Esfahan the Persian Florence

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Esfahan the Persian Florence

Naghsh-e-jahan Sq

Isfahan is a city that different parts of Iranian identity represented by it. An identity that owes its reputation to Iranian cultural and artistic traditions especially the city of Isfahan. Isfahan among the cities of Iran is like a piece of jewelry that has kept its Glory, Shines, and greatness despite its historical fluctuations for centuries.
This city is so vibrant that seems born today and also is so authentic that seems to have been from the first. The rich culture and beautiful nature of the city represent a part of the city's special features. Isfahan is the ultimate expression of Iranian Islamic culture.

Isfahan: A museum where people live there.

The city of Persian handicrafts and traditional arts. The Brilliant history and many historical monuments have introduced Isfahan as one of the tourism cities in the world and Iran. According to the Andrea Malro: Only Florence and Beijing are comparable to Isfahan. Historical monuments of Isfahan are a collection of the best styles of Iranian architecture that completed over a thousand years. The quality and quantity of these great artworks are so numerous that they are as one of the architectural masterpieces of Iran after Islam.
Isfahan is rich in artistic and historical sites that Naghsh-e-Jahan sq, Alighapo Palace, Imam and Sheikh Lotfolah mosque, Qeisarieh Bazar, Chehel Sotoon & HashtBehest palace, Jame mosque, the bridges over zayande rood and Abbassi Hotel are the most prominent of them.
Isfahan with all these old and new attractions is one of the most popular travel destinations.

10 Interesting facts about Isfahan:

- Isfahan considered the third-largest city in Iran after Tehran and Mashhad.

- The Naghsh-e Jahan Square, with a length of 560 meters and a width of 160 meters, is one of the largest squares in the world.

- In 1006 AH, Shah Abbas transferred his capital from Qazvin to Isfahan;

- In the era of Shah Abbas I to the death of Shah Abbas II, Isfahan was the supreme city of the Middle East. In this period, Isfahan was even more beautiful than Constantinople.

- Most of the historical monuments that remained in Isfahan date back to the Islamic era. The Zoroastrian fire temple is one of the pre-Islamic buildings.

- Isfahan's peak of glory and beauty was at Seljuk and Safavid periods. The most magnificent monuments belong to the same period.

- sheeps and ram are the animal symbol of Isfahan.

- There are more than 6,000 historical sites in Isfahan and has renamed the city to half of the world or the museum city.

- Esfahan has signed twinning pact or sister cities with 16 cities


Isfahan Travelers to Esfahan

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Travelers to Esfahan


Fortunately for a researcher, Esfahan has always remained a halting point for any traveler. A Succession of voyagers, drawn to the country either by commercial interests or by a taste for exploration, has left valuable ac-counts of Esfahan's glorious past.

Isfahan and Tourists

The first comprehensive picture of the city is given by Naser Khosrow (1004-1088), the celebrated Persian poet, philosopher, and Ismailite propagandist. After his visit to Esfahan in 1052, he wrote in Snfar-Nal11eh ("Travelogue"): "I have never seen, in any place where Persian is spoken, a finer, larger and more prosperous city than Esfahan." He was also the first to have mentioned the Congregational Mosque of Esfahan (pp 112-120).
Ibn Batutta (1304-1368?), the great Moor of Tangier, was an Islamic scholar and jurisprudent. However, he is best known as a traveler and explorer, whose detailed accounts document his travels and excursions over a period of almost thirty years. These journeys covered more than 100,000 km throughout the entire Islamic world and beyond, extending from West Africa and South Europe in the west, to Southeast Asia and China in the east, a distance readily surpassing that of his predecessors and his near-contemporary Marco Polo.
He visited Esfahan in about 1330 and afterwards wrote: "Esfahan is one of the largest and fairest of cities, but most of it is now in ruins, as a result of the feud between Sunnites and Shiites.
Its people are good looking, with clear white skins tinged with red, exceedingly brave, generous, and always trying to outdo one another in procuring luxurious viands."
The next brilliant accounts of Esfahan belong to the Venice ambassadors Josafa Barbaro and Ambrogio Contarmi, who visited the city during the Turkman rule. They wrote: "Esfahan seems to be a very convenient city, and is situated in a plain abounding with all kinds of provisions." They found the general cost of living high, but the price of bread reasonable. The people were friendly and seemed to like the Christians. They added: "While we were in Persia, we did not suffer a single outrage."

Isfahan and Tourists

The seventeenth century was the great era of additions to the literature of travel. In 1617, from Italy to Esfahan came a wealthy Roman patrician, Pietro Della Valle (1586-1652) with the Nestorian wife he had married in Baghdad. They remained for nearly five years in Persia, having spent in Esfahan a good part of that time. In the summer of 1618, Della Valle joined Shah Abbas in a campaign in northern Persia. and was well received at court and treated as the shah's guest. Della Valle left a detailed and faithful account of the Safavid capital in a series of letters addressed to his friend.
In 1619, Don Garcia Silva Figueroa called Esfahan "the noblest city of this [Persian] kingdom."
The accounts of two European travelers to Iran in the 17th century, Chardin and Tavernier, are recognized as the richest Western sources of knowledge of late Safavid Iran.
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689) was a famous French traveler, and pioneer of trade with India. During the years of 1632-1668, he made six trips to the Eastern lands. He was more than once in Esfahan - for the first time in 1632 when Shah Abbas's successor, Shah Safi, was on the throne, and for the last time in 1664 during the reign of Shah Abbas II. On the latter journey he was accompanied by Andre Daulier-Deslandes, who also left an account of his travels. Tavernier had neither the equipment nor the tastes of a scientific traveller, but in all that referred to commerce his knowledge was vast and could not fail to be of much public service. His narrative is much confused by his plan of often deserting the chronological order and giving instead notes from various journeys about certain routes. However, although Tavernier's book of Six Voyages has been much criticized, it still retains its value, both for its independence and general freedom from exaggeration.

Isfahan and Tourists

Chevalier Jean Chardin (Sir John Chardin) (1643-1713) was a Frenchman by birth, but was driven from his native country because he was a Huguenot. He crossed over to England and became a court jeweler to King Charles II, by whom he was knighted. He afterwards went to Esfahan, where he spent, in all, some ten years. During this time. he became intimately familiar with the city, its markets, shops, and workplaces; he was invited into people's houses and enter-tained; he visited gardens and participated in hunts; his knowledge of court affairs was extensive; and he traveled hundreds of miles, all over the country, visiting other towns and villages. In 1666, he decided to collect material for a full description of Esfahan and its buildings. Ten years later, Chardin sorted and arranged the large amount of the material that he had accumulated, and the resultant work constitutes volume VIII of the ten-volume edition of his Travels. It is the most important survey of Esfahan in the 17th century, Chardin devotes much space to the sights. as well as to many things that have amazed or amused him. In a wine tavern, he saw the following inscription: "Life is one continual intoxication; the pleasure passes but the headache remains".
ln a palace, he noticed a number of verses, one of which read: "When I was about to marry, the married folks were dumb. Now that I am married, those who are going to marry are deaf".
Although there are occasional lapses in his books, Chardin is generally trusted as a reliable witness, and his work has been used as a source for diverse studies on Safavid history, government, economics, anthropology, religion, art and culture.
Ambrosio Bembo arrived in Iran in June 1674, after having traveled in Ceylon and India for two years. During his stay in Esfahan, he met the French painter G. G. Grelot, a competent draftsman whom Chardin had hired to illustrate his own travels in Iran. Despite his considerable ability as a writer Chardin was not a good employer, and Grelot eagerly entered Bembos service. Bembo's book is titled Travels and journal through part of Asia, during nearly four years, undertaken by me, Ambrosio Bembo, a Venetian Noble. Of the forty-seven illustrations in this Journal, seven were used by Chardin in his Travels, while the other forty have never been published. Eleven of Grelots line drawings dealt with Esfahan.

Isfahan and Tourists

Among the 17th -century adventurers were the two brothers, Sir Antony Shirley (1565-1635) and Sir Robert Shirley (1581-1628). In 1598, Antony, then a man in his early thirties with a dozen or more years of buccaneering and adventure behind him, left Venice for Persia with his younger brother Robert, a youth of about seventeen. The objects of their journey were to urge Shah Abbas to ally himself with the Christian princes against the Ottoman Turk, and to reopen trade relations with England. At Qazvin, the two brothers were received by Shah Abbas, who sent Anthony as his ambassador to various courts of Europe. Robert remained in Iran, where he helped the shah to reorganize the army. In 1615, Shah Abbas dispatched him to Europe. In London, Shirley quarreled with a Persian envoy of the Shah, and in 1627 the two men were sent back to Iran in separate ships.
Robert was accompanied by an English ambassador, Sir Dodmore Cotton, and Sir Thomas Herbert. The victim of conspiracies at the Persian court, Robert was coolly received by Shah Abbas. Bitterly disappointed that his work had not been appreciated, he fell ill and died a few weeks later. The Shah was afterwards filled with remorse, declaring (as Herbert wrote) that Robert "had done more for him than any of his native subjects".
Sir Thomas Herbert (1606-1682), the twenty-year-old youth who accompanied Robert Shirley and Cotton to Persia in 1627, spent three weeks in Esfahan the following spring.
His book, A Relation of Some Years' Travel, is by far the most entertaining of the early Persian travelogues.
There were also numerous English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Italian visitors to Esfahan, who have left the accounts of the splendol'S of the Safavid capital.
James Marrier, one of the most famous 19th-century travelers to Esfahan, was an Englishman brought up in Constantinople. As a diplomat, he was attached to the two embassies to Iran and spent overall six years there. Morrier's experiences became a base for his picaresque novel The Adventures of Hajji Saba of Esfahan (1824). He also wrote a number of other books dealing with Persia, but none is comparable to Hajji Baba in merit. Merrier, especially in the account of his second journey to Iran, has left a good description of Esfahan as it appeared in the early years of the 19th century. By this time, the city was in a much dilapidated state. That is what Merrier wrote: "One might suppose that God's curse had extended over parts of this city, as it did over Babylon. Houses, bazaars, mosques, palaces, whole streets, are to be seen in total abandonment; and I have ridden for miles among its ruins, without meeting with any living creature, except perhaps a jackal peeping over a wall, or a fox running to his hole."

