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Isfahan
Esfahan
Ancient names: Spadana, Spahan, Sepahan, Espahan
Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Isfahan, Iran
Nickname(s): Nesfe Jahan (Half of the world)
Isfahan
Isfahan is located in Iran
Isfahan
Isfahan in Iran
Coordinates: 32°38′N 51°39′E / 32.633°N 51.65°E / 32.633; 51.65
Country  Iran
Province Isfahan
County Isfahan
District Central
Government
 - Mayor Morteza Saqaeian Nejad
Area
 - Total 106,179 km2 (40,995.9 sq mi)
Elevation 1,590 m (5,217 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 1,583,609
 - Population Rank in Iran 3rd
  Population Data from 2006 Census[1]
Time zone IRST (UTC+3:30)
 - Summer (DST) March 21 - September 20 (?) (UTC+4:30)
Website http://www.Isfahan.ir

Isfahan or Esfahan (Persian: اصفهان Esfahān), historically also rendered in English as Ispahan or Hispahan, is located about 340 km south of Tehran and is the capital of Isfahan Province and Iran's third largest city (after Tehran and Mashhad). Isfahan city had a population of 1,583,609 and the Isfahan metropolitan area had a population of 3,430,353 in the 2006 Census, the second most populous metropolitan area in Iran after Tehran.[2]

The cities of Najafabad, Khaneh Esfahan, Khomeini-shahr, Shahin-shahr, Zarrinshahr, Mobarakeh, Falavarjan and Fouladshahr all constitute the metropolitan city of Isfahan.

Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian proverb "'Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast" (Isfahan is half of the world).[3]

The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the biggest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments ranging from the Sassanid to the Safavid dynasties.[citation needed] Remaining Islamic architectural sites were built from 11th to the 19th century, while older, pre-Islamic monuments date back to 1000 B.C.[citation needed]

Contents

History

Chehel Sotoon is a famous tourist attraction.
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Prehistory

The history of Esfahan can be traced back to the Palaeolithic period. In recent discoveries, archeologists have found artifacts dating back to the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages.

Elamite Empire

Ancient Esfahan was part of the Elamite Empire. Under the name of Aspandana, it became one of the principal towns of the Median dynasty. Subsequently the province became part of the Achaemenid Empire. After the liberation of Iran from Macedonian occupation by the Arsacids, it became part of Parthian Empire. Esfahan was the centre and capital city of a large province, which was administered by Arsacid governors. In the Sassanid era, Esfahan was governed by "Espoohrans" or the members of seven noble Iranian families who had important royal positions, and served as the residence of these noble families as well. Moreover, in this period Esfahan was a military centre with strong fortifications.

Islamic Era

Detail of Khaju Bridge.

Esfahan fell temporarily under the rule of Arabs until the Abbasid era, only being attended to by Al-Mansur. In the 10th century, under the Buwayhid Dynasty, Esfahan regained its importance. In the reign of Malik Shah I of the Seljuk dynasty, Esfahan was again selected as capital and commenced another golden age. In this period, Esfahan was one of the most thriving and important cities of the world. The famous Persian philosopher Avicenna lived and taught there in the 11th century.

In 1387, Esfahan surrendered to the Turko-Mongol warlord Timur. Initially treated with relative mercy, the city revolted against Timur's punitive taxes by killing the tax collectors and some of Timur's soldiers. In retribution, Timur ordered the massacre of the city residents and his soldiers killed a reported 70,000 citizens. An eye-witness counted more than 28 towers, each constructed of about 1,500 heads.[4]

As the result of its suitable geographic situation, Esfahan flourished again especially during the Safavid dynasty.

The Golden Age of Esfahan arrived in the 16th century under Shah Abbas the Great (1587–1629), who conquered it and made it the new capital of the Safavid dynasty. During the reign of Shah Abbas I, who unified Persia, Esfahan reached its pinnacle. Esfahan had parks, libraries and mosques that amazed Europeans, who had not seen their like on their continent.

The Persians called Esfahan, Nesf-e-Jahan (half the world), meaning that to see it was to see half the world, and also referring to it as a point where many cultures and nationalities meet and mingled. In its heyday, Esfahan was one of the largest cities, with a population of over half a million;[3] 163 mosques, 48 religious schools, 1801 shops and 263 public baths.

In 1722, following the defeat of the Safavids in the Battle of Gulnabad, Afghans raided Esfahan after a long siege, which left much of the city in ruins. Although the Afghans were a primary cause of Esfahan's decline, it can also be attributed to competition from maritime commerce developed by European merchants from such countries as the Netherlands. Esfahan's wealth originated in its role as a chief waystation along the trans-Asia trade route (such as the Silk Road). Such land trade dwindled as the cheaper sea routes increased in popularity for transporting commodities between Asia and Europe.

Modern age

Today Esfahan, the third largest city in Iran, produces fine carpets, textiles, steel, and handicrafts. Esfahan also has nuclear experimental reactors as well as facilities for producing nuclear fuel (UCF). Esfahan has one of the largest steel-producing facilities in the entire region, as well as facilities for producing special alloys.

At Esfahan uranium is converted into uranium hexafluoride (UF6). In its gaseous form it is spun at high speed in the centrifuges to extract the fissile isotope. Esfahan is Iran's only domestic source of UF6. According to IAEA in 2006, Iran was building hardened bunkers under Esfahan to protect UF6 production.[5]

The cities of Najafabad, Khaneh Esfahan, Khomeini-shahr, Shahin-shahr, Zarrinshahr, Mobarakeh, Fouladshahr and Falavarjan constitute the metropolitan city of Esfahan. The city has an international airport and is in the final stages of constructing its first Metro line.

Over 2000 companies are working in the area using Esfahan's economic, cultural, and social potentials. Esfahan contains a major oil refinery and a large airforce base. HESA, Iran's most advanced aircraft manufacturing plant (where the IR.AN-140 aircraft is made), is located nearby.[6]

Esfahan hosted the International Physics Olympiad in 2007.

Geography and climate

The city is located in the lush plain of the Zayandeh River, at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The city enjoys a temperate climate and regular seasons. No geological obstacles exist within 90 km north of Isfahan, allowing cool northern winds to blow from this direction. Situated at 1,590 metres (5,217 ft) above sea level, Isfahan is still very hot during the summer with maximum typically around 36 °C (97 °F). However, with low humidity and moderate temperatures at night, the climate can be very pleasant. During the winter, days are mild but nights can be very cold and snow is not unknown. However, on the whole Isfahan's climate is extremely dry. Its annual precipitation of 113 millimetres (4.4 in) is only about half that of Tehran or Mashhad and only a quarter that of more exposed Kermanshah.

