Astara is a city in and the capital of Astara County, Gilan Province, Iran. It lies on the border with Azerbaijan Republic and on the Caspian Sea. It is a relatively important border trade center between Iran and the Caucasus.
Astara has a humid subtropical climate with cold, wet winters and hot, humid summers.
The city of Astara is located northwest of Gilan Province and borders the Caspian Sea in the east, the city of Astara in the Republic of Azerbaijan in the north, Ardabil in the west and the city of Talesh in the south.
There are only a few references to Astara in historical documents, indicating that unlike today, the city was not an important center of trade until the Safavid era (1501–1736). Astara flourished after the Treaty of Gulistan was signed between the Russian and Persian empires in 1811. Under this treaty Astra was divided into two parts and the Aras River became the border between the Russian and Persian empires.
Astara’s main historical attraction is the Ilkhanid era (1256–1335) Sheikh Taj Al-din Mahmud Khivi Mausoleum. Sheikh Taj Al-din was a renowned Sufi master who was believed to work miracles. Locals consider his mausoleum a sacred place.
The city’s other historical attraction is the 2,000-year-old Shindan Fortress in the Heyran region which dates back to the pre-Islamic era and once held a Zoroastrian Fire Temple. In the Safavid era, this fortress, which is located at an altitude of 1,850 meters above sea level, became a rebel stronghold.
There are a number of natural attractions around the city most famously the cloaked-in-mist Heyran Pass, Bibi Yanlou Forest Park which is part of the millions-of-years-old Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests, the 105-meter Laton Waterfall and Kuteh Kumeh Thermal Spring which its water is said to alleviate joint pain. Lisar Protected Area, Estil Wetland and Abbasabad Wetland are three birdwatching destination near Astara.
Astara is one of Iran’s fishing and farming cities. The city has a lively market which has expanded over the years to include 1,200 shops where goods imported from neighboring countries as well as local productions are sold.
Things to Do in Astara:
- Sheikh Taj Al-din Mahmud Khivi Mausoleum
- Heyran pass
- Estil Wetland
Top Foods to Try:
- Longi – A whole chicken marinated in meddler paste and verjuice, and stuffed with a paste made with meddler or cherry plum paste, verjuice, tomato and walnut before roasting. Longi is served with Caspian sticky rice (kateh).
- Basterma- A dish made by stuffing a small duck or chicken with meddler or cherry plum paste, verjuice, tomato and walnut, cooked in rice.
- Torsh-e Tareh- A rice dish made with parsley, coriander, spinach, sour pomegranate juice and egg.