Isfahan and Tourists

The first illustrated books on Iran were published in the beginning of the 19th century. In 1838, French painter Texier alone, and in 1840, French painter Eugene Plandin, accompanied by his fellow traveler, an architect Pascal Coste, came to Iran assigned by the French government. Altogether, they pictured the Iranian historical buildings of that time in relentless detail. Caspar Drouvill, supported by the Russian court, came to Iran in 1812. During this trip, he prepared a remarkable collection of watercolors, devoted to Iranian people, and published it on return to St. Petersburg. It came out in 1820 and was entitled Voyage en Perse.
European political and military advisors at the Qajar court who were skilful in painting or photography also left colorful accounts of their stay in Iran. Among them are Sir Robert Ker Porter, English diplomat and artist (the year of residence in Iran - 1814); Soltikoff, Russian prince and painter (1850); Colombari, Italian military instructor and artist (1833-48); Luigi Pesce, Italian military instructor and photographer (1848-58); and Luigi Mentabone, Italian photographer, who came to Iran together with the Italian diplomatic mission in 1862. Some of the most sumptuous and finely illustrated volumes of the 19th-century Iran were collected by French archaeologist Marcel Dieulafoy and his wife Jane Dieulafoy.
Among the 19th and early 20th-century accounts, the two-volume book Persia and the Persian Question of Lord George Curzon (1859-1925) occupies a special place. No previous work on Iran had ever approached, nor has any subsequent one surpassed, this monumental book.
George Curzon was born in 1859 into the family of Baron Curzon. He proved to be a brilliant student and an ambitious man. He was perhaps the most important British politician in modern times who failed in his quest to become a prime minister.  Curzon was a Viceroy of India, and he is chiefly remembered today for extending Western knowledge of Indian art, archeology, and literature. He was an active traveler and visited Ceylon, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkistan, China, Japan, and Korea. These travels provided material for a series of books such as Russia in Central Asia (1889), Persia and the Persian Question (1892), and Problems of the Far East (1894).

Isfahan and Tourists

Robert Byron was one of those bright young travelers who set off from the British Isles to the world's most distant corners in the period between the two World Wars. Together with Christopher Sykes, he visited Esfahan in 1937. In his brilliant 171e Road to Oxiana, he wrote: "The beauty of Esfahan steals on the mind unawares. You drive about, under avenues of white tree-trunks and canopies of shining twigs; past domes of turquoise and spring yellow in a sky of liquid violet-blue; along the river patched with twisting shoals, catching that blue in its muddy silver, and lined with feathery groves where the sap calls; across bridges of pale toffee brick, tier on tier of arches breaking into piled pavilions; overlooked by lilac mountains, by the Kuh-i-Sufi [the Soffeh Mountain] shaped like Punch's hump and by other ranges receding to a line of snowy surf; and before you know how, Esfahan has become indelible, has insinuated its image into that gallery of places which everyone privately treasures."



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Exploring Esfahan's Environs

By:H. Shams

Esfahan occupies a location. Its remarkable location almost in the center of Iran, temperate climate, fertile soil and adequate water supply from the Zayandeh Rud made it from the oldest times to a logical settlement area. Built between the mountain and the desert, it was also a natural stop for caravan preparation to cross the dry plateau which extends to the mountains in the north of the country. Numerous historical and cultural artefacts caused by this diversity of natural conditions, migrations and influences of other places remained scattered around Esfahan. The time allowed, tourists can want to take a break from the city and head for these glamorous but beautiful sights, especially if they want to get a more detailed picture of local architecture and customs. All these interesting places can be visited during several trips. With a good map (if you drive a car) or an experienced driver and a guide, it is a good idea to check on these Esfahan attractions that are never packed on organized tours and rarely visited by the average tourists. The sights include mainly the Seljuk heritage of the region, including several minarets and mosques. Apart from this, a visit to the Fire Temple (pages 162-163) will bring the visitor as far back as Sasanid times. The Jewish cemetery, Sufi shrines, deaf towers and some of the most beautiful mosques and minarets are included in the routes listed here. The only precaution: do not travel alone, as most of these attractions are located in rather poor or dilapidated locations.



Isfahan Historical Sites THE SAFAVID ROYAL CITY

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By: H.Shams

Naghsh-e Jahan Square and Imam mosque
Naghsh-e Jahan Square

The center of Isfahan during the Seljuq period was the Friday Mosque and the Meidan-e Kuhneh, to the north of the present Royal Square. In 1598, Shah Abbas decided to shift this center-according to some, in order to annoy a rich merchant who was reluctant to part with his property-and turned to the Naqsh-e Jahan (Image of the World), a vast palatial park designed by Shah Tahmasp (1524-1576).T he palace in the park was enlarged to become the Ali Qapu Palace, and additional buildings were erected in other areas of the park. Between 1589 and 1606, work began on the square itself and on the buildings around it, as well as on a large avenue called Chahar Bagh which was to link the square to the river. The Allah-Verdi Khan Bridge at the end of this avenue also dates to this period. Work was interrupted for a few years and only started again in 1612 with the construction of the Imam Mosque. At this time, the finishing touches were added to the other monuments around the Royal Square. Today, a large part of the gardens, pavilions, and palaces from this early Safavid period have disappeared, in particular along the banks of the Zayandeh-Rud.

Safavid Capitals



Isfahan Food

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Isfahan cuisine
Esfahan in Central Iran is home to dishes and delicacies such as:


A casserole with a thickly tart sauce containing the two base ingredients: pomegranate purée and ground walnut. It cooked with either chicken, duck, lamb or beef and served with rice.



 The name given to Persian nougat using the sap collected from angebin, a plant from the Tamarisk family found only on the outskirts of Esfahan. It is mixed with various ingredients including rose water, pistachio and almond kernels and saffron.



Honey Toffee

 A brittle toffee made from honey and butter, flavoured with cardamom and saffron, and coated with slivered almond and pistachio kernels.



Yogurt Stew

 Unlike other stews it is not served as a main dish and with rice; since it is more of a sweet pudding it is usually served as a side dish or dessert. The dish is made with yogurt, lamb/mutton or chicken, saffron, sugar and orange peels. Iranians either soak the orange peels in water for one week or longer or boil them for few minutes so the orange peels become sweet and ready for use. This dish often accompanies celebrations and weddings. This dish differs from the Shirazi dish with the same name.



This dish is made of mutton or lamb which is ground/minced and then cooked on one side in a special small pan over open fire. Berian is generally eaten with a certain type of bread, known as "nān-e-taftun".


Isfahan Industry and Economy

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Modern Economy of the Province

On the whole Isfahan is an average province within Persia in terms of general economic indices: in the year 2000 the province contained 6.5 percent of the population of the nation, 6.3 percent of its GDP, 6.5 percent of its total household expense, and 6.5 percent of its budget and public expenditure. As elsewhere in Persia, the economic infrastructure of the province remains fairly underdeveloped. Modern highways and railways are limited to the transnational arteries crossing the province. The rural economy remains largely peasant-oriented, utilizing traditional irrigation techniques and rudimentary mechanization. The industrial labor is largely untrained, and higher education has become increasingly superficial and does not provide the basic skills needed for a modern economy.

The distribution of economic activities within the province, with an urbanism of 76 percent, is highly uneven. The oasis of Isfahan, watered by the Zāyandarud, is responsible for nearly half of rural activities, while the other half is spread out across the province. The main disparity, however, is the uneven distribution of modern industries, the bulk of which is located in Isfahan proper in a chain of large agglomerations within a fifty-mile radius of the city. This means that Isfahan ranks as the second most important industrialized region in Iran after Tehran. The only other town of the province with some degree of industrial development is Kāšān. The industries of the city of Isfahan will therefore be treated separately.

