THE WESTERN AZERBAIJAN PROVINCE

With an area of 43,660 square: kilometers, including Orumyeh lake, the province of West Azarbaijan is located on the north-west of Iran. It includes 12 townships Boukan, Khoy, Makoo, Mahabad, Meyandoab, Naghadeh, Pyranshahr, Salmas, Sardasht, Shahindej, Takab, and Oromyeh.

In 1996 the population of the province was 2,496,320, of which 52.68% were urban inhabitants, 47.31% were living in rural areas and the remaining were nomads.

West Azarbaijan province is one of the mountainous areas with diverse: and vast topography. There is a long range of high mountains on the western part of the province which forms the international border with Iraq and Turkey. This lofty snow-clad mountain range extends from the extreme northern part of the province southward. Consequently, melted snow creates many water streams which flow through many valleys affording a good landscape. These rivers terminate to 3 major basins i.e. Orumieh lake, the great fault of Khoy and Rood Kaloy valley which are the lowest lands of the province.

The climate of the province is mainly influenced by the rainy winds of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean. But in certain months of winter, northern cold winds affect the province and cause a lot of snow with a very cold weather.

According to existing meteorological data, temperature varies from an area to another in the province. Average temperature differs from 9.4(C in Makou to 11.6(C in Mahabad. While it is 9.8(C in Orumyeh and 10.8(C in Khoy, Makou 9.4(C, and in Mahabad 11.6(C. According to same data, the highest temperature in the province reaches 34(C in July, and the lowest temperature is -16(C in January. Maximum change of temperature in summer is 4(C and in winter 15(C.

West-Azarbaijan province, encompassing vast and fertile plains, high mountains, enjoying moderate and healthy weather”rivers with high volume of water, vineyards, orchards, luxuriant forests and rangelands, mountain outskirts with wonderful flora, magnificent wildlife and beautiful shores around the lake with different recreational facilities, which all together form one of the most beautiful and spectacular region in Iran. A land with wonderful flora during the spring and the summer is covered with tulip, poppy, narcissus and hyacinth extending from Arass river banks in the north to Zab Kouchak valley in the south. Wetlands, marches coasts and islands of the lake are habitats of diverse species of endemic and migratory birds as well as the rivers are habitat of different aquatic species.

The long snowy winters provide remarkable opportunities for skiing on the wonderful sky sites which are well equipped with necessary facilities. The high mountains along with pleasant weather are amongst the attractions of the province in summer.

The beautiful shores of the Orumyeh lake and its clear and blue water, with 140 km. length, provide remarkable attractions for tourists in the summer especially those interested in swimming, water therapy and water sports as well as boating. Orumyeh lake, due to its high salinity containing different minerals, is one of the best places in &c world for water therapy. Those suffering from rheumatism and skin diseases come here to use curative water, sands and sludge of the lake. Moreover, there are tens of hot water springs with curative properties in different parts of the province.

History and Historical Sites

The West-Azarbaijan province is a part of the ancient civilisation of Iran. There are many historical castles, hundreds of antique hills and discovered archaeological objects which all of them reflect region’s long history. On the other hand, this province has always been the residence of different peoples and cultures, somehow, influencing each other. Existence of mosques, churches and ruined fire-temples all indicate its religious evolution along the history. Shi’ite in Orumyeh and northern cities of the province and Sunnite in the southern parts are the main religions. Other religious minorities like Assyrians and Armenians are dependent upon different Christian churches. Ethnic groups and religious minorities like Azaris, Kords, Assyrians and Armenians, speaking different languages, have their own culture and tradition which are vary interesting social aspects of the region.

Orumyeh

Orumyeh, the capital city of the province, is located 951 km. north-west of Tehran, 18 km. west. of Orumyeh lake in a luxuriant plain. The heights of this province separate it from Iraq and Turkey. The weather in Orumyeh is cold in winters and moderate in the summer. The latest archaeological discoveries in Orumyeh indicate that the history of region goes to 2000 BC. Some historians believe that Orumyeh is the birth place of Zoroaster, the most famous Persian prophet. In the 3rd century AH. Geographers named Orumyeh as the third largest city in Azarbaijan territory after Ardabil am1 Maragheh.

There had been many historical sites and monuments in Orumyeh which were unfortunately destroyed because of same historical events and invasions of different tribes and clans.

The must important historical and eye-pleasing places are as follows:

Orutnych lake: and its coasts tor recreation and water therapy. Morcover, it is one of the Biosphere Reserves registered by UNESCO.

