The Physical Structure of Tabriz in Shah Tahmasp Safavid’s Era Based on Matrakçı Miniature

Balilan Asl, Lida
Tabriz, located in Northwestern Iran, is one of the most ancient cities of the country before and after Islam. Until the middle of Shah Tahmasp's reign, the second King of Safavid dynasty 962AH/1555AD, Tabriz was the capital city; and after that, up to the end of the Qajarid dynasty 1194AH/1780AD, it has always been the second most important and unique city in Iran considering the religious, political, and economic standpoints, and consequently the architecture and urbanism. Unfortunately, consecutive earthquakes and wars with the neighboring Ottoman Empire have destroyed the spatial structure of this historical city. Likewise, after three decades, the spatial structure of Tabriz during Safavid era is ambiguous. The only documents related to this era are limited to itineraries and some drawings recorded by tourists. The miniature drawn by Nasuh in 944Ah/1537AD known as Matrakci is the oldest and most important recorded document from Safavid Tabriz because of political- military reasons. It was drawn during the military campaign of Sultan Suleiman, the Ottoman king, to Iran under the reign of Shah Tahmasp I; however, none of the architecture and urbanism researchers has attempted to reread this important historical document. Therefore, the purpose of the present paper is to restitute the physical structure of Dar Al-Saltaneh (24) of Tabriz in Safavid dynasty using historic texts based on Matrakci miniature and other historical documents. For this purpose, the recreation was done on the oldest and most complete historical map of Tabriz drawn in 1297Ah/1880AD named Qarajadagi Dar Al-Saltaneh, so that a fairly accurate picture of Tabriz could be presented in this period. Information was gathered using historical-interpretative method or phenomenological approach and data were analyzed and interpreted using analytical-comparative method. The results of the pictorial modeling showed that the structural system of Tabriz was based on two main centralities. First, the governmental center, located at North of the river, with aggregation of the urban spaces and tombs, and the second, the southern center, located at south of the river, which was considered city center or aggregation of religious and commercial services as well as residential spaces.


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Citation Formats
L. Balilan Asl, “The Physical Structure of Tabriz in Shah Tahmasp Safavid’s Era Based on Matrakçı Miniature,” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 165–194, 2019, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: