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Discover Ardabil; Where Natural Springs Meet Ancient Heritage

Ardabil stands out as one of Iran’s unique provinces, encapsulating an array of attractions from historical and archaic to natural and cultural in one destination.

Whether embarking on an adventure amid nature or delving into the depths of ancient times, Ardabil offers a variety of experiences. This province caters to all seasons and a wide range of tastes. From those who cherish the natural legacy of this region to those fervent about safeguarding Iran’s historical heritage, enthusiasts of indigenous culture, or seekers of adventurous leisure, Ardabil represents a thoughtful choice.

Sabalan; A Lake Touching the Skies

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Sabalan is the most beautiful peak in Iran, a dormant volcano standing at 4,811 meters above sea level. Located in the southeastern part of Meshginshahr in the province of Ardabil, it is the third-highest peak in Iran after Damavand and Alam-Kuh and a dream destination for every climber.

In the Azari language, this peak is called Savalan. The unique geological features of Sabalan, including hot springs, dormant volcanoes, and a permanent lake at its summit, have rightfully earned it the title of the most beautiful peak in Iran.

This peak has over a hundred hot and cold springs with therapeutic properties, some of which have transformed into modern hydrotherapy centers. Access to the summit is possible through various routes, but the most common path passes through the Shabil hot spring in Lahrud City.

The best time to climb Mount Sabalan is from mid-spring until the beginning of fall. During this period, the weather is more favorable for climbing, and access to the summit is easier. Additionally, the natural scenery along the way enhances the allure of the ascent.

Upon reaching the peak, the sight of a clear lake surrounded by settled snow erases the fatigue from your body. It’s no wonder that Sabalan is known as Iran’s most beautiful peak. The multitude of lakes in the Sabalan mountain range has fostered a precious ecosystem, home to diverse wildlife, including the renowned brown bear.

Ascending Mount Sabalan is not merely a sporting activity in nature but also counts as a cultural experience. The beautiful ascent path, lush slopes, hot springs, tourist-targeted villages, and the hospitable nomadic people of Sabalan attract tourists to this region.

Imagine staying in one of the nomadic camps, witnessing the unparalleled mountain views, and becoming enchanted by the taste of herbal tea made from the fragrant plants of the Sabalan foothills.

Alvares Ski Resort; Travel to the Depths of Winter

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Alvares Ski Resort

Near the village of Alvares, a traditional nomad ground for the Shahsevan tribes, lies the Alvares Ski Slopes, a premier destination for skiing and winter sports in Iran. Nestled in a scenic mountainous area in Ardabil province, its elevated position and distinctive geographical features create optimal conditions for engaging in winter sports.

The Alvares ski slope is geographically located 24 kilometers northwest of Sareyn and is only 12 kilometers away from the village of Alvares. The access route to the ski track is through a scenic and mountainous road. While some sections of this route might present challenges due to the region’s susceptibility to snow, cold, and ice, the path is generally beautiful and navigable.

The Alvares ski track is available from the end of December through the beginning of March. In this timeframe, the amount of snow is ample, ensuring optimal conditions for skiing and various winter sports. Additionally, enjoying the winter scenery of Alvares adds to its appeal.

Not only is the Alvares ski track a superb option for ski lovers, but it also stands out as an attractive destination for travelers who select their journey based on the attraction of nature and the enjoyment of untouched mountain views.

The facilities at this ski slope, ranging from ski equipment to chairlifts and amenities alongside instructional classes, offer a complete and enjoyable experience. If you are an adventure, seeking the thrill of skiing and relishing the natural beauty of Ardabil, and do not consider snow and cold as obstacles to travel and new experiences, do not miss visiting the Alvares ski slope.

Fandoghloo Forest; Explore the Enchanting Eco-Trails

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Fandoghloo Forest

The Fandoghloo forests in the beautiful province of Ardabil are among the most scenic forests in Iran. These forests are spread across 16,000 hectares, located near the city of Namin and within the Fandoghloo area, adjacent to the chamomile plains, stretching from the east of Khaneqah-e Olya village to the east of Hoor (Hur) village. The presence of hazelnut, wild apple, gooseberry, quince, raspberry, and mulberry trees has turned the Fandoghloo forests into habitats for various bird species.

Visiting the Fandoghloo forests is ideal in spring and summer when the climate and natural scenery are most stunning. Yet, as autumn arrives, the season’s monarch, the transformation of the forest’s colors bestows an entirely different allure to the landscape. There are various routes to access the Fandoghloo forests. On the Astara to Ardabil route, as you wind through the Heyran Pass, you see a spectacular view of the forest.

