By S. Omid Arab: Because of its unmatched beauty and historic ambiance, Isfahan is called “Half the World” as dubbed for the first time by French poet Renier who visited this city in the 16th century.
Esfahan, Isfahan or ancient Espadana is and has been the center of the province of Isfahan since 900 years ago. The most famous Persian description of the city of Isfahan is “Esfahan Nesf-e Jahan” which means Isfahan is half of the world, which the Isfahanis coined in the 16th century to express the city’s grandeur.
The history of Isfahan can be traced back to the Paleolithic epoch. During their excavations, archaeologists have succeeded to discover enormous historical artifacts dating back to Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages.
The architectural style implemented in Isfahan’s historical monuments is a combination of eight traditional forms which all together form the foundation in the same way that music was once based on a finite number of notes. These are modulated by the use of colors and textures to leaven the surfaces and are held together in an overall construction similar to that of a sonata in which connection leads to culmination through a transition space.
The bazaars specially the ones in Naqsh-e Jahan Square are so crowded that you can easily have the imagination of its old times. On that time, those riding on horseback used to send their footmen ahead to clear the way because there were hundreds of people on the way.
A noteworthy town in Sassanid times, Isfahan was flourished during the Islamic period and became the capital city of the Safavid kings.
In the 11th century, it was captured by the Seljuk Turks, who made it the capital of their empire. In the early 13th century, it was occupied by Mongols. Tamer Lane conquered the city in 1388 and, after its inhabitants rebelled, slaughtered nearly 70,000 persons in revenge; It is said that he built a
large hill with the skulls of the dead.
Isfahan, chosen and designed capital under Shah Abbas I (1598), was reconstituted with so many new mosques, fine palaces, bridges known as masterpieces of world’s architecture, etc.
The main street, Chaharbagh, runs North-South right through the main part of the city and most of the historical sites are accessible by 10 up to 30 minutes walk if you have chosen any of the hotels located in this street. It should also be said that the Vali-Asr Street in Tehran with its attractive side-road trees is a copy of Chaharbagh Street in Isfahan. Shah Abbas I had ordered his soldiers to raise trees in Chaharbagh Street in order to enjoy their shadow while crossing by carriage. Reza Khan, the first Pahlavid king, also followed the same way enjoying the shadow of trees in Vali-Asr Street.
Naqshe- e Jahan Square is the main tourism attraction of city of Isfahan which has been registered in list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in 1979. Having a large area 510 in 165 meters, Naqsh-e Jahan historical Square is one of the largest squares in Iran which was constructed by order of Shah Abbas the Great, Safavid King, at the beginning of the 17th century, and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-storied arcades which was used for playing Polo during Safavid dynastic era (1501-1736 AD).
Chaharbagh Street built in 1597, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Imam (Shah Abbas) Mosque, Alee Ghapou Palace, Khajou Bridge, Sio-se-pol, the Shaking Minarets, Birds Garden, Flower Garden, Jame Mosque, Vank Cathedral, Chehel Sotoon palace, Hasht Behesht Palace, etc are among the other tourism attraction of Isfahan.
Adapted from: Payvand, Iran tourism