Impressions of Iran, Part 3 (Isfahan)#by H. Maurer
Introduction#This report can be see as continuation of the trip described in Impressions of Iran, Part 1 and Impressions of Iran, Part 2 or as independent report on the famous city Isfahan. The larger part of the city of about 2 million is north of a major river, the Zayandehrud, but our visit starts with the Armenian church in the Djolfa-area south-west of the river. The bridges crossing the river are long and lit, hence are one of the big attractions at night. The city boasts one of the largest squares of the world, the Meydan-e Iman, with the Palace Ali Qapu on the western long side of the rectangular area, just opposite the private mosque Sheik Lottfollah, and with a good view towards the encredible assembly of the Masdjid-e Iman mosques (at the south end; shown as Naghsh-e Jahan in the map). However, there are many more attractions like the large complex of the Friday mosque (Jame-Moqsque), the Chehelstoon Palace and garden, the huge bazar, and more. The map below can be used to discover some of the above by zooming and moving it around.
The Armenian church#Around 1600 many Armenians moved into Isfahan since ther was quite a need for skilled labor. Some 30.000 settled. This Christian community is still quite alive today.
Friday mosque (Masjed-e Jame mosque)#Located at the north end of the bazar it has a huge inner courtyard, surrounded by mosques, medreses (schools of Islam) and other buildings. The medrese on one side was hit by bombs in the Iran- Iraque war and has not been restored, possible on purpose so Iranians do not forget that Iraq is an enemy. The other buildings around the big inner courtyars are intct and beautiful.
Meydan-e Iman: Main square and buildings around it#
Ali Qapu Palace#The name means somethin like "imperila" or "great". It is forty-eight meters high and there are six floors, each accessible by a difficult spiral staircase. It was built by order of Shah Abbas I in the early seventeenth century.
Masdjid-e Iman mosque#This mosque (called Shah mosque before the Islamic revolution) was built by and during the reign of Shah Abbas I ("The Great") starting in 1612. It is located in a large walled area, sorrounding mosque and gardens. What makes it very unusual is that the large "outer" iwan (entrance) aligned with the square with two minaretes, but then ones turns a corner to reach the mosque proper which is, at it must, facing towards Mekka. This is clearly recognizable in the first picture below.
Sheik Lotfollah mosque#This was a privat mosque opposite the palace. What makes it unusual is the ceilign of the main hall, soemn unusaul decoration and that ithas a large simpe prayer room one floor down, bascially for women form the palace, with an undergroudn tunnel connecting the two buildings
Chehelsotoon Palace and garden #The construction of palace and garden started a bit before 1600. The arrangement is dominated by a large pool, reflecting the 20 columns of the reception hall: this is reportedly the reason for the term "Hall of 40 columns". The hall and large room behind it plus some smaller side areas were used for ceremonial receptions and festivities.
The bridges of Isfahan during night#Half of Isfahan seems to be walking on or near the lit-up bridges, quite ready to chat with you, or take a rowing boat out into the river to enjoy the view of lights and the ripple of waves.
- Continue to Impressions of Iran, Part 4 (From Isfahan to Tehran)
- Continue to Impressions of Iran, Part 5 (Tehran)
- Back to Impressions of Iran, Part 1(Schiras and vicinity)
- Back to Impressions of Iran, Part 2(Yazd and Nain)