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A fine birds-eye view of the town of Ardebil (Ardabil) in northwestern Iran near the south west shore of the Caspian Sea, published by Merian.

One of the earliest printed views of this city.

Ardabil is an ancient city near the Iranian Border with Azerbaijan. Ardabil is the center of Ardabil Province.

Ardabil is known for its silk and carpet trade tradition. Ardabil is also known as the seat of a World Heritage Site: the Ardabil Shrine, the sanctuary and tomb of Shaikh Safî ad-Dîn, eponymous founder of the Safavid dynasty.

During the Islamic conquest of Iran, Ardabil was the largest city in north western Iran and remained so until the Mongol invasion period. Ardabilis fought the Mongols three times; however the city fell after the third attempt by Mongols, who massacred the Ardabilis. Incursions of Mongols and subsequently the Georgians, who, under Tamar the Great, captured and sacked the city with some 12,000 citizens reputedly killed, devastated the city. The city however recovered and was in a more blossoming state than before, though by this time the principal city in the Azerbaijan region had become Tabriz, and under the later Ilkhanate, it had become Soltaniyeh.

Safavid king Ismail I, born in Ardabil, started his campaign to nationalize Iran's government and land from there, but consequently announced Tabriz as his capital in 1501. Ardabil remained an important city both politically and economically until modern times. During the frequent Ottoman-Persian Wars, being close to the borders, it was often sacked by the Ottomans between 1514 and 1722.

Matthaeus Merian Biography

Mathaus Merian (1593-1650) was the father of engraver Matthäus the Younger, and of the painter, engraver, and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. He was born in Basel, Switzerland and trained in engraving in Zurich. After a time in Nancy, Paris and Strasbourg, he settled in Frankfurt. While there, he worked for Johann Theodor de Bry, the publisher and son of the travel writer. In 1617, he married Maria Magdalena de Bry, Johann Theodor’s daughter. In 1623, Merian took over the de Bry publishing house upon the death of his father-in-law. Merian’s best known works are detailed town views which, due to their accuracy and artistry, form a valuable record of European urban life in the first half of the sixteenth century