Isfahan

ISFAHAN

Isfahan is an ancient city in the center of Iran. This town is the city of colossal, mosques, bridge and bazaars, Madrasa (religious schools) and caravanserais as well as awe-inspiring turquoise domes.
SI-O-Seh-Pol, probably the most famous of Isfahan’s bridge. It is made up a series of 33 arches and was commissioned in 1602 by Shah Abas1 from one of his Generals. The name -SI-O-Seh-Pol is derived from the Farsi for 33. The bridge is built on a series of pontoons of great width and there is famous tea-house amongst them which is accessible from the southern bank
Before Isfahan was selected as Capital by the Safavid dynasty, a square called Naqsh-e Jahan (Image of the world) existed in the vicinity of Imam square, Most of the foreign tourists believe that Imam square is one of the greatest squares in the world. Naqsh-e Jahan Square has witnessed many historical memories of Iran during the past four centuries.
Imam Mosque: This mosque is a masterpiece of the 16th century from the viewpoint of architecture, tile work and stone carving. One of the interesting features of this mosque is the echo of sound in the center of the gigantic dome in the southern section.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque: This mosque is another masterpiece of architecture and tile work of the 16th century which was constructed by a decree issued by Shah Abbas I and took a period of 18 years to be completed This place was constructed in honor of this great man who led the prayers and preached in this mosque.
Ali Qapu: This palace which is a unique example of palace architecture in the Safavid era was constructed under the order of Shah Abbas I in the early 11th century. There are five floors in this palace and each floor has its special decorations this palace was also called ‘Dowlat Khaneh-e-Mobarakeh Nagsh-e-Jahan’ and the ‘Dowlat Khaneh Palace’. Its unique archaic architecture is related to the Safavid era.
Qeysarieh Bazar was one of the largest and most luxurious shopping malls in the Safavid era. The entrance to the bazaar is through a majestic gateway which is decorated with paintings and mosaic tile works representing two archers with lion torso and dragon’s tail.
The Chehel Sotoun (Forty Columns) Palace: This palace was constructed during the reign of Shah Abbas I and a building was established in the middle of this garden. The reflection of the twenty pillars of the hall in the pool opposite the palace brings about a conception of forty pillars. But in fact the number of “Forty” represents the quantity and multitude in Iran and the reason for which the mentioned building is called Chehel Sotoun is the great number of the pillars in this palace.
The historical edifice of Hast Behesht, an example of residential palaces of the last kings of the Safavid dynasty, was constructed during the reign of Shah Suleiman Safavid in 1080 A.H. Today, only a minor portion of the grounds remains.
Khaju Bridge (Shahi Bridge): This Bridge took its foundation in the late Timurid period, and was constructed according to what it is currently in 1060 AH, under the orders of Shah Abbas II. The name of this bridge is a distorted version of the word ‘Khajeh’ which was a title for great personalities in the Safavid era.
Shahrestan Bridge: This Bridge is one of the oldest bridges on the Zayandeh Rud River. Shahrestan Bridge is one the ancient bridges located about 4 km east of Isfahan. It is possible to pass the bridge from two sides: One, from Moshtagh and Sarooyeh streets and Ashraf hillside, the other from Dalan Behesht. There are woods and gardens and summer flats on both sides of the bridge.
The Vank Church is one of the most famous churches in the Jolfa vicinity of Isfahan. The interior of the church is richly decorated with painting decorations, interesting tile works and beautiful oil paintings of Jesus Christ’s life.

ESFAHAN CITY TOUR

Book an Esfahna city tour in one of the most important historical cities in Iran, it is the country’s third largest city and dates back over 2700 years. This tour organised for visiting distinguished sightseeing of Isfahan (Half of the world) briefly and discovering hidden amazing secrets behind monuments and palaces.

What is included in a Esfahan city tour?

Imam Square ( Mosque and palaces as well as Qeysariyeh Bazaar)

Chehel sotoun palace

Historical bridges (33 and Khaju)

Vank Cathedral and Armenian Quarter

Shaking Minarets

SHAKING MINARETS OF ESFAHAN

In Iran, there are some minarets which have the ability to shake called Monar Jonban; The most famous Monar Jonban, one is located in Isfahan and other in Ardakan and Kharanegh. The Monar Jonban (Shaking Minarets) is a monument located in Isfahan in which mystic known as “Uncle Abdullah Karladany” was buried. It is a building with 9 meter width and 17 meters height and famous for its shaking minarets; when one of the minarets shakes, the other one start shaking and whole building too.

