The Persians say, “Whoever sees Isfahan has seen half the world.” Isfahan was once the largest city in the world. It is a magical city, full of palaces and caravan-saray, mosques and old churches that leave visitors breathless. This city of two million on the edge of the Zagros mountain massif (in the valley of the river Zayandeh-Rud) used to be visited by 5 million foreign tourists a year. Whoever drinks water from the Zayandeh River (in Persian life) stays in Isfahan and gets married there, says an Iranian legend. Isfahan is 370 kilometres away from the capital of Iran, Tehran. Isfahan is a mystical city that “has a soul” and a lot of positive energy.
History of Isfahan
The golden age of this city lasted from 1050 to 1722. The golden age of the city was especially felt in the 16th century (during the Safavid rule) when Isfahan became the capital of the Persian Empire for the second time. Today, the city has retained some of its old glory. It is known for its Islamic architecture, wide avenues, bridges, palaces, mosques and churches. The city is the most beautiful in the whole Persian Empire. It is the capital of Artabanus, king of Parthia, and the capital of Safavid. Here you can see galena stones, bees, grass, saffron, clean air, silk and cotton, carpets and a thousand types of roses. The Safavids reached the peak of their development under the rule of Shah Abbas the Great (1588-1629). The western part of the world calls this Iranian Shah the “Great Sufi.” It is known for declaring Shiite Islam the official religion of Persia. He encouraged the production of expensive carpets and textiles, which were in great demand in Europe.
Various ethnic groups live in this beautiful Iranian city. It is a city that received Armenians expelled from Turkey. There are 12,000 Christians (mostly Armenians) living in Isfahan. They have seven churches. The most famous is the Vank Church, which is on the World Heritage List.
The already mentioned Abbas the Great built numerous caravan-saray, bridges, roads. Isfahan has been turned into a vibrant shopping mall. The main square is Naqsh-e Jahanu- today the square of Imam Khomeini. It is surrounded on four sides by buildings: the Mosque of Shah Abbas on the south side or the Imam Mosque, the Mosque of Shah Lotf Allah on the east, Abbas Palace Ali Qapu on the west and the entrance to the large bazaar on the north side of the square. The Mosque of Shah Abbas with stunning Arabesque interweaving is an architectural masterpiece that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Construction took 26 years. In 1638, construction was completed. The mosque of Sheikh Lotf Allah is dedicated to Abbas’ sheikh, who was one of the main religious leaders of the time. Construction took 18 years. The mosque was completed in 1619. It consists of a room with a domed dome and no typical features (4 ayvans, a courtyard and minarets). It is lined with a mantle of ceramic tiles on the outside and inside. The interior of the mosque is in blue tones. One part is made in yellow tiles. It leaves the impression of the sun shining from within. The sun’s rays break through the ceiling in the direction of Mecca. They call it the Women’s Mosque. There is a passage between this mosque and the Ali Qapu Palace that allowed women to enter the mosque without public view.
The palace has a music room in a beautiful combination of brown and blue tones with acoustic holes in the shape of an instrument. During his 40-year reign, Shah Abbas reconstructed the entire city of Isfahan. He built a 4-kilometre-long avenue. He built a promenade with tree-lined avenues and beautiful gardens modeled on the gardens of Cyrus the Great in Pasagarda. Chahar Bagh Avenue is a link between the old city quarters and the new residential parts of the city. It starts in the main town square and leads to the beautiful bridge over the river Zayandeh. The river divides this city of two million. Bridges connect it. Iranians spend their free time on bridges. They sit in vaulted niches with tea and hookah and the relaxing sounds of the river. The inhabitants of Isfahan call the river Zayandeh “the river of lovers”. Almost all young people walk along the river bank in the evening embracing what is normal behavior (despite the prejudices that prevail about Iran-a state with sharia laws). Iranians have always been considered a tolerant people. At the time of the Turkish persecution of Armenian Christians, the Iranian Shah gave them refuge, religious and educational independence. He used their art to build the city. The built churches look like mosques on the outside, while the interior is Christian. The most famous church Vank has a bell tower, a printing house and a library. The museum of this church keeps the smallest Bible in the world written in seven world languages. What particularly adorns Isfahan is its ethnic and religious diversity. There live peoples whose mother tongue is Persian. Here live the Bahtijars and Azeris who today speak Lori and the Azeri Turkish language. In addition to Armenian Christians, Isfahan is inhabited by Jews and Zoroastrians who have continued to live their traditional way of life.
Iranians socialize together regardless of religion or ethnicity. Together they celebrate Christian and Muslim religious holidays and regardless of religion all the citizens of Iran are proud Persians.
The Grand Bazaar in the city is one of the four largest covered bazaars in Iran. Qeysariyye Gate is located at the monumental entrance to the bazaar. It is one of the four architectural features of the main square. It is fascinating that Iranians do everything by hand according to old Persian methods that are passed down from generation to generation. This special way of working will never die out because it is part of Iranian culture.
An Iranian carpet is made by two men by hand in two years
Iranians are especially proud of their handmade rugs known around the world. The more you walk on the carpets — the better they get. 3500 years ago, Iranian carpets began to be produced. Nomads often incorporate Zoroastrian methods and work without patterns. Carpets are made of wool and dyed with natural colors. They get red from crickets and pomegranates, yellow from saffron, orange from onion peel, blue from indigo, green from asparagus. Nomadic rugs are asymmetrical. City rugs are silk or a combination of wool and silk. They are symmetrical. They are made according to patterns. These are often copies of ornaments from the ceilings of mosques. A very good and quality carpet has 100 knots per square centimetre. Such a carpet is made by two people over a period of two years. A magic carpet is one that has two different sides. Carpets that are different on one side (depending on the viewing direction) are also made. The carpet from Naim is mirrored. There is an Iranian legend that says that buyers do not choose the carpet – but the carpet chooses the customers. Persian Carpet is one of the most famous carpet stores in Isfahan. There are different types of carpets. Prices range from 2.5 thousand Euros to 100 thousand Euros. After a few days of staying in this city you will really think you have passed half the world.
cover page: http://www.isfahanfreetour.com