Isfahan, the third populated city of Iran, located in the center of the country.
The city is full of historical monuments, many of them patented as UNESCO heritages.
Isfahan is full of ancient buildings, beautiful mosques and minarets and covered bridges like “si-o-se-pol” and maybe that’s why it is called “Half of the world“.
There is no certain evidence about the formation of the city, but stories and myths attribute it to Key Kawad, mythological figure of Iranian folklore and oral tradition.
Because of the existence of “Zayandeh Rud” in the city and good regional conditions, we can see signs of humans choosing this place a residence fro 6000 years ago.
Before Islam, and specially during Sassanid dynasty, the city was a place for troops to prepare themselves, the city was named “ESPAHAN” because of this reason and it changed to “Isfahan” during time.
Isfahan was chosen as the capital of Iran by Shāh Abbās I in 16th century. Keeping the center of power from borders, Reducing the power of Qizilbash tribes and improving trade were the main reasons of the king for transferring capital from Qazvin to Isfahan.
Isfahan was the best city among all eastern cities, during Shāh Abbās I and Shāh Abbās II‘s monarchy.
We can call Safavid dynasty the flourishing era of architecture of Isfahan. There were some new parts added to the city by the order of Shāh Abbās. Chaarbagh street, Naghsh-e Jahan square and Ali Qapu building all were built with making a little change to the old parts of the town.
Safavid architecture was very miscellaneous and efficient.
The most glorious mosques, biggest schools and caravanserais, huge squares and the most beautiful streets and bridges were built in this dynasty.
The most important architectural compelx left from the Safavid period and it is one the most complete squares in terms of geometric proportions.
Nagh-e Jahan is also known as “polo square” because people used to play polo in the square. The oldest polo goals were located here.
some parts of “Naqare Khaneh” building disturbed during Qajar dynasty because the lack of attention.
Buildings around the square are:
There was a garden called “Naghsh-e Jahan” that was disturbed during the building process and the materials were used in the square, so they called it Naghsh-e Jahan in the memory of the garden.
In my opinion, Naghsh-e Jahan is the most beautiful square in the world, I remember, over 50,000 lights were lighted when it was a celebration.“Jean Chardin”
The main entrance of Isfahan’s bazaar named after Qeysarieh city, because the structure was similar to a building in the city. The bazaar includes four other gates and a pond which was used as a small yard during some years in the past.
The gate was originally built in three floors but the third floor, “Naqareh khaneh” was disturbed during Qajar dynasty. The use of “Naqareh khaneh” was announcing different hours of the day with music.
Dir Hurmoz’s bell and Portugal castle’s clock was brought to the city after the conquering the island and was set on the top of the gate. You can also see spectacular paintings by Reza Abbasi, on the top of the gate.
Sheykh Lotfollah mosque, named after the shiaa theologian, Lotfollah Hebli Ameli. The mosque was Shāh Abbās’s personal mosque and it was built for use of royal women of the family.
The main difference between Sheykh Lotfollah mosque and other mosques in Iran is that this mosque doesn’t have a yard, minaret or iwan.
You can see introspection along the corridor-entrance of the mosque which wants to say all the prayers have to enter the shabistan from the back of mihrab entrance. There was a tunnel under Naghsh-e Jahan square from Ali Qapu building to the mosque to prevent woman from being seen by other men.
There is a epigraph on the top of the gate, written by Alireza Abbasi in Sols. There is also two another epigraphs in the mosque, under the dome written with white color on azure tiles.
The first one with the content of how the religious leader, Muhammad explained the formalities of entering to a mosque and the second includes all the signs of Jom’eh and Nasr Surahs.
The inner part of the dome is decorated with Toranj motifs on blue background and the outer surface is decorated with blue and white arabesque on ecru color.
All the tiles are seven colored or mosaic and we can see mogharnas and mosaic tiles in mihrab.
We can say Sheykh Lotfollah mosque, is a balance between a world of enthusiasm and passion with a flourishing silence and peace.
Ali Qapu, masterpiece of nonreligious architecture of Isfahani style, also known as Naghsh-e Jahan’s State house.
The word “Ali Qapu” has changed from “Ala Qapu” during time, Ala Qapu is a Turkish word means light brown door, which we can say the building got the name of it’s door which belongs to Timurid era.
The big iwan of the construction was built in order that the king can sit in and watch Chowgan (polo). Shah Abbas celebrated Nowruz for the first time here.
Ali Qapu was built in 6 floors (including the ground floor), gradually in 5 stages, and this is the reason that the building gives you a different view from each side. It seems to be a 2 floor building when you look at it from the front, 3 floors from the sides and 5 floor from back!
The most famous floor is the last floor, musicians hall, embellished with beautiful stuccos called “Tong Bori“. The use of the stucco was to give an acoustic use to the room and reflect the sound of instruments.
Ali Qapu is also famous for it’s spectacular miniatures painted by famous artist Reza Abbasi on the walls and ceiling.
Abbasi mosque (Shah mosque – Imam mosque), the most important historical mosque in Isfahan, built by Ali Akbar Isfahani. It was built with a plan so close to a four porch mosque. Shah mosque includes two sabistans, one in the east side of the yard which is bigger but with less embellishment and the other in the west side of the yard, smaller but with a magnificent mihrab and decorated with seven colored tile. on the both sides of shabistan you can see two schools in the name of “Naseri” and “Suleymani“.
The entrance of the mosque in completely towards south, but because the mihrab had to be built in the direction of kiblah, there is a circle auricle to the yard. When the auricle is finished you are in front of the magnificent tall vault of the northern iwan.
Shah Abbasi mosque is the embody of the peak of thousand years of mosque construction in Iran.
The dome of the mosque is 52 m tall and built on a steam and it is one of the most perfect Nar two discrete shelled domes in Iranian architecture history.
“Sangab” is a big stone container placed in mosque yards used for ablution or drinking water.
Shah mosque includes seven Sangabs all belong to Safavid era.
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