 Labor force

In the province of Isfahan, the labor force shows a continuous growth in the last three decades, corresponding to the remarkable increase in population. Between 1971 and 2001 the labor force (i.e., the economically active population ten years of age and older) grew from 540,000 to 1.36 million, while employment rose from 502,000 to 1.17 million, implying that the unemployment rate rose from 7 to 14 percent. The startling unemployment growth after the Revolution is a result of population explosion, compounded by the influx of war refugees from Ḵuzestān , and Afghan immigrants (estimated at between 50,000 and 200,000; see DIASPORA x. AFGHAN REFUGEES IN PERSIA) into the labor market. These developments occurred in spite of a substantial decline in the number of women participating in the work force. In the post-revolutionary decade the women’s share of employment in the province saw a sharp drop from 18.8 to 9.0 percent from 1976-86; it rose, however, in the next ten years to 14.6 percent. This may readily be explained by unfavorable social policies toward women, especially of the first post-revolutionary decade; the ratio of housekeepers (more than 99 percent women) among the inactive population of the province rose 67 percent in 1976-86, compared with a mere 15 percent growth in the next ten-year period. Not as clear is the cause of the decline of women’s share in the rural economy that saw a steady drop from 26.6 to 9.1 percent in 1976-91 .The economic inactivity of women contributed to the sizeable drop in the general economic activity rate of the province, from 45 percent before the Islamic Revolution to an average of 38 percent in the post 1979 period .

Similar to many other provinces, the bulk of the growth in employment has been in the service sector, with an increase from 25.6 percent in 1976 to 42.2 percent in 1986 and further to 46.8 percent in 2002. The service sector employed 591,000 persons in 2000, of which a quarter were active in wholesale, retail, and repair, a fifth in construction, a seventh in transportation and communication, and 2 percent in energy . Despite a slight change in total employment in the agricultural sector, its share in total employment fell from 31.3 percent in 1971 to 12.2 in 2001. Industrial employment declined after the Revolution, before the trend was reversed in the late 1980s. By 2001, however, it constituted 43.0 percent of the total employment, compared with 50.9 in 1976. There was also a marked shift to the public sector in the structure of employment. Public employees constituted 37.3 percent of the working population in 1991, up from 20.0 percent in 1976  and about 4 percent in 1956 . While part of this increase comes from extensive nationalization, much of it is due to the creation of new jobs in the state sector.

In 1996 the district of Isfahan alone constituted 41.0 percent of the total working population of the province, followed by Kāšān, Najafābād, and Ḵomeynišahr with 10.3, 8.0, and 5.6 percent, respectively. The district of Isfahan’s share in the service, industrial, and agricultural sectors of the province was 50.3, 37.3, and 21.7 percent, respectively .

The industrial units and employment in Isfahan province for the workshops with 10 or more employees in 1997 are shown in Table 3. The total of 1,967 such units employing nearly 114,000 workers constitute 14.1 and 13.0 percent of corresponding national figures, respectively, and rank Isfahan the highest after Tehran among all provinces of Persia .The textiles, basic metals, and mineral products each employ more than 10 percent of total industrial employment, and chemicals, food, and machinery industries follow suit in rank. Largest of the units are the two gigantic steel mills , which belong to basic metals industry with an average of 339 employees per unit. The same average was 75 for the textile industry which consists of hundreds of small and medium sized workshops distributed throughout the province and a dozen or so large factories in Isfahan. The overall distribution in terms of number of employees was highly uneven: only 27 units employed more than 500 workers, while over 77 percent of the units had less than 30 employees. The state-owned units were as few as 32, but employed nearly a quarter of the industrial labor force .

Water management

The province of Isfahan falls into the arid and semi-arid zones and like much of the Iranian plateau suffers from shortage of water, the most important limiting factor in its agriculture . The rainfall in the province is half that of the national average and less than one-sixth of the world average . Due to the low rate of precipitation, dry farming is confined to the western highlands for cultivation of wheat and barley.

In areas away from the streams, subterranean waters were utilized through a system of qanāts, but these have been gradually abandoned due to their costly maintenance . In the 1940s power pumps were introduced, and the use of deep and semi-deep wells (30 m and more) as well as pumping from rivers rapidly expanded and gained prevalence. The mechanized wells reach to the rather shallow water tables around the traditional water nuclei, many of which have already been sucked dry; nonetheless, the number of deep and semi-deep wells has been on the rise and by the turn of the century had grown to 6,541 and 14,415, respectively . Diverting water from rivers has been a major source of irrigation in the lower course of the Zāyandarud river .

Zāyandarud is the only major river in the province. It irrigates the traditional districts (boluks) of Čahārmaḥāl, Fereydan, Lenjānāt, Mārbin, Jay, Barzrud, Karāraj, Barāʾān, and Rudašt, before entering the Gāvḵuni lagoon. From Safavid times, the stretch of the river downstream from Lenjān has been regulated by an elaborate system, the details of which are found in a document known as the Shaikh Bahāʾi’s ṭumār, dated 923/1527. Its underlying principles are based on the requirements for cultivation and the varying need for water of crops sown in each district. The river waters were allotted according to three distinct property rules, each was further divided on principles based on district, irrigation channels (mādis), and villages. This system underwent alteration in 1936, owing to the fact that, on government orders, the cultivation of cotton was substituted in the lands watered by the river for the cultivation of rice .These legal principles are still essentially in effect with certain modification .

In order to increase and control the Zāyandarud’s flow, two major projects were carried out in the 20th century through heavy investment by the central government. The first one was the construction of the Kuhrang dam and tunnel system to divert the headwaters of the Kārun into the upper reaches of Zāyandarud, thus stabilizing the water supply of Isfahan and its environs. The first Kuhrang diverting tunnel (2.7 km long), constructed in 1948-53, increased the river water by a third to an average annual 1,250 million m3 . Since then two more tunnels have been dug, and attempts have been made to modernize the agricultural channels. Moreover, a pipeline carries a share of the water surplus as far as Yazd, now benefiting from the water that would otherwise discharge into the Persian Gulf from the Kārun river. The second major project was the construction of a 100 m high, arched concrete dam, named after Shah ʿAbbās the Great, over the Zāyandarud upstream near Čādagān. The dam became operative in 1971. Its reservoir has a capacity of 1.1 km3 and controls water for irrigation of 95,000 hectares of land, particularly those of the downstream districts which receive little water during the summer, when it is most needed.

Moreover, several earthen dams are constructed to aid irrigation. The Golpāyagān dam, the first modern dam in the nation, was built in 1957, with a reservoir capacity of 0.45 km3. Other significant embankment dams are the Ḥanā dam in Semirom and Ḵomirān dam on the Morḡāb near Tirān, west of Isfahan, with 0.45 km3 and 0.06 km3 reservoirs, respectively.


Mountains, barren desert, and desert-steppe that cover the biggest expanse of the province are at best usable only for periodic pasturing. The agriculturally usable land is limited to a twentieth of the total land. The most fertile part of the province is the Zāyandarud valley, with the landscape mostly covered by farms and is still dotted by “pigeon towers” once used for collecting pigeon manure to fertilize melon fields .The agricultural condition of the Isfahan district in the early 1920s is best summed up by Arthur Chester Millspaugh: “The soil is clay and chalk mixed in some section with fine sand. Alfalfa, clover, and maize are cultivated successfully. The climate is favorable for growing mulberry trees and gape. The inhabitants are penurious, credulous and satisfied. Apples, pears, apricots, and peaches are of remarkable size and flavor, and the quinces and melons are the best in Persia. Tobacco and cotton are also important crops. Rice is also produced in some districts” .

Opium was the only cash crop that contributed substantially to the export trade . Much of the commercial activity in the bazaar in the latter half of the 19th century related to the trade of opium which, as the major cash crop, was cultivated in large quantities around Isfahan, with its export paying for the European industrial imports. “Out of a population of approximately eighty thousand, there were at least five thousand who gained all or a large part of their income through the commerce of opium. These included opium-peddlers, brokers, bazaar traders, commission and export merchants, packers, porters, coppersmiths, and the manipulators of the stick and cake opium. If we assume an average of three dependents, which is low, it will be seem that at least a fourth of the entire population of the city was largely dependent on opium trade. The above figures, moreover, do not include the opium-cultivators resident in or near the city” . The fact that the opium sap was used as a means of exchange instead of cash in many businesses demonstrates the significance of opium for the Isfahan economy. When the government centralized the opium trade by taking over its distribution and imposing taxes on revenue from its cultivation in 1923, the fear of loss of jobs prompted a fierce resistance in Isfahan which manifested itself in rioting and turmoil, but the law was ultimately implemented .

Concomitant with the industrial and social development in the 20th century, the agriculture of the province underwent major changes. Industrial crops saw a rapid growth due to Reza Shah’s policy of reducing the country’s dependence on external supplies of basic products. To provide raw material for the emerging textile factories, the government ordered in 1936 the substitution of cotton in lieu of rice in the mid-course of the Zāyandarud (Lambton). After World War II, sesame and sunflower acreage was extended for oilseed, which have steadily replaced ghee as part of the staple diet. The cultivation of sugar beet was introduced on a wide scale and rapidly became a prime cash crop in Isfahan. These increasingly replaced the cultivation of opium, which was eventually banned by law in the 1960s. During this period, the agriculture of the province was rapidly commercialized in order to satisfy the growing demands of the national market, and primarily those of Tehran, the recipient of a large portion of the fruits and vegetables farmed in Isfahan. The 1970s saw a remarkable expansion of acreage thanks to improvement in water management, as noted above. In that decade, Isfahan saw the introduction of agribusiness (mechanized agriculture), with at least nine large projects in the province (U.S. Department of Commerce, pp. 37-41; cf. Anṣāri, p. 115). The trend came to a halt after the Islamic Revolution, when conditions were no longer favorable to large private investments. On the other hand, the government after the Revolution accorded high priority to the development of agriculture by allocating resources in the form of credit concessions and highly subsidized supplies of fertilizers and machinery. Consequently, in the decade following the Islamic Revolution, there was a marked growth in farm produce ( Table 4 and Table 5). The notable rise in the yield of certain crops may have resulted from growing mechanization and the use of fertilizers and pesticides. The trend toward specialization of agriculture has continued in the last three decades and the province now exports to the national market and abroad. Nonetheless, the rural economy has largely remained traditional, with little mechanization. A characteristic of the land holding system in the province has been the prevalence of smallholdings of many scattered plots in its 2,470 villages (SAOE, 2002, chapter 2). The total average holding has not changed significantly since the Land Reform Law of 1962; it was 3.8 and 3.4 ha in 1964 and 1993, respectively. More than half of the cultivators hold only 6.5 percent of the land, with an average holding of less than half hectare.

