Land of Culture And Beauty
All About Isfahan
Isfahan was once one of the largest and most important cities in Central Asia, positioned as it is on the crossroads of the main north-south and east-west trade routes that cross Central Asia. The city was the splendid capital of the Seljuq and Safavid dynasties, and is renowned for its beauty, which has given rise to the Iranian saying that “Isfahan is half the world”.
Commerce has always been central to the growth of Isfahan, to the extent that the Safavid Shah Abbas I (1588-1629) effectively re-routed the Silk Road through Isfahan and made the city his capital so that his empire would enjoy a trading monopoly. By the seventeenth century, the city attracted not only European merchants but also missionaries and mercenaries, as it became a religiously tolerant centre of mercantile and diplomatic activity in which merchants and travellers from a variety of cultures and religions rubbed shoulders.
Naghsh-e Jahan Square (Design of the world) officially known as Imam Square, situated at the center of Isfahan city, Iran. It is an important historical site and one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. The square is surrounded by buildings from the Safavid era.
The Imam Mosque is situated on the south side of this square. On the west side you can find Ali Qapu Palace. Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is situated on the eastern side of this square and the northern side opens into the Isfahan Grand Bazaar. Today, Namaaz-e Jom'eh (the Muslim Friday prayer) is held in this square in front of the Imam Mosque.
It was Shah Abbas the Great who made Isfahan his capital and then decreed that the square should be extended to its present size, and lovely buildings set around it. The length of this great square, which is actually rectangular, is 500 meters from north to south, and its width about 150 meters from east to west. It was laid out and beautified in the reign of Shah Abbas the Great, at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Si-o-se Pol Bridge is a stone double-deck arch bridge in Isfahan, Iran. It is also called Siose Bridge (which in Persian means “33 Bridge” or “Bridge of 33 Arches”) or Allah-Verdi Khan Bridge. Si-o-se Pol Bridge is built by the chancellor Allahverdi Khan Undiladze on commission from from Shah Abbas whose chancelor he was.
Construction of the bridge began in 1599 and ended 1602. Bridge is long 298 meters and wide 13.75 meters. It has 33 spans from which it gets its name with the longest span of 5.6 meters, crosses Zayandeh River and is located in the southern end of Chahar Bagh Avenue.
Bridge has a large plane at the beginning of the bridge where Zayandeh River flows faster. There it has more arches making with that a suitable place for a tea house that can be accessed from the southern bank. There are two levels of arches. Lower level has 33 arches while upper has two arches above lower lever arch and one arch above pier. Road that goes on the upper level is bounded by two high walls that protect travelers from winds and pedestrians that can walk there, from falling.
You might be surprised to find a Christian church in Iran. But I learned that several Christian enclaves exist peacefully inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Vank Cathedral in the Jolfa Armenian quarter of Isfahan is a gorgeous fusion of Armenian and Islamic architecture. Corridors of successive arches – a hallmark of Islamic architecture - lead into a vibrantly painted room of Armenian and Christian iconography and typical Islamic geometrical designs. I stood astonished at the detail and depth of color, and grateful that this community has been granted its religious freedom and artistic expression. Included in the cathedral complex is a museum of the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Turks in the early part of the 20th century. Armenians fled to Isfahan for asylum and safety, and remain there today. Isfahan is brimming with spectacular religious architecture, but a cathedral was not among the sights I had expected to see!