Isfahan is famous for it’s magnificent historical monuments, such as Zayandehrood, Chehel Sotoun and Baqsfa; and also it’s various handicrafts and delicious souvenirs such as “Gaz”. This lovely city has always been of interest to domestic and foreign tourists; and during the year it hosts a large number of tours of Isfahan from all over Iran and the world. Si-o-Se Pol (translates as 33 bridges) is one of the most famous sights of Isfahan and also, a symbol of the city; which in this article we decided to fully introduce it to you. So keep up!
This bridge has always been admired by many experts in the world, so much so that Percy Sykes considers it as one of the first class bridges in the world! Also Chardin consider the bridge as a masterpiece of architecture.
We can consider Si-o-Se pol as one of the architectural and historical masterpieces of Iran. The bridge dates back to about 400 years ago and still stands after this period. Si-o-Se pol connects to Revolution Square on one side and to upper Chaharbagh street on the other side. In addition to it’s mesmerizing beauty, the bridge is the longest bridge over Zayandeh rood river. You can see the name of this work in the list of national works of Iran since January 6, 2013 with the registration number 110.
Pietro Delavalle describes this bridges as follows:
There is a bridge over this river, entirely made of brick. The bridge is wider than all the bridges in Rome and it’s length is at least three to four times of those bridges. The architecture of this bridge is done in a strange way and there are arches on both sides of it that people can pass under and above it. What catches their eye the most are the corridors of the bridge, which are almost level; and the whisper of water on the ground floor of the bridge is very pleasant, especially in hot summers.
Si-o-Se pol or Allahverdi Khan Bridge, dates back to the reign of Shah Abbas I Safavid. They built the bridge under the supervision and expense of the famous Safavid commander, Allahverdi Khan; and this is why the bridge is also known by his name. The construction of the bridge was proposed in 1008 AH, in the twelfth year of the reign of Shah Abbas I. And in 1011, Allahverdi Khan was commissioned to complete it. And the architect of Si-o-Se pol was Master Hossein Bana Esfahani, whose son built masterpieces such as the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque.
The bridge had 40 spans at that time. But over time, with the planting of trees and the diversion of water, abandoned some of the spans and only 33 remained.
As we mentioned in the article, the bridge originally had 40 arches and during time 7 of them disturbed; so now it has 33 (Si-o-Se in Persian) arches. But this doesn’t prevent people from making stories about the name of the bridge!
For example, in some of them, they relate the reason for naming the bridge with the number thirty-three to the symbol of Anahita (goddess of water in Iranian myths). On the other hand, people also say that because of the thirty-three letters of the Georgian alphabet (Allahverdi Khan was Georgian), they named it “Si-o-Se pol”. We know that these stories are wrong, but even hearing made up stories about historical monuments is interesting!
The bridge is about 300 meters long and 14 meters wide. And the materials they used to build it are: Stone, brick, mortar and plaster. According to geologists and cultural heritage experts, the foundation of this bridge has been built in a way that increases it’s moisture, durability and strength; and therefore it has not been damaged in the long run.
On both sides of the Si-o-Se pol, there are covered arches that overlook Zayandeh rood river on one side and the middle of the bridge on the other, creating a narrow canopy on both sides of the bridge. The pedestrian bridge has 99 niches with paintings on them; but unfortunately there are no trace of them today.
According to the definitions of Si-o-Se Pol in historical sources, we suppose that it had six crossings in the past; but today there are only two of them existing, one of which has no roof and crosses the bridge; and the other one is actually the space between the central columns of Si-o-Se pol, which is located near the riverbed. But as we mentioned earlier, this bridge had 6 crossings in the past, which here is a list of the names of these passages:
Allahverdi khan bridge have historically been a gathering place for poets, elders, dignitaries, and other people, as well as for various celebrations and ceremonies, some of which include the following:
Si-o-Se pol is still an important place in Isfahan for both tourists and residents. Every day and night you can see people spending time there; and if you are a tourists you have already put this Isfahan attraction in your list! If you visit the monument during special events, such as local celebrations or some events such as Nowruz, you’ll find it so crowded and happy!
Visiting here is free and it is open at any time of the day or night. The most popular activity you can doo around Si-o-Se Pol is swimming and paddling in Zayandeh rood river, when it is full. Also, the area around the bridge is full of cafes, restaurants and residences. So you can count on Si-o-Se pol for a detailed fun.
The main reason for the bridge’s popularity is the safe and friendly atmosphere of it. You can stay here until late and have fun 24/7! Singing on this bridge is one of the usual traditions of Isfahan nights. And when Zayandeh rood river is full of water, everything becomes clearer and more beautiful.
Without the Zayandeh rood river, Si-o-Se pol do not have the former grace. Therefore, the best time to visit the bridge is when the river is full of water and has returned to it’s usual glory. During daylight hours, it is possible to see more details; and at night, Si-o-Se pol have other clean lighting. However, if you are planning to take photos, you can take more diverse and better quality photos during the day.
In the article we mentioned the name “Allahverdi Khan bridge” in addition to the most famous name of the bridge which is Si-o-Se pol. The name Allahverdi khan bridge is the most common name other than Si-o-Se pol; but during the 400 years f it’s existence, the bridge had many names which include the following: