In northwest Iran near the Turkish border this ancient capital of Armenia (founded in the 3rd century BC) is now a sprawling industrial city surrounded by mountains. Famed for its calligraphy and bookmaking in the 13th century Tabriz was well placed on trade routes and played an important role in Iran’s history.

The city (pop. 1 089 000) is home to the Azeri Turks ,Iran’s largest minority group. While there visit the ruined 14th-century Ali Shah Mosque (its walls are 85 ft/26 m high) the 13th-century Blue Mosque (beautiful mosaic works) and the Jame Mosque. In the nearby city of Ardabil (pop. 150 000) lies the Shaikh Safi Tomb where the world’s most valuable carpet was discovered (it’s now in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum). Huge Daryacheh ye Oroumieh (Lake Uremia) which lies west of Tabriz is noted for its healing salt water and medicinal mud. A full day is needed to see Tabriz. 465 mil /750 km from Tehran.

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