Isfahan Takht-e Fulad

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Takht-e Fulad

Takht-e Fulad is the fifth oldest historical cemetery of the Islamic world. The first written source that mentions the site is an 11 th-century book, which reports that Takht-e Fulad held the grave of the Israeli prophet Yushea, son of Noah.
The cemetery passed into Muslim ownership in the 8th-9th centuries and has since been known as Lesan al-Arz, Rokn aI-Din, or Takht-e Fulad. By the 15th century, it was the main graveyard of Esfahan and housed many significant tombs, of which the mausoleum of Baba Rokn al-Din was the most important. During the Safavid reign. the number of shrines exceeded 400, but few of them have remained. Large portions of the cemetery were Occupied by living quarters during the Qajar period; nevertheless the cemetery did not lose its importance. Until the end of the Pahlavi reign, Takht-e Fulad remained the only graveyard of Esfahan. It was in use until 1984, but after a new public burying ground was founded at Rezvan district to the east of Esfahan, Takht-e Fulad was closed. Most of its present crypts are Safavid (8 buildings), Qa¬jar (20 buildings), or Pahlavi (17 buildings) in date.
The best time to visit the cemetery is on Thursdays and Fridays, when most of the mausoleums are usually unlocked.


Isfahan Churches

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Isfahan Churches


Bethlehem Church
Kelisa-ye Beitlahm

The second most important and beautiful church in Julfa, the Bethlehem Church was built by Khajeh Petros Velijanian. a wealthy Armenian merchant. 'The historical book about the Armenians of Julfa reports that Petros could not participate in the religious ceremony that was held in St. Mary's Church, because it was overcrowded, so he decided to build a new church only a few steps away from there.
The church has an almost quadran-gular plan and is crowned with a double-shelled dome. The structure consists of three parts: an entrance section with a balcony, where newlywed or engaged girls are said to have sat during the ceremonies; a community prayer hall; and an altar, chalice, and two vestries. The building is 26 m high, with the walls 31.5 m long and 14 m high and a dome of 12 m high. The altar is rather small Compared to the general dimensions of the building. The church overlooks the courtyard measuring 480 sq. m, which has two entrances on the north and south sides. Until recently, there were, above the south door, three panels with engraved crosses and an inscription, indicating that they were installed "in the memory of Harutun, pilgrim from Jerusalem, and his family"; however, two of them have been recently plundered.
The golden dome is among the most attractive features of the church. The interior is decorated with tile work and paintings that mainly depict the life of Jesus Christ. The paintings appear in two rows. The lower row presents a continuous sequence; in the upper row, each painting is framed with a fringe of floral design. Altogether, there are 72 paintings, all the work of Armenian craftsmen. The church's mysterious interior expresses, with powerful effect, a blend of Latin, Russian, and Iranian art.
At present, in a deliberate effort to preserve a building that so far has never been restored, no ceremonies are held in the church. The church treasures include two ancient gospels. dated 1176 and 11 57. To the west of the Bethlehem Church is the family crypt of Khajeh Petros.

St. Mary's Church

Kelisa-ye Maryam Moqaddas
St. Mary's is another interesting church to visit. The church of St. Jacob (built in 1607-1608) is located on its grounds. St. Jacob's has no architectural or artistic decorations' and may be of interest only as the oldest Armenian church in Julfa.
51. Mary's came into existence when St. Jacob's proved to be too small for the Armenian populace of Julfa, Khajeh Avdik, a famous Armenian silk merchant, built it as an act of benevolence. The building was completed in 1613, but the interior work was finished at a later date. Paintings were completed during 1661, and tile work during 1666. During his lifetime, Khajeh Avdik provided the financing for the church, and after his death, he was buried on its land.
The sanctuary is richly decorated. Tapestries, mosaics and paintings are done with Oriental techniques, but the subjects illustrate, in an approach familiar to Westerners, the episodes of the Bible. Two paintings on the north and south walls of the church are the work of Venetian masters and were presented by Grak Aqa, an Armenian merchant. The picture on the north wall shows a palace of Herod and the cut head of Yahya;
the portrait of Grak Aqa himself is depicted in the lower portion of the drawing. The painting on the south wall shows a syna-gogue where Jesus was brought on the 40th day after his birth. To this, a portrait of Grak Aqas wife and two children were added. St. Mary's was restored in 1841.

