Isfahan ,historically also rendered in English as Ispahan, Sepahan, Esfahan or Hispahan, is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 kilometres (211 miles) south of Tehran. It has a population of 1,755,382 and is Iran’s third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad. The Greater Isfahan Region had a population of 3,793,101 in the 2011 Census, the third most populous metropolitan area in Iran after Tehran and Mashhad.
The cities of Zarrinshahr, Fooladshahr and Najafabad, Se-deh, Shahinshahr, Mobarakeh, Falavarjan and Charmahin all constitute the metropolitan city of Isfahan.
Isfahan is located on the main north–south and east–west routes crossing Iran, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Persian–Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian proverb “Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast” (Isfahan is half of the world).
The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments and is known for the paintings, history and architecture.
Isfahan is an important historical center for different groups of tourists in the domestic and international world. The central historical area in Isfahan is called Seeosepol (the name of a famous bridge).
The Zayande River starts in the Zagros Mountains, flows from west to east through the heart of Isfahan, and dries up in the Gavkhooni wetland.
The bridges over the river include some of the finest architecture in Isfahan. The oldest bridge is the Shahrestan bridge or “Pol-e Shahrestan”, whose foundations was built by the Sasanian Empire (3rd-7th century Sassanid era) and has been repaired during the Seljuk period. Further upstream is the “Pol-e Khaju”, which was built by Shah Abbas II in 1650. It is 123 metres long with 24 arches, and also serves as a sluice gate.
The next bridge is the “Pol-e Chubi”. It was originally built as an aqueduct to supply the palace gardens on the north bank of the river. Further upstream again is the Si-o-Seh Pol or bridge of 33 arches. Built during the rule of Shah Abbas the Great, it linked Isfahan with the Armenian suburb of New Julfa. It is by far the longest bridge in Isfahan at 295 m (967.85 ft).
Other bridges include:
- Pol-e Shahrestan (The Shahrestan bridge)
- Marnan Bridge
- Pol-e Khaju (Khaju Bridge) – 1650.
- Si-o-Seh Pol (The Bridge of 33 Arches) – 1602.
- Pol-e-Joui or Choobi (Joui bridge). – 1665
Churches and cathedrals
- Bedkhem Church – 1627
- St. Georg Church – 17th century
- St. Mary Church – 17th century
- Vank Cathedral – 1664
- Emamzadeh Ahmad
- Emamzadeh Esmaeil, Isfahan
- Emamzadeh Haroun-e-Velayat – 16th century
- Emamzadeh Jafar
- Emamzadeh Shah Zeyd
Gardens and Parks
Mausoleums and Tombs
- Al-Rashid Mausoleum – 12th century
- Baba Ghassem Mausoleum – 14th century
- Mausoleum of Safavid Princes
- Nizam al-Mulk Tomb – 11th century
- Saeb Mausoleum
- Shahshahan mausoleum – 15th century
- Soltan Bakht Agha Mausoleum – 14th century
- Ali minaret – 11th century
- Bagh-e-Ghoushkhane minaret – 14th century
- Chehel Dokhtaran minaret – 12 century
- Dardasht minarets – 14th century
- Darozziafe minarets – 14th century
- Menar Jonban – 14th century
- Sarban minaret
- Agha Nour mosque – 16th century
- Hakim Mosque
- Ilchi mosque
- Jameh Mosque
- Jarchi mosque – 1610
- Lonban mosque
- Maghsoudbeyk mosque – 1601
- Mohammad Jafar Abadei mosque – 1878
- Rahim Khan mosque – 19th century
- Roknolmolk mosque
- Seyyed mosque – 19th century
- Shah Mosque – 1629
- Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque – 1618
- Contemporary Arts Museum Isfahan
- Museum of Decorative Arts
- Natural History Museum of Isfahan – 15th century
- Isfahan City Center Museum
- Chahar Bagh School – early 17th century
- Kassegaran school – 1694
- Madreseye Khajoo
- Nimavar school – 1691
- Sadr school – 19th century
Palaces and caravanserais
- Ali Qapu (The Royal Palace) – early 17th century
- Talar Ashraf (The Palace of Ashraf) – 1650
- Hasht-Behesht (The Palace of Eight Paradises) – 1669
- Chehel Sotoun (The Palace of Forty Columns) – 1647
- Shah Caravanserai
Squares and streets
- Naqsh-e Jahan Square also known as “Shah Square” or “Imam Square” – 1602.
- Meydan Kohne (Old Square)
- Chaharbagh Boulevard – 1596.
- Chaharbagh-e-khajou Boulevard
- Atashgah – a Zoroastrian fire temple.
- Jarchi hammam
- New Julfa (The Armenian Quarter). – 1606
- The Bathhouse of Bahāʾ al-dīn al-ʿĀmilī.
- Pigeon Towers – 17th century.
- Takht-e Foulad
- Isfahan City Center