Of the 10.7 million hectares surface area of the province, some 600,000 ha are arable. In 2002, 535,000 ha of this was under cultivation or fallow, about half of which (263,000 ha) was under cultivation of irrigated annual crops, while orchards occupied 56,000 ha. The total fallow land was 183,000 ha, 85 percent of which was irrigated cropland. Dry farming (rain-fed crops) constitute some 30,000 ha, less than 6 percent of the total farmland, and is limited to western highlands where wheat and barley are cultivated.Cereal grains constitute the most important crops in the province; in the case of irrigated crops, nearly half of the land under cultivation was devoted to wheat, barley, and rice; in the case of dry farming, wheat and barley occupy 87 percent of the cultivated area. The chief orchard fruits are apples, grapes, pomegranates, cherries, apricots, pears, plums, quince, and peaches, and of the nuts almonds, walnuts, and pistachios rank highest in terms of cultivated land. Among natural plants gum tragacanth (katirā) has maintained its high importance.

Animal husbandr

Both the villagers and nomads have traditionally kept livestock. Sheep and goats prevail in most of the province while cattle is raised in the upper Zāyandarud valley. The Baḵtiāri tribesmen still summer in, and exploit the rich pastures of, the western highlands of the province, though they are no longer the main suppliers of meat and dairy to Isfahan, having never fully recovered from the devastation they suffered during Reza Shah’s reign, with the loss of about 60 percent of their livestock .The villagers feed their domestic animals partly on fodder, but they also rely heavily on natural pastures, which have been diminishing through overgrazing. Drought years have also been responsible for the substantial fluctuation in the number of livestock . The expansion of mechanized stockbreeding has been slow and the contemporary proclivity for cattle over sheep has hardly been successful, though selected breeds of cattle have increasingly replaced native ones. As for poultry, the progress is more striking ; scores of mechanized chicken breeding units have been established throughout the province in recent decades. The number of beehives and fish farms has also been growing.


The existence of numerous historical monuments in Isfahan has made the city a focal point for tourism in the country. The tourist industry was put into motion by the establishment in 1962 of the Organization for Attracting Tourism (Sāzmān-e jalb-e sayyāḥān) that began to train guides and publish maps and brochures for Isfahan. Much was done to encourage tourism by building hotels, by improving roads and air services, and by publicity. A major project was the restoration of a Safavid caravanserai and its conversion into the luxury Shah ʿAbbās Hotel .Isfahan flourished as a hub of tourism in the late 1960s and the 1970s, attracting domestic and international tourists.The war with Iraq brought the tourist industry to a virtual halt. Subsequently, the Islamic regime tried hard to revive the tourist industry by investing in the rehabilitation of the riverbed and banks of Zāyandarud and the expansion of the parks along the river as well as improvements in the Royal Square. This has proved effective for domestic tourism, especially during the Persian New Year spring break, when scores of holidaymakers head south from the capital. International tourism, however, has never returned to its pre-revolutionary levels. Foreign sightseers are few, mostly from poorer nations of Asia, despite the fairly inexpensive cost of vacationing in Isfahan. This is not surprising given the limitations imposed by Islamic Law coupled with security and safety concerns for foreign travelers.

The tourist infrastructure of the city and province remains underdeveloped. In 1993 there were 26 hotels and 43 guesthouses (mosāferḵāna) in the Isfahan district, with a total of more than 4,500 beds. Among other districts of the province Kāšān had five inns, Fereydan, Golpāyegān, and Šahreżā had three each, Ardestān, Nāʾin, and Ḵᵛānsār had two each, and Naṭanz had one. In 1996, 279,000 tourists visited Isfahan, of which 7.4 percent came from abroad.

Transportation infrastructure

In spite of Isfahan’s central location in Persia, its transportation system has experienced a slow growth and still requires major improvements. The Trans-Iranian Railway, opened in the 1930s, bypassed the province. It was only in 1974, in conjunction with the freight needs of the steel industry, that a line was built to traverse the province some 750 km, extending eastward to meet the Tehran-Kerman line at Yazd .The only airport of the province is in Isfahan.

The most important highway is the Tehran-Isfahan-Shiraz road that traverses the province longitudinally. Constructed in Reza Shah’s reign, following the Safavid caravan route for part of the way, its widening was delayed until recently; yet it remains largely substandard, notwithstanding its significance as a transport artery in the country. This deficiency is partly compensated by a recently completed highway connecting Kāšān to Isfahan, competing with the old Kāšān-Yazd road that bypasses Isfahan. Roadways also connect the city eastward to Yazd and westward to Lorestān, and through the latter Isfahan is ultimately linked with Ḵuzestān. The projected shortcut highway to the latter province through the high Zagros range, planned some years ago, is yet to be realized. The network of countryside roads has, in contrast, improved in the past decades thanks partly to the post-revolutionary efforts of the Rural Development Corps (Jehād-e sāzandegi). In 2002 the province had 78 km of freeways, 1,528 km of major roads, and 2,776 km of minor roads, totaling 4,482 km, with the remarkable growth of 10.7 percent in just one year (Bank-e Markazi, 2004, p. 67 cf. Sāsān, pp. 180-84). In spite of this, the underdeveloped nature of the province’s transportation infrastructure becomes evident in the number of highway bridges longer than 20 m; they tallied no more than 15 in 2001.

 Energy infrastructure

For most of the 20th century the production and consumption of energy in Isfahan was quite limited. The electric plant founded by ʿAṭāʾ-al-Molk and Mirzā Fatḥ-Allāh Khan Dehdašti in the early 1930s was supplanted by a larger turbine plant in the 1950s, using diesel fuel to generate electricity for lighting buildings and streets of Isfahan. There were also generator units at individual factories of the city and in a few other towns of the province .The fuel needed for these power plants, as well as for heating, transportation, and industrial consumption, was transported by tankers from refineries in Ḵuzestān and Tehran. To these one may add the traditional supply of coal produced from wood, which ultimately led to the destruction of woodlands after centuries of consumption. Villagers also used watermills to generate mechanical energy.

The situation has altered drastically since the 1970s. A hydroelectric power plant, an oil refinery, and several thermal power plants have been put into production and the newly-built heavy industries have become both suppliers and consumers of energy. Networks of oil and natural gas pipelines and electric transmission lines link the city and the province of Isfahan to other energy producing and consuming areas of Iran. Through these networks Isfahan imports crude oil and natural gas from Ḵuzestān and exports petroleum products and electricity to neighboring provinces. More recently the development of nuclear technology has been in progress, but no serious attempt has been made to harness the immense potentials of solar energy and wind power that exist in abundance throughout the province.


The Isfahan refinery was constructed in the second half of the 1970s by a joint venture of Fluor Iran and the German Thyssen Rheinstahl Technik. Initially designed for a daily output of 200,000 barrels , the refinery was expanded in phases, apparently to compensate for the destruction of the Ābādān refinery during the war with Iraq. By 2001 the Isfahan refinery was the largest in the country, producing a quarter of the national output. Its production in 2002 reached 550,000 barrels daily (ca. 20 million m3 annually); it encompasses a wide variety of petroleum products: propane, gasoline, jet fuel, bunker oil, heating oil, diesel oil, lubricants, and asphalt. Only a third of this output is consumed in the province; the surplus is pumped to the Tehran and Tabriz refineries through pipelines. The crude oil comes from Āqājāri in Ḵuzestān via a 435 km pipeline that crosses the Zagros chain at a maximum altitude of 2,700 m. Thus, Isfahan refinery functions as a point of distribution of oil and gasoline for the country and is supplemented by the largest tank farm reserve in Iran

Natural Gas

The consumption of natural gas has been on the rise in recent decades, increasingly replacing petroleum consumption. In 2002 more than 10.2 km3 was burned in the province, of which 71 percent was consumed by the industrial sector. The heavy industries, including steel, oil-refining, petrochemical, cement, as well as the thermoelectric plants now receive more than 90 percent of their fuel as natural gas. Households make up 26 percent of the consumption, and this has prompted a whole new generation of locally made room heaters for the internal market. A network of pipelines, both steel and polyethylene, distribute natural gas to more than 110 towns and villages in the province .