Sf. George's Church
Kclisa-ye Georg Moqaddas 

 St. George's is the second oldest church of Julfa. It has no artistic attractions, except for a tile painting above the door. donated during the reign of Shah Sultan Hossein Safavid. However it is particularly revered not only by the Armenian Christians of Julfa but even by the Muslim residents of the district, who gather here to make vows to God and to light candles in the room where stones from the ancient, ruined Uch Church of Armenia are kept. These stones were brought here at the order of Shah Abbas the Great, who wanted to make it a gift for the Armenians, whom he forcibly brought to Esfahan. The locals, however, claim that the largest of the stones fell into its place by some miraculous force, and they point to traces of its falling on the sanctuary's ceiling. Altogether. Julfa has thirteen Armenian churches and monasteries, as well as several Catholic and Orthodox cathedrals. but tourists are allowed to visit only the abovementioned churches. All the arrangements should be made with the supervisors of the Yank Church.

Armenian Cemetery
Located on the slopes of the Soffeh Mountain, the Armenian cemetery has become the last resting place for many Europeans, mainly merchants. diplomats, and envoys to Iranian courts.
Among the most famous people buried here is Rudolf Stadler, the Swiss watchmaker who for a time enjoyed the favor of Shah Safi, but who was ultimately put to death at the shah's command. His grave is marked Cyt git Radolphe. There is also the grave of Jacob Rousseau, the Swiss clockmaker and great uncle of French author Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He died in Esfahan in 1753, having lived there for forty-eight years and survived the siege of the city by the Afghans. Well-known are also the mausoleum of de l'Estoile family, who came from Lyon to Esfahan in the 18th century, and the family crypt of Ernst Hoeltzer, a German telegraph officer and photographer who lived in Esfahan in the 19th century.
Some distinguished foreigners are also buried on the territories of the Vank and the Catholic Churches.


Isfahan Vank Cathedral in New Jolfa

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Vank Cathedral in New Jolfa

The beautiful All Savior’s Cathedral in New Jolfa, locally known as the Vank Cathedral, at the far eastern end of  Khaghani Street , is open to visitors from 8 am to noon and 2 to 5 PM, Monday to Saturday. Begun in 1606, at the time of arrival of Armenian immigrants to Esfahan, it was completed between 1655 and 1664 under the supervision of Archbishop David, with the encouragement of the Safavid rulers, and is the historic focal point of the Armenian church in Iran, although it has to a certain extent been supplanted by the recent Armenian cathedral in Tehran. Prior to its completion there was a small church which served as the center of Gregorian Christianity in Persia. Over the foundations of that small church was built the magnificent high altar of the Cathedral. The exterior of the church is unexciting but  the interior is richly, if rather tastelessly , decorated with oil paintings of people sacred to the Armenians, and shows the mixture of style- Islamic Persian and Christian European- that characterizes most churches in Iran. The altar is named after St joseph of Arimathia, the relics of whom are preserved within the altar. The soaring walls and splendid arches and the domes of the building are intended to glorify the Creator. Form the tiled lower portions of the walls to the ceiling are horizontally covered with oil paintings and gilded carving in representation of the God’s revelation throughout the old and new Testaments.

It would not be out of place here to enumerate the paintings, which would being delight to all art lovers:
This represents the story of Creation in 8 episodes from Adam to his expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the death of Abel.
Moving left from the northeast wall window and gradually passing right, are represented the Flood, Noah disembarking from the Ark, the Tower of Babel in construction, the destruction of the Tower, Hesse’s blossomed rod and the genealogy of jesus, the apparition of Daniel, the stoning of St Stephan and the Church symbolizing a ship of salvation
Start from the right of the altar and on two rows are depicted the following:
Abraham entertaining three Angels and the Annunciation;
Joseph reading the Moon and the Stars, and the Angle appearing to the Shepherds of Bethlehem;
Hagar and Ismail being expelled, and the Nativity;
Melchisedek  worshipping Abraham, the worship the Magi;
The persecution of the Israelites by the Egyptians, the massacre of the innocents of the Bethlehem;
The Israelites bringing offerings to Moses. The presentation of the Christ to the Temple;
Coronation of Saul (Savough), Christ at the age 0f 12 in the temple;
The Ark being carried across the River Jordan, the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan;
Baleam’s Ass, the temptation of Christ;
Angels guiding Lot from Sodom;
Moses Showing the tablets of the Ten Commandments, the Transfiguration;
The Ark being brought into Jerusalem, the entry of Christ into Jerusalem;
The golden calf, the purge of the Temple;
Elisha healing in the waters of Jericoh, the washing of the feet;
The Passover, the last Supper;
Shimei cursing David, the betrayal of Chris by Judas;
The Judgment of Solomon, Christ before Caiaphas;
Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, the scourging of Christ;
Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. Christ falsely accused and condemned to Crucifixion;
The brazen serpent, the Crucifixion;
Joseph being lowered into the pit, the descent from the Cross;
Jonah and the whale, the entombment of Christ;
The crossing of the Red sea by the Israclites, the Resurrection of Christ;
The sacrifice of Isaac. The Ascension;
Moses striking water from the rock, Pentecost ;and
The burning bush, the Assumption.

