azerbaijan Museum is a great treasure to protect and display several priceless items from 7000 years till 19th century. It’s been opened from 1967 and brings attentions of everyone to visit such a marvelous place especially those are looking for a great place to study about ancient civilizations, here is the right choice.

People are of the opinion that this museum is the 2nd largest archaeological museum of Iran in terms of having over than 26000 objects but due to lack of room to display, most of the are stored. However, staff of museum strongly believe this could have been considered as a tact of preserving items. Although it has two floors to present most of the items but staff prefer just to preserve them better by storing them and showing some of the highlights of museum such as those three largest cuneiform.

As a travel consultant we would highly recommend everyone to take a look at this great museum in the morning in order to have sufficient time to explore different and exciting items of this museum.

Mahabad Friday Mosque

? 2 minute read

There is no doubt that one of the most impressive sites of Mahabad is Friday mosque that is called Sorkh Mosque because of having redish tiles. It dates back to 17th century and has been built by order of Shah Soleyman in the center of the city in order to give a possibility to people for praying at noon by bazaar.

It’s located in the old district of the city and based on renovating program for old city, some part of this mosque has been renovated over the last few years. Although it is surrounded by old & new buildings still is one of the nicest ancient sites. In terms of architecture this mosque has two Iwans in southern and northern flanks. There is a huge difference between this mosque and others in central of Iran when it comes to structure which is mostly because of weather condition that it is impossible to have a summer hall and it just has one praying room which can be used for seasons aside from its own Madraseh.

What makes this praying room very especial is its plain decoration that is mostly red bricks and mortar (that has been replaced with cement) and there is not any particular design which reminds everyone similar structure at Tabriz Jame Mosque, however, many people are of the opinion that this mosque reminds Vakil mosque of Shiraz in terms of pillars decoration and shapes and distance.

People are always discussing about having any calligraphy or inscripts in this mosque in order to prove the ancient period and the answer is yes. There were several inscripts in Arabic calligraphy in this mosque but some are missing after renovation and today there is only one left one façade of northern gate which represents the name of founder and date of establishing.

As a travel consultant we would recommend to take a look at this mosque in your own time as one of the Must-See activities in Mahabad, however, people would prefer to see other sites such as old dam, old bathhouse that has turned to be a museum of anthropology.

 

Median Tomb

? 1 minute read

Iran, is one of those countries that has a rich culture and history especially ancient civilizations founded their own dynasties in west of Iran such as Medes that their dynasty lasted for about 200 years.

Fakhrika is one of the most impressive historical sites of western Iran and is a Median Tomb that most of archaeologists are of the opinion this tomb belongs to the Farvatish who was the father of Diaco who founded Median Empire. The reason archaeologists made such a decision is the relevant form of architecture between this tomb and others in Sar-e Pol Zahab that all has Greek structure with plain pillars.

When it comes to type of architecture there are huge differences between this tomb and others in vicinity of Lake Urmia. Most of archaeologists can’t believe this tomb would be older than 700 BC. It is very interesting that other historians described about the name of tomb which comes from name of a median army and there are three graves inside the tomb which belong to Farvartish and his followers.

Decoration:

Internal decoration is very fascinating and there are two floors, 4 pillars at the entrance with few graves inside the tomb. One of the famous Russian Archaeologists who has been excavating in Iran for several years is of the opinion that among these 4 pillars, 2 are just at the entrance and 2 smaller ones are used inside of the tomb and either of these front pillars are about 176 cm height.

As a travel consultant we would highly suggest to visit this one on the way of Mahabad to Urmia in short excursion, however, reaching up to the tomb is impossible but still worth visiting from the bottom which can be very close to this marvelous site.

Tape Hasanlu

? 3 minute read

Welcome to ancient Civilizations of Iran
Tape Hasanlu is one of the most popular ancient sites of Iran that has been excavated in early 20th century by an American archaeologist, however, there were several teams of archaeologists from all over the globe.

It’s located in the Hasanlu village on the way of Urmia to Mahabad. There are several studies about civilizations of this region and it is worth studying for archaeologists in terms of finding several layers of civilizations especially the particular layer which dates back to 9th century that has been frozen back then.

The height of this ancient hill is about 25 m that leads us to think, it might have been a fort in the middle by having a round defense wall which looks like about 600m. What makes visiting this site very fascinating is it was inhabited for continuously from 6th century BC to the 3rd century AD which means during this period the famous Gold Bowl has been produced.

From Archaeological point of view
Although there were several illegal/commercial digging in this area and many priceless objects were moved to European/American museums by dealers the site was first dug by Aurel Stein in 1936 for the first study. Later on several archaeological teams started excavating these hills in 10 seasons from 1956 till 1974.

History
As it was mentioned this site is one of the most important and valuable spot in terms of finding several information about lifestyle of people, architecture, civilizations, etc. all excavators are of the opinion that this site has to be divided into 10 layers which leads us to at least 10 occupation history based on natire of materials that have been found Especially from Neolithic till Iron age.

