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Maragheh (Marāghé or Marāgha, ) is a city in Northern Iranmarker on the bank of the river Safi Chay. The Azeri-speaking population form majority in the city. It is located in East Azerbaijan Province at , 130 km from Tabrizmarker and has a population of 151,486.[137916]

Maragheh is an ancient city situated in a narrow valley running nearly north and south at the eastern extremity of a well-cultivated plain opening towards Lake Urmiamarker, which lies 30 km to the west. The town is encompassed by a high wall ruined in many places, and has four gates. Two stone bridges in good condition, said to have been constructed during the reign of Hulaku Khan (1217-1265), who made Maragheh the capital of the Ilkhanate. Shortly thereafter it became the seat of the Church of the East Patriarch Mar Yaballaha III. The place is surrounded by extensive vineyards and orchards, all well watered by canals led from the river, and producing great quantities of fruit. The hills west of the town consist of horizontal strata of sandstone covered with irregular pieces of basalt.

One of the famous burial towers, the Gonbad-e-Kabud (Blue Tower, 1197) is decorated with decorative patterns resembling Penrose tiles.

Its marble, which is known throughout Iran as Maragha marble, is a travertine obtained at the village of Dashkasan near Azarshahrmarker about 50 km north-west from Maragheh. It is deposited from water, which bubbles up from a number of springs in the form of horizontal layers, which at first are thin crusts and can easily be broken, but gradually solidify and harden into blocks with a thickness of about 20 cm. It is a singularly beautiful substance, being of pink, greenish, or milk-white color, streaked with reddish copper-colored veins. It is exported and sold worldwide under such names as Azarshar Red or Yellow.

Late Miocene strata near Maragheh have produced rich harvests of vertebrate fossils for European and North American museums. A multi-national team reopened the foissil site in 2008. "International paleontologists team up for research on fossil-rich Iranian site"] Accessed 18 May 2008.

Old Fahlavi

Hamdollah Mostowfi of the 13th century A.D. mentions the language of Maragheh as "Pahlavi Mughayr" (modified Pahlavi). The 17th century A.D. Ottoman Turkish traveler Evliya Chelebi who traveled to Safavid Iran also states:“The majority of the women in Maragheh converse in Pahlavi”.. According to the the Encyclopedia of Islam:"At the present day, the inhabitants speak Adhar Turkish, but in the 14th century they still spoke “arabicized Pahlawi” (Nuzhat al-Qolub: Pahlawi Mu’arrab) which means an Iranian dialect of the north western group."

Maragha observatory

Venus transit 2004 at the site of observatory

On a hill west of the town are the remains of the famous Maragheh observatorymarker called Rasad Khaneh, constructed under the direction Hulaku Khan for Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. The building, which no doubt served as a citadel as well, enclosed a space of 340 by 135 meters, and the foundations of the walls were 13 to 2 meters in thickness. The observations were compiled in the Zij-i Ilkhani, which influenced Copernicus. The remains inspired Ulugh Beg to construct his observatory in Samarkandmarker

Universities in Maragheh

  • University of Maragheh
  • Payam-e Noor University of Maragheh
  • Azad University of Maragheh
Entrance of Payam Noor University of Maragheh

Famous people born in Maragheh or who lived in Maragheh


  • E. Makovicky (1992): 800-year-old pentagonal tiling from Maragha, Iran, and the new varieties of aperiodic tiling it inspired. In: I. Hargittai, editor: Fivefold Symmetry, pp. 67–86. World Scientific, Singapore-London
  • Peter J. Lu and Paul J. Steinhardt: Decagonal and Quasi-crystalline Tilings in Medieval Islamic Architecture, Science 315 (2007) 1106-1110


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