Represents a series of evangelical events in wall paintings. Commencing from the right to the Altar:
The parable of the beam and the splinter, the blind leading the blind, Mary Magdalene washing the feet of Christ, ‘’do not approach me’’ doubting Throes the stoning of St Stephan, the Sacrament of the church. In the same row are depicted the tortures being undergone by St Gregory the illuminator as narrated by Agatangeghos the historian. At the end row of paintings there is a group of other biblical events depicted, such as the resurrection from death of Lazar the Adulteress, the rising from bed of the paralytic, the assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The belfry faces the main entrance. There is a small museum (originally built in 1930, and moved to the present-day premises in 1971) where you might be able to find a guidebook on New jolfa in English, or someone who speaks English, as most educated Armenians do. There are as many 13 other churches in new jolfa as well. Two famous ones are the Holy mother of god and the Bethlehem. The Cathedral’s Press was founded in 1636 and was one of the first in the Middle East to print the Book of Psalms in 1638. During its 350 years of operation the Cathedral’s press has printed about 500 books and thousands of pamphlet, etc.
The Cathedral’s Library with more than 25,000 books in Armenian and most European Languages, is used as a reference and research library by the clergy and the interested scholars.


Isfahan Bridges of Isfahan at a glance

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Bridges of Isfahan at a glance

The city of Esfahan occupies both banks of Zayandeh Rud, and although only the northern part draws the tourists, the presence of river, running eastward right through the city is a most favorable feature. Trees and gardens (now mainly renovated into parks and promenades) line its shores, and the many ancient beautiful bridges carry heavy traffic to the modern plants and factories on the south bank.

Pol-e Shahrestan

Shahrestan Bridge

Shahrestan Bridge, about 3 km east f the Pol-e Khaju and to the south of Jay Bus Terminal and the old town, is the oldest bridge built before the Safavid period of Iranian history. Although of slightly harder access, it is well worth visiting, and the walk is pleasant. Once is stood isolated like an old gray mule put out to grass. Most of its present stone and brick structure is believed to date 12th century. It can be reached both from the left and rights banks. The structure, named after a neighboring Shahrestan village to the north, is a fine arched bridge, slightly incurvated with arches of varying sizes. Its massive abutment dates back to the Sassanian period; however, its arches and small spans show indications of early Islamic architecture. It is 100 m long and 4.6 m wide, with 11 spans and 12 gigantic stone abutments. It is not open to traffic. It was repaired during the Seljuk period. The landscape is very peaceful with clumps of poplar trees and pebbles rolling on the bed of the river which is fast running in this particular spot. Just before sunset is a very good time to visit or photograph it.



Sio she pol

Si-o-seh pol

The most important north-south avenue of  Esfahan is Chahar Bagh (Four Gardens), and the bridge used by this large highway is the famous Sio She Pol (Bridge of Thirty- Three Arches. Also called Allahverdi Khan Bridge. After the architect who built it). He commenced the structural works in 1602 by the order of Shah Abbas the Great. He was also the king’s Army Commander-in-Chief. The bridge is an extraordinary structure: 300 meters in length and 14 meters in width, serving both as bridge and dam (it is no longer used by traffic). It connects the Chahar Bagh with the Armenian settlement of New jolfa. Traditionally a number of Chiristian and Islamic ceremonies used to be held on both sides of this bridge.




Khajoo Bridje

Khaju Bridge
The historic bridges of modern Esfahan are of course Safavid, like the Maidan Each bridge coincides with a straight avenue running through the city from north to south . The best- known is the 132-m long Pol-e Khaju (Khaju Bridge), some which is Slightly smaller but even more attractive, with two levels of terraces overlooking the river. Form bank to bank, and on the foundations of an earlier structure by the order of Shah Abbas II in 1650 AD, this magnificent bridge has been constructed with two purpose in mind: to be used both as a roadway and a dam (by means of sluices, the level of the river may be raised or lowered at will). The original purpose of this dam was to form an artificial lake for some distance upstream, in front of the numerous palace buildings and Kiosks that stood on either side of the river. It is now used to raise the level of the river Sufficiently to fill irrigation canals on either side.
But its most fascinating feature are the pavilions set into the 12-meter width called Shah Neshin (Royal Parlors) and once decorated with faience and inscriptions .The famous tea- house under the bridge is currently closed but may reopened soon: this used to be one of the most atmospheric places in Iran to sit and drink tea or smoke the ghalian (hubble- bubble), surrounded by slumbering Esfahan manhood.

