Ardabil province is located in the northwest of Iran, and neighbors the provinces of Zanjan, Gilan and East Azerbaijan, and the country of Republic of Azerbaijan. The mountainous position of this province and the altitude difference that varies from 40 meters in the Moghan plain (the lowest point) to 4811 meters in the Sabalan summit (the highest point.) This feature have caused diversity in climate leading to four climates of warm Mediterranean, temperate Mediterranean, cold mountainous and temperate mountainous.
This province is about 17,800 square kilometers and is the 24th biggest province of the country in terms of area. According to the latest division, this province has 10 cities and about two percent of Iran’s population. Most residents of Ardabil province speak Azerbaijani Turkish. In the parts of the province where the Talesh and Tat, the indigenous people of the area, reside Taleshi and Tati are common. The center of this province is Ardabil, the place that was known as Artavil not long ago and means “The City of Righteousness”.
Ardabil was considered as part of East Azerbaijan province until 1993 when it became an independent province by the approval of the government. Therefore, the history of Ardabil province is mixed with the history of Azerbaijan territory. Most historians have attributed the construction of the city of Ardabil to Firuz of Sassanid dynasty, even though it was one of the important cities of Parthian time. Ardabil was destroyed in the Mongol invasion, and although soon the reconstructions began, it took the province years to return to the previous flourished state. In the Safavid period, Ardabil experienced its zenith.
Ardabil was considered as part of East Azerbaijan province until 1993 when it became an independent province by the approval of the government. Therefore, the history of Ardabil province is mixed with the history of Azerbaijan territory.
Based on Safavid’s earliest texts, Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili, the ancestor of the Safavid kings, built his home and monastery in Ardabil. This monastery had the privilege of being located on the roads of Gilan, Aran, Azerbaijan and Anatolia with the spiritual influence of Sheikh Safi himself. At the time of Sheikh Jouneid, the monastery became a Shiite center. In recent years, the Khanegah of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabili has been registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and became one of the most important tourist attractions of the province. In addition to Sheikh Safi al-Din, Shah Ismail I, his wife and a number of Chaldoran martyrs are also buried in the tomb. What makes the place incredibly appealing is the combination of various decorations, such as Mosaic Tiles, Mogharnas, Fine Art Insignia, Paintings, Silver, Gilding, etc..
Beside the historical sites, Ardabil is also known for its beautiful nature. One of the most important natural attractions of the province is the Sabalan Mountain, Sabalan Lake, Shoorabil Lake, Neur Lake, Sarein Water Treatment Complex, Asalem to Khalkhal Road, Heiran Road, Fandoglu Forest and Alvares Ski Resort.
Just like any other part of Iran, Ardabil has its own handicraft and cuisine. Varni, the most famous handicraft of the region is a woven floor cover made in Shamshun tribes. There is also another form of weaving known as Masnad, which is a small carpet with sharp colors and nature related patterns. Among its souvenirs, Sabalan honey and Ghareh Halvah are the most famous ones. Ghareh Halva is a black halva, which is a mixture of natural wheat and butter that is very nourishing. The most famous traditional food of Ardabil is Ash Dough, a soup like dish that is made with meat, yellow gram, and the mixture of sour yogurt and water. The delicious dish came to be popular in other parts of Iran as well, specially the northern parts.