THE BAZAAR AND OLD QUARTERS TO THE NORTH OF THE ROYAL SQUARE
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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