Isfahan, the dazzling capital of ancient Persia and the third largest city of Iran known as “Half of the world”. It is located in a semi-desert region near Zayandeh-Rood River and has a temperate climate.
This amazing city is Iran’s top tourist destination regarding its architectural masterpieces. Since Isfahan was the magnificent capital of the Seljuq and Safavid dynasties, a number of old Islamic monuments, Persian Gardens and palaces can be found there. Discover this ancient city by walking through traditional bazaars, across the famous old bridges, and around the UNESCO site of Naqsh-e Jahan Square to enjoy its beautiful mosques and palaces.
Naghsh-e Jahan Square
Naqsh-e Jahan Square, meaning “pattern of the world” is one of the world’s largest squares. This wonderful square was built during the reign of Shah Abbas the Great, in a vast garden called Naqsh-e Jahan which is attributed to the Seljuk period. It is surrounded by four precious architectural elements including Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace and Qeysarieh Portal.
The marvelous mosque of Imam is located on the south side of Naghsh-e Jahan Square. It was constructed in the Safavid era by the order of Shah Abbas the Great. The blue-tiled mosaics, turquoise minarets and stunning dome of the mosque have impressed many visitors; also, another interesting feature of the mosque is the echo of sound under its dome.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is the masterpiece of the Safavid Dynasty that is placed in the eastern side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square. The mosque was built between 1602 and 1619 to commemorate Sheikh Lotfollah al-Misi, the Shiite Lebanese scholar. The most remarkable feature of the mosque is its circular dome with its infinitely beautiful calligraphies and paintings.
Ali Qapu Palace
Ali Qapu Palace is one of the magnificent buildings of the Safavid era that is located on the western side of Naghsh-e Jahan Square. This royal palace was constructed by the order of Shah Abbas I in the late 16th century. This six-storey palace with 48 meter height is decorated beautifully by an attractive wooden ceiling and complicated inlay works.
Chehel Sotoon Palace
The glorious palace of Chehel Sotoon is another masterpiece of the Safavid dynasty. The reflection of its twenty pillars in the front pool is the reason why the locals called it “Chehel sotoon”, a Palace with 40 pillars. The most elegant feature of Chehel Sotoon palace is its wooden columns, murals, miniatures, tile works and Aina Kari
Chahar Bagh Boulevard
Chahar Bagh Boulevard is a historical and pleasant promenade street in Isfahan which dates back to the Safavid era, when shah Abbas I decided to change his capital city from Qazvin to Isfahan. It is a wide tree-covered street which starts from Si-O-Se-Pol (Bridge) and extends to the southern part of the city, Darvazeh Shiraz.
Hasht Behesht Palace
The historical edifice of Hasht Behesht surrounded by the beautiful garden of nightingale (Bagh-e Bolbol) is the only remaining palace in Chahar Bagh Boulevard. The palace is ranked among the world’s most remarkable buildings of the Safavid dynasty. Its wonderful tile works include delicate paintings of birds, reptiles, and predators.
Si-O-Se Pol Bridge or “33 Bridge” is one of the most famous historical bridges of Isfahan that was built on the Zayandeh River between 1599 and 1602. This Bridge with 33 arches and 295 meters length was built by Allahverdi Khan on the order of Shah Abbas I. It is recommended to visit this wonderful bridge at night since the Esfahanis gather under the arches to sing.
Monar Jonban (Shaking Minarets)
Monar Jonban is one of the fascinating and spectacular attractions of Isfahan. Its construction is based on Ilkhanid architecture and there are some tile works remaining of that era. The surprising feature of this monument is its minarets; by shaking one minaret, the other minaret and other parts of the building will shake as well.
The amazing and historical Bridge of Khaju with 133 meters length was built during the reign of Shah Abbas II in about 1650. The unique feature of this bridge compared to other bridges of Isfahan is its marvelous building that was built in the middle of the bridge, which was the temporary residence of Shah Abbas and named Biglar Beigi.
This wonderful Armenian Church was built on the order of Shah Abbas II in Jolfa district, Isfahan. It was originally built as a prayer hall in 1606 and then renovated and extended to the current structure; including a tall tower, a clock tower, two domes and a library with valuable old manuscripts. The interior view of the church is beautifully decorated with gospel pictures and paintings.
Jameh mosque, one of the oldest and biggest mosques of Iran, is located in the historic center of Isfahan. The construction of this stunning mosque dates back to the 8th century; however, it has experienced many renovations over these twelve centuries. Jameh mosque is considered as the museum of Islamic architecture due to its four-courtyard, double-shelled ribbed domes and amazing tile works.
Qeysarieh bazaar, also known as Grand Bazaar and Soltani bazaar, was one of the greatest trading centers in the Safavid era. It is located on the north side of Naqsh-e Jahan square and connects to Atigh Square. There are some historical and religious buildings in the bazaar, and also, many stunning paintings on the ceiling of the entrance.
Chahar Bagh School
Chahar Bagh School is the last architectural masterpiece built in the Safavid era. It was a theological and clerical school in a huge complex including Caravanserai (Now it is Abbasi Hotel) and Bazaar (Now it is Bazaar-e Honar). The building is decorated with bright yellow bricks, gold and silver façade, and astonishing tile-works.
Isfahan Music Museum
Isfahan music museum is the first private museum of Iran that was set up in the Jolfa quarter by two passionate Iranian musicians. It is a perfect place to get familiar with almost 300 kinds of Iranian traditional musical instruments. Visiting this museum is accompanied by the performance of a traditional piece and Persian poems.
These 15 attractions are the most well-known ones; however Isfahan has yet more to explore such as Atashgah (Fire Temple), Abbasi Hotel, Hamam-e Ali Gholi Agha, Flower Garden, Nazhvan Park, Isfahan Seashell museum, Isfahan Aquarium.
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