Isfahan climate:
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. temperature (°C) 8
12
16
22
28
33
37
36
32
25
17
11
Min. temperature (°C) -4
-2
3
8
12
17
19
18
13
8
3
-2
Precipitation
(mm)
15
10
25
15
5
0
0
0
0
3
15
20
Source: [1]

Culture

Architecture and landmarks

View of Ali Qapu Palace.
A carpet shop in Grand Bazaar, Isfahan.
Khaju Bridge.
33 Pol Bridge.
Armenian Vank Cathedral

The architecture of Isfahan is made up of eight traditional forms which taken together form the foundation in the same way that music was once based on a finite number of notes. These are modulated by the use of colors and textures to leaven the surfaces and are held together in an overall construction akin to that of a sonata in which connection leads to culmination through a transition space. To appreciate the skill of the architects and designers fully, it is necessary to have an appreciation of these fundamental concepts, i.e., garden, platform, porch, gateway, dome, arched chamber, and minaret, although in the geometry and architecture of the buildings they are woven together to present a seamless whole. A full discussion of the underlying principles can be found in the paper entitled "The Alchemy of the Mosque", given to a joint meeting of the School of Architecture and the Islamic Society of the University of Manchester in 1997.

Transportation

Airport

Isfahan is served by the Isfahan International Airport which handles domestic flights to Iranian cities and international flights, mostly to regional destinations across middle east and central Asia.

Metro and Inter City Public Transportation

Isfahan metro is under construction and will include 2 lines with 43 km length . The first line of that is planned to be finished by end of 2010 with 21 km length and 20 stations.Until that time expanded bus system with Taxis are handing Isfahan inter city public transportation.

Rail

Isfahan is connected to three major rail lines: Isfahan-Tehran ,Isfahan-Shiraz (Recently opened), Isfahan-Yazd and through this recent one to Bandar Abbas and Zahedan .

Highway

Isfahan internal highway network is heavily under expansion during last decade due always facing to concerns of being dangerous for internationally famous valuable collection of historical buildings. Outside the city Isfahan connected by modern highways to Tehran at 400 km North and Shiraz at about 600 km south as well as all its satellite small cities surrounding the metropolitan in different directions.

Historical sites

Squares and Streets
Palaces
Old schools (Madresse);
Mosques
Caravanserais
  • Shah Carvanserai
Bazaars
Bridges

The Zayande River starts in the Zagros Mountains, flows from west to east through the heart of Isfahan, and dries up in the Kavir desert.

The bridges over the river include some of the nicest architecture in Isfahan. The oldest bridge is the "Pol-e Shahrestan," which was probably built in the 12th century during the Seljuk period. Further upstream is the "Pol-e Khaju," which was built by Shah Abbas II in 1650. It is 123 metres long with 24 arches, and it also serves as a sluice gate. The next bridge is the "Pol-e Jubi". It was originally built as an aqueduct to supply the palace gardens on the north bank of the river. Further upstream again is the Si-o-Seh Pol or bridge of 33 arches. Built during the rule of Shah Abbas the Great, it linked Isfahan with the Armenian suburb of Jolfa. It is by far the longest bridge in Isfahan at 295 m (967.85 ft).

Churches and Cathedrals
Bathhouses (Hammam)
  • Khosro Agha
  • Ali Gholi Agha
  • Khajouha
  • Shahzadeha
  • Bigdeli
  • Sheikh Bahaei
Houses
Other sites
  • Atashgah - a Zoroastrian fire temple.
  • Buqe'h-ye Ibn-Sina (Avicenna's Dome) - 12th Century.
  • The Tombs of Nizam al-Mulk & Malek Shah - 12th & 18th Century.
  • New Julfa (The Armenian Quarter).
  • The Bathhouse of Sheikh Bahai.
  • Pigeon Towers - 17th Century.
  • Manar Jonban, a famous minaret

Art

An old master of hand-printed carpets in Isfahan bazaar.
Hand crafted, hand painted pottery.
Mina
Ghalam Zani
Rug manufacture

Isfahan has long been one of the centers for production of the famous Persian Rug. Weaving in Isfahan flourished in the Safavid era. But when the Afghans invaded Iran, ending the Safavid dynasty, the craft also became stagnant.

Not until 1920s, between two world wars, was weaving again taken seriously by the people of Isfahan. They started to weave Safavid designs and once again became one of the most important nexus of the Iranian rug weaving industry. Esfahani carpets today are among the most wanted in world markets, having many customers in western countries.

Esfahani rugs and carpets usually have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. Rugs and carpets often have very symmetrical and balanced designs. They usually have a single medallion that is surrounded with vines and palmettos and are of excellent quality.

Food

  • Fesenjan - a casserole type dish with a sweet and tart sauce containing the two base ingredients, pomegranate molasses and ground walnuts cooked with chicken, duck, lamb or beef and served with rice.
  • Gaz - the name given to Persian Nougat using the sap collected from angebin, a plant from the tamarisk family found only on the outskirts of Isfahan. It is mixed with various ingredients including rose water, pistachio and almond kernels and saffron.
  • "Khoresht-e mast" (yoghurt stew) is a traditional dish in Isfahan. Unlike other stews despite its name, it is not served as a main dish and with rice; Since it is more of a sweet pudding it is usually served as a side dish or dessert. The dish is made with yogurt, lamb/mutton or chicken, saffron, sugar and orange zest. Iranians either put the orange zest in water for one week or longer or boil them for few minutes so the orange peels become sweet and ready for use. People in Iran make a lot of delicate dishes and jam with fruit rinds. This dish often accompanies celebrations and weddings.
  • Isfahan is famous for its Beryooni. This dish is made of baked mutton & lungs that are minced and then cooked in a special small pan over open fire with a pinch of cinnamon. Beryooni is generally eaten with a certain type of bread, "nan-e taftton". Although it can also be served with other breads.
    See also Biryani.