Sa’adat Abad Bridge

Between the khaju and sio she pol Bridge, there are two bridges on the river. The one which is nearer to Khaju Bridge is a canal bridge (or Pol-e Ju-i)  crossing the river slantwise, Being a narrow bridge not used for public transportation, it is 147 meters long and about 4 m wide, which was originally used to connect the royal gardens on both banks of the rive, and has twenty one arches, Built during the Safavid period (Shah Abbas II), a narrow water brook (50 cm wide 50 cm deep) passed from its top, which doesn’t exist today.


Isfahan Minarets of Isfahan at a glance

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Menar-e Junban


The historic mausoleum called Menar-e junban (The Shaking Minaret) from the Mongol period and 6 km to the west of Esfahan, consists of the tombstone of Amu Abdollah Karladani (bearing the date 1316 AD) and two shaking minarets each soaring high on either side of the mausoleum ivan, as the main attraction of the place. If you climb up the very narrow stairway to the top of one of these minarets and lean hard against the wall it will start to sway back and forth, and so will its twin, and the whole ivan, decorated with polygonal azure tiles. Although by no means unique in this respect, the Shaking Minarets of Esfahan are probably the most famous of their kind. The site is open from8 AM to 5 PM.

Oshtorjan Jam’e Mosque and Minarets
There is a magnificent 14th century mosque in Oshtorjan village 30 km to the southwest of Esfahan, by the same name, which also has shaking minarets like the twin Shaking minarets (above), which were certainly built by the same architect (Fakhrod-Din Oshtorjani). However, two- thirds of these minarets have now disappeared On the portal. Inside the mosque, its mehrab, and northern ivan, a number of inscriptions and tablets have been placed, giving the names of owners, architect, the first four caliphs, as well as the master tile workers.

Sareban Minaret
Sareban (Camel Driver) Minaret rising 54 m above the ground, and attracting your attention even 200 meters further on, is located in the north of Jubareh (Jewish ghetto) of Esfahan, and is one of the most beautiful Seljuk structures. A flight of 135 steps runs through the minaret to the top, and three inscription bands in Kuffic and Thulth calligraphy on an enameled tile background. Adorn it externally. Built somewhere between 1130-1155 AD, it is beautifully decorated with mosaics and brick works and the whole town can easily be seen from its higher levels.

Ali Minaret

Barsian Minaret and mosque
A Seljuk monument dating back to 1097 AD, the mosque has a 35m high minaret and a brick copula of 1421 AD. Twelfth- century brick masonry reaches its perfection in this building that was completed during the reign of Sultan Borkyaregh , older son of Malak shah, who had shifted the Iranian capital to Esfahan.

Sin Minaret and Mosque
Twenty four km to the north of Esfahan, it is a Seljuk monument and was built by Mohammad ibn-e Hossein (1131 AD). According to an inscription frieze. The minaret of the mosque, its exquisite cupola, stalactite and brick and stucco decorations, were built by Abughaleb Yahya three years later, according to an inscription of the same date.

Ali Minaret and Mosque
The 40-m high minaret and Ali Mosque, both of Seljuk period (probably of 13th century AD), are located in the northeastern part of the town, near Qiam Square. It is built entirely of brick, and bears four inscription friezes in Kuffic , one of which is in brick the rest in enameled blue tiles. The mosque itself has been reoaired more than once during the Safavid period (1522 AD). The portal inscription is in Thulth calligraphy by od- Din Tabrizi totally in gold characters . It architecture, superb ornamentation, numerous ivans, impressive prayer hall, brick cupola with stalactite decorations inside, beautiful tile works, and versatile styles used in its inscriptions, make it one of the most important and rarest monuments of Esfahan.

Domenar-e Dar oz-Ziafeh
Domaner-e Dar ox-Ziafeh (literally meaning the two Minarets of the Reception Hall), are two beautiful minarets of baked brick decorated with stalactites of colorful mosaic tiles surmounted by a covering of turquoise tiles on a checkered brick background, standing on either side of a portal. Few words of their half – demolished inscriptions can still be read. As the name indicates The minarets seem to have been part of a much grander structure belonging to a certain ruler of the 14 the century.


