The absolute majority of the international travelers, who plan a trip to Iran, decide to visit Esfahan and its tourist attractions as a must-see destination in their itineraries. It is really worth a tw0-day stay if not more to explore the beauty of the city and find out why it is known for the breath-taking Persian gardens and Islamic architecture. In terms of buying Iranian handicrafts and souvenirs, this is the best place because of the large variety of available items and the artistic ambiance easily felt everywhere at this city.
General Information about Esfahan
The city is the capital of the central Iranian province by the same name and its altitude is 1573m above sea level. A unique feature of the city that makes it even more attractive is Zayandeh Rud, the 400-km river originating from Zagros mountains at the west of the city and continues to the flat desert area at the east in an area called Gav Khuny Marshland. The weather is usually very pleasant and moderate. It is not very dry because of the neighboring desert nor humid because of the river going through the city.
With a population of 2,400,000 people, Esfahan is ranked 4th among the most populated cities of Iran producing fine carpets, textile, steel and handicraft. The steel factory at Mobarakeh outside the city, is one of the largest in the region. Also in recent years, Esfahan is producing nuclear fuel in its UCF facilities.
History of Esfahan
A lot of ancient prehistoric artifacts have been discovered in this city dating back to Palaeolithic period. During Elamites, it was known as Ispadana and under Medes, it became of the major towns of Iran. In Achaemenians and Parthians eras, it was part of the empire and later became a more important city under under Sassanians with several military strongholds.
The major flourishing time of Esfahan’s history is under Shah Abbas I, the Safavid king who declared it his capital in 16th century. A lot was done during that era in Esfahan and the city gained a lot of reputation and popularity among the world travelers of its own time. Roads, bridges and caravansaries were built, territorial integrity of Iran was regained and a lot more. Europeans learned about Persia and its arts and began to visit Iran and Esfahan.
In 18th century, Afghanistan, which was part of Persia at that time, went rebellious against the central government and launched an attack against the city. The dynasty was toppled down and the capital was moved from this city a number of times before it was finally moved to Tehran in 1795.
Visit Esfahan Attractions
A visit to the beautiful city of Esfahan could be accomplished by exploring several sights tourist attractions including:
Imam Khomeini Square: Formerly known as Naqsh-e-Jahan Sq (Image of the world), it is a World Heritage Site with all three monuments around it registered in UNESCO’s list. Shah Abbas I, started his royal project of constructing this square and the bazaar as well as the palace and mosques around it in 1612. Visitors to Esfahan love this square and keep coming back there to see and enjoy its beauty.
Imam Khomeini Mosque: Formerly known as Shah Abbas Friday Mosque is one of the monuments built as a part of the royal project ordered by Shah Abbas and situated at the south of the Imam Khomeini Square still being used as a mosque as well as a site for the visitors.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque: It is a private mosque constructed as part of the same royal project at teh eastern side of the square. This mosque is not very large although its domed chamber is a sizable one. What makes it unique is the artistic and architectural styles applied to it.
Aliqapoo Palace: This is a six-storied building constructed by the order of Shah Abbas I, to be his residence and office. It is located on the western side of Imam Khomeini Square.
Chehel Sotun Palace: In mid 17th century, Shah Abbas II ordered a palace to be built for him outside the well-known Imam Square. It has got several columns and huge pool built in form of a mansion in the middle of a Persian Garden.
Hasht Behesht Palace: Built in the second half of 18th century, it is a beautiful palace in the middle of the royal gardens and close to the famous Chahar-Bagh street. The square plan of the building and miniature fresco has given a particular beauty to the building.
Jame Mosque: This is a grand mosque originally built as a fire temple which converted to a mosque later. Throughout the history in several historical eras, a lot of annexations, restorations and redesign has happened at this mosque. The variety of brick works, tile works and mehrab stucco works in this compound are exemplary.
Vank Cathedral: This is a building constructed in mid 17th century in the Armenian district called Jolfa. It includes a few buildings: Chapel, Museums, Library and other structures and monuments. The mural paintings inside are the works of Iranian Armenians of that period who learned the European arts of their time.
Sio-Se-Po (33-Arch Bridge): Built in early17th century, it is still the longest brick-made bridge of city. Every travelers, who visits Esfahan, will certainly go to this bridge to enjoy walking on it to the other bank of the river.
Khaju Bridge: This bridge and water dam was built by Shah Abbas II (mid 17th century) and is considered the finest of its type in the entire province. There are two piers on which people can cross the river on foot and a parlor is erected in the center of it for the royal family to enjoy the scenery of the royal gardens and the river flowing eastward.
Shahrestan Bridge: This is the oldest bridge of the city the original construction of which is said to date back to 14th century. It has been the connecting path from the southern bank to the northern one when travelers arrived in Esfahan and wanted to enter the city.
Joui Bridge: This bridge was built in mid 17th century by Shah Abbas II to irrigate the royal gardens. The aqueduct was made on top of it for this purpose.
Menar Jonban (Shaking Minarets): This monument was originally a mausoleum for a mystic figure of 14th century. Later in Safavid period a couple of minarets were added to the top of it making a unique building that resists against severe tremors. Once one minaret is pushed to be shaken, the other one also begins to shake.
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