City and capital of East Azerbaijan, 350 mi WNW of Teheran, NW Iran. The fourth-largest city of Iran, it enjoyed a strategic position on the old trade route between Russia and Turkey. The capital of Armenia in the third century a.d. under King Tiridates III, it was captured by Seljuk Turks in 1054. Under Ghazan Khan, the Mongol ruler of Persia, it was made the administrative center of a considerable empire in 1295 but was captured by Tamerlane in the 14th century.
Tabriz became the capital of the empire of Shah Ismail in the early 16th century and was occupied by the Ottoman Empire in 1514 and again frequently thereafter. After 1918 it was a stronghold of the Nationalist movement and the scene of a revolution in 1946, when the Soviet-supported Tudeh Party held power for a few months. It has few historical remains because of frequent earthquakes.