THE SAFAVID ROYAL CITY
|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.