Astara is an Iranian port and border city with several tourist attractions. It is an economic center and the main city for domestic and international tourists on the west coast of the Caspian Sea, in Gilan Province. This city is the last point of border between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan and is geographically located in the center of Talesh City.
Shindan Castle and Hakim Nezami School are the historical sights of the city. In addition, we can mention Espinas Mountain, Astarachay River, Qarasu River, Chelvand River, Darband River, Lavandvil River, and Astara Lagoon as the natural attractions of this city.
Geography of Astara
Astara is the 6th largest city of Gilan Province and the capital city of Astara County. It is located in the northernmost point of Gilan Province and on the border of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. This city reaches the Caspian Sea on the east, Astara City of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the north, Ardebil Province on the west, and Talesh County of Gilan Province on the south. Astarachay River separates Astara County of Iran from Astara of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
In terms of connecting ways, the city is located near an important 3-way junction. Its southern route reaches Bandar Anzali and Rasht, its northern route goes to Astara and Baku in Azerbaijan and Baku, and its western route leads to Ardebil and Tabriz cities passing through Heyran hill.
The altitude of Astara is 21.1 meters from sea level. The average annual temperature is 15.4˚C and the average annual precipitation is 1,345 millimeters.
When you walk on the streets of this city, you will notice that the architects have used clay in the construction of the house roofs. This type of roof has a decorative aspect, and architecturally, it makes the house temperature cooler in summer than the pitch-insulated flat roofs.
Here are the different ways of traveling to Astara for visiting its tourist attractions:
- By car
Astara is located 75 kilometers from Ardebil City. After passing through Ardebil City and Heyran Tunnel, which has a beautiful and attractive landscape, you can reach Astara through No. 16 road of Iran.
It is about 500 kilometers from Astara to Tehran, and it takes about 7 hours from Tehran to Astara by car.
If you want to travel from Anzali to Astara, you should pass through the 150-kilometer No. 49 route of Bandar Anzali to reach Astara.
- By bus
There are buses from all the cities of Gilan Province and the provincial centers leaving to Astara.
- By airplane
The nearest airports to Astara are Ardebil International Airport and, the next closest airport is the Rasht International Airport. Ardebil Airport is about one hour away from Astara, and you should pass through Heyran hill. Rasht Airport is about 3 hours away from Astara, passing through Anzali and Talesh cities. By airplane, it takes 75 minutes from Tehran to Ardebil and 60 minutes to Rasht.
Population and Economy of Astara
According to the 2016 census in Iran, the population of Astara was 51, 579 people. The city plays a decisive economic role in the province and even in Iran. In terms of passenger accommodation, this city has the first rank in Gilan Province. Astara Port is the first private port of Iran and the fifth transit port of the northern part of the country.
Astara is the most strategic connection between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan and the gateway to the Caucasus. Astara is also famous for the Golden Gateway to Europe that has the largest export of business through luggage, and the third most active border in the field of exports and imports.
In addition, Astara is one of the oldest customs in the country with more than 200 years of history in the field of trade. It is the first-rank city in terms of export and the largest land customs of the north of the country. Astara is a safe and active land border of the country to the extent that is the second customs revenue source in Gilan Province.
History of Astara
Astara is an ancient city and has got several historical attractions to visit. Therefore, it is important to know a bit about its history.
The oldest reference that had mentioned the name of Astara is Hodoud Al-Alam book (written in 983). In the 10th century, Gilan was extended from Lahijan to the vicinity of Baku and consisted of eight districts including Astara. In the past, this city was not as important as today. It was during the Safavid period that this city gained a significant role.
At the beginning of the Talesh Khanate rule, Astara was the center of their government. According to the Treaty of Turkmenchay, signed between Iran and Russia in 1828, Astara was divided into two parts: Russia earned the part of the city located in the north of Astarachay, and Iran accepted the southern part of the city. The two countries considered the river as the border.
Historical Attractions within the City
Here is a list of the historical places inside Astara:
Pir Qotb al-Din Tomb
This building is located 3 kilometers from the Astara-Ardebil road, inside the cemetery of Baqcheh Sara Village on a relatively high mound. This brick building with a length of more than 11 meters and a width of 6 meters belongs to the Qajar period.
