Isfahan

Isfahan is the capital of Isfahan Province, located about 340 km south of Tehran. The city has a population of around 2,000,000. The Greater Metropolitan region of Isfahan has a population of about 4,000,000 and is the third most populous metropolitan area in Iran after Tehran and Mashhad. Isfahan is situated on the north bank of the Zayandeh River at an elevation of about 1,600 meters. It was first thrived under the Seljuq Turks (11th–12th century) and then under the Persian Safavid dynasty (16th–18th century). It is famous for its Persian–Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. All of them led the city to have the Persian proverb “Esfahan nesf-e- jahanast” (Isfahan is half of the world).

The attractions of Isfahan are:

Naghsh-e Jahan Square
Naghsh-e Jahan Square (meaning portrait of the world), officially known as Imam Square, is situated at the center of Isfahan city. It is an important historical site and is registered in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The square was constructed between 1598 and 1629 and was a place to hold national events. Considered by many as an impressive testimony to the significance of cultural life in Great Persia, Meydan e Naghshe Jahan (Naghshe Jahan Square), was built by Shah Abbas I the Great. The former name of the square was Shah Square which after the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1979 it was changed to Imam Square. However most people still know it as its historical name, Naghshe Jahan, which literally translates to “portrait of the world”. The site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qaysariyyeh and the 15th-century Timurid palace. They are an impressive testimony to the level of social and cultural life in Persia during the Safavid era.

 

 

Ali Qapu Palace
Ali Qapu palace is an imperial palace in Isfahan located on the western side of the Naghshe Jahan Square. It had been originally designed as a vast portal entrance to the grand palace. The palace served as the official residence of Persian Emperors of the Safavid Dynasty. The Palace is inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site due to its cultural and historical importance. The palace is forty-eight meters high and there are six floors, each accessible by a difficult spiral staircase. In the sixth floor, Music Hall, deep circular niches are found in the walls, having not only aesthetic value but also acoustic. Ālī Qāpū is regarded as the best example of Safavid Architecture.

Ali Qapu palace

 

Si-o-Se Pol:
Si-o-Se-Pol, literally meaning thirty-three bridges, is a magnificent and unique structure built over the Zayanderud River. It is also known by the name of its erector, Allah Verdi Khan, who was one of the generalissimos of Safavid dynasty. The genius of this artist can be realized when we are informed that despite all the bridges that have been built in the narrowest part of the river, Master Hossein Bana chose widest part of Zayanderud to build Si-o-Se-Pol. The reason for his decision was that it is the shallowest part of the river, and also provides great views of the surrounding.
Si-o-Se-Pol was built between 1599 and 1602, under the reign of Abbas I, the fifth Safavid king. The bridge was built in the early 17th century to serve as both a bridge and a dam. It is a popular recreational gathering place, and is one of the most famous examples of Iran’s Safavid architecture.

 

Khaju Bridge
Khaju bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges of the world. Khaju is a name of small district in the neighborhood of bridge. It is about 132 meters long and 12 meters wide. It links the Khaju quarter on the north bank with the Zoroastrian quarter across the Zayanderud. The Khaju Bridge was built around 1650 by the order of Shah Abbas II. This bridge is more famous than any other bridges of the river because of its architecture and tiles decoration. There are two stone lions in two eastern corners of the bridge that are the symbols of Bakhtiari corps and Isfahan guards in Safavid era. The bridge has 24 spans made from carefully cut cubes and had been blocked by wooden dams in the middle.

 

Vank Cathedral
Vank cathedral was established in 1606 during the reign of Shah Abbas of the Safavid Dynasty. It was extended continuously during 50 years and finally reached to the current form. The plan of the cathedral is rectangular and its direction is eastern-western. The interior of cathedral presents a sample of Armenian architecture and its exterior facade has been designed using Iranian architecture and it is a professional combination of two architectural styles. Museum, library and offices are the surrounding buildings of Vank cathedral. The cathedral was established in 1606, built by thousands of Armenians who where forcibly resettled by Shah Abbas I in his new capital as part of his scorched-earth policy in Armenia during the Ottoman War of 1603-1618.

