Iran (Persia) Capital Cities

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Year ▲▼City
1786Tehran Founding Year 1554 when a bazaar and a square town wall with four gates were built. Previously it was an unwalled region with just 1,000 residents. Circa 1778, a citadel (today's Golestan Palace) was built by Karim Khan Zand.

In 1786 Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar made Tehran his capital and by 1807 its population had grown to 50,000. Its population today is over 8 million. Greater Tehran now includes Rhages, an ancient, prominent city that once belonged to the Medes.

1762Shiraz was made the capital in 1762 under the rule of Karim Khan Zand (1751 - 1779). Employing more than 12,000 workers, he constructed a royal district with a fortress, many administrative buildings, a mosque, and one of the finest covered bazaars in Iran. He had a moat built around the city, constructed an irrigation and drainage system, and rebuilt the city walls.

In 1819 Shiraz was the birthplace of the co-founder of the Bahá'í Faith, the Báb (Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad) who lived until 1850. In this city, on the evening of 22 May 1844, the Báb first declared his mission as the bearer of a new divine revelation. For this reason Shiraz has been a holy city for Bahá’ís, and the city, particularly the house of the Báb, was identified as a place of pilgrimage. Due to the hostile climate towards Baha'is in Iran, the house was the target of repeated attacks. It was destroyed in 1979, paved over two years later, and made into a public square.

1728Mashhad was captured by the Afghans in 1722, retrieved in 1728 by Nader Shah, became his capital in 1736, until his assassination in 1747. His grandson, blinded, ruled from 1750 to 1796.

In 1939, its census showed 76,000 inhabitants. In 2016 it was 3 million, the second-largest city in Iran after Tehran

1598Isfahan In 1598 Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I (1588 – 1629) made the more central Isfahan again the capital, enabling it to regain the importance it had had under the Abbasid Caliphate. He is said to have rebuilt it into one of the "largest and most beautiful cities in the 17th century world" with architecture and Persian culture flourishing. He named it in Persian "Ispahan" so that it wouldn't be threatened by the Ottomans. Its prosperity lasted until it was sacked by Afghan invaders in 1722, during a marked decline in Safavid influence.

In 1870 its population was 60,000 but it grew 10-fold over the following 100 years to 672,000 in 1976. Its population in 2016 was 2 million, making it the third-largest city in Iran after Mashhad and Tehran

1548Qazvin. After the Turkish Ottoman Empire captured Tabriz, Shah Tahmasp (1524–1576) made Qazvin the capital, a status that Qazvin retained for half a century until Shah Abbas I moved the capital to Isfahan.
1265Tabriz was the capital of the Ilkhanate (Mongol) dynasty after 1265. During the Ghazan Khan era who came into power in 1295, the city reached its highest "splendour". The later realm stretched from the Amu Darya in the East to the Egypt borders in the West and from the Caucasus in the North to the Indian Ocean in the South. Under his brother who succeeded him in 1306, the capital moved to Soltaniyeh. The Ilkhanate fell in 1335, with Baghdad having been rebuilt and re-establishing temporary control. Tabriz was then the capital of Iran during the Qara Qoyunlu dynasty (1375-1468) and Ag Qoyunlu (1468–1501). Finally, it was capital of Iran in the Safavid period from 1501 until their defeat by the Ottoman Empire in 1555. During the Qajar dynasty (1794-1925) Tabriz was used as residence centre of the Iranian Crown Prince.
1255Maragheh. Maragheh is an ancient city encompassed by a high wall ruined in many places, and has four gates. Two stone bridges in good condition are said to have been constructed during the reign of Hulagu Khan (1217-1265), grandson of Genghis Khan, who made Maragheh his capital, and the capital of the Ilkhanate. In 1258 he destroyed Baghdad, and Baghdad never regained its dominance. Shortly after Hulagu Khan's death, Maragheh became the seat of the Church of the East Patriarch Mar Yaballaha III.
642Isfahan. The Arab Caliphate commenced in Medina in Arabia in 632, moved to Damascus in Syria in 661, then reached its height at Baghdad in 750. When the Arabs captured Isfahan in 642, they made it the capital of al-Jibal ("the Mountains") province, an area that covered much of ancient Media. Isfahan grew prosperous under the Persian Buyid (Buwayhid) dynasty, which rose to power and ruled much of Iran when the temporal authority of the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad waned in the 10th century. The Turkish conqueror and founder of the Seljuq dynasty in Baghdad, Toghril Beg, made Isfahan the capital of his domains in the mid-11th century, and under his grandson Malik-Shah I (1073–92) the city grew "in size and splendour".

After the fall of the last Seljuq sultan (in 1194) and the invasion of Persia by Genghis Khan (in 1220), Isfahan temporarily declined and was eclipsed by other Iranian cities such as Tabriz and Qazvin. During his visit in 1327, Ibn Battuta noted that "The city of Isfahan is one of the largest and fairest of cities, but it is now in ruins for the greater part."

Isfahan regained its importance during the Safavid period (1501–1736). The city's "golden age" began in 1598 when the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I who reigned 1588–1629 made it his capital.

-141Ctesiphon In 141BC Seleucia was captured by Mithridates 1 from Parthia in the east. He established a military camp which became Ctesiphon, a twin city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River.

In 175AD, Seleucia on the western bank was burnt, destroyed, by the Romans. In 226AD, Ctesiphon was captured by the Sasanian dynasty from Persia, who ruled from this city until the Arabs conquered it in 637AD.

In 750AD the Arabs built Baghdad on the Tigris River just 20 miles to the north, with Ctesiphon now mostly in ruins, becoming a quarry for its building materials.

-305Seleucia Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323BC in the city of Babylon on the Euphrates River, in its place Seleucia became the new Greek settlement, 40 miles to the north on the west bank of the Tigris River. It was named for Seleucus I Nicator (Conqueror), one of Alexander the Great's generals who had conquered Babylon in 312BC. In 305BC he enlarged this settlement, making it the capital of his empire.
-465Susa was the capital of the Persian Empire in 465BC at the time of Daniel, Cyrus the Great, and Queen Esther.

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