Famous people

Artists
  • Jalal al din Taj Esfahani,1903-, one of the best vocalists of classical music of Iran
  • Hasan Kasaie,1928-, greatest ney player of Iran (ney is a musical instrument used in Iran's classical music)
  • Jalil Shahnaz, 1921-, greatest Tar player of Iran
  • Freydoon Rassouli, famous artist and Founder of Fusionart movement
  • Master Ahmad Archang famous artist and designer of Isfahan rug patterns
  • Alireza Eftekhari, 1956-, vocalist of popular and classical music
  • Mohammad Esfahani, popular music
  • Moein, 1951-, popular and classical music
  • Hassan Shamaie zade, music composer
Actors & Movie Directors
  • Reza Arhamsadr-, 1923–2008, a famous father of Persian comic cinema and theater, popular actor
  • Nosratolah Vahdat,1925, a famous & popular actor
  • Mohamad Ali Keshvarz-, 1930-, a famous & popular actor
  • Kiumars Poorahmad, 1949-, a famous & popular director
Painters
  • Sumbat Der Kiureghian, 1913–1999, سمبات دِركي وُرقيان, the best Isfahanian Armenian painter
  • Hossein Mosaverolmolki,1889–1969, حسين مصورالملكي, one of the best painters and miniaturists
  • Yervand Nahapetian, 1917-, يرواند نهاپطيان, Isfahanian Armenian painter
  • Freydoon Rassouli, An American painter born and raised in Isfahan
  • Ostad Javad Rostamshirazi, 1919-, Isfahanian painter
  • Mahmuod Farshchian, 1930-, the best miniaturist of Iran
Political figures
Religious figures
Sportspeople
  • Moharram Navidkia, Captain of the Sepahan Football Club
  • Ehsan Haj Safi, youth phenomenon of the Sepahan Football Club
  • Mohamad Moghadam, self proclaimed magician, who became famous in an investigation by Adel Ferdowsipour, and was receiving roughly $90,000 a month by the Sepahan Football Club to put 'curses' on opposing teams.[8]
Writers and poets
  • mohamad ali jamalzadeh,1891–1977, father of story writing of Iran
  • Mokrame Esfahani, anti-superstition poet
  • Hatef Esfahani,1198(died) moral poet
  • Houshang Golshiri, 1938–2000, writer and editor
  • Mirza Abbas Khan Sheida, 1880–1949, poet and publisher
  • Hamid Mosadegh, 1939–1998, poet and lawyer
  • Hassan Safdari, poet and writer
Others

Education

Central Municipal Library of Isfahan.

Aside from the seminaries and religious schools, the major universities of the Isfahan metropolitan area are:

There are also more than 50 Technical and Vocational Training Centers under the administration of Isfahan TVTO which provide non-formal training programs freely throughout the province.[9]

Sports

Isfahan is host of many national and international sport events therefore enjoying good sport facilities such as Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium with 50,000 capacity which second phase is under development to increase capacity to 75,000 spectators. Isfahan has an important derby called as Naqsh e jahan derby. This competition is one of the most popular annual football events in Iran between Sepahan F.C. and Zob Ahan. Isfahan has two football (soccer) clubs that have been title contenders in Iran's Premier Football League. These are:

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Isfahan is twinned with:

Gallery

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ Census (from the Statistical Center of Iran, in Persian.)</
  2. ^ 2006 Census Results (Statistical Center of Iran, Excel file, in Persian.)
  3. ^ a b "Isfahan Is Half The World", Saudi Aramco World, Volume 13, Nr. 1, January 1962
  4. ^ Fisher, W.B.; Jackson, P.; Lockhart, L.; Boyle, J.A. : The Cambridge History of Iran, p. 55.
  5. ^ "Iran - is military action feasible?", The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 25 January 2006
  6. ^ Hesaco.com (from the HESA official company website)
  7. ^ "Isfahan Jame(Congregative) mosque - BackPack - Fotopages.com". Fz-az.fotopages.com. http://fz-az.fotopages.com/?entry=942627&back=http://fz-az.fotopages.com/?page=0jame. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  8. ^ Irannegah.com
  9. ^ Isfahan Technical and Vocational Training Organization
  10. ^ a b Fooladsepahansport.com, (Official website)
  11. ^ Zobahancsc.om, (Official website)
  12. ^ "Barcelona internacional - Ciutats agermanades" (in Spanish). © 2006-2009 Ajuntament de Barcelona. http://w3.bcn.es/XMLServeis/XMLHomeLinkPl/0,4022,229724149_257215678_1,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  13. ^ "Isfahan, Beirut named sister cities". MNA. http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=392389. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  14. ^ "Yerevan Municipality - Sister Cities". © 2005-2009 www.yerevan.am. http://yerevan.am/main.php?lang=3&page_id=194. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  15. ^ "Sister Cities of Istanbul". http://www.greatistanbul.com/sister_cities.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  16. ^ Erdem, Selim Efe (2009-07-01). "İstanbul'a 49 kardeş" (in Turkish). Radikal. http://www.radikal.com.tr/haber.php?haberno=94185. Retrieved 2009-07-26. "49 sister cities in 2003" 
  17. ^ "Saint Petersburg in figures - International and Interregional Ties". Saint Petersburg City Government. http://eng.gov.spb.ru/figures/ities. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 

External links

Governmental websites
Other websites


Isfahan
Esfahan
Ancient names: Spadana, Spahan, Sepahan, Espahan
File:Isfahan Logo.gif
Seal
Nickname(s): Nesfe Jahan (Half of the world)
Isfahan

Isfahan
Isfahan in Iran
Coordinates: 32°38′N 51°39′E / 32.633°N 51.65°E / 32.633; 51.65Coordinates: 32°38′N 51°39′E / 32.633°N 51.65°E / 32.633; 51.65
Country Template:Country data Iran
Province Isfahan
County Isfahan
District Central
Government
 - Mayor Morteza Saqaeian Nejad
Area
 - Total 106,179 km2 (40,995.9 sq mi)
Elevation 1,590 m (5,217 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 1,583,609
 - Population Rank in Iran 3rd
  Population Data from 2006 Census[1]
Time zone IRST (UTC+3:30)
 - Summer (DST) March 21 - September 20 (?) (UTC+4:30)
Website http://www.Isfahan.ir

Isfahan or Esfahan (Persian: اصفهان Esfahān), historically also rendered in English as Ispahan or Hispahan, is located about 340 km south of Tehran and is the capital of Isfahan Province and Iran's second largest city (after Tehran). Isfahan city had a population of 1,583,609 and the Isfahan metropolitan area had a population of 3,430,353 in the 2006 Census, the third most populous metropolitan area in Iran after Tehran.[2]

The cities of Najafabad, Khaneh Esfahan, Khomeini-shahr, Shahin-shahr, Zarrinshahr, Mobarakeh, Falavarjan and Fouladshahr all constitute the metropolitan city of Isfahan.

Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian proverb "'Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast" (Isfahan is half of the world).[3]

The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the biggest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments ranging from the Sassanid to the Safavid dynasties.[citation needed] Remaining Islamic architectural sites were built from 11th to the 19th century, while older, pre-Islamic monuments date back to 1000 B.C.[citation needed]

Contents

History

File:Chehel
Chehel Sotoon is a famous tourist attraction.

