The city's splendor began with the reign of the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I (r. 1587-1629), who made Esfahan his capital and built the huge bazaar, which was strategically located on the Silk Road.
Under Abbas, Isfahan enjoyed great prosperity and flourished as a center of art, architecture and commerce (based on carpet, textile and silk production), with a reputation as one of the greatest and most beautiful towns in the whole of Asia
Esfahan is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 kilometers (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.
Today Isfahan, the third largest city in Iran, produces fine carpets, textiles, steel, and handicrafts. Isfahan also has nuclear experimental reactors as well as facilities for producing nuclear fuel (UCF). Isfahan has one of the largest steel-producing facilities in the entire region, as well as facilities for producing special alloys.
The city has an international airport, over 2000 companies work in the area using Isfahan's economic, cultural, and social potentials. Isfahan contains a major oil refinery and a large air force base. HESA, Iran's most advanced aircraft manufacturing plant (where the IR.AN-140 aircraft is made), is located nearby. Isfahan is also becoming an attraction for international investments, like investments in Isfahan City Center, which is the largest shopping mall in Iran and the largest shopping mall with a museum in the world and has the largest indoor amusement park in the middle-east.
Jameh Mosque, the largest in Iran, contains architecture from over 800 years of Persian history.
Bazar-e Bozorg is a huge market several kilometers long, dating from the 16th century.
Imam Square (Naqsh-e Jahan Square or the Meidan) is the jewel in Esfahans crown and contains some of the finest Islamic architecture in the world. Naqsh-e Jahan translates as "pattern of the world" and the square, begun in 1602, formed the centerpiece of Shah Abbas new capital.
The scale is vast and the space is the second largest square in the world behind Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
- Imam Mosque is rightly noted for the beauty of its blue-tiled mosaics and fine Safavid architecture. The huge entrance portal (pictured at the top of this page) is 27m in height and delicately designed with superbly executed
- geometric and floral patterns in mainly blue and yellow colors.
The portal is flanked by two towering turquoise minarets. Within the mosque itself are a number of beautifully decorated iwans (entrance halls) leading to sanctuaries with vaulted ceilings. The main sanctuary with its 36m-high domed ceiling and deep-blue mosaics is an exquisite sight.
- The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on the eastern side of Imam Square was dedicated by Shah Abbas to his father-in-law, Sheikh Lotfollah a noted Islamic scholar from the Lebanon. The tiled dome changes color through the day from pale cream to a pink hue at sunset.
The mosque was built as a place of worship for the women of the Shah's harem and the building is considered the most beautiful of Iran's mosques with beautiful blue and yellow tiling in the inner sanctuary and fine mosaics on the outer portal.
- The Hasht Behesht Palace (Eight Paradises) also endured considerable damage since it was built in the mid-16th century, but the building harmonizes perfectly with its garden setting.
- The Madrasey-ye Chahar Bagh is a religious school, dating from the early 18th century,
- The historic River Zayandeh Bridges of Esfahan are another of the city's great attractions. There are 11 bridges in total spanning the river and six of them of historic interest. Some distance to the east from the central heart of the city is the oldest bridge - the Shahrestan Bridge with much of the structure dating from the 12th century.
3km to the west, the Khaju Bridge built in the mid-17th century by Shah Abbas also serves as a dam of the river. Moving west again is the 150m, 21 arch Chubi Bridge built to irrigate royal gardens close by. The next historic bridge is the almost 300m, 33-arch Si-o-Seh, which also serves as a dam for irrigation purposes and was built by a general of Shah Abbas.
Isfahan Handicrafts include:
- Hand woven carpet
- Minakari ( The Art of Enamel Work )
- Khātam (Inlaid Work )
- Engraving (Qalam-Zani)
- Isfahan Calligraphy
- Tile Work
- Isfahan miniature
Area: 106,179 km²
Elevation: 1,590 m
Weather: 19°C, Wind NW at 14 km/h, 32% Humidity
Getting there: 50 min flight. View flights
Population: 1.756 million (2011) UN data
Local time: Saturday 8:43 AM
Number of airports: 1
Time Zone: GMT – 2.5
Electricity: 220v, 60 Hz throughout the country (same type used in France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Turkey)
Country Dialing Code: +98
Area Code: Esfahan 031 (when dialing from overseas remove the zero)
Religion: Muslim, Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian
Useful Telephone Number:
Currency: Rials (Exchange Rate)