The Safavid dynasty (/sɑːˈfɑːwiːd/ Persian: سلسلهٔ صفويان; Azerbaijani: Səfəvilər sülaləsi, صفويلر سولالهسى) was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Persia (modern Iran) after the fall of the Sasanian Empire during the Muslim conquest of Persia in the 7th century AD, and "is often considered the beginning of modern Persian history". The Safavid shahs ruled over one of the so-called gunpowder empires, and they ruled one of the greatest Persian empires after the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history.
The Safavid dynasty had its origin in the Safaviyya Sufi order, which was established in the city of Ardabil in the Azerbaijan region. It was of mixed ancestry (Kurdish and Azerbaijani, which included intermarriages with Georgian, Circassian, and Pontic Greek dignitaries). From their base in Ardabil, the Safavids established control over parts of Greater Iran and reasserted the Iranian identity of the region, thus becoming the first native dynasty since the Sasanian Empire to establish a unified Iranian state.
The Safavids ruled from 1501 to 1722 (experiencing a brief restoration from 1729 to 1736) and, at their height, they controlled all of modern Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Despite their demise in 1736, the legacy that they left behind was the revival of Persia 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 Shi'a Islam in Iran, as well as major parts of the Caucasus, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia