|Uromiyeh (Urmia / Orumiyeh)||
Uromiyeh is a large city with a population of 400.000. Formerly known as Rezaiyeh (after Reza Shah), it is built at an altitude of 1,340m on a plateau, about west 25km from the lake of the same name, halfway between Tabriz and the Turkish border (in European languages both the city and the lake are often called Urmia). The southern part of the city is crossed by the Shahar river, taking its waters east to the lake.
Uromiyeh is said to have been founded about 3500 years ago. The remains of several ancient settlements are scattered over the plain. It fell to arab invaders in the 7th century, who introduced Islam and was later conquered by Turks and Mongols.
In 1900 Christians formed nearly half the
population, and an independent Armenian state was proclaimed by Marshimun.
However in 1918 with the advance of Turkish troops, many Armenians left
- most of the remainder were massacred by the Turks in the
wake of the retreat of the Russian Army from the area. The Armenian and
Assyrian genocides committed by the Ottoman Turks erased most of the Christian
population of west Azerbaijan.
Today several beautiful buildings still survive, of which the most important are the large square Friday Mosque in the bazaar area, the Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Naneh Mariyam) and a 12th century mausoleum tower. The city is mostly flat, centred around Vilayet Fagih square, where the main commercial artery, Iman avenue, starts. The city museum, focusing on local history an handycrafts, is located on Shahid Beheshti street.
The Iranian government assures a reasonable
degree of religious freedom and Islam and Christianity live together, both
steeples and minarets contribute to the beauty in the horizon. The city
is the seat of a Chaldean (Catholic archbishopric) and claims to have been
the birthplace of Zoroaster and to have been
visited by the three wise men on their way to Bethlehem.
There are ferryboats connecting the two sides of the lake. A bridge across the lake was started in the 1970s, but was abadoned after the Islamic Revolutin, with one third of it still missing. So although Uromiyeh is only 120 kilometres from Tabriz, it takes about 5 hours to drive between the two cities, around lake Uromiyeh, through bad roads.
There no rail connections to Uromiyeh but
there are buses to Tabriz, Tehran, Mahabad and other destinations. The
bus station lies in the northern part of the city. You can also take some
domestic flighs, the airport is located about 20 kilometres north of the
city - airport code OMH.
|see also: hotels in Uromiyeh, history, Ardebil, Tabriz, Zanjan, South Azerbaijan, Iranian visas, maps, summary, places, photos of Azerbaijan, photos of Iran|
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