The province of Ardabil is 18,050 km2 (6,969 sq mi) which represent 1.1 percent of total area of Iran. It is located in the north-west of Iran, bordering the Republic of Azerbaijan and the provinces of East Azarbaijan, Zanjan and the Talesh mountain range on the east separates Ardabil from Gilan province. Its center is Ardabil. It used to be part of East Azarbaijan province, and was made a separate province in 1993. Its capital is the city of Ardabil 639 kilometers from Tehran.
The name of Ardabil came from a Zoroastrian name of “Artavil” (mentioned in Avesta) which means a holy place.
Ardabil has a very significant historical background. After disastrous 13th century invasion of Mongols and later Tamerlane (Timur) in 13th century, Iran was torn to pieces and was ruled by almost independent, small and weak Khanates. Till the Suafavid dynasty, in early years of 16th century rose from this region. Shah Esmail I, the first king and founder of Safavid dynasty, within few years consolidated his power all over Iran and established a united country with a strong central government.
Ardabil’s famous natural region is the Sabalan mountains. The majority of Ardebil province’s population is composed of Azerbaijanis. The weather in Ardabil province varies drastically. The city of Ardabil has very cold winters (-23C degrees) and very pleasant summers. Bilesavar and Parsabad have hot summers and warm winters. But generally this province is considered the coldest province in Iran though large parts of the province are green and forested. The average annual rainfall is about 400 mm.
The mineral springs are numerous, among which the hot springs of Sarein in Ardebil and the mineral springs of Khalkhal, Sardabeh and Borjlu are of more importance.
The most important site of Ardabil is the Shrine of Sheikh Safi, an important Sufi leader of the 13th and 14th centuries, and an important contributor to Iran becoming a Shi’a state. Unfortunately many sections of the shrine were destroyed by the Russians in the 19th century. Another landmark is the tomb of Ismail 1, the founder of the Safavid dynasty.