TABRIZ: The Dignified Capital of Southern Azerbaijan

In this article we will talk about Tabriz, the capital city of Ildenizogullari, Aghkoyunlular and Gharakoyunlular. Semsuddin Ildeniz, the governor of Azerbaijan of the Iraqi Seljuk State, established the Ildenizogullari State in 1146. Its capital was Tabriz. The Ildenizogullari State, of which the other cities were Nahjevan and Genje, became the most strongest state of the region until the end of 13th century. However it had to unite with the Kharzemshah, which invaded Tabriz in 1225.We will talk about Tabriz and its historical importance as a capital city of the Aghkoyunlu and Gharakoyunlu states and as a center of Southern Azerbaijan.

Tabriz is an important Turkish city and a great cultural center. Today it is the center of Southern Azerbaijan, which is under Iranian administration and the 4th largest city in Iran. It is located on the northern slopes of the Sehend Mountains, with an altitude of 1.748 meters, and between the Urumiyah Lake and the Caspian Sea and to the northwest of Iran.

With the division of the Southern Azerbaijan region of 106.605 km2 into two, two regions were formed under the names Eastern Azerbaijan and Western Azerbaijan. The central city of Eastern Azerbaijan is Tabriz and the central city of Western Azerbaijan is Urumiyeh. Tabriz became a large city with the conquest of the Seljuk ruler Tugrul Bey in 1055. The city, which was invaded by the Mongolians in 1230, gained importance again as the crown city of the Il-khanid Empire.

View of an old gate of Tabriz city. (19th. A.D. )
The city was invaded by the Celayirli?s in 1336 and by Teymur in 1392 and later by the Gharakoyunlu and Aghkoyunlu and in 1500 it became the city of the Safevi Turkish Empire. In 1514 Tabriz had a population over one million and became one of the most densely populated cities in the world. With the Chalderan War in 1514 Sultan Selim invaded Tabriz once and later in the years 1534, 1535 and 1548 Suleyman the Magnificent invaded Tabriz thrice. The Persian Turkish Empire abolished the crown city of Tabriz and declared Ghazvin as the crown city and later Esfehan was declared the crown city. Tabriz was recovered by Shah Abbas on October 21, 1603. The population of Tabriz is estimated to have been 550 thousand at that time. Re-included in the territories of the Ottoman Empire by Ahmed Pasha on August 3, 1725, Tabriz again became the center of the state. Nader Shah Afshar regained the city in July 1730. Tabriz that was re-added to the Ottoman territories by Hekimoghlu Ali Pasha later on December 4, 1731 was submitted to Iran by the Ottoman Empire on January 10, 1732. Although the Province of Tabriz, which remained under Ottoman sovereignty for 25 years, receded very much in 19th century, it maintained its status as the biggest center of Iran. The population of Tabriz that was calculated to be 250 thousand in 1825 fell down to 183 thousand between 1850 and 1875. The population of it was 240 thousand in 1915; 220 thousand in 1925; 214 thousand in 1940. With its 250 thousand of population, it was the third biggest Province of Iran in 1950. Temporarily invaded by Russia in 1827, Tabriz remained under Russian invasion between 1908 and 1914.

Remains of the Arg-e-Ali Shah, Tabriz, 8th. cent. A.H. (14th A.D. )
Tabriz has about a 2800-year- old history. In Turkish, Tabriz means ?the camp of migrants on a plateau?. The Province of Tabriz has been a land to nomadic Turkish tribes for nearly three thousand years. In the time of Qajar Dynasty, despite not being the capital, Tabriz was the second most important Province of the country called Iran. The prince had to be from Tabriz so as to deserve the throne. Today, Tabriz is a big Turkish Province with its approximate population of 2.5 million. The Lake Shah, one of the most important places for excursion; the Open Mosque, alias Ark Small Mosque, where people perform their Friday prayer; the Madrasa of Islamic Sciences are among the other historical and tourist places. The Streams Ac?Maydan pass through Tabriz. The only transit route between Tbilisi, Yerevan, Jolfa and Merend is Tabriz.

Bayram Khodja was the one who first made Tabriz capital was the first monarch of Gharakoyunlu State established in 1365 in the territories including eastern and southeastern Turkey, Caucasia, Iran and Iraq. The successor of Bayram Khodja, his son Ghara Mehmed defeated Artukogullar?restrained Teymurid forces. He traveled to Tabriz in 1388 and declared it as the capital. Ghara Yousuf succeeded Ghara Mehmed and made big conquers. The monarch who regained its former power to the state that was weakened during the reign of the sons of Ghara Yousuf was the Jehan Shah who had come to the throne in 1437. Jehan Shah lost the war fought in Mardin against the Monarch of Aghkoyunlu, Uzun Hasan. After this defeat in 1457, Gharakoyunlular was completely destroyed by Uzun Hasan in 1469. Jehan Shah is famous for his justice and the importance it attached to the development of the province. It made the province a prosperous one. The Gok Madraseh and Mozaffariyeh Madraseh that were built of completely marble stones and ornamented with flowery china are two important works of Gharakoyunlu. The wife of Jehan Shah had the Great Mosque and its Madraseh built in Tabriz.

Masjed-e-Kabud, the Blue Mosque, of Tabriz,

Established in 1398, Aghkoyunlular state is also named as Bay?yah State, since they come from the Bay?Tribe of Oghuzlar. While the first ruler of Aghkoyunlular is Tur-Ali Bey, later his son Fakhreddin Kutlu succeded him. But he became dependent on the ruler of Sivas, Cadi Burhaneddin, and upon his death, Ghara Yuluk Osman Bey replaced him as the Head of the Aghkoyunlu State. Uzun Hasan succeeded Ghara Yuluk Osman Bey, who is regarded as the real founder of the Akkoyunlu State. Uzun Hasan turned the Aghkoyunlular into a big state and soon dominated Iran, Iraq, Caucasia and the east of Turkey. He chose Tabriz as the center of the State. He started to fight against the Ottoman Empire. In 1473, he lost Otlukbeli war against the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. He withdrew to the capital, Tabriz, and engaged in the public works of the province. The Aghkoyunlular State was destroyed by the Safavids, which was a Turkman State.