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Isfahan Attractions

Isfahan Attractions are everywhere throughout the city.

The city has a population of about two million. It is located at the altitude of 1500m, at the very heart of Iran. For centuries it has been the center of Iran’s scientific and cultural life.

The city is special in every aspect and is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.  Navigating the chaos of the traffic and crowds of Tehran, I longingly remembered Esfahan, its shadowy streets, the river, and numerous bridges. The parks that surround the river and the downtown palaces are places were citizens like to hang out until late into the night. The illuminated bridges and mown grass seem to invite you to relax after a hot and hectic day.

Having established the city in the 16th century, the Safavid dynasty gave it its spirit. Until then, it was two cities in a desert oasis. The Safavid capital was at its height during Shah Abbas the Great (1588-1629). It was then, and still remains, the most beautiful city of Persia. The main square is one of the largest in the world, second largest as they say. Naqsh-e Jahan (Image of the World), now Imam Square, stretches over an area of 525 by 162 meters. Seven times larger than St. Mark’s Square in Venice. In the old days it was used for New Year’s celebrations, which at the time took place on March 21, as well as for fairs and games of polo.

From all sides, the square is surrounded by arched arcades that are home to a bazaar. The square is dominated by the mosque of Shah Abbas on the south. They call it the Royal Mosque. On the west side is Abbas’ palace – Ali Qapu, famous for the musical room on the upper floor. The lovely mosque of Abbas’ father-in-law Lotfallah is on the east. The northern side holds the entrance to the bazaar, one of the largest in the Middle East.

The bridges across the Zayandeh Rud river are particularly attractive. The old ones are pedestrian, if you disregard the local city slickers who like to sneak in their motorcycles. The famous Si-o-se Pol, Khajoo and Joui are shining examples of Safavid architecture.

The Royal Bridge, 137 meters long, is known locally as the bridge of encounters.  Since antiquity it has been a place where people of different nations and religions meet. It brings together people and couples. You should see it in the day, but especially at night with its lovely illumination. On the bridge and around it many gather for some sort of picnics and leisurely strolls after the nightfall.

Esfahan, Isfahan, Sepahan, Spadana or, as Naqsh-e Jahan has been nicknamed – “Half the World”, is a city you should definitely see. I have never seen anything like it and it’s been a very long time since a city has so enchanted me with its beauty that I want to go back.

From Europe there are several flights a day. The one that seems to be the best connection is the five hour flight with Austrian Airlines that we took on our way back. We entered Iran in Tehran, which is some 370 km away, or about a 6-hour drive mostly through the desert. It’s about the same distance to Shiraz on the south. The airfare for domestic flights is cheap, about 50 euros. In addition to Iran Air, there are several Airways and all of the planes I’d seen on the airports were new Airbuses 319 and 320. For Iranian cities, I would recommend public transport or taxis, although the best solution of course is your own car with a driver because the traffic is totally chaotic, with few rules. Drivers do not stop in front of pedestrian crossings, so be careful.

Esfahan Attractions by Vlado Sestan

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