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"Azerbaijan" refers to a historical region in northwestern Iran. In the 18th century, the Persian Empire was forced to hand over parts of it to the Russian Empire, comprising what is now known as the Republic of Azerbaijan. For more information on the country, please see Azerbaijan.

Iranian Azerbaijan (Persian and Azerbaijani: آذربایجان) is in the extreme northwest of Iran, by the border with the country and former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan.

Four provinces in Iranian Azerbaijanː West Azerbaijan (west), East Azerbaijan (middle north), Ardebil (east), and Zanjan (south).


Map of Iranian Azerbaijan

Provincial capitals

  • 1 Ardabil - capital of Ardabil province.
  • 2 Tabriz — the biggest economic hub of Northwestern Iran, the most populated city in Iranian Azerbaijan, and the capital of East Azerbaijan province.
  • 3 Urmia — capital of West Azerbaijan province.
  • 4 Zanjan - capital of Zanjan province.

Other major cities

Saint John Church of Sohrol in Shabestar
  • Piranshahr
  • Jolfa - Border town with Nakhchivan exclave of Azerbaijan, but also a good base to visit the Armenian churches and the Aras Valley
  • 5 Kaleybar - A good base for seeing the spectacular Babak Castle, and the Aras River Valley

Other destinations

  • 1 Aras River Valley - A scenic valley on the northern border with stepped villages, mountain scenery, and ancient tombs
  • 2 Kandovan — A small village with houses carved in the rocks like in Cappadocia, Turkey



Iranian Azerbaijan is traditionally inhabited by Azeris, speaking a Turkic language, and Kurds, speaking an Iranian language. The region's formation in its current borders dates back to Turkmanchay Treaty of 1828. By that treaty, the boundary between the Russian Empire and Persia was set at the Aras River, and Persia ceded to Russia the control of several Azeri areas in the South Caucasus, which is now an independent country known as the Republic of Azerbaijan. Despite being a minority, the Azeri population in Iran is larger than the population of independent Azerbaijan. Despite sharing a common cultural and linguistic heritage, due to centuries of separation under different political systems, the Azeris of Iran tend to be more conservative and religious than those of independent Azerbaijan.

This region, especially eastern parts of it, is probably one of the most beautiful places in Iran. The region is known for its friendly people, and also known for the great food.

Iranian Azerbaijan is comprised of four provinces: Ardabil, Zanjan, East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan.



The people of Iranian Azerbaijan are bilingual in both Persian and Azeri. The Azeri language in Iran tends to have more influence from Persian, in contrast to the stronger influence from Russian in independent Azerbaijan.

Get in


By plane


International airport

Tabriz International Airport.

Tabriz International Airport is the only international airport in Iranian Azerbaijan. It has flights to some Iranian cities and to neighboring countries.

  • 1 Tabriz International Airport (TBZ IATA) (10 km from the city center of Tabriz). A regional hub with domestic flights to Tehran, Mashad, and some other major cities of Iran, and flights to some neighboring countries.

Domestic Airports


By car


By the bridge over the Urmia lake Tabriz is reachable from Urmia in 1.5 hours.

By train

Tabriz Railway Station

Some of the Iranian Azerbaijan cities have access to the railway includingː Tabriz, Maraghe, Salmas, and Jolfa.

  • 6 Tabriz Railway Station, Rah-Aahn Sq., Tabriz (5 km W of the city center of Tabriz). Domestic trains: There are comfortable night trains from Tabriz to Tehran (12 hr travel, 152,500 rials for 1-way ) passing Maraghe (2 hr), Zanjan (9 hr) and Qazvin. There is a 2nd class sleeping train (6 people in one room) that leaves Tabriz at 20:30 and arrives to Tehran at 09:30. Price is 40,000 rials. The more comfortable choice is to take 1st class train for 170,000 rials. This train leaves at 17:30 and arrives to Tehran at 06:00. There are 4-bed rooms with TV and dinner is included in that price. To get the ticket you need to use some of travel agencies in the city or in the train station (this option only for recent day registration). There is a weekly train goes from Tehran to Istanbul which has a stop in Tabriz. For more info visit Iranian Passenger Railway or Seat61. International trains: Weekly train to/from Istanbul, twice a week to Van, see Turkish Railway's site [formerly dead link] .

By bus


There are bus lines from Provincial Capitals: Tabriz, Ardabil, Urmia, and Zanjan to major Iranian cities. There are minibus lines for connecting the smaller cities to the provincial capitals of Iranian Azerbaijan.

Get around



St.Stepanos monastery
  • The UNESCO World Heritage site Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran. It consists of three 7th century Armenian Christian buildings in the region — the monasteries of St. Thaddeus, St. Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor.




  • Bonanb Kabab, a big skewer kabab with ingredient of local spices, onion and beef. It is named after city Bonab in south of Tabriz.
  • Chelo-Kabab, a dish of rice with ground beef kabab.
  • Kofte-e-Tabrizi, a big meatball with ingredient of ground beef, rice, and herbs.
  • Lighvan cheese, a domestic feta cheese from Liqvan village in south east of Tabriz.



Stay safe




The various respect tips found in the respect section of the Azerbaijan article will come in handy.

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This region travel guide to Iranian Azerbaijan is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!