The iwan and porch were built according to Mughol style; and it has tiling from that time too; but the shape of minarets indicates that they are added to iwan at the end of the Safavid period. For a long time, it had been questionable for scientists why minarets shake. Mysterious architecture of this building still remains unclear and questionable. Physical phenomenon of resonance is the most logical reason to shake the minaret. The similar architectural style of the minarets is the reason that cause by shaking of one of the minarets effects on the other. The interesting thing about this monument is that by moving a minaret, not only the other minarets but also whole building shake.

Source: E tourist hotel

VANK CATHEDRAL OF ESFAHAN

SI O SE AND KHAJU BRIDGE

Si o Se Pol ( The Si o Se Bridge)

The 298m-long Pol-e Si-o-Seh was built by Allahverdi Khan, a favourite general of Shah Abbas I, between 1599 and 1602. It served as both bridge and dam, and is still used to hold water today. Until recently there were tea houses at either end of the bridge, both accessed through the larger arches underneath, though only the northern one remains.

Khaju Bridge

Arguably the finest of Esfahan’s bridges, Pol-e Khaju was built by Shah Abbas II in about 1650. It also doubles as a dam, and has always been as much a meeting place as a bearer of traffic. A bridge is believed to have crossed the waters here since the time of Tamerlane.

Its 110m length has two levels of terraced arcades, the lower containing locks regulating water flow. If you look hard, you can still see original paintings and tiles, and the remains of stone seats built for Shah Abbas II to sit on and admire the views. In the centre, a pavilion was built exclusively for his pleasure.

Source: Lonely Planet

CHEHEL SOTOUN PALACE OF ESFAHAN

Chehel Sotoun Palace is the only surviving palace on the royal precinct that stretched between Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Sq and Chahar Bagh Abbasi St, this Safavid-era complex was built as a pleasure pavilion and reception hall, using the Achaemenid-inspired talar (columnar porch) style. There are historical references to the palace dating from 1614; however, an inscription uncovered in 1949 says it was completed in 1647 under the watch of Shah Abbas II. Either way, what you see today was rebuilt after a fire in 1706.

The palace is entered via the elegant talar terrace that perfectly bridges the transition between the Persian love of gardens and interior splendour. Its 20 slender, ribbed wooden pillars rise to a superb wooden ceiling with crossbeams and exquisite inlay work. Chehel Sotun means ‘40 pillars’ – the number reflected in the long pool in front of the palace.

The Great Hall (Throne Hall) contains a rich array of frescoes, miniatures and ceramics. The upper walls are dominated by historical frescoes on a grand scale, sumptuously portraying court life and some of the great battles of the Safavid era – the two middle frescoes (Nos 114 and 115) date from the Qajar period but the other four are original. From right to left, above the entrance door, the armies of Shah Ismail do battle with the Uzbeks; Nader Shah battles Sultan Mohammed (astride a white elephant) on an Indian battleground; and Shah Abbas II welcomes King Nader Khan of Turkestan with musicians and dancing girls.

On the wall opposite the door, also from right to left, Shah Abbas I presides over an ostentatious banquet; Shah Ismail battles the janissaries (infantrymen) of Sultan Selim; and Shah Tahmasp receives Humayun, the Indian prince who fled to Persia in 1543. These extraordinary works survived the 18th-century invasion by the Afghans, who whitewashed the paintings to show their disapproval of such extravagance. Other items, including Safavid forebear Safi od-Din’s hat, are kept in a small museum .

The palace’s garden, Bagh-e Chehel Sotun , is an excellent example of the classic Persian Garden form and was recently added to Unesco’s World Heritage list.

Source: Lonely Planet

ALI QAPU PALACE

Built at the very end of the 16th century as a residence for Shah Abbas I, this six-storey palace also served as a monumental gateway to the royal palaces that lay in the park lands beyond (Ali Qapu means the ‘Gate of Ali’). Named for Abbas’ hero, the Imam Ali, it was built to make an impression, and at six storeys and 38m tall it certainly does this.

