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Provincial capital of Western Azarbaijan in an altitude of 1,340 m above sea level at the extreme northwest of Iran, Orumieh is 946 km away from Tehran by road. The origins of Orumieh (or Rezaieh from 1930 till 1988), according to some sources, go back to the civilization of Urartu, in whose language Urmi meant a fortress. Orumieh, if it is in fact the Urmi of the Urartians, is the legendary birthplace of Zoroaster and the burial place of one of the Three Magi. The town nestles amid the foothills of the Turkish frontier, facing a turquoise-colored lake of inland water. A big market-town, Orumieh has over 650,431 inhabitants of the most diverse ethnic and religious background: Iranian Turks, Kurds, Chaldean Christians, Muslims and Catholics.

The largest inland water body in Iran, Lake Orumieh 20 km to the east of the town, with an area of 6,000 square kilometers and a depth of 6-16 meters, is so full of salt (though less so than the Dead Sea) that it cannot support any animal or vegetable life.

Sights to See

  • Friday Mosque
    Dating from Seljuk times, 13th century AD (with later restorations), and located inside bazaar; however, it is thought to incorporate an earlier structure. The vaulting of the cupola and the spacious prayer hall of the mosque are of particular architectural interest as regards the construction of vault, thickness of the foundation, and the solid stone body of the building.

  • Seh Gonbad
    This circular brick tower is a 12th-century AD construction with a crypt in the lower part and a portal decorated with superb designs.

  • Bazaar
    Orumieh has a lively covered bazaar which, though considerably later in date than the Esfahan bazaar, is built upon the same traditional lines. The domed vaults have circular openings to provide light, but they also let in rain and cold so that the tendency today is to cover them with glass.

  • Orumieh Museum
    Orumieh Museum with an area of 750 square meters consists of two halls, one larger than the other. Here you can see archaeological and ethnological objects and cultural costumes from the earliest prehistoric, pre-Islamic. And Islamic eras, as well as national arts relics.

Excursions around Orumieh

  • MAKU
    When traveling on road from Tabriz to Orumieh, instead of bearing left to Khoi, if you continue on the road to Bazargan and Turkey, you will come to Maku (22 km from Turkey) from which several Armenian churches of the eleventh and twelfth centuries may be visited.

  • Baqcheh Juq Palace-Museum
    This historical two-storied palace stands in the center of a spacious garden covering 11 hectares. The building, dating back from the late Qajar period, was built by the orders of Eqbal os-Saltaneh Maku`ei, a military commander of Mozaffar od-Din Shah Qajar.

  • Kara Kelisa
    The Armenian Church and Monastery of St Thaddeus, known also as kelisa-ye Tatavus by the name of St Tadi, and locally called Kara Kelisa (the Black Church) is situated in desolate, but nowadays easily accessible, country about 18 km south of Maku.

  • Takht-e Suleiman
    The ancient, historical fort Takht-e Suleiman occupies an area of 124,000 square meters and is one of Iran's most important ancient monument, comprising ruins dating back to the Sassanian, Ashkanian (Arsacid), and Moghul periods.
    Located in a distance of 45 km to the north east of Takab district at an altitude of 2,400 meters, it consist of a majestic building about 20 meters high, erected on top of a hill, plus a strong stone battlement.
    From the view point of construction and architecture, the monument is highly remarkable. Adjoining the site are the ruins of Takht-e Bulqais and Suleiman`s dungeon (Dakhmeh-ye Zendan-e Suleiman).

  • Tappeh Hasanlu
    This is a long-lived tell 85 km east of Orumieh and 12 km east of Naqadeh (itself a historic area whit many relics of ancient civilization of Iran), excavated by Dyson from 1965 on. Actually, it consists of a 20-meter high central hill surrounded by a number of 15-meter high peripheral hills. Historical evidence indicates that the central hill formed the main edifice and the citadel was a town with temples and administrative parts, the population of which resided on the encircling hills.