Ardabil is an ancient Iranian city that lies on the Baliql Chay River. The site is believed to date back to the Achaemenid era (ca. 550-330 BCE). Ardabil is mentioned in the Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism. The city itself was founded in the Sassanid Empire, and was a city of size and importance during the Islamic conquest of Iran. Left in ruins after raids from both the Mongols and the Georgians for three centuries, the city regained its importance during the Safavid period under Shah Ismail I ca. 1500 CE.
Ardabil’s most prominent archaeological feature is The Complex of Sheikh Safi-as-din Ardabili which contains multiple houses and mausoleums, including those of Sheikh Safi and Shah Ismail I. The dome of Sheikh Safi’s mausoleum is referred to as Allah-Allah, and features an octagonal interior. Also of note is the Ardabil Bazaar, which dates back to the 4th century CE and is shaped like a cross