Vank kathedral

 

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Sheikh Lotfollah mosque located on the eastern side of Naghshe Jahan Square is one of the Iranian architectural masterpiece that was built during the Safavid Empire. The construction was built between 1603 and 1619. It was built by the chief architect Shaykh Bahai. The mosque was repaired in the 1920s. The mosque was supposed to be private for the royal court. It is registered as one of the UNESCO Heritage sites.

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

 

Congregational Mosque (Jame Mosque)
It is one of the most important religious buildings in Iran which embraces several phases of Islamic architectural development. The mosque is one of the largest and the most mysterious mosques in the Muslim world in which the main building was developed in early Islamic period, on the basis of a late Sassanid monument. The current facade of mosque is related to Seljuk era (1037-1194), however, the most important development projects have been conducted under the Safavid and Buyid dynasties. Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan reflects the Byzantium and Classical art in the form of a traditional and Islamic building constructed in Razi Persian architectural style with four-Iwan plan.

 

Chehel Sotoun Palace
Chehel Sotoun‎‎ (literally meaning Forty Columns) is a palace in the middle of 67000 square-meter garden of Jahan-Nama at the far end of a long pool, in Isfahan. The palace was built by the order of  Shah Abbas II. The palace was made to receive high ranking guests like Iranian and foreign politicians. There are 20 columns of the building joined with another 20 reflected in the water of the pool totally making 40 columns. The palace opens to an elegant terrace with the spectacular view of the fountain and garden. There are four stone lions at every corners of the central fountain, the hall and marble and vaulted cornices around it.

 

Hasht Behesht Palace
Hasht Behesht, literally meaning “the Eight Heavens” in Persian, is a 17th century mansion built by the order of Suleiman I, the eighth Shah of Safavid Empire. It was one of the last palaces of the Safavid kings in the past which has been known as the most beautiful palace in the world. The mansion is located in a large garden. The rooms in the first floor of the four corners of the mansion have been decorated with stucco and painting. There is an octagonal pond in the middle of the hall, known as the pearl made of marble. The pool is carved, so the water seeps out of its holes like pearls in such design. The luxury and beautiful park built around the palace is the famous promenades in Isfahan now.

Hasht Behesht

 

Ali Gholi Agha Bathhouse
The Ali Gholi Agha Hammam is a historical bathhouse and an anthropology museum in Isfahan built in 1713 by Ali Gholi Agha, who was a courtier of two Safavid Kings Suleiman I and Sultan Husayn. The structure consists of one large bath and a small bath and a pool. You can find statues of people in this place that operate bathing. 

 

Chaharbagh School
It is also known as Shah School and was built during the 17th and 18th centuries. The school was made in the time of Soltan Hossein, a Safavid King, as a theological and clerical school to train those who were interested in such sciences. The dome and the greater part of the walls are covered in bright yellow bricks which give a feeling of lightness. The entrance gate decorated with gold facade and silver, and the tile-works inside the building are masterpieces of fine art and industry.

 

Handicrafts
Isfahan has been the Mecca of Art lovers since the 12th century. The city has obtained a unique character due to the prevalence of crafts. It was the first Iranian place included in WIPO for its different and vast artistic fields which are more than 130 until now. Among them the most important ones are:

Enamels (Mina-kari)
It is the art of decorating metals and tiles by the use of painting, coloring and ornamenting. The art was invented by the craftsmen of Sassanid era.

 

Turquoise inlaying (Firoozeh koobi)
Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium. It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gemstone and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue.

 

Khatamkari (Inlaid Work)
Khātam is an ancient Persian technique of inlaying. It is a version of marquetry where art forms are made by decorating the surface of wooden articles with delicate pieces of wood, bone and metal precisely-cut intricate geometric patterns. Khatam-kari or khatam-bandi  refers to the art of crafting a khatam. Common materials used in the construction of inlaid articles are gold, silver, brass, aluminum and twisted wire.

 

 

 


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