The Safavid dynasty (/ˈsæfəvɪdˈsɑː-/Persianدودمان صفوی‎, romanizedDudmâne Safavi,[22] pronounced [d̪uːd̪ˈmɒːne sæfæˈviː]) was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran, often considered the beginning of modern Iranian history.[23] The Safavid shahs ruled over one of the gunpowder empires[24] and one of the greatest Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Iran.[25][26][27][28] They established the Twelver school of Shia Islam as the official religion of the empire,[29] marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history.

The Safavid dynasty had its origin in the Safavid order of Sufism, which was established in the city of Ardabil in the Azerbaijan region. It was an Iranian dynasty of Kurdish ancestry[30] but during their rule they intermarried with Turkoman,[31] Georgian,[32] Circassian,[33][34] and Pontic Greek[35] dignitaries. From their base in Ardabil, the Safavids established control over parts of Greater Iran and reasserted the Iranian identity of the region,[36] thus becoming the first native dynasty since the Sasanian Empire to establish a national state officially known as Iran.[37]

The Safavids ruled from 1501 to 1722 (experiencing a brief restoration from 1729 to 1736) and, at their height, they controlled all of what is now IranAzerbaijan RepublicBahrainArmenia, eastern Georgia, parts of the North CaucasusIraqKuwait, and Afghanistan, as well as parts of TurkeySyriaPakistanTurkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Despite their demise in 1736, the legacy that they left behind was the revival of Iran as an economic stronghold between East and West, the establishment of an efficient state and bureaucracy based upon “checks and balances“, their architectural innovations and their patronage for fine arts. The Safavids have also left their mark down to the present era by spreading Twelver Islam in Iran, as well as major parts of the CaucasusAnatolia, and Mesopotamia.