Isfahan Palace of Chehel sutun

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Palace of Chehel sutun

The Esfahan palaces, particularly those that have survived, are exceedingly modest in comparison to the royal halls of the Sassanians or Mongols. The chehel sutun palace, inside a garden with an area of 67000 square meters, was built as an official court and a reception hall by shah Abbas II (1647AD). Nowadays it is located to the south of Sepah street and continues the old Talar, or columnar porch. At its simplest it is only a roof- high porch constituting the façade. When attached to a royal building. It provides a huge outdoor reception haa, and it susceptible to lavish embellishments that have include mirror plated columns, panels and stalactites, and polychrome mosaic ceilings.

The name means the Forty columns, although there are actually 18. A reflecting pool (110 X 16 m) is provided to see the other18. A more mundane explanation is that 40 was once used synonymously with many in Persian, and still is in some quarter.

In 1721 bishop Barnabas of Esfahan  described the Chehel sutun talar as follows: ‘the palace where the King held his reception is not a room or recovered hall. But a very large open porch, handsome and more majestic than that of St Peter’s though not so big. It is completely full of large and small mirrors, marvelously interlaced, and some picture with fine frames. There are in it 24 {actually 18} columns.. covered with small pieces of looking-glass like the whole porch….’’It must be added that each column is made out of a single tall plane trunk covered with a thin layer of painted wood, adorned with glass and painting.

Walls of the main hall of chehel sutun are decorate with six remarkable wall paintings, four of which belong to the Safavid period, as follows, starting from the western wing, opposite the main gate:

1. The scene of reception in honor of Vali Mohammad Khan the King of Tutkistan in 1611, by Shah Abbas 1;

2. Battle of Chaldoran a against the Ottomans in 1514 in which the Iranians fought without fire-arms under Shah Ismail 1;

3.Shah tahmasb 1, grandfather of Shah Abbas 1, receiving King Humayun of India;

4. Shah Ismail 1 fighting against Sheibak khan the uzbek;

5. Shah Abbas II entertaining Nader Mohammad Khan, king of Turkistan;

6. The sixth large painting. Which is more recent, depicts Nader Shah’s victory against the indian army in 1747. At Karnal.

some of the other smaller painting are in celebration of the joy of living, still others from Safavid and Qajar periods depict foreign personalities. In the chambers along the ivan, too there are paintings and superb ornamental designs.

The paintings of the Chehel sutun palace have been created in mainly two style:1) Iranian style, or magnification with scenes of miniatures used until then in decorating books; and 2) Foreign or European style, which became prevalent because of Iran’s connections with Europe. The paintings of the main hall are in the first style, while those of the northern colonnade are in the latter.



Isfahan Imam Mosque Isfahan

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Imam Mosque Isfahan

Imam Mosque Entrance gate

Imam Mosque (Masjid-e Jame Abbasi) also called Masjid-e Shah (Royal Mosque) before the victory of the Islamic Revolution is one od the finest and the most stunning buildings in the world. The Mosque, begun in 1612 during the reign of Shah Abbas 1 and, despite the Shah’s impatience , under construction until 1638, represents the culmination of a thousand years of mosque building and a magnificent example of architecture, stone carving, and tile work in Iran, with a majesty and splendor that places it among the world’s greatest buildings.

More about Imam Mosque

The outer recessed portal faces north, as required by the placement of the Maidan, but since the axis of the mosque itself and that of the Mehrab must be in the direction of  Mecca (hence northeast to southwest), an awkward adjustment was necessary to avoid a sense of dislocation.

The portal, almost a building in itself and understood as an aspect of the Maidan rather than of the mosque, forms a welcoming embrace, inviting and guiding the throngs outside into the refuge, security and the renewal the mosque provides. In fact. It is the most thrilling example of human artifice that could be imagined. Its height amounts to 30 m. the flanking minarets are 42m tall- with the sanctuary minarets higher still, 48m. the two panels which flank the actual entrance within the recess carry the design of a prayer rug, a reminder of the mosque’s essential purpose.

A mosaic tile inscription by Ali Reza Abbasi can be seen on the main portal of the mosque, which is dead 1616 AD (completion date of the portal). Betow this, there is still another inscription that gives the name of the builder as Ali Akbar Esfahani, and that of the construction supervisor as Muhib Ali Beigallah. Several other inscriptions can also be seen on the portal and in the narthex of the mosque. However, Shah Abbas needed a show- place, just as he needed the Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque for private meditation, and he built this whole gigantic structure, with two seminaries (Madrasahs) in the few years from 1612 until his death in 1629, the year of the great copula’s completion.

