Qazvin is a city in a province with the same name dating back to the Sassanid time when it became an advanced city. In the Safavid time, it was the capital of the country for 57 years; many constructs have remained from this time. Qazvin is on the path of North to West roads, and in short distance of Tehran with many industrial sites. People of Qazvin speak Farsi with Qazvini accent. There are also people who speak Tati, Gilaki and Azari. Qazvin has been chosen as the capital of calligraphy of Iran.
In history, Qazvin is known with different names. In Greek, it was known as Rajia that later turned to Arsas or Arsasia in European texts. Parthians named the area as Ardpa, and Sassanids called it Kashvin. Some believe that in a number of history texts Kashvin is replaced with Qasvin that is later turned to Qazvin. There are also those who consider Qazvin an Arabized version of the word Caspian. They believe that the tribe living in the Caspian Sea shores had immigrated to this area and used the name of Caspian to refer to their new home that was later Arabized to Qazvin. The fact that in many Ottoman books, Caspian Sea is called the Sea of Qazvin, further ascertains this theory.
In Qazvin there are many historic mounds. Just the Sagez Abad mound is estimated to have a 9 thousand year history. In the stories of the city’s foundation, the name of Shapur is mentioned, but which Shapur is the real initiator has been a source of debate in history. It was mentioned that Shapur II, the tenth Sassanid king that is known as the Great Shapur as well, is the man that ordered the construction of city. There are also those that believe Shapur I is behind the emergence of the city.
Putting the ambiguity of its origin aside, the history tells us that the benefits provided by the location of the city have always made it a favorite destination of rulers in different eras and dynasties. It was one of the most important cities of Medians with a fort in its south. In the years that followed the Arab’s invasion, Qazvin became a center for the Muslims who had to defeat the Northern tribes that resisted them. The growing number of population caused the expansion and development of it.
The most important historic period for the city, however, is the Safavid Era. When Tahmasb became the king, the capital of the country was the city of Tabriz. This city is on the North-West of the country and close to the shared border of Iran and Ottomans. The constant danger of Ottomans, and the distance from the Khorasan region that was under attack of Uzbeks made the king to move the capital. The city of Qazvin became the second capital of Safavid up to the late 16th century. Since Shah Tahmasb had spent his childhood in Herat, he built a similar city here that was later imitated in Isfahan. The thriving city of Qazvin in Safavid time became a center of art and culture. Even when the capital was moved to Isfahan, the city didn’t lose its place, until it was destroyed in the Afghan’s attack. The bravery of people of Qazvin in battle with Afghans has been retold for years.
Today, the day that Shah Tahmasb chose Qazvin as capital is named as the Day of Qazvin. Each year artists, officials, and people both from Iran and other countries gather to celebrate this day in a festival that is held by the city hall. In this time, the whole city becomes an art exhibition. There are small temporary shops all around the city selling and exhibiting artworks of different nature.
There are many historic attractions in the city of Qazvin including Sa’d Al Saltaneh caravanserai, Qajar bathhouse, Sardar water reservoir, Chehel Sotoun palace, Aminiha traditional house, Ali Qapu portal gate, and Sepah Street that is the first street of the country.