Prehistory

The history of Esfahan can be traced back to the Palaeolithic period. In recent discoveries, archeologists have found artifacts dating back to the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages.

Elamite Empire

Ancient Esfahan was part of the Elamite Empire under the name of Aspandana. It later became one of the principal towns of the Median dynasty. Subsequently the province became part of the Achaemenid Empire. After the liberation of Iran from Macedonian occupation by the Arsacids, it became part of Parthian Empire. Esfahan was the centre and capital city of a large province, which was administered by Arsacid governors. In the Sassanid era, Esfahan was governed by "Espoohrans" or the members of seven noble Iranian families who had important royal positions, and served as the residence of these noble families as well. Moreover, in this period Esfahan was a military centre with strong fortifications.

Islamic Era

[[File:|thumb|left|150px|Detail of Khaju Bridge.]] Esfahan fell temporarily under the rule of Arabs until the Abbasid era, only being attended to by Al-Mansur. In the 10th century, under the Buwayhid Dynasty, Esfahan regained its importance. In the reign of Malik Shah I of the Seljuk dynasty, Esfahan was again selected as capital and commenced another golden age. In this period, Esfahan was one of the most thriving and important cities of the world. The famous Persian philosopher Avicenna lived and taught there in the 11th century.

In 1387, Esfahan surrendered to the Turko-Mongol warlord Timur. Initially treated with relative mercy, the city revolted against Timur's punitive taxes by killing the tax collectors and some of Timur's soldiers. In retribution, Timur ordered the massacre of the city residents and his soldiers killed a reported 70,000 citizens. An eye-witness counted more than 28 towers, each constructed of about 1,500 heads.[4]

As the result of its suitable geographic situation, Esfahan flourished again especially during the Safavid dynasty.

The Golden Age of Esfahan arrived in the 16th century under Shah Abbas the Great (1587–1629), who conquered it and made it the new capital of the Safavid dynasty. During the reign of Shah Abbas I, who unified Persia, Esfahan reached its pinnacle. Esfahan had parks, libraries and mosques that amazed Europeans, who had not seen their like on their continent.

The Persians called Esfahan, Nesf-e-Jahan (half the world), meaning that to see it was to see half the world, and also referring to it as a point where many cultures and nationalities meet and mingled. In its heyday, Esfahan was one of the largest cities, with a population of over half a million;[3] 163 mosques, 48 religious schools, 1801 shops and 263 public baths.

In 1722, following the defeat of the Safavids in the Battle of Gulnabad, Afghans raided Esfahan after a long siege, which left much of the city in ruins. Although the Afghans were a primary cause of Esfahan's decline, it can also be attributed to competition from maritime commerce developed by European merchants from such countries as the Netherlands. Esfahan's wealth originated in its role as a chief waystation along the trans-Asia trade route (such as the Silk Road). Such land trade dwindled as the cheaper sea routes increased in popularity for transporting commodities between Asia and Europe.

Modern age

Today Esfahan, the third largest city in Iran, produces fine carpets, textiles, steel, and handicrafts. Esfahan also has nuclear experimental reactors as well as facilities for producing nuclear fuel (UCF). Esfahan has one of the largest steel-producing facilities in the entire region, as well as facilities for producing special alloys.

At Esfahan uranium is converted into uranium hexafluoride (UF6). In its gaseous form it is spun at high speed in the centrifuges to extract the fissile isotope. Esfahan is Iran's only domestic source of UF6. According to IAEA in 2006, Iran was building hardened bunkers under Esfahan to protect UF6 production.[5]

The cities of Najafabad, Khaneh Esfahan, Khomeini-shahr, Shahin-shahr, Zarrinshahr, Mobarakeh, Qomshe(Shahreza) , Kashan, Fouladshahr and Falavarjan constitute the metropolitan city of Esfahan. The city has an international airport and is in the final stages of constructing its first Metro line.

Over 2000 companies are working in the area using Esfahan's economic, cultural, and social potentials. Esfahan contains a major oil refinery and a large airforce base. HESA, Iran's most advanced aircraft manufacturing plant (where the IR.AN-140 aircraft is made), is located nearby.[6]

Esfahan hosted the International Physics Olympiad in 2007.

Geography and climate

The city is located in the lush plain of the Zayandeh River, at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The city enjoys a temperate climate and regular seasons. No geological obstacles exist within 90 km north of Isfahan, allowing cool northern winds to blow from this direction. Situated at 1,590 metres (5,217 ft) above sea level, Isfahan is still very hot during the summer with maximum typically around

  1. REDIRECT Template:Convert/°C. However, with low humidity and moderate temperatures at night, the climate can be very pleasant. During the winter, days are mild but nights can be very cold and snow is not unknown. However, on the whole Isfahan's climate is extremely dry. Its annual precipitation of 113 millimetres (4.4 in) is only about half that of Tehran or Mashhad and only a quarter that of more exposed Kermanshah.
Isfahan climate:
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. temperature (°C) 8
12
16
22
28
33
37
36
32
25
17
11
Min. temperature (°C) -4
-2
3
8
12
17
19
18
13
8
3
-2
Precipitation
(mm)
15
10
25
15
5
0
0
0
0
3
15
20
Source: [1]

[[File:|thumb|230px|View of Ali Qapu Palace.]]

File:Khaju Bridje at
Khaju Bridge.
File:33
33 Pol Bridge.

Main sights

Mosques

Palaces and caravanserais

[[File:|thumb]]

Old schools (madresse)

[[File:|thumb]]

Churches and cathedrals

Squares and streets

Bazaars

Bridges

The Zayande River starts in the Zagros Mountains, flows from west to east through the heart of Isfahan, and dries up in the Kavir desert.

The bridges over the river include some of the nicest architecture in Isfahan. The oldest bridge is the "Pol-e Shahrestan," which was probably built in the 12th century during the Seljuk period. Further upstream is the "Pol-e Khaju," which was built by Shah Abbas II in 1650. It is 123 metres long with 24 arches, and it also serves as a sluice gate. The next bridge is the "Pol-e Jubi". It was originally built as an aqueduct to supply the palace gardens on the north bank of the river. Further upstream again is the Si-o-Seh Pol or bridge of 33 arches. Built during the rule of Shah Abbas the Great, it linked Isfahan with the Armenian suburb of Jolfa. It is by far the longest bridge in Isfahan at 295 m (967.85 ft).