Through the outer portal, one enters a noble vestibule, which is a usual feature. Octagonal, it has no particular direction;  it can, therefore, serve as a pivot on which the axis of the building is turned, the gateway to another world of splendor and concentrated power.

Imam Mosque Echo of Voice
Imam Mosque Echo of Voice

Of the classical four ivans, the west ivan has a wide porch surmounted by a goldasteh (minaret). The south ivan (also the largest) opens to reveal a great prayer hall surmounted by a double cupola 38m high on the inside and 52m on the outside (leaving a 12-meter  empty space which serves as an extraordinary “echo chamber”, Since  a speaker in the mehrab can be distinctly heard in all other parts of the mosque), its surface decoration being of the most sumptuous richness, a floral design in gold, yellow and white spiraling on a deep blue ground. In the center of the great prayer hall look out for a few black paving stones underneath the dome, which when stamped upon creating seven clear echoes. Try it for yourself; everyone else does.

The fact that sound is equally carried to all parts of the dome chamber and cloisters on each side as well as to the courtyard and the lateral porches indicate that four centuries ago, Iranian architects were able to produce buildings provided with acoustics not inferior to those of any modern building.

Great Jasper and marble bowls like fonts each made of a solid stone block, can be seen near the portal gate, under the western and eastern domes, and in the cloisters on both sides of the great southern prayer hall. These are unique in terms of delicacy and care with which they were made. They used to be filled. On various occasions. With water or sherbet to quench the thirst of worshipping throng in summer.

To the east and west of the mosque, there are two madrasahs (theological colleges). Two long seminaries at the back are suitably studious in their architectural tranquility. The dome, elegant and sensitive in contour, slightly bulbous, set on a high drum, is simple, of remarkably clean and expressive outline uncluttered by any supplementary constructions.

Imam Mosque Main sanctuary

In the school building to the southwest of the courtyard, there is a piece stone which acts as a sundial attributed to Sheikh Bahai, the famous scientist, and mathematician of the period of Shah Abbas. It indicates noon in Esfahan throughout the year/ According to a U pope, Both the ground plan and the structured of the building reflect the doctrinal simplicity of  Islam. 

Circulation and communication are everywhere facilitated, nowhere impeded. The common floor level is at no place broken by steps. Railings or screens. The walls merge into their garden- like floatation or open onto real and natural gardens. Because of the concentration of the bearing load on octagonal stone columns, wide vistas open up and voids are at maximum. The ornamentation is wholly traditional, respecting the Iranian motif of appeal for fertility and abundance. Almost the entire surface of the building is covered with enamel tile. A vast display of floral wealth, abstract and imaginative,  emphasizes the Persian poetic passion for the continuance of abundant life. The best time to photograph is about II am when the sun is overhead.



Written by Super User. Posted in Isfahan Historical Sites


The bridges over the Zayandeh-rud, the river that separates Isfahan from its southern bridge is the pol-e Shahrestan, which was probably built in the l2th century during the Seljuq period. Until recently, it was still located outside the town limits. This ten-arch bridge of stone and brick is the simplest of the old bridges and was originally defended on one side by a tower.
Further upstream is the pol-e-Khaju, perhaps the most famous of Isfahan bridges, and which has the unusual feature of serving as a sluice gate. in this desert climate, ensuring a sufficient and constant supply of water is of vital importance to the survival of a settlement. The problem was solved in various ways in Iran over the centuries most notably by building the famous qanat. In Isfahan this sluice gate was devised to allow the accumulation, in times of changes in the level of the river, of reservoirs of water. The gates are set in the water channels which run between the pillars of the bridge.


The pol-e Khaju was built by Shah Abbas II in 1650 on the site of an older bridge. It has 24 arches and is 132 metres (433 feet) long. The monotony of the arches is lightened by the presence of semi-octagonal pavilions on each side of the bridge. With its two storeys of arcades and its stone steps over which the water flows, the pol-e Khaju is certainly one of the most picturesque spots in the city The next bridge is the pol-e jubi, or Canal Bridge, 147 metres (482 feet) in length and formed of twenty-one arches, which was originally an aqueduct (now covered over) which supplied the gardens on the north bank of the river.
Slightly further upstream, at the end of Chahar Bagh Avenue and Enqelab-e Eslm Square, is the Allahverdi Khan Bridge, named after one of Shah Abbas generals who was responsible for its construction. It is more commonly known as Si-o-Se pol, or Bridge of Thirty-Three Arches. Built around 1600 during the reign of Shah Abbas I, it linked Isfahan with the Armenian suburb of jolfa. At 295 metres (968 feet) long it is by far the longest bridge in town. It has two levels of arcades and resembles the pol-e Khaju without being as architecturally complex. The small chaikhdneh (tea house) under the bridge on the south is a fun place to have tea or an ice cream or to smoke a qalian.
The last of the old bridges is the pol-e Marnan in the far west of town. It was partly destroyed by floods a few years ago and has been rebuilt recently.