On another route, you can travel from Ardabil towards Namin, then towards the villages of Khaneqah-e Sofla, and finally towards Arpatapa, where the beautiful Fandoghloo forests reveal themselves to your sight. The route through Sooha Lake and Laton Waterfall is also scenic. However, it is more commonly used by experienced hikers and nature enthusiasts.

Among the attractions of the Fandoghloo forests are the presence of one of the rarest flower species in the world, the Lilium ledebourii (Sosan-e Chehel Cheraagh), and the natural pool of Mesha Sooyi around the forest.
The water in this pool has therapeutic properties. Additionally, ski slopes, grass skiing, and cable cars are among the recreational activities you can enjoy while admiring the beautiful landscapes of the forest.

Shourabil Lake; Enjoying a Day Outdoors with Family

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Shourabil Lake

Lake Shourabil, with an area of about 180 hectares, is one of the most beautiful lakes and one of the best destinations for nature-based tourism in Iran. The lake dates back to the late Tertiary and early Quaternary periods of geology, making it a valuable natural heritage. Its central areas exceed 11 meters deep, highlighting the importance of adhering to safety measures during boating activities.

Shourabil has its unique beauty in each season. With the arrival of spring and the warming weather, conditions become favorable for recreational and sports activities around the lake. In summer, despite the relatively cool weather, the conditions are ideal for enjoying the recreational facilities of the lake. In the colder seasons, with snowfall, an unparalleled landscape emerges, and in winter, the sight of the frozen Shourabil Lake is a spectacular experience for visitors.

In Shourabil, visitors can engage in numerous activities like biking, pedalo-boating, jet skiing, leisure boating, and zip-lining. Since freshwater to the lake has enabled trout farming, Shourabil has become a habitat for migratory birds. Therefore, it is one of the best bird-watching sites in Iran. A trip to this lake provides tourists with a distinctive experience, showcasing the seamless blend of natural beauty and modern amenities and forging unforgettable memories.

Shirvan Darreh Si; The Gallery of Natural Rock Sculptures

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Shirvan Darreh Si

The Shirvan Darreh-Si Valley, a marvel of geology in the Ardabil province and the eleventh wildlife habitat in Iran spans approximately 75 square kilometers. This Valley is 2,200 meters above sea level, located about 20 kilometers southeast of Meshgin-Shahr (Meshginshahr).

The deep cuts in the wide rocky walls, alongside erosion shapes and structures formed from the volcanic sediments of Sabalan, resembling sculpted statues, are the most prominent features of Geotourism in Shirvan Darrehsi.

The presence of rivers, hot springs, deep valleys, and dense forests contributes to its high biodiversity. It’s no wonder that Shirvan Darrehsi is recognized as a valuable natural heritage, making it a candidate for inclusion in the global list of Geoparks.

Traveling to Shirvan Darrehsi is ideal in spring and summer, when the beauty of nature is at its peak, creating perfect conditions for activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, and using the hot springs.

The access route to Shirvan Darrehsi is via Meshgin-Shahr, passing through mountainous and rural roads. The unique natural landscapes you’ll see along the way make the journey an unforgettable experience. With its unparalleled landscapes, this valley is a valuable natural site for discovering the wonders of nature. Among the most prominent attractions of this valley are the Atgoli Reservoir, Jeiran Goli, and the twin waterfalls. Mountain climbing, hiking, camping, and nature photography are the best activities you can experience in Shirvan Darrehsi.

This valley is the permanent habitat for animal species such as foxes, wolves, rams, ewes, brown bears, pheasants, and doves. Given its role as a temporary haven for migratory birds, it stands out as an ideal spot for bird-watching and wildlife observation.

Aali Ghapo; Ardabil Style High Gate

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Aali Ghapo Ardabil

Whenever the term Aali Ghapo Arises, the mind instinctively pictures the Aali Ghapo Palace in Isfahan. However, Ardabil also has a famous building and neighborhood named Aali Ghapo. “Aali Ghapo” means “High or Tall Gate”, signifying the entrance to a magnificent edifice.

The history of the Aali Ghapo building in the center of Ardabil dates back to the Safavid dynasty. This 500-year-old architectural marvel functioned as an entrance to an extensive compound. In the vicinity of the Aali Ghapo building, you will find the Ardabil Grand Mosque and the city’s Traditional Bazaar. These attest to the historical significance and architectural value but have also transformed the Aali Ghapo complex and its surrounding area into a cultural landmark in the City of Ardabil.