Other bridges include:

Bathhouses

  • Khosro Agha
  • Ali Gholi Agha
  • Khajouha
  • Shahzadeha
  • Bigdeli
  • Sheikh Bahaei

Other sites

  • Atashgah - a Zoroastrian fire temple.
  • Buqe'h-ye Ibn-Sina (Avicenna's Dome) - 12th Century.
  • The Tombs of Nizam al-Mulk & Malek Shah - 12th & 18th Century.
  • New Julfa (The Armenian Quarter).
  • The Bathhouse of Sheikh Bahai.
  • Pigeon Towers - 17th Century.
  • Manar Jonban, a famous minaret

Transportation

Airport

Isfahan is served by the Isfahan International Airport which handles domestic flights to Iranian cities and international flights, mostly to regional destinations across middle east and central Asia including Dubai and Damascus.

Metro and Inter City Public Transportation

Isfahan metro is under construction and will include 2 lines with 43 km length . The first line of that is planned to be finished by end of 2010 with 21 km length and 20 stations.Until that time expanded bus system with Taxis are handing Isfahan inter city public transportation.

Rail

Isfahan is connected to three major rail lines: Isfahan-Tehran, Isfahan-Shiraz (Recently opened), Isfahan-Yazd and through this recent one to Bandar Abbas and Zahedan . It will never open

Road transport

Isfahan´s internal highway network is currently under heavy expansion which began during last decade. It´s lengthy construction is due to concerns of possible destruction of valuable historical buildings. Outside the city, Isfahan is connected by modern highways to Tehran which spans a distance of nearly 400 km (248.55 mi) North and to Shiraz at about 200 km (124.27 mi) to the south. The hi-ways also service satellite cities surrounding the metropolitan area.

File:Esfhan market(1).jpg
An old master of hand-printed carpets in Isfahan bazaar.
File:Esfahan Craftsman
Hand crafted, hand painted pottery.

Culture

Rug manufacture

Isfahan has long been one of the centers for production of the famous Persian Rug. Weaving in Isfahan flourished in the Safavid era. But when the Afghans invaded Iran, ending the Safavid dynasty, the craft also became stagnant.

Not until 1920s, between two world wars, was weaving again taken seriously by the people of Isfahan. They started to weave Safavid designs and once again became one of the most important nexus of the Iranian rug weaving industry. Esfahani carpets today are among the most wanted in world markets, having many customers in western countries.

Esfahani rugs and carpets usually have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. Rugs and carpets often have very symmetrical and balanced designs. They usually have a single medallion that is surrounded with vines and palmettos and are of excellent quality.

Food

  • Fesenjan - a casserole type dish with a sweet and tart sauce containing the two base ingredients, pomegranate molasses and ground walnuts cooked with chicken, duck, lamb or beef and served with rice.
  • Gaz - the name given to Persian Nougat using the sap collected from angebin, a plant from the tamarisk family found only on the outskirts of Isfahan. It is mixed with various ingredients including rose water, pistachio and almond kernels and saffron.
  • "Khoresht-e mast" (yoghurt stew) is a traditional dish in Isfahan. Unlike other stews despite its name, it is not served as a main dish and with rice; Since it is more of a sweet pudding it is usually served as a side dish or dessert. The dish is made with yogurt, lamb/mutton or chicken, saffron, sugar and orange zest. Iranians either put the orange zest in water for one week or longer or boil them for few minutes so the orange peels become sweet and ready for use. People in Iran make a lot of delicate dishes and jam with fruit rinds. This dish often accompanies celebrations and weddings.
  • Isfahan is famous for its Beryooni. This dish is made of baked mutton & lungs that are minced and then cooked in a special small pan over open fire with a pinch of cinnamon. Beryooni is generally eaten with a certain type of bread, "nan-e taftton". Although it can also be served with other breads.
    See also Biryani.

Famous people

Artists
  • Jalal al din Taj Esfahani,1903-, famous vocalist of classical music of Iran
  • Hasan Kasaie,1928, distinguished ney player (ney is a musical instrument used in Iran's classical music)
  • Jalil Shahnaz, 1921, notable Tar player of Iran
  • Freydoon Rassouli, famous artist and Founder of Fusionart movement
  • Master Ahmad Archang famous artist and designer of Isfahan rug patterns
  • Alireza Eftekhari, 1956-, vocalist of popular and classical music
  • Mohammad Esfahani, popular music
  • Moein, 1951, popular and classical music
  • Hoshmand Aghili, 1945-, popular and classical music
  • Hassan Shamaie zade, music composer and Singer
  • Leila Forouhar (لیلا فروهر), born in 1957, The Iranian Woman Singer
Actors & Movie Directors
  • Reza Arhamsadr, 1923–2008, a famous father of Persian comic cinema and theater, popular actor
  • Nosratolah Vahdat,1925, a famous & popular actor
  • Mohamad Ali Keshvarz, محمدعلی کشاورز 1930,-, a famous & popular actor
  • Jahangir Forouhar, 1916–1997, جهانگیر فروهر, a famous & popular actor and Father of Leila Forouhar(the Iranian woman singer)
  • Kiumars Poorahmad, 1949-, a famous & popular director
  • Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari, 1956–2001, former princess of Iran also an actress
  • Homayoun Ershadi, 1947-, a Hollywood actor and an architect
Painters
  • Sumbat Der Kiureghian, 1913–1999, سمبات دِر كيوُرغيان, the best Isfahanian Armenian painter
  • Hossein Mosaverolmolki,1889–1969, حسين مصورالملكي, notable painter and miniaturist
  • Yervand Nahapetian, 1917-, يرواند نهاپطيان, Isfahanian Armenian painter
  • Freydoon Rassouli, An American painter born and raised in Isfahan
  • Ostad Javad Rostamshirazi, 1919-, Isfahanian painter
  • Mahmuod Farshchian, 1930-, distinguished miniaturist
  • Sarhang Saram
  • Yasaie Shajanian
Political figures
Religious figures
Sportspeople
  • Mahmoud Yavari, محمود یاوری, Born in 1939, Former Player of Shahine Esfahan and Iran National Team from 1958 until 1970, The Former Coach of Iran National Team and is known as a oldest and the most Active Coach in 2010 Persian Gulf League and Football Federation,He was also retired of Iran Police Department as a Colonel degree, amir ghalenouie calls him as Father of Football of Iran
  • Abdolali Changiz, football star and Famous Player of Perspolis Fc in 1970s
  • Mansour Ebrahim zadeh, Former Player of Sepahan in 1970s and 1980s, He have been Coach of Zobahan FC since 2007
  • Rasoul Korbekandi, Famous Goalkeeper in Iran National Team, current coach of Rah Ahan FC
  • Moharram Navidkia, Captain of the Sepahan Football Club
  • Ehsan Haj Safi, youth phenomenon of the Sepahan Football Club
  • Mohamad Moghadam, self proclaimed magician, who became famous in an investigation by Adel Ferdowsipour, and was receiving roughly $90,000 a month by the Sepahan Football Club to put 'curses' on opposing teams.[8]
Writers and poets
  • Mohammad-Ali Jamālzādeh Esfahani,1892–1997, author
  • Mohammad ALi Mokrame Esfahani, 1886–1966, Liberalist and anti-religion's Superstitions Poet and jurnalist in Sedaye Esfahan Newspaper
  • Khakshir Esfahani, 1883–1956, Poet of Joke and satire
  • Houshang Golshiri, 1938–2000, writer and editor
  • Mirza Abbas Khan Sheida, 1880–1949, poet and publisher
  • Hamid Mosadegh, 1939–1998, poet and lawyer
  • Hassan Safdari, poet and writer
  • Hatefe Esfahani, 1198(died), Persian Moral poet in Afsharye Era
  • Mohsen Pashfelanzadeh, writer of famous poetry book Gorazha Ham Hammam Nakardan
  • Saeb Tabrizi
Others