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Isfahan Historical Sites Chahar Bagh Avenue

Written by Super User. Posted in Isfahan Historical Sites


Chahar Bagh Avenue once led from the Safavid city to the royal gardens at Hezar Jerib and Jolfa on the other bank of the Zayandeh River. Shah Abbas chose not to connect the avenue directly with the Royal Square, and it therefore began slightly to the west of the palatial complex. It was planted with trees, and a canal ran down the centre of it in a series of little waterfalls. It was a favourite promenade of the people of Isfahan, and still is today: Chahar Bagh has become one of the main shopping streets of the city with tea rooms, cinemas and fashionable clothes shops.  The main monuments around Chahr Bagh were built in the reigns of Shah Abbas successors and are equally great works of art as the constructions of that great ruler. Unfortunately, all too often, the only remains we have today of the innumerable houses, palaces and pavilions of Safavid Isfahan arc the descriptions left by l7th- and l8th-century travellers. Among the few buildings still standing is the Chehel Sotun (or Forty Columns), set in the old royal park between the Ali Qapu Palace and Chahar Bagh Avenue (the entrance is on Sepah Avenue). Used for official ceremonies and particularly for receiving foreign embassies, the palace was finished in 1647 during the reign of Shah Abbas II; it was later largely rebuilt after a fire in 1706. The palace opens out onto a talar with tall, narrow wooden columns set on carved stone bases. The name of the palace-which in reality has only twenty columns-is an allusion to their reflection in the water of the large pool in front of the talar. One of the characteristic features of Safavid palatial architecture is the integration of buildings into a natural environment such as a park or a garden. Here, water plays a very important role in the spatial relationship between inside and out. In addition to the large ornamental pool at the Chehel Sotun, the architects laid out fountains in front of the throne and on the terrace, as well as canals linking the pools in the garden.

The talar is covered with a flat wooden roof, whose ceiling and eaves are painted with very fine motifs, while the walls of the eivan are decorated with floral frescoes. Originally, the entire exterior facade was covered in stalactites set with mirrors, but these now remain only in the eivan which gives onto the talar, where the throne was placed.
This throne room leads into the great audience hall with its three domes, which now houses the Isfahan Museum (at present only one of the halls of the building is open to the public). Here again, the ceiling is painted with sumptuous designs in blues, reds and golds. The six large historical murals on the upper part of the walls represent Safavid court life and military exploits of Safavid rulers; they are painted in a style which reflects a European influence. The battle scenes above the entrance have been identified as the campaigns of Shah Ismail I (1501-1524) against the Uzbeks, and those of Nader Shah in India (1739-1740); next to them is a reception held by Shah Abbas II (1642-1666) in honour of a king of Turkestan. On the opposite wall is a scene of a sumptuous banquet given by Shah Abbas I (1587-1629), and a representation of a battle between Shah Ismail and the Ottoman janissaries of Sultan Suleiman; last of all is a painting showing Shah Tahmasp (15241576) greeting the Indian prince Humayun.
Beneath these great scenes are smaller paintings, closer in style and subject matter to Persian miniatures. Covered in plaster during the Qajar period they have recently been carefully restored All around the room are a series of exhibits, mostly Safavid objects from the l7th and l8th centuries, including carpets, armour, porcelain and coins (the dates given in the cases are those of the Islamic calendar).
just south of Imam Hossein Square is Park Shahid Rajai (Bagh-e Bolbol) and the small Hasht Behesht Palace (Palace of the Eight Paradises). Built in 1699 by Shah Suleiman, this pleasure pavilion was later renovated by the Qajar ruler Fath Ali Shah around 1880, and again under the Pahlavis. It is a more or less octagonal building with a large central domed hall which gives onto a series of small chambers. The paintings on the walls, and the stalactite ceiling decorated with small mirrors, are particularly interesting.