Hakim Nezami School
The construction of this school dates back to 1908. Since then, many people have studied in this school.
The ancient Hakim Nezami School has a large courtyard, metal doors, and windows, as well as cast iron fireplaces. All of these elements represent the traditional and local architecture of this region of Gilan.
Astara Grand Beach Bazaar
The Grand Beach Bazaar is located in one of the best metropolitan areas of Astara, on the banks of the Caspian Sea and the Astara Lagoon. In 1989, with the fall of the former Soviet Union and the reopening of the Astara border crossing between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, the government founded this grand bazaar.
In the 8th year of the reign of Muzaffar al-Din Shah, the Qajar king, Iran constructed a road from Astara to Ardebil, known as Mozaffari. The most spectacular part of this road is on top of the beautiful Baharestan Bridge, made up of several dangerous hairpins turn. In the Qajar era, there was a police station for protecting this place. One kilometer away, there is a spring originating from the heart of a mountain and there is always a long queue waiting to drink its water.
Sheikh Taj al-Din Mohammad Khivi Tomb
The building is an ancient monument belonging to the Mongol Dynasty of Ilkhanate. It has a height of about 6 meters. There are three tombs inside the shrine and each one belongs to a famous person.
Historical Attractions outside the City
Here is the list of interesting places to visit outside Astara:
The construction of the castle dates back to the pre-Islamic period. Shindan Castle is located at an altitude of 1850 meters above the Shindan Mountains.
The village is 7 kilometers southwest of Astara and is one of the most beautiful villages in the city. As the village overlooks Estil Lagoon, lush foothills of the Talesh Mountains and the vast rice paddies, it has an excellent position and landscape.
Natural Attractions of the City
Here is a list of amazing places in the nature around Astara:
There is a summer residence in the city of Astara called Heyren that attracts many tourists every year. The village is located 30 kilometers from Astara on the road to Ardebil. Heyran Hill is probably one of the major tourist attractions of Astara.
From one side, Heyran Hill overlooks mountains covered with massive forests, and from the other side, it overlooks a not-so-deep valley through which Astarachay River passes.
Heyran Gondola Lift
This gondola lift is 1500 meters long passing through the Astara-Ardebil road. By entering the Fandoqlu Forest in Ardebil, you will find a variety of amenities, such as Karting, hotels, and restaurants. Heyran Sled is the longest sled of northern Iran, located in Heiran Tourism Village.
Lavandevil Wildlife Refuge
The 1074-hectare wetland and forest area of Landevil Wildlife Refuge is a sanctuary for some animals in the area. The average height of this region is 20 meters below the International seas level.
Beautiful Sadaf Beach is 3 kilometers away from Lavandevil City and 7 kilometers away from Astara City. The best season to travel to this attractive beach is summer. There are gazebos, resorts, buffets and shops around the beach.
Ali Dashi Hot Spring
The therapeutic properties of the Ali Dashi hot spring are very famous among people. In addition to the healing properties of this spring, it has a beautiful landscape and tourist attractions.
In the highlands of Astara, there are a number of small and great waterfalls. Laton Waterfall (or Latoon Waterfall) is one of the major waterfalls of the region and most famous natural attractions near Astara. This waterfall is located in Lavandevil County, 15 kilometers away from Astara. The height of Laton Waterfall is about 105 meters in a region called Laton.
Bibi Yanlou Forest Park
The park has an area of 1,512 hectares. This forest park has a large variety of forest and animal habitats with foothills covered by forest and several peaks.
International Esteel Lagoon
The lagoon is located 4 kilometers from Astara City on the roadside of Astara. Due to its proximity to the road, the ecotourism of this beautiful and wonderful lagoon has great importance and the diversity of natural landscapes such as mountains, forests, fields and surrounding countryside has increased this importance.
This mountain range is located behind Esteel Lagoon. In addition, the high Laton Waterfall originates from the foothills of this mountain range.
Kuteh Kumeh Village
This village is located 9 kilometers from Gilan Province, in Lavandevil City. It is a small village with about 20 rural houses with traditional architecture and intact nature. The village is known as Laton Waterfall, the tallest waterfall in Gilan Province.