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Ardabil, Iran.
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Ardabil, Iran.

City in northwestern Iran with 370,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), situated on a plateau 1500 metres above sea level, 70 km from the Caspian Sea. It is the capital of Ardabil province with 1.25 million inhabitants (2005 estimate) and an area of 17,881 km².
The economy of Ardabil was originally a trading post between Russia and the Middle East, but the importance of that trade has been dramatically reduced with the emergence of the modern state of Persia (later Iran). Today, the economic activity is based around a cement factory and the making of carpets and rugs.
Ardabil is famous for its good climate in summer, yet it is cold in winter and spring. The city offers its visitors warm mineral springs, which has made the city a popular resort for the rulers of Persia.
The most important site of Ardabil is the Shrine of Shaykh Safi, an important Sufi leader of the 13th and 14th centuries, and an important contributor to Iran becoming a Shi'i state. 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.
The people of Aradabil are Azerbaijanis, speaking the Azeri language.

660: Comes under control of the Muslim Arabs, by treaty.
1220: Destoyed by the Mongols.
1827: Russians destroy large parts of the library of the Shrine of Shaykh Safi, and steal many items.

By Tore Kjeilen