Zanjan is the capital of Zanjan Province in northwestern Iran. It lies 298 km north-west of Tehran on the main highway to Tabriz and Turkey and approximately 125 km from the Caspian Sea. At the 2011 census, its population was 386,851,which is the 20th largest city in Iran. The population of Zanjan consists mostly of Iranian Azerbaijanis who speak the Azerbaijani language.
Historians claim that Zanjan was built by Ardashir I, the first king of the Sassanid Empire and named as "Shahin". According to Bosworth, who quotes Hamdollah Mostfowsi, the inhabitants during the Ilkhanid era spoke "pure Pahlawi", a Median or northern form of Persian.
Zanjan is known for its beautiful handcrafts 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 jewelry. In ancient times, Zanjan was known for its stainless and sharp knives. But this tradition is gradually becoming extinct by introduction of Chinese-made knives into the market which are far cheaper, more abundant and of course less artistic. Many villagers today are traditional carpet weavers, perhaps Zanjan's most popular handicraft.