Zanjan is the capital of Zanjan Province. It lies 298 km west of Tehran on the main highway to Tabriz and Turkey and approximately 125 km from the Caspian Sea. The city is located about 20 kilometres south of the Qaflankuh Mountain Range. The population of Zanjan consists mostly of Iranian Azeris who can also speak the Azerbaijani language.
Zanjan is known for its handicrafts such as knives, traditional sandals, called Charoogh, and Malileh, a handcraft made with silver wires. Zanjani artists make many things like various decorative dishes and their special covers as well as silver jewellery. In ancient times, Zanjan was known for its stainless and sharp knives.
Hamdollah Mostowfi, the Iranian traveller and historian, in his book claims that Zanjan was built by Ardashir I, the first king of the Sassanid Empire and named “Shahin”. One important moment in the history of the city was in 1851 when the city became a centre for the suppressed Babi religious movement, along with Neyriz and a fortress known as Shaykh Tabarsi. The forces of the central government captured the Babi fort in Zanjan after a long siege on the orders of Grand Vizier (Prime Minister of Iran) Amir Kabir and killed or expelled Bab’s followers. According to Bosworth, who quotes Hamdollah Mostowfi, the inhabitants during the Ilkhanid era spoke “pure Pahlawi”, a Median or northern form of Persian.