Kaboodan, Ashk, Arezoo and Espeer islands which are valuable of being habitats of different species of wildlife.

Zanbil, Haftabeh and Qaynarjeh mineral and hot water springs.

Farhad, Takht Ghara, and Danyal caves with historical value.

Ghahar Borj building and Ismail Agha, Kazem Khan, Bardok, Dam Dam and Bakhshi Qala castles having historical and architectural values.

Old Bazar of Orumyeh, a very old trade center.

Archaeological and Natural History Museum.

Mir Davood cave.

Old Mosques of Jame’, Sardar and Orumyeh minaret.

Alavian dome and different Imamzadeh and shrines.

Bookan

Bookan is located between Miandoab and Saghez cities beside Sminineh Rood river. This township is on demarcation line of two provinces of W-Azarbaijan and Kordestan. The name of this city is a combination of two Kordish world of “Book” meaning “Bride” and “an” which is plural mark i.e. “Brides”. It is narrated that Bookan, due to its crossroads situation, was passed by different groups of villager during wedding ceremonies and they used to stop here for sometimes to sing and dance around a pool which exists now and is a worth seeing place of the city.

Takab

Takab township is one of the historical and worth seeing places of the province. There arc teas of historical sites belonging to both pre-Islamic: and Islamic periods. “Takht-e-Soleyman” is one of these places located 45 km. north-easl to Takab. It is the center of Sassanid Great Fire-temple named “Azargoshasb” (one of the three famous Sassanid fire-temples). Presently its remains, surrounded by a wall, is one of the memorials of the past. It is said that “Sheez” city was located in the same place and probably is ruined as a result of volcanic action of Zenrian mountain or other unknown reasons. The historical cave “Kerfeto” is located south-west to Takah, and Ghayb Abad, Kohal, and Kahris caves as well as other historical sites are in this township.

Khoy

Khoy township is located 807 km. north-west to Tehran enjoying mild weather. This township is one of the ancient places in Iran Khoy means “salt” and it was named so because of the saltmines of the region. The first dwellers of it were Median tribes. According to existing historical documents? Khoy had been a very important place as the result of being passed by a branch of famous Silk-Road, which linked west to east, was crossing this city.

The most famous historic and natural sites of Khoy are as follows:

Several mineral water springs with recreational and water therapy values.

Bastam and Bolourabad historical castles.

Khatoun old bridge.

Old stone gate of the city.

Old bazaar of Khoy.

Several old mosque and Shams Tabrisi Minaret.

Ancient churches.

Sardasht

Sardasht township is located on the south western part of the province, on the international border with Iraq. The natural view and landscape of the city is very beautiful and attractive. The people of Sardasht believe that this city is the birthplace of Zoroaster, Iranian prophet. Its name was also attributed to Zoroaster which was changed to Sardasht after Islam. “Shalmas” waterfall, located close to this city, is very famous and is surrounded by very beautiful natural views. Gheshmeh-Grow (spring), located on Mahabad-Sardasht road, is one of the recreational and worth seeing places of this township.

Salmas

Salmas township is located 854 km. north-west to Tehran in a moderate plain. In historical and geographical books it is reminded of Salmas as a beautiful city with goo6 bazaars and a stone mosque. According to the recent archaeological discoveries on Taban hill, the antiquity of Salmas goes back to Medians time and it was named “Zarvand” in Achaemenians era. In Arsacides time, this city was one of the buffering provinces between Iran and Roman Empire and was annexed to Sassanians territory after the defeat of Khosrow Arsacide.

The most important historical and worth seeing places of this township are:

Several mineral watersprings with water therapy virtues.

Historical Goorchin Ghaleh castle located in 10 km. south to Salmas.

Jamal Abad old dam in suburbs of Salmas.

Khan Takhti stone carvings belonging to Sassanide era.

Kooh Oharni and Yarough underground caves.

Saint George Church in Salmas city.

Makoo

Makoo is 939 km, far from Tehran and located in a mountainous region with 1,294 m. altitude from sea level providing it with temperate climate. Makoo, with a semi-circle shape, is situated on the slopes of a mountain which has enclosed the city as an umbrella. This city was not more than a castle in beginning of Shah Abbas the First’s reign. The foundation date of the city is 1012 AH. Makoo city, enjoying a beautiful natural landscape, encompasses so many historical and natural sites of which the most important ones are:

Several wetlands.

Many mineral water springs.

