Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Half the World - Isfahan, Iran

Nash-e-Jahan Square
The flight from Shiraz to Isfahan took about 50 minutes. Here we are in the city that retains much of its past glory and was once the capital city of Iran during the Safavid dynasty (16th century). It has a population of about 1.5 million and the third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad. Our schedule in Isfahan was rather tight but with Maryam (Islamic Azad University student) around throughout our stay everything comes pretty easy.

Isfahan is famous for its Islamic architecture, with many beautiful and huge boulevards, covered bridges, monuments, palaces, mosques, and minarets. We visited the famous Si-o-se-Pol Bridge with 33 arches twice in the day and at night and spend hours roaming around the huge Bazaar-E-Borzog in Imam Square. The bazaar stretched kilometers away and it is impossible to see everything in a day. The grandeur scale of monuments and buildings with intricate, dazzling tiles work and designs reflects the richness of the history and culture of the Persian civilization.

The city is described in the famous Persian adage "'Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast" which means Isfahan is half of the world. Indeed, the grand Nagsh-e-Jahan Square (also know as Imam Square and Shah Square) is one of the biggest city squares in the world. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In the late afternoon, the square will be flooded with locals having a picnic and perhaps the biggest picnic I have ever seen all my life!

A section of the Bazaar-e-Borzog
A view from Ali Qapu
Another view from Ali Qapu Palace
Intricate tiles work
From the window of the palace

East entrance of the bazaar

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