Isfahan

History of Isfahan

The city of Isfahan, the crossroads of caravan routes, the splendid capital of the Safavids, is an essential stopover on your journey in Persia.
A stop at least three days for an incredible and wonderful discovery of its architectural treasure and monuments.
The Bazaar stretches around the historic center, you need a good sense of direction to find your way around and not get lost in the maze of its passages and seraglios.
The city named three times as the capital of Persia, has preserved much of the vestige of its golden age, the prosperous period of the 17th century, the Safavid era.
From the Jameh Mosque (the benchmark in sacred architecture and ornamentation of Iranian mosques) to Armenian churches (symbols of the history of the Armenian people and the Christian religion), passing by the Synagogue and the Jewish quarter (the oldest inhabitants of the city), its bridges and palaces offer so many choices for entertainments.
You will enjoy it!

Isfahan Attractions and Sights

Chehel sotoun (40 pillars) is a palace that was built in 17th century in Isfahan, the capital of Safavids dynasty. The plan follows a typical Iranian garden with a pool and irrigation canals. Chehel means forty, a magical number symbolizes perfection and abundance. Despite the 20 pillars, the name comes from the fact that, the reflection in the water makes magic number.
Beautiful murals inside a pavilion show royal banquets and war scenes during Safavids period. Real gold sheet were used for yellow color.
Decoration techniques are various and including: miniature style painting , calligraphy, wooden works , stone painted …

Jame Abbasi mosque (A.K.A Imam mosque) was built in 1611 by the order of the King Shah-Abbas who changed the capital to Isfahan. The construction of the mosque is a pinnacle of 7 color tile which was easier and more rapid to build comparing to moaraq. The orientation of the mosque is finely done because the entrance should be opened to the square which was not toward Mecca axis. Every wall was decorated by tiles, two madrasas on the corners of the courtyard, echo effect of the principal dome, and the double- layer cupola are some of its particularities. Take time to find out some dissymmatric at the entrance which is said it was done on purpose.
If you want to know what a 4 iwan mosque is, just have a look inside!

Ali Qapoo, the great port, dominates Naghshe Jahan square with its veranda which calls travelers for a panoramic view .
The only high rise building at its time, a privileged view reserved for kings and courtiers in occasion of national and religious ceremonies.
Building shows different number of floor from different sides. As we see it from back side we perceive it as a six floor monument.
Murals were done mostly in floral motifs in brown and Beige colors and music hall at the highest and its spiral stairs ways are most interesting points to visit.

The construction of Atiq Jameh Mosque in Isfahan last a millennium.
To have a look at the history of the development of mosques architecture, it’s a real reference.
It’s a collection of styles and methods from different periods.
It begins with Arab-style, and ends with a 4 Iwans plan, decoration from the simple brick-works to finely stylized mosaic patterns, the mosque has more things to say about the history of the city; its neighborhood with Jewish district and adjacent to Grand Bazar can offer much more attractions for the travelers in its surrounding.

Sheikh -lotfolah,
There are two mosques in Naghshe -Jahan square. The one with no minaret is sheikh lotfolah. It was built in 17th century and the differences of its plan to the classic ones has raised some legends and rumors ,such as it was reserved to women of the king who came in through an underground path .

The entrance seems like a transition from world of materials to heavens.
When one reaches that single prayer hall, he/she finds out that there is nothing more beautiful to see .
One should spend hours to observe and meditate on tiles and mosaics to be able to appreciate the splendor of decoration and the straits of calligraphy.
Light plays a special role on the patterns and does not let the eyes to match with habitual colors they perceive normally .
It really deserves to be named as one of the most beautiful mosques in the Islamic world.

Vank Cathedral,(congregational) the first and the main Armenian church in Isfahan was built in the middle of 17th century after the Armenian immigration forced by shah Abass who wanted to promote prosperity in his new capital, Isfahan.
Brick dome of church and some tiles working seem to be a derivation of Muslim mosques. The paintings are the combination of Byzantine style and Iranian miniature. This church is not in service any more and it is just used as a museum and for administrative matters. An ethnography museum near by shows the history of the Armenians since their arrival.

