Ahvaz; an Ancient City with a Modern Aura
Ahvaz is an industrial city in southwest Iran. While Ahvaz does not have a lot to offer discerning travelers, it is still a city that worth a visit due to its ancient history and certain landmarks that you will find quite fascinating.
Ahvaz is the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan Province and situated on both banks of Karun River. The river divides the city into two districts, with one side comprising mainly of government departments while the other half has industrial and residential structures.
The climate in Ahvaz is arid desert climate, making it extremely hot. Temperatures in summer regularly soar to 45 degree Celsius and can even cross 50 degree Celsius. As it is an industrial town, you will find high levels of particulate matter in the air, and this can create respiratory problems if you already have a breathing condition like asthma.
History of Ahvaz
Ahvaz’s history goes all the way back to the Achaemenid era. During the ancient times, Ahvaz was one of the most important hubs for the Academy of Gondishapur. Some of the ancient names of Ahvaz include Hormozd Ardeshir, Suq-ol-Ahwaz and Naseri. You will also find historians addressing it as Algenis.
Some believe that Ahvaz is constructed on the same site as the ancient city Taryana. Ardeshir Sassanid I has been credited for rebuilding Taryana and rechristening it Hormozd Ardeshir. Under the Sassanid rule, Ahvaz experienced a lot of success and prosperity and was made into the capital of Suziana instead of the city of Susa.
When the Arabs conquered Suziana, they renamed Hormozd Ardeshir as Suq-ol-Ahwaz. During the Umayyad and Abbasid eras, Ahvaz became a hub for sugarcane cultivation and it also attracted a lot of medieval scholars, geographers, and historians, including Ibn Hawqal, Ya’qubi Masudi, Tabari, and Mostowfi Qazvini. Also, during this time, the Academy of Gundishapur came up and gave Ahvaz several learned doctors and medicine men.
The Mongols wreaked havoc on Ahvaz during the 13th and 14th centuries, and the once flourishing and thriving city turned into a forlorn village. With no one to maintain the irrigation channels and dams, the village lost its sheen in the early 19th century. However, under the Qajar rule, Ahvaz once again tasted prosperity. Especially, after the Karun River was dredged and the waterways were reopened to facilitate trade and commerce.
Demographics and Culture
Today, the population of the city is about 1,112,021, according to the 2011 census. The metropolitan area that
includes Sheybany is home to about 1,136,989 people.
Ahvaz has several universities, sports clubs, institutions, and major companies. Hence, its ethnicity is extremely diverse, consisting of Jews, Iranian Arabs, Persians, Lurs, Mandaeans and Iranian Armenians. Most people in the city speak Persian.