Bookmark and Share

A Weekend in Azerbaijan


By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

click on images to see high resolution

I have been doing Yoga for nearly 12 years and during that time have fortunately stayed with the same teacher who has become a friend too. When I first started doing yoga, I met several people in the first couple of years such that we formed a group and met socially with our families and shared our happy and sad times as good friends do. Some came and went from our circle but there remained a core group who are still there.

El Goli park, Tabriz

Last February, we were at Felor and Anoosh's house along with some other friends who have become part of our group when we decided to accept Buick and Mercedeh's invitation to go to their hometown Tabriz once the weather was warmer and visit the famous Kandovan Rocky Hotel. I had been to Tabriz only on business years ago, and Paul had never been, so we jumped at the opportunity. It took some time to make sure everybody's time was free but we eventually made the trip last week.

Tabriz, the capital city of Iran's East Azerbaijan province, sits at altitude of 1,350 meters above sea level at the junction of the Ghuri Chay and Aji Chay rivers. It has been the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s and one of its former capitals and residence of the crown prince under the Qajar dynasty. The city has proven extremely influential in the country's recent history. With a population of about 1,600,000 [2007 census], Tabriz is Iran's Fourth largest city.


Amir Nezam House


We flew from Tehran very early on Thursday morning with Iran Air, and after a one hour flight were met at the airport by Anoosh. As there were twelve of our group on the plane, we traveled by minibus to Buick and Mercedeh's apartment for a most enjoyable, huge and fun breakfast. After a short rest to recuperate we headed towards the city, on the way visiting the factory of our hosts, which makes parts for machinery. We saw many places of interest including the Maqbarat al-Shu'ara' - where we visited the grave of the famous Tabriz poet Shahriyar, and the nearby Amir Nezam House which is now a museum where we saw the beautiful glass work and an interesting exhibition about life in Qajar times. We visited the Constitutional Revolution (Mashrouteh) House where we saw many wonderful statues including one of Zeynab Pasha, the pioneer of Iranian women libertarians, as well as many old photographs related to the era of the Russian occupation of Azerbaijan.

Maqbarat al-Shu'ara'

Constitutional Revolution (Mashrouteh) House

After a good mornings sight-seeing and shopping, we came back to the apartment for a rest and to everybody's amazement (everybody had thought they could not eat anything more until dinner time) we had a superb lunch with lots of goodies including the local specialty kofeth tabrizi. Tabriz is a city that prides itself on having no beggars and we certainly did not see any. On the day that we were there, it was the holiday to mark Fatima's passing, and groups of black shirted men were handing out fruit juice on many streets we passed.

Zeynab Pasha, the pioneer of Iranian women libertarians

After some tea we headed to our hotel about 5 in the afternoon. Our hotel was the excellent five star Tabriz El Goli Pars Hotel, a modern ten storey building overlooking the famous El Goli park. We showered and rested and then went for a long walk around the lake in the park, which made me feel like I was walking around a smaller version of Champs d'Elysee with a huge pool in the center. Many families were there and the park was quite crowded, but it was a very pleasant place for walking. Then we went back to Buick and Mercedeh's apartment for dinner and had an easy, happy, enjoyable and relaxing time with friends, with a lot of jokes and memories (real or made up) from all corners. A great deal of laughter and fun with good friends was at large, along with first class hospitality and the care and kindness of our hosts.

El Goli Park




Next day, after a leisurely breakfast at the hotel we headed towards Kandovan village. We passed through Oskou which has many internationally well known sons and according to the road signs, 100% of the people there are literate. Kandovan is 60km south of Tabriz and is famous throughout Iran for the houses that have been carved into the rocks. Some of these houses are over 700 years old. The village is interesting, but is crowded with traffic which lessens one's pleasure and of course there were many tourists (like us). We dropped off our bags at the hotel reception and went to the village market which was most intriguing. We all bought lots of things we did not need but like all tourists felt we could not help ourselves. Our shopping included things like lavashak, freshly dried herbs and old spices, shawls and silk scarves. The five star Laleh Rocky Hotel is on the edge of the village and all of the rooms are individually carved into the rocks. Like other visitors, we were impressed how well they had done this hotel as the rooms were large and cool with a huge jacuzzi in the bathroom! Can you believe that!? It was really comfortable but the only disadvantage was the steps, the hotel was built into the hillside and my knees were dead by the time we had climbed up the many steps to the restaurant at the top and come down again.

Kandovan village


After a long rest we met up in one of the larger suites and had another great night. We headed back to Tabriz next morning and went to the famous bazaar, where we took many photographs and did even more shopping, ever mindful of how much we could cram into our suitcases for the flight home. For lunch we once again enjoyed our host's hospitality and the wonderful and delicious chelo-kebab of the famous Bakharaan in Tabriz.

After tea and shirini we left for the airport and our flight back to reality of life in Tehran. It was nice relaxing and fun to be with good friends who bring out your good vibes and make you spiritually enlightened and help you forget the things you want to and you should forget, at least temporarily to get your energy, strength and fortitude back.

We missed you (Jaye shoma khali)!!


© Copyright 2009 (All Rights Reserved)