Khajou bridge was built in 17th century. Despite its convenience for passage of caravans it was also used as a dam for the irrigation of the fields around the river. It has also been an attraction thanks to its architectural beauties and invite visitors to relax and appreciate the water flow, a rare pearl in dry Iranian climate. The bridge is like an amphitheater for water spectacles , many stairs are planned to be taken seat ,on one side of bridge, every where you find a corner to rest or take time to hear folkloric music which is sung under arches . Ideal rest for Iranians is not more than a cooled water place and hear an enhanced song under arches.

The Sio-se – pol (thirty-three sluices bridge), is one of the emblematic bridges in the city of Isfahan. It is a masterpiece of architecture.
It spans the Zayanderoud river (which means the source of life) and connects to the Armenian Christian quarter, Jolfa, to the rest of the city. The Christian community of Armenia was welcomed to Isfahan in the 17th century by Shah Abbas

Pigeon tower was used as a safe house and shelter for the pigeons but this wasn’t the only function. They were built around the farms to collect their droppings as fertilizer! Every 6 month the farmers collected the dropping and used them in their farms or even they sold it. Today we know that these droppings are rich in Nitrogen, a critical element for cucurbits such as melons. No surprise that melons of Isfahan have had a reputation since 1000 years ago.
The structure includes a central cylinder which is surrounded by several smaller cylinders; all are made of brick and plaster. There are thousands of nests on the internal surface of the cylinders.
The only entrance to the tower was a set of holes on the top, just as big as a pigeon, to prevent the birds of prey from entering the tower. There is also a white stripe around the external surface of the tower which is slippery for snakes.
Pigeon towers are only found in Isfahan province and some of these organic fertilizer factories are reconstructed for the people and tourists to visit.

History of Kashan

Kashan is the ancient oasis of the central plateau. Its history, thanks to the archaeological mounds of Sialk, dates back to time immemorial.
Its name recalls the tiles in Persian, but the city is famous for its rose gardens, and of course the distillation of rose water, with its annual festival.
In the 19th century, its hand-woven rugs exported the Kashan’s fame artistic through the world.

The city has suffered from so many climate changes and the loss of the carpet market, the basis of its industry, over the past decades.
Due to this economic and geographic desertification, the city experienced waves of migration to other major metropolitans like Tehran and Isfahan, but the city has been able to react thanks to the resumption of tourism.
Hundreds of old houses transformed into boutique hotels welcoming their guests.
The fact that the city is located on the north-south axis, makes it an ideal overnight stopover and fits well in tourist trip plans.
The Fin garden offers the visit of a typical Persian garden, with its vegetation and its architecture.
The sad tragedy of the murder of Grand Vizier Amir-Kabir, one of the heroes of Iranian history, took place in the depth of his bath.
Take the time to climb on the roof of the Seraglio of Amin-o-doleh in the bazaar where you can admire the sunset.

Kashan Attractions and Sights

Fin Garden is a good example of Iranian gardens, water source irrigates the garden and goes down towards the city.
Old cypresses are numerous. in the middle of the central pavilion a basin is located, here is one of the sources debouches in the garden.
more spectacular are water jets which work by natural water pressure due to ingenious hydraulic rules.
this garden remains in Iranian thoughts because of the assassinates of Amir Kabir a grand Minister in 19 century, a great hero of Iranian history.

Tabatabaei house is one of the numerous old houses in the city of Kashan which was mostly built during 19th century.
This trend of construction reminds the prosperity of Kashan thanks to the carpet production on the field which Tabatabaei family was reputed for. If we want to enumerate some characteristics of this type of architecture, took into consideration in most of the houses; modest entrance, internal and external courts, reserved for the family and the guests.
Central courtyard surrounded by aestival (normally domed by wind tower) and hivernal (lighted by the sun) habitation for appropriate seasons.
Shah-Neshin, a richly decorated room destined to welcoming the guests .
Interconnected rooms for preserving the family privacy and the master room which dominated the house. Enjoy your visit in Kashan

Agha-Bozorg School-Moque
As the name indicates here we are dealing with a multi-function structure which is pretty and unique construction of its kind:
A modest entrance with typical 19 century painted tiles and a door with 6666 rivets hinting to the number of Quran verses;
An open corridor leading to the main dome chamber without any decoration. Downstairs an interior courtyard is accommodated by students.
Do not look for an elegant mihrab The mihrab is a hidden dent behind the pillas. This reveals a truth, the mosque is not in line with the direction of Mecca and therefore fell to the disgrace of Public shortly after its construction.

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