The mausoleum of Sheikh Safi-ad-din Ardabili, located in the historic-cultural area of Aali Ghapo, comprises a mosque, school, Sufi lodge, library, museum, porcelain house, and the tombs of other members of the Safavid dynasty. This site is acclaimed for its exquisite architecture and precious internal embellishments, including intricate tile works and wall paintings, marking it as a prominent historical site in Iran.

The Aali Ghapo building has undergone various changes and renovations throughout history, yet it remains a prominent cultural and historical emblem of Ardabil. Should your journey bring you to the enchanting city of Ardabil, don’t miss a visit to the Aali Ghapo neighborhood. In addition to touring the Aali Ghapo
Building and the mausoleum of Sheikh Safi-ad-din Ardabili, other historical buildings in the vicinity spend some time relaxing on the benches along its cobblestoned streets.

Embrace the local culture by purchasing souvenirs and handcrafted items, and indulge in Ardabil’s culinary delights at the area’s restaurants and cafes.

Shahar Yeri; A City with Stone Figures

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Shahar Yeri

An ancient complex located in the historically rich province of Ardabil, also known as the “Shahar Yeri“, “Historical City of Yeri” or “Yeri Fortress”; the area is a hill adorned with statues and ancient sculptures dating back to 8000 BC.

Located 37 kilometers east of Meshgin-Shahr and 15 kilometers northeast of Ardabil, the Shahar Yeri Ancient Site is home to about 300 stone statues with human-like forms. A distinctive trait shared by these statues is the lack of a mouth. Predominantly, these figures are crafted standing with their hands folded across their chests.

Among these figures, a unique statue features a mouth, appearing as an armed female, in contrast to the rest, while the others are in the form of standing stone men. The engravings on this statue’s head are akin to hairpins discovered in the ancient graves of women from that period; this might indicate the significance of women in the societal and warfare context of that era or symbolize the elevated social status and power women held.

Archaeological studies also indicate the significant role of women in ancient Iran. The presence of a sword with this female figure could represent the bravery of women of that era in facing challenges and striving to defend their homes and communities. Some of these stone men also carry swords, symbolizing their readiness for battle and efforts to protect their homes and homeland. The heights of these statues vary from 35 centimeters to approximately 2.5 meters.

Meshgin Shahr Suspension Bridge; Thrill with a Touch of Nature

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Meshgin Shahr Suspension Bridge

The Meshgin Shahr Suspension Bridge, one of the newest attractions in Ardabil Province, is located in the foothills of Mount Sabalan and above the Meshgin Shahr Forest Park. With its astonishing view of the lush nature of Ardabil Province, it exhilarates every visitor.

The Meshgin Shahr Suspension Bridge, renowned as the longest in the Middle East, Height 80 meters above the valley and extends to a length of 365 meters. It draws inspiration from the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver, Canada. This distinctive design has placed the bridge among the world’s exclusive artistic creations. Furthermore, it is also recognized as an engineering marvel, ranking among the top 10 architectural structures in Iran from a tourism perspective.

The curved deck of the bridge is one of the finest structures in the world, a fusion of art, genius, and knowledge, beautifully nestled in the embrace of Iran’s nature. The construction of this bridge, completed in a mere “9 months, reflects the remarkable skill, proficiency, and knowledge applied in its design and execution.

In constructing this bridge, composite materials with a wood-like design are highly resistant to impact, moisture, fire, pressure, and lightning. From motion control sensors to anemometers, everything employed in the bridge’s construction contributes to its durability. One of the most intriguing features of this bridge is its glass section in the middle, allowing visitors to view the thrilling and beautiful valley beneath their feet.

In addition to the experience of walking and crossing the longest suspension bridge in the Middle East, you can also enjoy the thrill of zip-lining at this recreational complex. The zip-line at this complex is 350 meters long and positioned at an altitude of 90 meters above the stunning Khiav Chai valley. There are also amusement park attractions and entertainment designed for children and teenagers.

Given the geographical location of the area at the foothills of Mount Sabalan, the best times for exploration are during the summer and spring seasons; the weather is excellent, and nature is lush and green. However, the Meshgin Shahr Suspension Bridge offers an unparalleled view in the autumn and winter Seasons.


Download the PDF version of FlySepehran magazine, NO. 25

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