What to see and do in Maku, Iran

View of Maku from the old Maku fort
View of Maku from the old Maku fort – photo by Fabien Khan

Located in the rocky hills of Iran’s West Azerbaijan province is the old city of Maku. Though small, Maku is a good rest stop if you’re traveling through the region. There are also a few cool things to see here should you have a few hours to kill.

Quick History of Maku

Just 22 km from the modern Turkish border, Maku was an important fortress town that stood on the Ottoman-Persian frontier for centuries. Before that it was ruled by various local Armenian kingdoms and later the Safavid Dynasty of Iran. As Safavid power began to crumble, Maku became the capital of the semi-autonomous Azeri Kangarli Khanate and remained so until the late 1820s when the new Qajar Dynasty gained control of it. The city is also infamous for members of the Bahá’í sect as the founder of that faith, the one they call the “Báb,” was held in Maku’s fortress for nearly 9 months in 1848.

Given its proximity to Turkey and the former Soviet Republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Maku today is a small but important commercial center and rest area for those transporting goods to the larger cities of Urmia and Tabriz.

What to see in Maku

Maku’s top attraction is probably the beautiful scenery that surrounds it. The best way to see this is by trekking up a path near the old Maku fortress and Abu Fazl Mosque.

Baqcheh Jooq Palance in Maku, Iran
Baqcheh Jooq Palance in Maku, Iran

The main building to see in Maku is the Baqcheh Jooq Palace. This is a stately mansion built for the governor of Qajar Shah Muzaffar al-Din. Though opulent, the interior is a bit tacky. The tiled and mirrored atrium as well as the small garden and fruit orchard outside the main mansion are fun places to stroll around. You wouldn’t think it, but this is a popular place and draws in thousands of tourists each year.

Also of historical interest but several kilometers to the south is the old Armenian church/monastery of St. Thaddeus.

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