Ardebil (ärdəbēlˈ) [key], town (1991 pop. 311,022), NW Iran, near the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is a market center for a fertile agricultural region. Carpets and rugs are produced in the town. Ardebil was probably founded in the 5th cent. A.D. It became (10th cent.) the capital of Azerbaijan but was soon superseded by Tabriz. In 1220 it was destroyed by the Mongols. The town quickly regained its importance as the home of Safi ad-Din, the founder of a celebrated Sufi order. The Safavids erected a beautiful shrine there, and the town became a center of pilgrimage. Ardebil also contains the tomb of Shah Ismail. The town was occupied by the Turks in 1725 and by the Russians in 1828. Its proficient library was taken to St. Petersburg by the Russians. The name is also spelled Ardabil.
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