isfahan

9 Aug

Isfahan

Isfahan (historically also rendered in English as Ispahan, Sepahan, Esfahan or Hispahan) is a city in Iran. It is located 406 kilometres (252 miles) south of Tehran, and is the capital of Isfahan Province.
Isfahan has a population of approximately 1.5 million, making it the third largest city in Iran after Tehran and Mashhad. The following counties constitute the province : Borkhar County, Najafabad County, Khomeyni Shahr County, Shahin Shahr and Meymeh County, Mobarakeh County, Falavarjan County, Tiran and Karvan County, Lenjan County and Isfahan County.

isfahan

naghshe jahan square

Isfahan is an important city as it is located at the intersection of the two principle north–south and east–west routes that traverse Iran. It was once one of the largest cities in the world. The city experienced her flourishment from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Safavid dynasty when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Persian–Islamic architecture, having many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets, and the city also has many historical buildings, monuments, paintings and artefacts. The fame of Isfahan led to the Persian proverb “Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast”: Isfahan is half of the world.

History of Esfahan :

Zoroastrian era :

What was to become the city of Isfahan in later historical periods probably emerged as a locality and settlement that gradually developed over the course of the Elamite civilisation (2700–1600 BCE).
Under Median rule, this commercial entrepôt began to show signs of a more sedentary urbanism, steadily growing into a noteworthy regional center that benefited from the incredible fertile soil on the banks of the Zayandehrud River in a region called Aspandana or Ispandana.
Once Cyrus the Great (reg. 559–529 BCE) had unified Persian and Median lands into the Achaemenid Empire (648–330 BCE), the religiously and ethnically diverse city of Isfahan became an early example of the king’s fabled religious tolerance. It was Cyrus who, having just taken Babylon, made an edict in 538 BCE, declaring that the Jews in Babylon could return to Jerusalem (see Ezra ch. 1). Now it seems that some of these freed Jews settled in Isfahan instead of returning to their homeland. The 10th-century Persian historian Ibn al-Faqih wrote:
“When the Jews emigrated from Jerusalem, fleeing from Nebuchadnezzar, they carried a sample of the water and soil of Jerusalem. They did not settle down anywhere or in any city without examining the water and the soil of each place. They did it all along until they reached the city of Isfahan. There they rested there, examined the water and soil and found that both resembled Jerusalem. Thereupon they settled there, cultivated the soil, raised children and grandchildren, and today the name of this neighborhood is Yahudia (Yahudia means Jews).”

isfahan

Islamic era :

When the Arab muslims captured Isfahan in 642, they made it the capital of al-Jibal (“the Mountains”) province, an area that covered much of ancient Media. Isfahan grew prosperous under the Persian Buyid (Buwayhid) dynasty, which rose to power and ruled much of Iran when the temporal authority of the Abbasid caliphs waned in the 10th century. The Turkish conqueror and founder of the Seljuq dynasty, Toghril Beg, made Isfahan the capital of his domains in the mid-11th century; but it was under his grandson Malik-Shah I (r. 1073–92) that the city grew in size.
After the fall of the Seljuqs (c. 1200), Isfahan temporarily declined and was eclipsed by other Iranian cities such as Tabriz and Qazvin.

Modern age :

In the 20th century, Isfahan was resettled by a very large number of people from southern Iran, firstly during the population migrations at the start of the century, and again in the 1980s following the Iran–Iraq War.
Today, Isfahan produces fine carpets, textiles, steel, handicrafts, and traditional foods including sweets.Isfahan has one of the largest steel-producing facilities in the region, as well as facilities for producing special alloys. Mobarakeh Steel Company is the biggest steel producer in the whole of the Middle East and Northern Africa, and it is the biggest DRI producer in the world. The Isfahan Steel Company was the first manufacturer of constructional steel products in Iran, and it remains the largest such company today.

Main places of Esfahan :

The city center consists of an older section revolving around the The great mosque (Masjed Jameh) and the Safavid contractions around Naqsh-e Jahan Square, with nearby, mosques , palaces, and bazaars.

Bazaars :

  • Shahi Bazaar
  • Qeysarie Bazaar

Bridges :

The bridges on the Zayanderudriver comprise some of the finest architecture in Isfahan. The oldest bridge is the Shahrestan bridge, built by the Sasanian Empire (3rd–7th century Sassanid era); it was repaired during the Seljuk period. Further upstream bridge is the Khaju bridge, which was built by Shah Abbas II in 1650. It is 123 meters (404 feet) long with 24 arches, and also serves as a sluice gate.
Another bridge is the Choobi (Joui) bridge, which was originally an aqueduct to supply the palace gardens on the north bank of the river. Further upstream again is the Si-o-Seh Pol or bridge which is consisted of 33 arches. Built during the reign of Shah Abbas the Great, it linked Isfahan with the Armenian suburb of New Julfa. It is by far the longest bridge in Isfahan at 295 m (967.85 ft). Another notable bridge is the Marnan Bridge.

khaju bridge

khaju bridge

Gardens and parks :

  • Birds Garden
  • Flower Garden
  • Nazhvan Recreational Complex

Houses :

  • Alam’s House
  • Amin’s House
  • Malek Vineyard
  • Qazvinis’ House – 19th century
  • Sheykh ol-Eslam’s House

Mausoleums and tombs :

  • Al-Rashid Mausoleum
  • Baba Ghassem Mausoleum
  • Mausoleum of Safavid Princes
  • Nizam al-Mulk Tomb
  • Saeb Mausoleum
  • Shahshahan mausoleum
  • Soltan Bakht Agha Mausoleum

Minarets :

  • Ali minaret
  • Bagh-e-Ghoushkhane minaret
  • Chehel Dokhtaran minaret
  • Dardasht minarets
  • Darozziafe minarets
  • Menar Jonban
  • Sarban minaret

Mosques :

  • Agha Nour mosque
  • Hakim Mosque
  • Ilchi mosque
  • Jameh Mosque
  • Jarchi mosque
  • Lonban mosque
  • Maghsoudbeyk mosque
  • Mohammad Jafar Abadei mosque
  • Rahim Khan mosque
  • Roknolmolk mosque
  • Seyyed mosque
  • Shah Mosque

Museums :

  • Contemporary Arts Museum Isfahan
  • Isfahan City Center Museum
  • Museum of Decorative Arts
  • Natural History Museum of Isfahan

Palaces and caravanserais :

• Ali Qapu (The Royal Palace)
• Chehel Sotoun (The Palace of Forty Columns)
• Hasht-Behesht (The Palace of Eight Paradises)
• Shah Caravanserai
• Talar Ashraf (The Palace of Ashraf)

Squares and streets :

• Chaharbagh Boulevard
• Chaharbagh-e-khajou Boulevard
• Meydan Kohne (Old Square)
• Naqsh-e Jahan Square also known as “Shah Square” or “Imam Square”

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