Urmia

🕒 4 minute read
Urmia, previously known as Uroumieh is one of the largest cities of west Azerbaijan that is in vicinity of Chahar chay river.

According to latest census of Iran in late 2016 it is listed as one of top 10 populated cities of Iran. Most of its citizens are already predominantly Azeri who speaks in either Azeri or Turkish, or even Assyrians. It is well noted that the Christian history of Urmia is well preserved, and is especially evident in the city’s many churches and cathedrals.

Name
According to studies of Richard Nelson Frye, the name of this region comes from Urartian origin while other archaeologists such as T.Burrow was of the opinion that name of Urmia comes from Indo-Iranian Urmi which has been translated in to “wave” and Urmya or “wavy”.

However, these both studies are based on local Assyrian folk etymology for the name which related MIA to a Syriac word of meaning to water. As of 1921, Urmia was also called Urumia, although it named Rezaeiyeh in Pahlavi era for a little while because it was his favorite city.

History
According to studies of Mr. Vladimir Minorsky, there were villages in the Urmia Plain as early as 2000 BC, with their civilization under the influence of the Kingdom of Van. Excavations of the ancient ruins near Urmia led to the discovery of utensils that date to the 20th century BC.

In ancient times, the west bank of Urmia Lake was called Gilzan, and in the 9th century BC an independent government ruled there, which later joined the Urartu or Mana empire. In the 8th century BC, the area was a vassal of the Asuzh government until it joined the Median Empire.

In 16th & 17th century during the Safavid, the neighboring Ottoman, who were the archivals of the Safavids made several incursions into the city and captured it on more than one occasion, but the Safavids successfully regained control over the area.

When in 1622, during the reign of Safavid Shah Abbas I Qasem Sultan Afshar was appointed governor of Mosul, he was forced to leave his office shortly afterwards due to the outbreak of a plague.

Due to the presence of a substantial Christian minority at the end of the 19th century, Urmia was also chosen as the site of the first American Christian mission in Iran in 1835. Another mission was soon underway in nearby Tabriz as well. During world war I, the population was estimated by Dr. Caujole to be 30,000, a quarter of which (7,500) were Assyrians and 1,000 Jews.

Ethnic:
The city has been the home to various Ethnic groups during its history. The population of Urmia in the early Islamic period was mostly Christian, however, at the beginning of the 20th century, the city had a significant Christian minority (Assyrians and Armenians) with the Christian population of the town consisting of 40–50 % of the total population.

According to Macuch, and Ishaya, the city was the spiritual capital of the Assyrians, who were influenced by four Christian missions that had been established in the city in the period from 1830. Unfortunately a large number of the Assyrians and Armenians were killed in 1914 during the Armenian and Assyrian genocides, which resulted in a change in the city’s demographics.

 During the Pahlavi era, Reza Shah invited Iranian Assyrians to return to the region, and several thousand did return. There are around 5,000 Assyrians remaining in the city, or around 1% of the population. It is interesting to know that until the Iran Crisis of 1946 and the Establishment of State of Israel in 1947, several thousand Jews also lived Urmia, and their language is still spoken by an aging community somewhere.

Historical Sites:
There are several activities to do in Urmia and we would like to introduce the most popular ones to those are interested in traveling to explore unique places. Here is the list of places to visit:

  • Jame Mosque of Urmia
  • Natural History Museum – Displays the animals native to the vicinity of Urmia.
  • Urmia Museum – Archaeological museum
  • Urmia Museum of Crafts and Classical Arts.
  • Urmia Museum of anthropology

As travel consultants, we would highly recommend to visit urmia in few days by going through the old bazaar in order to get acquainted with local culture and visiting historical sites. We would also suggest to take some day trips to visit other unique places such as Sahulan lake, Tappe Hasanlu, Median Temple as well as Karaftu cave.

Urmia Friday Mosque

? 3 minute read

There is no doubt that one of the most beautiful historical sites of Urmia is Friday Mosque that’s also known as Rezaiyeh Mosque which dates back to 14th century in Ilkhanid period. Although archaeologists are of the opinion that this building was originally a fire temple its function was converted to a Mosque after Islam came through Persia.

There is not sufficient documents about this Mosque but people strongly believe that original building has been ruined and a mosque was built over the ancient temple that looks like a Seljuk monument from Architectural Point Of view.

Currently the oldest part of this Mosque is its Mehrab that dates back to 14th century but other places might have been built later in Ilkhanid era. This mosque does have a domed Hall which is absolutely stunning in terms of Architecture & stucco working and praying room which has 40 leaning pillars that are all made by stone.

It was a tradition in old days to build a Mosque nearby Bazaar that anyone could go to pray with ease especially this mosque had three Accessible gates to Bazaar. As a travel consultant, we would highly recommend to take a guided tour of Urmia and stay for few days in this religion in order to get acquainted with local culture, tradition in addition to historical sites especially this Mosque in the morning by taking a short cut from ancient Bazaar.

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