Maku is one of the cities of West Azerbaijan province, and the center of a county with the same name. The city is known as an important economic city since it is locate near the border and a free economic zone is there. The border that neighbors the city is the Bazargan Border and Customs; it is also on the path of travelers who want to enter Turkey via land borders. Maku free economic zone is the biggest in Iran and second biggest in the world. People here follow Shiite sect of Islam, and speak Turkish with Azari dialect. There are also a number of people who are Sunni and mostly speak Kurdish.
There are different theories regarding the name of the city. Some consider it a changed version of the word Maq Kouy which means the city of Maq, or Magus in English, who were the religious priests of Zoroastrianism. They base their theory on the fact that these regions were the main residence of Zoroastrians for a long time. Others mention the presence of Armenian in the area. The work Maku in Armenian means Pasture, and the name is said to refer to the beautiful pastures of the area. There are also those who think the original name was Madkouh meaning the “mountain the Median live,” and dates back to the Medes time.
In the Sassanid time, the place was occupied by herders, and later became part of Armenia. The Spain’s Ambassador that visited the city in 15th century describes it as a strong fort with Christian governor known as Noor ol din, and soldiers that are Armenian, but speak Farsi and Turkish as well. In Safavid time there was a castle here used by bandits as their center that Shah Abbas ordered its destruction.
When in Qajar time the Golestan Treaty was being signed, there was a dispute between Russian, Ottoman, and Iran over the ownership of Maku. In the disputes, the tribal leaders of the area were given a choice of joining whichever side they wanted, and they chose Iran. Because of their loyalty to the country, they were respected and supported by the Qajar Kings.
The most important attractions of the city includes the Peacock Church, Kalil Abad Historic Mound, Saint Stephanos Monastery, Stone Temple, Jam Khor Citadel, Pir Ahmad Cemetery, Dzor dzor Chapel, Maryam Naneh Church, and Kolah Farangi building.