Just past the park, at the corner of Chahar Bagh Avenue and Shahid Ayatollah Madani Street, is the madresseh of the Shah's Mother (once the madresseh-ye Madar-e Shah, now known as madresseh-ye Chahar Bagh), built between 1706 and 1714 during the reign of the last Safavid ruler, Shh Soltafi Hussein- It is an enormous complex which includes, in addition to the madresseh itself, a caravansarai (khan-e Madar-e Shah) of the same date, now turned into a luxury hotel. Today the madresseh functions as a theology school and visits are therefore limited to the entrance hall.
The entrance gate of the madresseh, on Chahar Bagh Avenue, stands out sharply from the rather austere arcaded fade of the building. The gate, which has a richly decorated stalactite vault, has wooden doors covered in partly-gilded silver sheets decorated with floral motifs and inscriptions. Once past the gate, one enters a domed vestibule with a superb design of polished bricks and blue and white tiles.
Unlike the courtyards of the mosques which are large, empty areas, the central courtyard here resembles a garden with its tall plane trees and central canal-fed marble basin. Doors at each corner of the courtyard lead to smaller yards. All around are the rooms of the students, set on two floors, each one opening out onto a vaulted niche, sparingly decorated with black and blue lines. The outer surface of the walls around the court is covered in glazed tiles.

Chahar Bagh Boulevard 1705
Chahar Bagh Boulevard 1705

The north and east Eivan of the court, decorated with scrolls and inscriptions, serve as classrooms. As is the case in mosques, the south Eivan is the most ornate. It is flanked by two quite short minarets, very richly decorated, particularly on the balcony and stalactite cornices, Behind the Eivan is the domed prayer hall. From the exterior, the dome is reminiscent of the dome on the Imam Mosque in the Royal Square, with a calligraphic inscription around the drum, broken at intervals by the windows, and a floral design on the dome itself. This elegant decoration has been executed with a skill hardly equalled in any other building in the city, and there is no sign here of decadence, despite the late date of its construction. The inside of the dome is covered with a rich design of arabesques. Next to the mehrab is a very fine mimbar carved out of a single block of marble.
The income from the caravansarai next to the madresseh was intended to pay for the upkeep of the theological college. Built along classical lines with room giving out onto the central courtyard, the caravansarai was turned into a luxury hotel (Hotel, ex-Hotel Shah Abbas) under the last shah. Even if you are not staying there, the garden is a very pleasant , quiet place for afternoon tea, In the street behind the caravansarai is the Honar Bazaar (bazar-e Boland).

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Written by Super User. Posted in Isfahan Historical Sites


On the north side of the Royal Square is the Bazaar Qaisareh or Imperial Bazaar (also known as the Great Bazaar, bazar-e Bozorg), a veritable labyrinth of domed streets which streets into the old town. The gateway to the bazaar, built in the reign of Shaah Abbas, is decorated with tile work mosaic its main motif represents Sagittarius, the town astrological sign, shown here as a chimera, half-man and half-tiger, It was just to the west of this area that the trading posts of the English and Dutch East India Companies were located in the second half of the l7th century. Inside the bazaar,is the Hakim Mosque, founded in the l2th century and rebuilt in 1654. According to local tradition, the royal physician, Hakim Daoud, was forced to flee the country after a quarrel with his ruler. The latter pleaded for him to return but Hakim Daoud would agree only on the condition that a mosque be built and named after him (another, more credible version of the story states that the mosque was built with the money that the physician sent back to his family from India). The decoration of this four-eivan mosque, although modest, has been carefully executed The upper row of arcades around the courtyard was never finished.

Further east in the bazaar, near Haruniyeh Street, stands the imamzddeh Jaffar. This small octagonal tower built in 1325 during the Mongol period is one in a series of tombs of Jaffar, a Companion of the Prophet. Its fine blue and white tilework mosaic was restored in the 1950s.
Further north towards Jamal-ol-din Abdolrazaq Avenue is the Mosque of Ali, whose minaret (Menar-e masjed e Ali) is said to be the oldest in Isfahan, built between 1131 and 1155. Now restored, it is 50 metres (164 feet) tall and has a plain brick decoration. The present mosque is later than the minaret and dates back to .1521.
Nearby is the tomb of Baron Velayat (boqe-ye-Harun Velayat). Nothing at all is known about the person for whom this tomb was built in 1513, during Shah Ismail’s reign. The gateway which leads to the courtyard is one of the finest examples of early Safavid tilework, with delicate scrolls and rich complex designs.
Just to the east of Hatef Avenue, which joins Qiyam Square and Neshat Avenue, is the Imamzadeh Ismail, started in the reign of Shah Abbas and finished in 1634. The entrance to the imamzadeh is through a superb domed brick hall, now occupied by shops.

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