The chief source of electricity production in the province is thermal energy provided by fossil fuel. Two large power plants generate 80 percent of the total output of 19,000 MWhr (2002 figures). Several more thermal power plants are located in the steel mills and other industrial establishments. The hydroelectric generation capacity of the Shah ʿAbbās dam is only 55 MW, i.e. less than 2 percent of the total electricity output of the province. All these sources feed an integrated network that distributes power among the consumers. Electricity consumption has been growing enormously in the recent past; in 2002 some 4,500 MWhr was consumed in the province. Half of this was used by industry while agriculture and household needs consumed less than a quarter each, and the rest went to general public and commercial use. The surplus production is pumped into the nationwide grid through a system of electricity transmitting towers .


Isfahan is known to be the primary location of the national nuclear program. It began in 1975 when Persia signed an agreement with France to build a nuclear research center in Isfahan in conjunction with the University of Isfahan. The program was interrupted by the Revolution and lack of further assistance from the West; but new sources of technical know-how emerged after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. A facility associated with the Center was opened with Chinese assistance in the mid-1980s near Isfahan. As a stepping-stone to achieve nuclear technology, a uranium conversion and enrichment plant has been established in the facility. Additionally, a uranium enrichment facility using gas centrifuges is under construction near Naṭanz.



Isfahan Get in / Around

Written by Super User. Posted in Isfahan All about Isfahan

Get in

By plane

Esfahan International Airport or Esfahan Shahid Beheshti (IATA: IFN) (ICAO: OIFM) was a military air base before the revolution. There are daily flights to Tehran and Mashhad in Iran. There are also flights to Damascus, Dubai and Kuwait and recently Istanbul.

By train

There is a night-train to Tehran and everyday there is a train to Mashhad. There are not yet trains to Shiraz.

By car

Esfahan is well-served by highways. There are automobile routes to capital Tehran, Kashan, Shiraz, Yazd and Ahvaz.
By bus

Esfahan is well connected to most parts of the country by bus . there are buses from Esfahan to Tehran and Tehran to Esfahan every 45 minutes. Also there are a few luxury buses with a so-called "European standard" (very comfortable seats, open mini-bar, etc.). "Royal Safar Iranian" is one of them, and don't forget to buy the 185,000 Rials (~$8) ticket to get the full package.

Get around
By Bus

It is easy to get around Esfahan by bus, and possibly the cheapest way as well. A single journey costs 5000 rial; you can pay the driver directly, or buy multi-journey contactless cards at certain bus stop booths. Note that there are separate men (front) and women (rear) sections on each bus.

From Kaveh Bus Terminal, one can take Bus 91 which runs down Chahar Bagh-e Pa'in St towards the city centre, past Takhti Junction and Imam Hossein Sq.



Written by Super User. Posted in Isfahan All about Isfahan



The province consists of 52 hydrological units belonging to 9 basins and 27 sub-basins.

Esfahan province is located in the center of the Iranian plateau. It occupies an area of more than 100,000 sq. km and stretches for about 540 km from east to west and for 400 km from north to south. Its easternmost town is Khur-Biabanak, westernmost, Fereidun-Shahr, northernmost, Aran, and southernmost, Semirom.

Of two Iranian major mountain chains, Alborz and Zagros, the Zagros rims the Esfahan province in the west and provides it with a ruggedly mountainous and spectacular terrain. The Zagros stretches from the border of Armenia to the Persian Gulf, and then eastward into Baluchestan. As it moves southward, it broadens into a wide band of parallel, alternating mountains. It is drained on the west by streams that cut deep, narrow gorges and water fertile valleys. The land is extremely hard, difficult to access, and populated largely by pastoral nomads. The peaks of the Zagros range between 3,000 and 5,000 m. The highest of them are located in Chahar Mahal-e Bakhtiari and Lorestan provinces, culminating in the Zard-Kuh Peak (4,547 m), and in the Kohkiluyeh va Buyer Ahmad region, where the Dena Peak rises as high as 5,200 m.
The central mountains of Iran are a row of interrupted, rugged peaks stretching from Kashan into Baluchest start in the environs of Kashan and extend into Kerman. Their highest peak is Karkas (3,840 m) near Natanz.
A number of rather low mountains and hills also dot the Esfahan plain, among them the highest point of Esfahan - the Soffeh Mountain (2,240 m), A beautiful park has been laid out on the slopes of this mountain. Two water springs - Dervish and Pachenar (or Takht-e Solei man) - add to the beauty of the site. During the reign of Shah Solei man Safavid, the royal recreational pavilion existed here. Of this, only the round foundation has survived. Unfortunately, nothing has remained of the earlier structures, most of which were ruined at the order of Shah Abbas I. Only some scattered stone masonry indicates the existence of the Seljuk fort that was known as Qale-ye Dezh. On the hill to the west of the Soffeh Mountain, the ruins of the ancient tower called Takht-e Rostam can be seen. Some say that it was the place of the battle of Darius III Achaemenid and Alexander the Great.

Zayande rood and Khajoo Bridge from over
Zayande rood and Khajoo Bridge from over

Two of the most important Iranian rivers take beginning in the Zagros mountains - the only navigable Iranian river Karun and the Zayandeh-Rud (pp126-127), the main river of the central Iranian plateau which waters the fertile plain of Esfahan. There is little water flow in summer when many streams disappear. Water is, however, stored naturally underground, finding its outlet in qanats and being tapped by wells.

Gavkhuni Swamp
Located about 120 km southeast of Esfahan, the site is composed of the Gavkhuni Lake and the marshes of the lower Zayandeh-Rud which extend for some 60 km upstream. The site occupies the area of about 40,000 hectares. The ' lake level is subject to seasonal variation, with floods sometimes extending as far as 5o km upstream in winter and spring. The lower Zayandeh-Rud marshes have formed in the floodplain of the river and are usually inundated in early winter, drying out gradually during the spring. Much of the marshland which once existed in the area has been converted to agricultural use to take advantage of the rich alluvial soil. The site is important for staging and wintering migratory water birds.

Qanats are subterranean aqueducts to which most of Iran owes its very existence. The inhabitants of the Iranian plateau resorted to digging qanats at least 2,000 years ago in order to gain access to underground water supplies. This method, which has endured many centuries and has found its way from Iran to the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and even Mexico, is still in use.
A qanat is tunneled at a great depth below the surface and may stretch for many kilometers. The process of construction is as follows. Experimental shafts are first sunk until a spring is tapped in the higher ground. Then the laborer begins at the other end, where the water is required upon the surface, or at intervening points, and digs a trench or cutting on a very slightly inclined plane, in the direction of the spring. As he goes further and gets deeper underground. circular pits or shafts are opened from above, at regular intervals, by which the excavated soil
is drawn up to the surface and heaped round the mouth of the shaft. In time the subterranean tunnel reaches the spring, the water flows down the nicely calculated slope to its destination.
The cost of the qanats is great and in the past, they were generally made by rich and influential people. The profession of a qanat-digger has always been surrounded by deep respect and some mystery. The qanats need constant care to prevent the endless passages getting choked up with earth.


Maranjab Desert Close to Isfahan-Kashan-Aran-Bidgol
Maranjab Desert Close to Isfahan-Kashan-Aran-Bidgol

On the east, the Esfahan region is bordered by deserts. These deserts are mainly wastelands that once held great lakes. However, over the centuries the lakes dried up, leaving silt and mud, overlaid by a thin layer of crystalline salts. Three types of the desert are distinguishable here: dasht with a firm gravel surface, gradually merging into fertile soil on the hillsides; kavir with a salt-slime, treacherous surface; and lut referring to any dry, uninhabitable desert country. Where fresh water can be held, oases have existed since ancient time, marking the ancient caravan routes. The most remarkable feature of the plateau is a salt waste known as the Dasht-e Kavir (a vast saline desert), and a practically inaccessible ocean of sand known as the Dasht-e Lut (largely a sand and gravel desert and one of the hottest deserts in the world). The northern Dasht-e Kavir, 800 km long and 320 km wide, supports some scrub vegetation.
The southern Dasht-e Lut, 320 kmlong and 160 km wide, is too hostile for life.
Whether they consist of salt marshes or bowls of sand and dust, the Iranian deserts are extremely uninviting. Unlike the Arabian or Sahara deserts, which are haunts of the wandering tribes, the Iranian deserts are practically empty of nomad activity, except on the fringes to which a few herdsmen come in winter.
* The travelers can venture into the desert, provided that they have a stout vehicle (four-wheel drive) and a guide. The best time is between October and December, though the variations in temperature are considerable. One of the most interesting trekking routes is from Aran to Maranjab (pp207-208).

Salt Lake
The Salt Lake is located to the west of Dasht-e Kavir about 60 km from Kashan. Its longest north-south diameter is 55 km and the longest east-west diameter is 57 km. Its approximate total area is 3,100 sq. km. Several minor rivers empty into the lake, among them the Qareh-Chai River, the Sur River, and the Jajrud River. The spot in the northwest where the three rivers empty into the lake is the deepest, forming a permanent lake about 10 sq. km. The rest of the lake surface is dry, being occasionally covered with water in spring. It is divided into hexagons which are formed due to the dryness of clay through evaporation, which eventually cracks and fractures into hexagonal shapes. The lakeshore has no plant coverage. Its soil is a mixture of clay, salt and sand. The land surrounding the lake is almost completely barren, and only scarce shrubs of tamarisk or salt tree sporadically grow. In the south section of the lake is an island about 2 km by 1 km rising at its highest point at about 80 m. It is called the Sargardan (Wanderer) Island.
Several Safavid caravanserais have survived along the lakeshores. They were built on the route that joined Esfahan with the Farah Abad complex of palaces in Mazanderan. The most important of them are the caravanserais of Maranjab, Sefidab, and Abbas Abad. Located in the oases mainly watered by the qanats, these caravanserais served as places where travelers could rest and replenish their supplies.