Education

File:Esfahan Central
Central Municipal Library of Isfahan.

Aside from the seminaries and religious schools, the major universities of the Isfahan metropolitan area are:

There are also more than 50 Technical and Vocational Training Centers under the administration of Isfahan TVTO which provide non-formal training programs freely throughout the province.[9]

Sports

Isfahan is host of many national and international sport events therefore enjoying good sport facilities such as Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium with 50,000 capacity which second phase is under development to increase capacity to 75,000 spectators. Isfahan has an important derby called as Naqsh e jahan derby. This competition is one of the most popular annual football events in Iran between Sepahan F.C. and Zob Ahan. Isfahan has two football (soccer) clubs that have been title contenders in Iran's Premier Football League. These are:

Twin towns — Sister cities

Isfahan is twinned with:

Gallery

See also

Iran portal

References

Notes

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Chehel Sotoon Palace
Chehel Sotoon Palace

Isfahan (Es·fa·han (ĕs'fə-hän') or Is·fa·han (Persian: اصفهان) is a city in central Iran. Located south of Tehran, it is considered by the locals to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. An ancient town and capital of Persia from 1598 to 1722, it was long noted for its fine carpets and silver filigree. Today textile and steel mills take over their place. Its architecture, tree-lined boulevards and relaxed pace make it one of the highlights of Iran's cities. The capital of Isfahan Province, and once the country's capital, the Persians call it "Nesf-e-Jahan", meaning "Half The World".

Understand

The city is 430 km south of Tehran at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The city enjoys a temperate climate and regular seasons. Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran. It is similar to Denver, Colorado in terms of altitude and precipitation.

  • Isfahan International Airport or Esfahan Shahid Beheshti (IATA: IFN) (ICAO: OIFM) was a military air base before the revolution. Now, there are daily flights to Tehran and Mashhad in Iran. There are also flights to Damascus, Dubai and Kuwait.

By train

There are train routes from Tehran and the main cities in Iran.

By car

There are automobile routes from the capital Tehran and from other main cities in Iran as well.

By bus

Isfahan is well connected to most parts of the country by bus . there are buses from Isfahan to Tehran and Tehran to Isfahan every 15 minutes. Also there are a few luxury buses with a so-called "European standard" (very comfortable seats, open mini-bar, etc.). "Royal Safar Iranian" is one of them, and don't forget to buy the 7000 tomans ticket to get the full package.

Get around

By Bus

It is easy to get around Esfahan by bus, and possibly the cheapest way as well. Tickets are sold at IR 500 / trip - you can purchase the tickets on the bus or at the booths at the bus stops. Note that there are separate men (front) and women (rear) sections on the bus.

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
  • Naqsh-e Jahan Square also known as shah square or imam square-1602. With two mosques and the bazaar.
  • Meydan Kohne (Kohne Square)
  • Shahshahan square
  • Chaharbagh Boulevard - 1596.
  • Chaharbagh-e-khajou Boulevard

Mosques

The stunning mosques of Isfahan are among the most beautiful and interesting in the world.

  • Imam Mosque (it was called Shah mosque before Iran's Revolution)
  • Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque
  • Jame Mosque
Ali Qapu Palace
Ali Qapu Palace
  • Ali Qapu (The Royal Palace) - Early 17th Century
  • Talar Ashraf (The Palace of Ashraf) - 1650.
  • Hasht Behesht (The Palace of Eight Paradises) - 1669: Reportedly built for residence purposes of the King's harem
  • Chehel Sotoun (The Palace of forty columns) - 1647: It is called Palace of forty columns, as there are many columns, and in Iranian, 40 means many. Incidentally, there are twenty columns, and these are reflected in the pool in front, which might also account for its name. The function of this palace was for holding religious-national ceremonies and royal festivals and for receiving royal ambassadors and guests.
  • Madreseye Sadr
  • Madreseye Shah (Imam Jafar Sadegh after revolution)
  • Madreseye Khajoo
Khajoo Bridge
Khajoo Bridge
  • Carvanserai Shah
  • Pol-e Shahrestan (The Shahrestan Bridge) - 11th Century.
  • Pol-e Khaju (Khaju Bridge) - 1650.
  • Si-o-Seh Pol (The Bridge of 33 Arches) - 1602.
  • Pol-e-Joui or choobi(Joui bridge)
  • Pol-e-Maarnaan (Maarnaan Bridge)
Vank Cathedral
Vank Cathedral
  • Vank Cathedral - 17th century.
  • Kelisaye maryam (maryam church)
Flowers Garden
Flowers Garden
  • Flowers Garden
  • Birds Garden
  • Atashgah - a Zoroastrian fire temple. This temple is dramatically set atop a rock on the outskirts of Esfahan and provides a commanding view of the city (although much of it is covered in smog). You can take one of the blue buses (ask at the drivers), which will take you there.
  • Buqe'h-ye Ibn-Sina (Avicenna's Dome) - 12th Century.
  • The Tombs of Nizam al-Mulk & Malek Shah - 12th & 18th Century.
  • Jolfa (The Armenian Quarter).
  • The Bathhouse of Sheikh Bahai.
  • Pigeon Towers - 17th Century.
  • The Bathhouse of Ali Gholi Agha
  • Take a walk in any of Esfahan's beautiful and well kept gardens, or go and take a look at the bazaar of Esfahan.
  • Walk along the Zayandehrood river beside the ancient bridges. You see many locals doing this everyday.
  • Get some take out food and go to Naqsh-e Jahan Square for a dinner. You'll find many locals doing this especially on fridays.
  • Shahid Ashrafi Esfahani University - Foreign students may learn Persian here as part of tailor-made courses to suit their needs. Contact: Foreign Student Coordinator Ghaem Blv., Sepahan Shahr, Esfahan, Iran, Po Box: 81798-49999,Tel: 98-311-6502820-28
  • University of Isfahan
  • Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
  • Isfahan University of Technology
  • Malek Ashtar University
  • Sheikh Baha'i University
  • Mohajer Technical College
  • Khorasgaan(Isfahan) Azad University

