After crossing into Iran from Turkey, my first stop was the windy city of Tabriz, home to the largest roofed bazaar in the world.
In the 13th century Tabriz became the capital city of the Safavids; the greatest Iranian Empire established after the Muslim conquest of Persia. The bazaar soon became one of the most important international trade and cultural centres in the world. Whilst the city lost its status as capital in the 16th century, it remained important as a commercial hub until the end of the 18th century.
Arranged much like a department store, the bazaar contains approximately 8,000 shops and employs around 10,000 workers.
There are areas for carpets, gold jewellery, white goods, mens fashion, women’s fashion, food and produce and more. I saw very few computers or smart phones. Instead business is conducted the old-fashioned way on landlines and calculators. I even saw an abacus still in use.
Marco Polo claimed to have passed through it. Perhaps he stayed at one of its 22 caravanserai.