Thursday, November 26, 2009

Historical cities: Isfahan-Iran

Isfahan or Esfahan (Persian: اصفهان Esfahān historically also rendered in English as Ispahan or Hispahan, is located about 340 km south of Tehran and is the capital of Isfahan Province and Iran's third largest city (after Tehran and Mashhad).

Isfahan has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage city. It contains a wide variety of Islamic Architectural sites ranging from the 11th century to the 19th.
Historically, Isfahan dates back to ancient times. However, most of its preserved monuments date from the Islamic era when the city was the capital of Iran from the 7th to the17th centuries. Isfahan's numerous cultural treasures and historical splendours comprising of palaces, mosques, churches, bazaars and beautiful bridges, make it one of the most beautiful cities in Asia Minor. (Current population: 1,300,000)

Unesco World Heritage adds: Meidan Emam, a complex of buildings commissioned by Shah Abbas I the Great in the early part of the 17th Century, includes the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah and the Portico of Qaysariyyeh and, from an earlier period, the 15th Centruy Timurid Palace.

The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the biggest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments ranging from the Sassanid to the Safavid dynasties.
Remaining Islamic architectural sites were built from 11th to the 19th century, while older, pre-Islamic monuments date back to 1000 B.C.

Historical sites

Squares and Streets

* Naqsh-e Jahan Square also known as "Shah Square" or "Imam Square" - 1602.
* Meydan Kohne (Old Square)
* Shahshahan Square
* Chaharbagh Boulevard - 1596.
* Chaharbagh-e-khajou Boulevard


* Ali Qapu (The Royal Palace) - Early 17th Century.
* Talar Ashraf (The Palace of Ashraf) - 1650.
* Hasht-Behesht (The Palace of Eight Paradises) - 1669.
* Chehel Sotoun (The Palace of Forty Columns) - 1647.

Old schools (Madresse):

* Madreseye Sadr.
* Madreseye Shah (Chahar Bagh School).
* Madreseye Khajoo.


* Shah Mosque
* Hakim Mosque Isfahan
* Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque
* Esfahan Jame (Congregative) mosque


* Shah Carvanserai


* Grand Bazaar, Isfahan
* Shahi Bazaar

Isfahan’s main monuments are centred around the following areas; the Imam Square (or Royal Square), the Friday Mosque, and the bridges on the Zayandeh Rud. The centre of Isfahan during the Seljuk period was the Friday Mosque. Today, the mosque is like a patchwork of history with a winter hall that is probably Timurid; minarets built by the "Black Sheep" tribe and the interior decorated by the Safavids.

In 1598, Shah Abbas decided to shift this centre to the present day Imam Square - according to some, in order to annoy a rich merchant who was reluctant to part with his property. This Square is one of the largest in the world (500m x 160m) and was the symbolic centre of the Safavid Dynasty and its Empire. It was used for holding festivals, markets and games of polo. The original goal posts from Shah Abbas’ polo grounds are still in place today at the far ends of the square.

The square is surrounded on all 4 sides by long walls with the Imam Mosque in the south, the Mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah in the east, the Ali Qapu Palace in the west and the entrance of the great Bazaar in the north. It is a very popular spot on summer evenings when the Isfahanis settle down on carpets and bring out their picnics and samovars.

Isfahan’s majestic buildings and bridges, elegant gardens, attractive bazaars and teahouses, entrance the visitor into wanting to spend as much time as possible in its relaxing atmosphere.

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