Tabriz Historic Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar of Tabriz, a historic heritage complex, which is selected as a valuable cultural heritage by the UNESCO in 2010, was one of the most important international trade and cultural centers in Asia and the world between the 12th and the 18th centuries, covers some 7 sq km with 24 separate caravansarais and 22 impressive Timchehs (domed halls) thanks to the centuries-old east-west trading connections and routes and to a wise policy of endowments and tax exemptions.
Tabriz Historic Bazaar complex situated along the Silk Road, one of the most popular East–West trade routes, consists of a series of interconnected, covered brick structures, buildings and enclosed spaces for a variety of functions, commercial and trade-related activities, social gatherings, educational and religious practices. To mention a few parts, the Bazaar is made of Caravansarais (central courtyards for pack animals and caravans surrounded by warehouses and traders’ shop fronts, now often abbreviated to Sarras), Hujras (cells, small shops), Rastehs (a row of such shops), Chahar soos (intersections), Teamchehs (small versions of caravanserais, often chambers), and Dalans (alleys and pathways connecting all these parts, lined with shops). Marco Polo and Moroccan explorer Ibn-e- Battute visited the Bazaar and raved about it.
There are several carpet sections, according to knot-size and type. The spice bazaar has a few shops still selling herbal remedies and natural perfumes. A couple of hat shops (bazaar Kolahdozan) sell traditional Papakha (Azeri hats) made of tight-curled astrakhan wool. The better the quality, the younger the lamb scarified to the milliner’s art. Other quarters specialize in gold, shoes and general household goods. For much a huge construction, the bazaar is surprisingly easy to miss. A useful entrance is the second narrow passage east of the tourist information office. This takes you to the jewelry section.
Tabriz Historic Bazaar bears witness to one of the most complete socio-cultural and commercial complexes among bazaars. It has developed over the centuries into an exceptional physical, economic, social, political, and religious complex, in which specialized architectural structures, functions, professions, and people from different cultures are integrated in a unique living environment. The lasting role of the Tabriz Bazaar is reflected in the layout of its fabric and in the highly diversified and reciprocally integrated architectural buildings and spaces, which have been a prototype for Persian urban planning.
Tabriz Historic Bazaar is an outstanding example of an integrated multi-functional urban complex in which interconnected architectural structures and spaces have been shaped by commercial activities and related necessities. A large number of specialized buildings and structures are concentrated and reciprocally connected in a relatively compact area to form what is almost a single integrated structure.
The nominated property contains all the elements that are necessary to convey its significance. The integrity of the 18th century Tabriz Bazaar is well preserved and its architecture conserves a rich repertoire of commercial buildings; the connection between the physical structure and its functioning is still clearly legible, and in many cases alive.
The Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex was officially protected in 1975 and since then has been covered by special stewardship measures. Three different protection areas have been established (a nominated area, a buffer zone, and a landscape zone), which are subject to special regulations, incorporated into the planning instruments. Within these areas any kind of activity needs authorization by the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), which is the institutional body in charge of the protection of protected monuments.
The management framework for the property is based on the integration of existing planning instruments (the Master Plan and the detailed Plan for Tabriz), administrative and technical bodies (the steering committee for Tabriz Bazaar and the ICHHTO Tabriz Bazaar Base), conservation objectives, SWOT analysis, implementation strategies, and operational programs that are included in the management plan.