The highlight of the palace is its elevated terrace , which features 18 slender columns. The terrace affords a wonderful perspective over the square and one of the best views of the Masjed-e Shah. The attractive wooden ceiling with intricate inlay work and exposed beams is currently undergoing a heavy restoration.

Many of the valuable paintings and mosaics that once decorated the 52 small rooms, corridors and stairways were destroyed during the Qajar period and after the 1979 revolution. Fortunately, a few remain in the throne room off the terrace.

On the upper floor, the music room is definitely worth the climb. The stucco ceiling is riddled with the shapes of vases and other household utensils cut to enhance the acoustics. This distinctive craftsmanship, considered by some to be one of the finest examples of secular Persian art, extends to the walls.
Source: Lonely Planet

SHEIKH LOTFOLLAH MOSQUE

A study in harmonious understatement, this mosque is the perfect complement to the overwhelming richness of the larger Masjed-e Shah. Built between 1602 and 1619 during the reign of Shah Abbas I, it is dedicated to the ruler’s father-in-law, Sheikh Lotfollah, a revered Lebanese scholar of Islam who was invited to Esfahan to oversee the king’s mosque (now the Masjed-e Shah) and theological school.

The dome makes extensive use of delicate cream-coloured tiles that change colour throughout the day from cream to pink (sunset is usually the best time to witness this). The signature blue-and-turquoise tiles of Esfahan are evident only around the dome’s summit.

The pale tones of the cupola stand in contrast to those around the portal , where you’ll find some of the best surviving Safavid-era mosaics. The exterior panels contain wonderful arabesques and other intricate floral designs; those displaying a vase framed by the tails of two peacocks are superb. The portal itself contains some particularly fine muqarnas with rich concentrations of blue and yellow motifs.

The mosque is unusual because it has neither a minaret nor a courtyard, and because steps lead up to the entrance. This was probably because the mosque was never intended for public use, but rather served as the worship place for the women of the shah’s harem. The sanctuary or prayer hall is reached via a twisting hallway where the eyes become accustomed to the darkness as subtle shifts of light play across deep blue tilework. This hallway is integral to both the design and function of the mosque because it takes the worshipper from the grand square outside into a prayer hall facing Mecca, and thus on a completely different axis.

Inside the sanctuary you can marvel at the complexity of the mosaics that adorn the walls and the extraordinarily beautiful ceiling, with its shrinking, yellow motifs. The shafts of sunlight that filter in through the few high, latticed windows produce a constantly changing interplay of light and shadow.

The mihrab is one of the finest in Iran and has an unusually high niche; look for the calligraphic montage that names the architect and the date 1028 AH. Photography is allowed but using a flash is not.

Source:  Lonely Planet

IMAM (ROYAL) MOSQUE OF ESFAHAN

ESFAHAN GRAND BAZAAR (QEYSARIYEH BAZAAR)

The Grand Bazaar is a historical market located in Isfahan, Iran also known as “Qeysariye Bazaar”.
The name Bazaar is very old and has its roots in Old Persian language. The Persian word followed the trade roots and was borrowed by many European and Asian languages.

The bazaar of Isfahan, like other bazaar in Islamic cities, can be divided into three parts:

1) Raste and dehliz, which are the main and peripheral streets and corridors inside the bazaar.

2) Caravanserais, which are the economic complexes with stores and places for (residing), housing merchants.

3) Qeysariya, timice and serai, which are economic complexes without any residential possibilities.

It was originally constructed during the 11th century on the southwest wing of Jameh mosque but various arcades and rooms were later added to it. The present remnant dates from the Safavid period. It has about 5 kilometers ( 3 miles) of shopping streets, some with brick arches, some with popular beams, over a hundred caravanserais and sarais, innumerable covered halls (timce) and contain wingsThe bazaar was the backbone of the city.

Esfahan grand bazaar used as the main street in Isfahan and a place for meeting people, seeing and being seen. This kind of bazaar acted a real heart of the city. By counting the number of Madrasa, mosques and Hammams in the bazaar we can understand to what extent the bazaar acted as the center of Isfahan.

Also it should be note that the reason for development of the old market into the north was even before Safavid some residential quarters like Khaju were located in the south and this bazaar was developed as the main residents of Isfahan. Another reason was the Zayandeh River, which was located at the south of new square.The area to east of the main axis, the qeisariya and it extension, the Jitsazha (fabric painter bazaar) became the most sought-after site.

Source: Iran tourism center