A military post for millennia, Ardabil was declared a city around the year 470. It was the capital of the Sajid Azarbayjan dynasty of AD 871-929, and saw independence as khanate 1747-1808. However, Ardabil is best remembered for spawning two great leaders: the patriarchal Safavid and great Sufi dervish-mystic Sheikh Safi-od-Din (1253-1354), in addition to his later descendant Ismail Safavi. The latter extended the domains of the clan so successfully that by 1502 he had become Shah Ismail of all Persia. His glorious Safavid dynasty was to rule Iran for more than two centuries.
Ardabil is a logical point between Tabriz and the upper Caspian Sea coast. Magnificent Sheikh Safi-od-Din Mausoleum of Ardabil is by far its greatest attraction, but there is a reasonable dispersion of other minor places and a truly outstanding teahouse restaurant. When the cold fog clears, Mt. Sabalan’s snow capped peak is dramatically visible from Shurabil Lake. Drive to Alvares ski slopes at the nearby Sara’eyn hot springs resort which is recovered by Sabalan slopes for some lovely summer walks.
Ardabil is on a high plateau. The climate is pleasant and cool in summer, and bitterly Coldin winter.