Work

There is a technology university known as IUT and there are a lot of technology towns like Sheikh bahaee, Jay, Amir Kabir , Oshtorjaan and many others which all are active in industry. Qualified people would like work in these towns or Foolad mobarakeh or Melt Iron companies, both active in the steel industry.

  • Isfahan carpets are world-famous, being the very finest of the Persian carpets. They are also often extremely expensive. Carpets from the nearby town of Nain are similar in style, also well-known, and are expensive too. For those who are interested, it is possible to buy the highly decorative and brightly coloured traditional dress of Isfahan, but such clothing can be expensive, so it's better to haggle for a reasonable price.
  • For a real treasure trove, shop in the famous bazaar.
  • Miniatures These exquisite miniature paintings are painted on camel bone. Most of them are sold framed, and prices start from about IR15,000 upwards. It can be more costly if the artwork is done by a miniature master. Shop and look at various stores before making your decision.

Eat

As with most of Iran, the standard national dish of Chelo kebab is a must. Try the regional variations of this dish in the numerous restaurants in Isfahan. Food is usually of high standard. In some parks in Isfahan, you can simply obtain a carpet and tea from the park warden, and have a picnic on the grass! You will find families gather in these parks, and bring barbecues and cook freshly made kebabs, which smell (and taste) delicious.

Another favorite meal is a beryani which you can eat for lunch .This is a special meal of Isfahan. It has made with sheep meat and lung. Although Iranians love this meal, it is very fatty. Therfore some westerners may dislike Beryani.

If you have the chance, try Fereni (a concoction of flour, water and milk) at Fereni Hafez, which is along Hafez Street near Imam Square. It costs IR3000 for a small bowl or IR5000 for a bigger one.

Drink

Visit one of the tea-houses in the bazaar or under one of the bridges.

  • The Amir Kabir Hotel is a favorite among backpackers. Simple dorm beds are IR10,000. There is internet next door (IR10,000/hour) as well as a laundry service (IR15,000/kg). Rooms are clean and toilets are shared (with hot water showers inclusive)
  • Dibai House, 1 Masjed Ali Alley, Harunie, +98 311 2209787 (, fax: +98 311 2209786), [1]. This is Isfahan's most atmospheric hotel. Dibai House comprises a fully and scrupulously restored 17th-century Safavid historic mansion that nevertheless boasts all modern facilities. Ideally located in the Old Quarter. No smoking indoors. Price includes breakfast, and owner Sufi is extremely helpful with travel information. € 40/60/80 per room/night for single/double/triple rooms. 10% discount for stays longer than a week and for groups of 5 or more.  edit
  • esfahan hotels reservationرزرو هتل اصفهان, [2]
Abbasi Hotel
Abbasi Hotel
  • Abbasi Hotel, [3] was built at the time of king Sultan Hossein of Safavids about 300 years ago. King Soltan Hossein attributed this magnificent complex of building to his mother. That is why; it is called "the school and caravansaray of Madar-shah" (which means king's mother).
  • Kowsar International Hotel [4] overlooks Zayandeh Rood River.
  • Hotel Ali Ghapou is one of the best 4-star hotels in Isfahan.
  • 'Hotel Aseman is another 4-star hotel , with a very beautiful view of Zayande Rood River.

Contact

There are various Internet cafés in Isfahan. The best place which has the fastest connection and also cheapest in the city is the Central Library of Esfahan. It is accessible from Naghshe-Jahan Square by five minutes walk.

Get out

Qom is a holy city a few hundred kilometers away. There is a new built highway to Kashan where you can get there quickly. Shiraz is located south from Isfahan.

Visas & Permits

There is an old consulate of Russia behind the bazzar.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

Isfahan (older form Ispahan), the name of a Persian province and town. The province is situated in the centre of the country, and bounded S. by Fars, E. by Yezd, N. by Kashan, Natanz and Irak, and W. by the Bakhtiari district and Arabistan. It pays a yearly revenue of about ioo,000, and its population exceeds 50o,000. It is divided into twenty-five districts, its capital, the town of Isfahan, forming one of them. These twenty-five districts, some very small and consisting of only a little township and a few hamlets, are Isfahan, Jai, Barkhar, Kahn, Kararaj, Baraan, Rudasht, Marbin, Lenjan, Kerven, Rar, Kiar, Mizdej, Ganduman, Somairam, Jarkuyeh, Ardistan, Kuhpayeh, Najafabad,Komisheh,Chadugan,Varzek,Tokhmaklu, Gurji, Chinarud. Most of these districts are very fertile, and produce great quantities of wheat, barley, rice, cotton, tobacco and opium. Lenjan, west of the city of Isfahan, is the greatest rice-producing district; the finest cotton comes from Jarkuyeh; the best opium and tobacco from the villages in the vicinity of the city.

The town of Isfahan or Ispahan, formerly the capital of Persia, now the capital of the province, is situated on the Zayendeh river in 3 2° 39' N. and 51° 4 o' E.' at an elevation of 5370 ft. Its population, excluding that of the Armenian colony of Julfa on the right or south bank of the river (about 4000), is estimated at 100,000 (73,654, including 5883 Jews, in 1882). The town is divided into thirty-seven mahallehs (parishes) and has 210 mosques and colleges (many half ruined), 84 caravanserais, 150 public baths and 68 flour mills. The water supply is principally from open canals led off from the river and from several streams and canals which come down from the hills in the north-west. The name of the Isfahan river was originally Zendeh (Pahlavi zendek) fad, " the great river "; it was then modernized into Zindeh-rud, " the living river," and is now called Zayendeh rud, " the life-giving river." Its principal source is the Jananeh rud which rises on the eastern slope of the Zardeh Kuh about 90 to loo m. W. of Isfahan. After receiving the Khursang river from Feridan on the north and the Zarin rud from Chaharmahal on the south it is called Zendeh rud. It then waters the Lenjan and Marbin districts, passes Isfahan as Zayendeh-rud and 70 m. farther E. ends in the Gavkhani depression. From its entrance into Lenjan to its end 105 canals are led off from it for purposes of irrigation and 14 bridges cross it (5 at Isfahan). Its volume of water at Isfahan during the spring season has been estimated at 60,000 cub. ft. per second; in autumn the quantity is reduced to onethird, but nearly all of it being then used for feeding the irrigation canals very little is left for the river bed. The town covers about 20 sq. m., but many parts of it are in ruins. The old city walls - a ruined mud curtain - are about 5 m. in circumference.