Ghaleh-Joogh waterfall.

Marakan protected area and Agh-Gol game fie1d.

Baghcheh-Joogh palace, Kolah Farangi building and Old building of Makoo police Centre.

Old castles of Ravaz and Ghaleh Siah.

Old bridge of Panj Cheshmeh (five arches), 5 km. far from Makko.

Old stone epigraph of Roosa historical city in Makuo city.

Orartoi stone grave named Sangar in Makou.

Several old churches.

Chaldoran battle field in Siah Cheshmeh in which the famous war between Shah Ismail Safavid and Sultan Salim (Ottoman emperor) happened.

Mahabad

Mahabad township is located 873 km. far from Tehran 100 km, south to Orumyeh. The weather in Mahabad is cold in mountainous areas while it is mild in the plain and forests. Mahabad was formerly named Savojbulagh Mokri. In the year 1038 AH., near the end of Shah Abbas the First’s reign, it was the capital city of the local government and many noteworthy buildings were constructed over there. Presently, many eye-catching historical sites exists in this township of which the followings are mentioned:

Several historical caves belonging to Orartoi period.

Median city of Anderghash.

Achaemenian crypt of Daka in Andcrghash.

Mausoleum of Bedaghol-Sutan in south-west to Mahabad.

Miandoab

Miandoab township is located 823 km. north-west to Tehran and south of the province in a vast plain. It has relatively humid and modernte weather. Situated between Zarinehrood and Siminehrood rivers, it is called Miandotb (between two rivers). So many tribes and clans have lived and governed in this region during its long history. The main interesting sights of this township are:

Miandoab dam recreational area.

Ghara-gol and Yasrl Abad wetlands.

Zendan Soleyman minerat water spring.

Bakhtak castle in Milan village.

Dash Tapeh historical area around Miandoab.

Naghadeh

Naghadeh township, surrounded by Mahabad, Pyranshar, Oshnavieh, and Orumyeh is a focal point for linkage of these cities. This city has many events each left its own historical vestiges. Archaeological discoveries in Hasanloo hill, close to the city, reviles its long history which goes back to the year 2000 BC. Different tribes like Assyrians, Kords, Manas, and Turks have continuously migrated and resided in this area. Finally, in the early time of Ghajar dynasty, Ghara Papagh (black hat) tribe migrated to Iran from Caucasia and dwelled in Soldoos vast plain. They are engaged in agricultural activities in present location of Naghadeh. The most important worth seeing and historical places of the city are as follows:

Several wetlands.

Zendan and Baha Hasan caves.

Kclishin historical inscriptions in south-west to Orumyeh lake.

Hasanloo ancient hill located 12 km. north-west to Naghadeh of which the “Ciolden Cup” is very famous.

Wildlife

West Azarbaijan province, as the result of natural conditions and special topographic structure, encompasses so many rivers, wetlands, marches, small and large lakes and is known as one of the most important habitat far different species of fauna both endemic and migratory. Waterfowls are the main migratory species which come to the habitats of this province for wintering and nesting. The most important recognised species of the province are: Persian follow deer, rabbit, bear, hyena, boar, fox, jackal, wild sheep, wild goat, gazelle, 1copard, squirrel and different species of reptiles. The most important endemic and migrant birds of the province are: flamingo, pelican, partridge, turtledove, grouse, ringdove, vulture, owl, dull-yellow partridge, pigeon, heron, goose, crane, duck, eagle and starling. Biological diversity of the province is very important from international point of view so that Orumyeh Lake National Park is registered as Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The main habitats of the province which are under the protectioa of Department of the Environment are as follows:

Orumyeh Lake National Park covering an area of 4810 ha. including all islands, coasts and coastal vegetation.

Marakan Protected Area located south of Aras river banks and north of Makoo township.

Agh Gol Protccted Arca between Poldasht and Makoo.Several other wildlife refuge area as well as free game fields.

Tourism Facilities

There are suitable transportation facilities in the province, like Orumyeh 1ntcrnational Airport, so it is easily accessible. Iran-Europe transit road and railroad pass through the north of the province. Border city of Bazargan, located in far north-west of Iran (province), is one of the most important centre for commercial and tourism activities. Small town of Poldasht at the north of the province is a suitable way for accessibility to Nakhjavan Autonomous Republic. There are suitable accommodation facilities in different cities of the province like hotels motels and guest houses. The people are very kind and famous in hospitality.

All necessary information are mentioned in this book.

Have a good journey.

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