The Capital of Culture and Civilization of Iran
Isfahan is Iran’s number-one tourist destination for a good reason. Its profusion of tree-lined boulevards, Persian gardens and important Islamic buildings give it a visual appeal unmatched by any other Iranian city and the many artisans working here underpin its reputation as a living museum of traditional culture. Walking through the historic bazaar, over the picturesque bridges and across the UNESCO-listed central square are sure to be highlights to your visit.
Isfahan is 430km south of Tehran at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The city enjoys a temperate climate and regular seasons.
Today, Isfahan is the sister-city of 13 internationally renowned cities around the world, including Barcelona of Spain, Florence of Italy, Freiburg of Germany, Baalbek of Lebanon, Dakar of Senegal, Havana of Cuba, Iaşi of Romania, Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia, Kuwait City of Kuwait, Lahore of Pakistan, Saint Petersburg of Russia, Xian of People’s Republic of China, and Yerevan, Armenia.
It is also the first Iranian city to join UCCN (UNESCO Creative Cities Network). UCCN was established by UNESCO, and Isfahan was elected as a member of the network on account of its handicrafts and popular arts in 2015. According to the definition provided by UNESCO, a creative city is a city which uses the innovation and capabilities of its citizens’ in sustainable urban development. So it has the perfect structure and citizen mindset for hosting the 35th annual IASP international conference in 2018 with the theme of ‘Towards Sustainable Cites and Communities: Fostering Innovation Ecosystems”.
Isfahan is also the country’s third-largest city, and its outskirts are home to plenty of heavy industries, including steel, petrochemical, and biotechnological factories. Because of Isfahan’s rich industrial potential, this town has been and continues to be one of Iran’s technological and industrial poles.
Miscellaneous Social Activities
Isfahan is the Jewel of Ancient Persia
Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque is one of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Iranian architecture, standing on the eastern side of Naghsh-i Jahan Square in Isfahan, Iran. Construction of the mosque started in 1603 and was finished in 1619. It was built by the chief architect Shaykh Bahai, during the reigh of Shah Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty, to be used as the private mosque of the Royal Court. The lower facade of the mosque and the gateway are constructed of marble, while the haft-rangi tiles (“seven-coloured”, “polychrome mosaics”) decorate the upper parts of the structure. Creation of the calligraphy and tiles, which exceed, in both beauty and quality, anything created beforehand in the Islamic world, was overseen by Ali Reza Abbasi, the leader calligrapher in Shah Abbas’ court.
Isfahan is rich in historical monuments and beautiful landscapes and sceneries making the city itself a museum by definition. The wealth in sights coupled with the temperate climate makes Isfahan a tourism delight for the visitors.
Here are some of the most well-known tourist destinations of Isfahan:
This square is one of the most attractive squares in the world. The square is the largest historical public square in the world after Tiananmen Square in Beijing and it is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Four of the masterpieces of the Islamic art and architecture are located around the square. The Ali-Ghapoo palace, the Emam mosque, the Sheikh Lotfollah mosque, and the bazaar. The square is about 510 meters long and 160 meters wide and it is surrounded by a multitude of identical rooms disposed on two levels. National and religious ceremonies were held in this square. The original square had a polo ground. Stone gates of the polo ground can be seen at the northern and southern ends of the square. The square is one of the shopping centers where Isfahan handicrafts are presented.
Shah Abbas selected Isfahan at the capital city of Iran in 1598 A.D, and the great urban development projects began in Isfahan. Construction of the Chehel-Soton palace was one of these projects. This palace was a place for entertaining royal and foreign guests. The two small parlors and the high veranda with a flat roof and wooden columns are the most important parts of the palace. The palace is decorated with all types of ornaments relevant to the architecture, including water color, oil murals in Iranian and European styles, prominent paintings with gold-work, painting on wood, stucco-work, and printing on marble cornices. The palace is located in a beautiful garden, and is one of the few remaining gardens from the reign of Safavids.
Vank Cathedral was one of the first churches to be established in the city’s Jolfa district by Armenian immigrants settled by Shah Abbas after the Ottoman War of 1603-1605. The varying fortunes and independence of this suburb across the Zayandeh River and its eclectic mix of European missionaries, mercenaries and travelers can be traced almost chronologically in the cathedral’s combination of building styles and contrasts in its external and internal architectural treatment.
Construction is believed to have begun in 1606, and completed with major alterations to design between 1655 and 1664 under the supervision of Archbishop David. The cathedral consists of a domed sanctuary, much like a Persian mosque, but with the significant addition of a semi-octagonal apse and raised chancel usually seen in western churches. The cathedral’s exteriors are in relatively modern brickwork and are exceptionally plain compared to its elaborately decorated interior.
This beautiful bridge also known as the Allah Verdi-khan Bridge was built in the early 17th century, to connect the old parts of Isfahan to Jolfa (the Armenian quarter). It is about 14 meters wide end 300 meters long.
This unique bridge was built in the mid-17th century during the reign of Shah Abbas. The bridge was constructed for several purposes such as the connection of the city to southern villages and the road to Shiraz. The bridge was used as a dam, to take the most advantage of the Zayandeh Rood River. In the 17th century a long artificial water channel was constructed through different parts of the city. These water channels are called (Maddi). When the stone arches of the bridge formed a dam, not only an artificial lake was made on the western side of the river, but also suffice water flowed through the Maddi for agriculture purposes. The Khajou Bridge is a wonderful recreational place, where travelers and the people of Isfahan have a memorable time.
Qeisarrieh Bazaar is a real oriental bazaar and a traditional shopping center. The most beautiful portico of the bazaar is located at the northern end of the Naghshe-Jahan Square. It is one of the largest and most beautiful bazaars. The Qeisarrieh Bazaar was built in the 17th century. At that time, representatives from foreign companies had trading offices in the bazaar and costly fabrics were traded.
Since the 17th century Isfahan has been the major center of traditional arts and handicrafts. Even today this city is still the center of craftsmen who create a great variety of beautiful handicrafts such as carpets, engraving, miniature paintings, inlaid-work, tile and tile mosaic-work, brocade, enamel-work, gold and silver-work, block printing and many other kinds of handicrafts. A great part of these handicrafts is exported to other countries and in almost every Iranian house you can see some kinds of Isfahan handicrafts. The ChaharBagh Street, the Naghshe Jahan square and the bazaars are the most famous shopping centers for handicrafts.
- Isfahan City Center which is recently completed and now serving the visitors with its variety of products and services, such as a Museum, a Food Court with traditional and international meals, an Art Gallery, a Cinema complex, an International Exhibition Center, an International 5-star Hotel with all the facilities of a 7-star hotel, the largest shopping mall in Iran with local and international brands, The largest indoor amusement park in Iran. You can spend a whole week exploring its facilities. It constitutes the largest shopping mall in Iran and the fifth largest in the world.
- Modern Restaurants are decorated in a very modern style and offer a variety of dishes from pizza to steak.
- Modern Amusement Parks such as Isfahan City Center Amusement Park and Simorgh Amusement Park
- Isfahan Aquarium The largest aquarium in the Middle East.