Flora and Fauna

Tulip Flower
Tulip Flower

Topography, altitude, water supply, and soil determine the character of the vegetation of the Esfahan region. The Zagros Mountains are covered with broad-leaved deciduous forests, with oak, elm, maple, hackberry, walnut, and pistachio. Willow, poplar and plane trees grow in the ravines, as do many species of creepers. Thin stands of juniper, almond, barberries, cotoneaster, and wild fruit trees grow on the intermediate dry plateau. Dwarf scrub vegetation (Artemisietea herbaealbae iranica) is common and is very diverse; in non-saline areas, a variant with many thorn-cushions (Artemisietea herbae-albe astragaletosum glaucacanthi) is formed. There are acacia, dwarf palm, camel's thorn, and scattered shrubs. Under extremely arid conditions, a very open variant of the dwarf shrublands appears, he dominant species being sagebrush (Artemesia herba-alba). Groves follow he courses of surface or subterranean vaters. Oases support tamarisk, poplar, late palm, myrtle, oleander, acacia, willow, elm, plum, mulberry trees, and vines. In swamp areas, reeds and grass provide good pasture.
The wildlife of the Esfahan region includes wolves, foxes, jackals, squirrels, mongooses, porcupines, badgers, rabbits and hares, leopards, lynx, and cheetahs (the latter critically endangered). Wild goats, deer, endemic Iranian wild asses, and gazelles also abound. One of the most interesting creatures is the desert fox, which inhabits the driest and hottest adapted to this habitat by becoming entirely nocturnal. Rodents are ubiquitous, and about a hundred varieties of lizard are found. The four-toed or steppe tortoise inhabits areas of Artemisia steppe.
The birdlife of the region is varied, with magpies, blue rollers, bee-eaters, hawks, choughs, blue jays, red grouses, larks, and crows being most common. Flocks of pigeons are to be found everywhere. In spring, the storks nest on the gateways and ruined minarets of some of the towns, and Iranians call them hajji, because they say that they have spent the winter at Mecca, and are, therefore, entitled to the honorable sobriquet of "pilgrims". Among the less common birds are quails, partridges, falcons, vultures, black kites, and golden eagles. The rivers, streams, and swamps harbor ducks, teals, snipes, wild geese, herons and bitterns.
The reptile life is chiefly represented by lizards such as huge warans, which abound in the most desolated desert areas. Snakes (rarely poisonous) are sometimes found in gardens, attracted by the water. Iranians have a superstition that these reptiles are in the habit of guarding hidden treasure.

National Parks and Natural
Protected Zones The Esfahan province has one national park and two large protected areas that have been created to preserve the wildlife of the region.
They are generally closed to the public and can be visited only with an organized tour. Kolah Qazi National Park is situated about 25 km south of Esfahan. It occupies an area of 41,184 hectares and consists of a vast steppe, known as the White Desert, affected by the desert on the east and the Zagros ecosystem on the west. Plant species include almonds, pistachios, wormseed, wild tulip, clary, thyme, amaranth, flixweed, rhubarb, and different astragals. Mountains are home to wild goats (Capra aegagrus), while wild sheep abound the lower hills, and gazelles roam about the plain. There are also leopards, wild rabbits, wolves, hyenas, jackals, wild cats, foxes, hares, and woodmice, as well as partridges, sparrows, quails, wagtails, choughs, pigeons, owls, golden eagles, vultures, buzzards, falcons, and ravens.
Qamishlu Protected Zone, with the area of about 90,000 hectares, is the Iranian historical game reserve. Qamishlu was a favorite hunting place of Zel al-Sultan who built a fortified house there. Qamishlu has an impressive diversity of animal and plant life; there are 152 animal and 344 plant species, including 46 endemic species. Vegetation is generally steppe with astragal and wormseed, accompanied by pistachio, almond, Montpellier maple, rhubarb, primrose, poppy, salvia, camel's thorn, etc. Wild sheep (Ovis orientalis) is an indicator animal species. Other animal species include wild goats, deer, gazelles, partridges, quails, bustards, vultures, and carrion-kites.
Muteh Protected Zone in the northwest of the province covers an area of more than 200,000 hectares. Its vegetation cover consists of mountain almond, bear caper, Persian globe thistle , poppy, saliva, borage, goat's wheat, and different astragals. The area is particularly famous as a habitat of goitred gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa), Other species include wild sheep, wild goats, jackals, wolves, striped hyenas, brown hares, Indian crested porcupines, partridges, quails, magpies, and others.   



Written by Super User. Posted in Isfahan All about Isfahan

 Foreign schools
The presence of European educators in Isfahan dates as far back as the reign of Shah Abbas I, when the Carmelites (q.v.) were permitted to open a school for the education of the children of foreign residents in the city (Pietro Della Valle apud Falsafi, Not until the mid-19th century, however, did Christian missionaries resume their activities in the city. The schools opened in Isfahan by the French Catholics and British Anglicans were often in stiff competition with each other.
French schools.

Shah Abbs I.

 Educational activities by the French began in Qajar Persia through the efforts of a devout Roman Catholic layman, Eugène Boré (1809-78). He successfully established a school in Tabriz in 1839, in competition with the American Protestant missionaries who had already established themselves in northwestern Persia. Having obtained permission to open schools in Persia on the strength of an edict issued in April 1840 by Moḥammad Shah Qajar, Boré opened a school in Isfahan in the same year. To compete with the American missionaries in attracting native students, Boré excluded religious instruction in his school; the four-year curriculum consisted of French, Persian, arithmetic, geography, and philosophy. Of the total of 31 students enrolled in the Isfahan school, five were Muslims and the rest Armenians. Notwithstanding the good reputation Boré had gained and his insistence on a secular curriculum, he encountered severe opposition from the Armenian Church as well as from the ulema, and he was eventually forced to close the school and leave the town. Nevertheless Boré persuaded the French Lazarist Catholics to come to Isfahan
The Lazarists established themselves in Isfahan in the early 1860s. With the support of the prince-governor Masʿud Mirzā Ẓell-al-Solṭān, they founded in 1875 schools for both boys and girls and an infirmary (Nāṭeq, pp. 182, 191-92). These appear to be the predecessors of the boys school L’Etoile du Matin (Setāra-ye ṣobḥ; opened in 1910 by Father Dimuth) and the girls school Rudāba (from 1904), both closing down completely shortly after the start of World War I (Qafāri, p. 155; apud Qāsemi, pp. 533-34). These schools were reopened later, offering a curriculum in both French and Persian. L’Etoile du Matin was an elementary boarding school for boys with about 100 students, and Rudāba was a twelve-grade school for girls, appended by a unisex .
They failed to survive the Islamic revolution of 1979.
Aside from the Lazarists’ activities, a Francophone Jewish School was founded in Isfahan by Alliance Israélite Universelle (q.v.) in 1901. The number of male students, initially 220, grew to 400 in three years, and during the same period 270 girls were studying in a separate school (FRANCE xv. FRENCH SCHOOLS IN PERSIA). The curriculum for boys included Hebrew, religion, French language and literature, history, physical and natural sciences, mathematics, and Persian, while for girls the emphasis was placed on learning about personal hygiene and home making skills. The Alliance encountered opposition from the local rabbis whose role in education had been undermined by the modern schools. To keep a balance, the teaching of religion was entrusted to rabbis (Ringer, pp. 135, 36). Later on, schools run by the ORT and Otser ha-Torah were opened. In 1961, 150 pupils attended Jewish high schools and 897 attended elementary school; other Jewish children attended non-Jewish schools, while there were about 50 Jews at the University of Isfahan .

