The Best Bazaars in Iran

The labyrinth of a bazaar is a riot for the senses. The smells catch your nostrils, the sounds tingle your eardrum and the tastes can take you to a place you’ve never discovered before. Iran is home to hundreds of sprawling bazaars, with each direction taking you on a different pathway and a different experience. Here is a guide to the best bazaars to visit while there.

Tabriz Bazaar

Tabriz Bazaar

A sure favourite for any budding traveller, Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex is one of Iran’s endless UNESCO Heritage Sites. Standing as one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East, Tabriz Bazaar is one of the most significant commercial centres on the Silk Road – its location was once the capital of the Safavid kingdom. The complex is comprised of a variety of red-brick structures and buildings which mostly date from the 15th century. The complex is split into different halls, the Amir Bazaar is home to jewellery and gold, the Kolahdozan Bazaar sells old-fashioned Azeri hats, while other routes guide you to fresh fruit, vegetables and a mountain of spices. 

Vakil Bazaar 

Zand-era architecture is shown perfectly at the Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz. It was built in the 11th century by Karim Khan and has proven to be a prominent trading area for market sellers. You can find all kinds of produce here, from antiques and copper pieces to tasty Persian sweets to complement a bubbling chai, tea. Due to its picturesque vaulted brick ceiling the temperature of the building is always kept cool, so proves a great place to escape the summer heat and watch locals meander from market to market while they carry out their weekly shops. 

Saffron – Tajrish Bazaar

Tajrish Bazaar 

Tajrish, north Tehran, is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the capital. The area provides a fantastic location for a breath of clean air from the fumes and endless toots of horns in central Tehran. Delve into Tajrish Bazaar and you will find lines of markets selling the freshest produce of heaps of grapes to succulent cherries to powdery piles of spices such as cinnamon, and of course, Iran’s most well-known ingredient, saffron. Fragrant herbs such as parsley are sold in mass to locals to be scattered in recipes such as ghormeh sabzi, lamb and herb stew.

Bazaar-e Bozorg 

You can easily spend half a day, or more, pottering around one market to another in one of Iran’s most compelling bazaars. The covered market in Esfahan connects Naqsh-e Jahan Square with Masjed-e Jameh. The oldest parts of the bazaar lay around the mosque and date back to over one thousand years old, the majority of the structures were built in the early 1600s, during Shah Abbas’s expansion. Entrances to the bazaar are peppered all over, with the main entrance standing at the Qeysarieh Portal at Naqsh-e Jahan Square. One lane will see rolls of fabric being cut to fit for a budding seamstress, others will see dried rose petals being shovelled into a plastic bag to be made into a homemade jam and elsewhere you can hear the click and chipping away of metal workers engraving their works of art. 

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