The chancellor of isfahan university of medical sciences  iums

The chancellor of isfahan university of medical sciences


British schools.
The Church Missionary Society of London (CMS), the most active of all British Anglican missionaries across the Middle East, administered the most successful foreign schools during its presence of more than a century in Isfahan. Competing with their French Catholic and Armenian Orthodox counterparts, the British Anglicans became a close ally of the American Protestant missionaries. An agreement between the CMS and the American Presbyterian mission in 1895 divided the Persian territory into southern and northern halves, preserved for the British and American missionary activities, respectively. Isfahan, though in the center, fell under the influence of the British .
The pursuit of the CMS in Isfahan began in the Armenian quarter of New Julfa in 1862 through the efforts of Reverend Robert Bruce and his wife. On behalf of CMS, he took over the Armenian George Joseph school in Julfa, which absorbed, a year later, another Armenian school named Batavian. Despite the ongoing dispute between the CMS, the Armenian Church and the ulama, by 1875 the CMS school had 135 students of a variety of backgrounds, including Catholics, Armenians and as many as thirty Muslim boys. The prince-governor Ẓell-al-Solṭān lent the school official protection against possible provocations from the clergy and even ordered some of his courtiers to enroll their sons there. A decade later, the Society’s schools for boys and girls altogether had three hundred students. As the number of the missionaries in Isfahan rose to seventeen by the mid-1890s, more schools were established by the Society in Julfa as well as in Jubāra, the city’s Jewish quarter .
After a period of inactivity during World War I, the Society resumed its activity in 1920, when Bishop William Jameson Thompson reopened the Stewart Memorial College with 27 students in Isfahan with boarding option for nonresident students. It soon gained a good reputation and the enrollment grew steadily. Its faculty rose to some 30 members, 20 of them British. The staff taught some 150 students using a curriculum based on the British secondary school system. The British Oil Company and British Royal Bank offered scholarships to those students who agreed to join the Oil Company at the end of the eighth grade. In order to compete with their European counterparts, including the French schools, the college arranged a contract with London University to accept Persian students upon finishing the twelfth grade as MA prospects (Sayfpur, p. 335). The College placed a strong emphasis on physical education, and annual soccer games with the American College of Tehran were held alternately in each town . The CMS also sponsored the Stileman Memorial College for girls in Isfahan; it became Behešt-āyin high school after the nationalization of foreign schools.
Following the governmental decree in 1939 to close foreign schools and to purchase their properties, the Stewart Memorial College was handed over in July 1940 to the government and placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. It eventually became a somewhat mediocre public high school called Adab. The Church Missionary Society itself survived by continuing with its charitable institutions, including a major hospital. Many local and national leaders in various positions were educated in Isfahan College .

University of Isfahan
University of Isfahan

Other foreign schools in Isfahan included a finance school (Madrasa-ye māliya) founded in 1912 by the local Belgian finance advisor. It was later renamed Melliya, and eventually Saʿdi public high school . The joint Perso-German secondary school Deutsch-Persische Gewerbeschule (Madrasa-ye ṣanʿati-e Irān o Ālmān) was founded in Isfahan in 1925, offering a combination of science-oriented secondary education, with German as the first foreign language, and technical apprenticeship in several professions. Several years later, the German pastor Ernst J. Christoffel opened a home for the blind in Isfahan. After a period of inactivity during and after World War II, the school resumed its activity in 1955 and eventually joined the Episcopal Church of Persia in 1972 (GERMANY ix. GERMANS IN PERSIA). It was taken over by the Government after the Islamic Revolution.
Educational reforms.
Apart from the foreign schools, which involved no more than a tiny fraction of Isfahani children, the educational system of the city remained as a whole under the control of the Shiʿite clergy attached to the traditional curricula. The measures taken during the later Qajar period to introduce modern schools and training facilities, including the establishment of a Ministry of Education in 1910, had little impact on Isfahan. It was not until the rise of Reza Shah that drastic reforms of the educational institutions took place. In 1921 the High Council of Education was created to carry out the necessary reforms, based mainly on the French system. In the same year the first modern secondary school in Isfahan was founded by the Qajar prince Ṣārem-al-Dawla. Ten students graduated from it in 1925. Among its faculty were such eminent scholars as Jalāl-al-Din Homāʾi and Aḥmad Ārām. Several more high schools appeared in the Reza Shah period, including two for girls. In the 1930s the government integrated and centralized the educational system and established a national, tuition-free modern school system. These reforms were most effective in loosening and gradually removing the clerical grip on the educational system and promoting secularism, but they also ended the hitherto existing diversity provided by foreign and minority schools By 1937 the number of primary schools in the city of Isfahan had reached 19 for boys and 12 for girls. The state also founded, with German assistance, a technical-vocational institute in 1936 (cf. GERMANY ix. GERMANS IN PERSIA), where young artisans were trained in the areas of metalwork, carpentry, and painting, among others. Three years later it was split into two institutes: Industrial (Honarestān-e sÂanʿati) and Fine arts (Honarhā-ye zibā); the latter was aimed at protecting and revitalizing native industries and crafts and achieved some success in its mission over the years.
In the following decades the Isfahan saw the expansion of the educational system as a result of the allocation of human resources to education. The enrollment in all levels grew substantially and women’s access to education expanded . The percentage of relevant age groups enrolled in primary and secondary schools rose from 12.9 in 1966 to 22.3 in 1986 . The drop in enrollment by the turn of the century is apparently due to the drop in the demography of school-attending age group, a consequence of the deceleration of population growth. The adult-literacy program, introduced first in 1936 (Banani, p. 105), grew slowly until the early 1960s, when the establishment of a literary corps in rural areas proved effective in reducing illiteracy.
shows the literacy rates as percentages of the age group 6 and older; it also bears witness to the gradual tapering of the gender gap. Official statistics claim the literacy rate for the age group 6-39 to have approached 98 percent in 2002 .
Higher education.

University of Technology (IUT)
University of Technology (IUT)

The Junior College of Medicine and Public Health (Āmuzešgāh-e ʿāli-e behdāri) was opened in 1946 (ʿĀbedi, p. 232) and later expanded its program and was integrated into the University of Isfahan in 1950 as College of Medicine (Dāneškada-ye Pezeški). The University expanded to include schools of pharmacy (1954), literature and the humanities (1958), and sciences (1964). It grew rapidly in the 1970s to a full-grown university with an enrolment of 8,000 in the early 1980s. The university embraces seven faculties with thirty departments as well as an evening school. It is located in a vast campus of 4.5 km2 in Hazārjarib at the foot of the Kuh-e Ṣofa.
The other major institute of higher education in the city is the Āryāmehr University of Technology (now Dānešgāh-e Ṣanʿati-e Eṣfahān), founded in the 1970s on a secluded piedmont west of the town (Amin). Its 3,000 students in the early 1980s grew threefold by the mid-1990s (Gozāreš, 1995, p. 86). Moreover, a teacher’s college was opened in 1965, followed by several higher vocational schools both by the state (nursing, accounting, horticulture, food hygiene) and by private investors: Madrasa-ye ʿāli-e Kuroš-e kabir (from 1972) with about one thousand students, granting associate degree in accounting, statistics, surveying, etc.
The post-revolutionary decades saw a boom in higher education, mostly due to the high rate of unemployment, similar in this respect to other developing nations experiencing population explosion. Branches of the semi-private Islamic Open University (Dānešgāh-e Āzād-e Eslāmi; appeared throughout the province, in Nāʾin, Dehāqān (near Šahreżā), Najafābād, Mobāraka, Falāvarjān, Ḵomeynišahr (formerly Sedeh), Ḵᵛorāsgān, and the Majlesi township near Isfahan. In the academic year 2001-02, the total enrollment in the open universities of the province was 60,000, compared with the 67,500 students who enrolled at the higher institutions under the jurisdiction of the ministry of higher education. The respective figures for the next academic year were 66,500 and 72,600, showing an enormous growth, if the data is to be trusted, with females constituting half of the students.
Cultural Affairs
Isfahan is distinguished among Persian cities not only for its size, centrality, position in a riverain plain, and numerous historical monuments, but also for the idiosyncratic characteristic of its inhabitant. Their Persian accent is generally perceived as a provincial accent par excellence, and their characteristics: wittiness, thriftiness, and industry, attested also in historical sources (Jamālzāda, 1974; Borjian, 1993), are often cited in popular media and jokes. The objectivity of these stereotypes, however, has been questioned by some authors (e.g., Mir-ʿAlāʾi). Indeed, the findings of a national survey, conducted in provincial capitals of 28 provinces in 2001 (Wezārat-e ershād) shows no meaningful pattern that would distinguish values and orientations attested by Isfahanis from those of the inhabitants of other Persian cities of comparable size and status. The private and public life in Isfahan is portrayed by two famous writers from the region, Moḥammad-ʿAli Jamalzāda (q.v.) in Sar o tah yak karbās yā Esfahān-nāma, in a traditional setting, and Hušang Golširi (q.v.) in his last novel Jenn-nāma.
The first periodical in Isfahan was the official newspaper Farhang (q.v.; 1879-90), founded on orders from the Qajar prince-governor Ẓell-al-Solṭān. It was followed by about 39 serial titles initiated during the Qajar period; 27 more during the Reza Shah’s reign; and 87 more from 1941-53, of which some 80 percent belonged to the four concluding years alone. No new newspaper was initiated in the ensuing decades. In spite of the impressive quantity, the majority of these newspapers exhibited a lack of professional skills and were a one-man enterprise, which goes some way to explain their short span of publication, their irregular daily appearance, and their inability to maintain even a weekly run. In the mid-1970s there were only four newspapers: Rāh-e nejāt, Mojāhed, Eṣfahān, and Awliāʾ, the most enduring and consistent of which were Eṣfahān, published from 1942-77 by the noted journalist and scholar Amirqoli Amini, and Awliāʾ, run by the Awliāʾ family since 1950. None of these papers, however, could compete with those from the capital, save for their local official advertisements and public statements. Professional journalism never took roots in Isfahan.

Islamic University of Najafabad
Islamic University of Najafabad

More notable were perhaps the literary reviews that have flourished in Isfahan sporadically since the Constitutional Revolution. In the active period of 1933-35 the second series of Dāneškada-ye Eṣfahān (q.v.) was published by the poet and calligrapher Mirzā ʿAbbās Khan Dehkordi Šeydā, and the magazine Bāḵtar (q.v.) published by the influential Sayfpur Fāṭemi family; the editorship of the latter was entrusted to Amirqoli Amini, who then owned the newspaper Aḵgar. These periodicals enjoyed the literary and scholarly advice of Moḥammad-Taqi Bahār (q.v.), who was then living in internal exile in Isfahan (Sayfpur, pp. 771-74). Moḥammad Ṣadr-Hāšemi, an eminent local educator and historian, published Čehelsotun in the early 1950s. Notwithstanding these figures, for most of the 20th century Isfahan suffered a brain drain in favor of the capital city of Tehran, yet remained a hub of traditional Persian literature centered around the literary societies such as Ḥaqāyeq, Adib-e Farahmand, Šeydā, Kamāl Esmāʿil, Ṣāʾeb, Saʿdi, Sarā-ye soḵanvarān (sponsoring the literary review Nāma-ye soḵanvarān-e Sepāhān), and many less-recognized circles that often met in the residences of their founders and sponsors. Linked with these circles were scores of poets of various genres, predominantly traditional and, more exclusively, satirists and humorists (cf. Anṣāri, pp. 368-86), with the poet Mokrem as a famous figure.
A modernist circle was formed in the 1960s and published Jong-e Eṣfahān, eleven issues of which appeared from 1965-81 (Ḥoquqi, p. 439). Among the members of the circle were such prominent writers, poets, and translators as Hušang Golširi Moḥammad Ḥoquqi, Abu’l-Ḥasan Najafi, Żiāʾ Mowaḥḥed, Aḥmad Mirʿalāʾi, Moḥammad Kalbāsi, Aḥmad Golširi, Moḥammad-Reżā Qānunparvar, Jalil Dustḵᵛāh, Moḥammad-Raḥim Oḵowwat, and Majid Naficy. The circle re-emerged in the late 1980s with the quarterly Zendarud.
On the religious side there were Hājia Ḵānom Noṣrat-Bēgom Amin, a leading female mojtahed who wrote a fifteen-volume study of the Koran, and equally prolific Sayyed Moṣleḥ-al-Din Mahdawi with mastery in the genre of necrology (taḏkerat al-qobur “account of the graveyards”).
Isfahan is also known as a center of traditional artists. It has its own school of Persian classical music and its contemporary figures have been the vocalists Ḥosayn Ṭāherzāda and Jalāl Tāj and instrumentalists ʿAli-Akbar Šeydā, Jalil Šahnāz and Ḥasan Kasāʾi. Of many painters of the town, Maḥmud Farščiān has gained international recognition owing to his distinguished style. A whole new generation of miniaturists, calligraphers, tile makers, and other visual artists emerged during the restoration of historical monuments and, as the city grew into a center of tourist attraction, handicrafts flourished. Worth mentioning is also the performing arts, most notably the theatrical comic group led by and named after Arḥām-e Ṣadr (Kušān et al., passim).
The Armenian cultural contribution to the city has been demographically disproportional to this small community of a few thousand. The Vank museum and research library were the only ones of their kind in Isfahan until recent past. Several Armenian residents of the town have gained prominence in painting, music, and cinema. The department of Armenian language and literature at the University of Isfahan, founded by the Gulbenkian Foundation in 1974, is the only center of Armenian studies in the country



Isfahan cuisine

Written by Super User. Posted in Isfahan All about Isfahan

 Restaurants in Isfahan

Shahrzad Restaurant
Shahrzad Restaurant

Restaurants in Isfahan serve both local Iranian cuisine, fast food and international delicasies. Dishes are usually of high quality and prepared of fresh ingredients. Rice is the staple food in Iran cuisine, often served coloured or flavoured. Iranian food is not ususally spicy. Rice is often served with meat or chicken. The most popular Iranain dish is a rice and kebab dish named Chelo Kebab. It is often served with vegetables like onions and tomatoes. Food is very reasonably priced. As alcohol is illegal in Iran it is not served in restaurants in Isfahan.
The most famous traditional dishes in Isfahan are:




The most famouse dish in Isfahan is Beryani which is known in all of Iran as Isfahan food.This dish is made of mutton or lamb which is ground/minced and then cooked on one side in a special small pan over open fire. Berian is generally eaten with a certain type of bread, known as "nān-e-taftun".

Khoresh-e fesenjān
Khoresh-e fesenjān (Persian: خورش فسنجان‎), or simply fesenjān (Persian: فسنجان‎), is a dish in Persian cuisine and Mesopotamian cuisine. It is a thick, tart stew made from pomegranate syrup and ground walnuts (see bazha). It is traditionally made with poultry (duck or chicken); but also variants using balls of ground meat, ghormeh cut lamb, fish, or no meat at all are not unusual. Depending on the cooking method, it can have sweet or sour taste. It is served with Persian white or yellow rice (called polo or chelo).
•    1 to 2 large yellow onions, chopped, (3 cups)
•    2 Tbps unsalted butter
•    3 Tbsp olive oil
•    5 Tbsp Pomegranate Molasses

Khoresh-e fesenjān
Khoresh-e fesenjān

•    1/2 pound walnut halves (about 2 cups)
•    2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts
•    2 cups chicken stock
•    2 Tbsp plus 2 teaspoons of sugar
•    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
•    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
•    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
•    salt
1. Prepare the chicken by trimming the excess fat and cutting it into bit-size pieces. Pat the pieces dry with a paper towel and sprinkle them with some kosher salt.
2. Toast the walnuts. You can do that one of two ways. You can either spread them out in a single layer in a large skillet, and toast them on medium high heat, stirring frequently until lightly toasted, or you can spread them out in a single layer in a rimmed baking sheet, and toast at 350°F in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. In either case, once toasted, remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, pulse in a food processor or blender until finely ground.
3. In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, pat the chicken pieces dry again and place the chicken pieces in the pan, working in batches if necessary to not crowd the pan, and cook until golden brown on all sides. Sprinkle the chicken with salt while they are cooking.
4. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the chicken from the pan, set aside. Add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Lower the heat to medium low. Add chopped onions to the pan and sauté until translucent, stirring on occasion to release the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
5. Return the chicken pieces to the pan with the onions. Pour 2 cups of chicken stock over the chicken and onions. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
6. Stir in the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, sugar, and spices. Cover and cook on very low heat for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so to prevent the walnuts from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
7. Remove from heat and adjust sugar/salt to taste. At this point the chicken should be fall apart tender.

Khoreshte Gheime
Khoreshte Gheime

     "Beef Yogurt"
•    1/4 lb (113g) Beef Neck
•    5 Tbsp Plain Yogurt
•    1/4 Tsp Saffron
•    1 Small Onion
•    Turmeric
•    1 Egg Yolk
•    1/2 Cup Sugar

1- Soak the zafran (saffron) in boiling water for 30 minutes.
2- Boil 3-4 Cups of water.


1- Place the beef in a pot. Cut the onion in half and put it in the pot.
2- Add turmeric and pour in boiling water until it covers the beef, cover the pot with a lid.
3- Simmer the pot over low heat for 45 minutes (until beef is fully cooked).
4- Shred and mash the beef with a hand blender.
5- Beat the egg yolk in a pot.
6- Add the sugar (1/2 cup) to the pot and stir.
7- Add 5 tbsp of plain yogurt (Add more yogurt if the mixture is still thick) and blend thoroughly until well mixed.
8- Heat the pot over low heat and keep stirring.
9- Continue stirring until the mixture becomes creamy.
10- Add the mashed beef to the pot and continue stirring until well mixed.
11- Add the saffron to the pot and continue stirring until well blended.
12- Leave the mixture at room temperature until it cools down then place it in the refrigerator.
13- Serve cold. Decorate with pistachios and dried barberries.

Gaz (candy)

Gaz (candy)
Gaz (candy)

Gaz is a sweet that originates from the city of Isfahan, located in the central plateau of Iran . Gaz is derived from the juices and stems of a desert plant called angebin which is a member of the Tamarisk family, native to the Zagros Mountains range located to the west of the city. The plant is associated with manna, a food mentioned in the religious texts of the Abrahamic religions. The juice is combined with other ingredients including pistachio or almond kernels, rosewater and egg white.

Typically, Gaz nougats are not individually wrapped, rather they are packed together in a box and dusted with flour to keep the pieces from sticking to one another. They may be cut into bite-sized pieces, but are more often sold in larger sizes.
How It's Made
Traditionally, the juice and stems were collected from the mountains and brought into town where it was put into copper vessels. The raw mixture was then beaten until it reached the desired consistency and fashioned by hand into the desired shape. This process is still carried out in modern day Isfahan.
Once collected from the mountains, the "gaz" (in Persian : گز) of Khunsar is brought into town and placed into very large copper vessels which contain the remaining ingredients of egg white, pistachio or almond kernels, and rose water. The raw mixture is then beaten over heat until it reaches the desired consistency.
Traditionally (and still today) gaz-nougat is handmade and fashioned into individual round pieces of about 2–3 inches in diameter and half an inch in thickness- packed into a wooden box (nowadays cardboard, metal or plastic boxes are used) and covered with plain flour to keep the pieces from sticking to one another. They may be cut into bite-sized pieces, but are more often sold in larger sizes. Gaz in flour is called "gaz-e-ardi"'.
In modern times and with the advent of automated machines capable of mixing, cutting and wrapping individual bite-sized pieces of gaz, production has increased to commercial levels.


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