Of the many fine public buildings constructed by the Sefavis and during the reign of the present dynasty very little remains. There are still standing in fairly good repair the two palaces named respectively Chehel Situn, " the forty pillars," and Hasht Behesht, " the eight paradises," the former constructed by Shah Abbas I. (1587-1629), the latter by Shah Soliman in 1670, and restored and renovated by Fath Ali Shah (1797-1834). They are ornamented with gilding and mirrors in every possible variety of Arabesque decoration, and large and brilliant pictures, representing scenes of Persian history, cover the walls of their principal apartments and have been ascribed in many instances to Italian and Dutch artists who are known to have been in the service of the Sefavis. Attached to these palaces were many other buildings such as the Imaretino built by Amin ed-Dowleh (or Addaula) for Fath Ali Shah, the Imaret i Ashref built by Ashref Khan, the Afghan usurper, the Talar Tavileh, Guldasteh, Sarpushideh, &c., erected in the early part of the 19th century by wealthy courtiers for the convenience of the sovereign and often occupied as residences of European ministers travelling between Bushire and Teheran and by other distinguished travellers. Perhaps the most agreeable residence of all was the Haft Dast, " the seven courts," in the beautiful garden of Saadetabad on the southern bank of the river, and 2 or 3 m. from the centre of the city. This palace was built by Shah Abbas II. (1642-1667), and Fath Ali Shad Kajar died there in 1834. Close to it was the Aineh Khaneh, " hall of mirrors " and other elegant buildings in the Hazar jerib (l000 acre) garden. All these palaces and buildings on both sides of the river were surrounded by extensive gardens, traversed by avenues of tall 1 These figures are approximate for the centre of the town north of the river. The result of astronomical observations taken by the German expedition for observing the transit of Venus in 1874 and by Sir O. St John in 1870 on the south bank of the river near, and in Julfa respectively was 5 1 ° 4 o ' 3.45" E., 3 2 ° 37' 30" N. The stone slab commemorating the work of the expedition and placed on the spot where the observations were taken has been carried off and now serves as a door plinth of an Armenian house.

trees, principally planes, and intersected by paved canals of running water with tanks and fountains. Since Fath Ali Shah's death, palaces and gardens have been neglected. In 1902 an official was sent from Teheran to inspect the crown buildings, to report on their condition, and repair and renovate some, &c. The result was that all the above-mentioned buildings, excepting the Chehel Situn and Hasht Behesht, were demolished and their timber, bricks, stone, &c., sold to local builders. The gardens are wildernesses. The garden of the Chehel Situn palace opens out through the Ala Kapu (" highest gate, sublime porte ") to the Maidan-i-Shah, which is one of the most imposing piazzas in the world, a parallelogram of 560 yds. (N.-S.) by 174 yds. (E.-W.) surrounded by brick buildings divided into two storeys of recessed arches, or arcades, one above the other. In front of these arcades grow a few stunted planes and poplars. On the south side of the maidan is the famous Masjed i Shah (the shah's mosque) erected by Shah Abbas I. in 1612-1613. It is covered with glazed tiles of great brilliancy and richly decorated with gold and silver ornaments and cost over X175,000. It is in good repair, and plans of it were published by C. Texier (L'Armenie, la Perse, &c., vol. i. pls. 70-72) and P. Coste (Monuments de la Perse). On the eastern side of the maidan stands the Masjed i Lutf Ullah with beautiful enamelled tiles and in good repair. Opposite to it on the western side of the maidan is the Ala Kapu, a lofty building in the form of an archway overlooking the maidan and crowned in the fore part by an immense open throne-room supported by wooden columns, while the hinder part is elevated three storeys higher. On the north side of the maidan is the entrance gate to the main bazaar surmounted by the Nekkareh-Khaneh, or drumhouse, where is blared forth the appalling music saluting the rising and setting sun, said to have been instituted by Jamshid many thousand years ago. West of the Chehel Sit-an palace and conducting N.-S. from the centre of the city to the great bridge of Allah Verdi Khan is the great avenue nearly a mile in length called Chahar Bagh, " the four gardens," recalling the fact that it was originally occupied by four vineyards which Shah Abbas I. rented at £360 a year and converted into a splendid approach to his capital.

It was thus described by Lord Curzon of Kedleston in 1880: " Of all the sights of Isfahan, this in its present state is the most pathetic in the utter and pitiless decay of its beauty. Let me indicate what it was and what it is. At the upper extremity a twostoreyed pavilion,' connected by a corridor with the Seraglio of the palace, so as to enable the ladies of the harem to gaze unobserved upon the merry scene below, looked out upon the centre of the avenue. Water, conducted in stone channels, ran down the centre, falling in miniature cascades from terrace to terrace, and was occasionally collected in great square or octagonal basins where cross roads cut the avenue. On either side of the central channel was a row of oriental planes and a paved pathway for pedestrians. Then occurred a succession of open parterres, usually planted or sown. Next on either side was a second row of planes, between which and the flanking walls was a raised causeway for horsemen. The total breadth is now fifty-two yards. At intervals corresponding with the successive terraces and basins, arched doorways with recessed open chambers overhead conducted through these walls into the various royal or noble gardens that stretched on either side, and were known as the Gardens of the Throne, of the Nightingale, of Vines, of Mulberries, Dervishes, &c. Some of these pavilions were places of public resort and were used as coffee-houses, where when the business of the day was over, the good burghers of Isfahan assembled to sip that beverage and inhale their kalians the while; as Fryer puts it: ' Night drawing on, all the pride of Spahaun was met in the Chaurbaug and the Grandees were Airing themselves, prancing about with their numerous Trains, striving to outvie each other in Pomp and Generosity.' At the bottom, quays lined the banks of the river, and were bordered with the mansions of the nobility." Such was the Chahar Bagh in the plenitude of its fame. But now what a tragical contrast ! The channels are empty, their stone borders crumbled and shattered, the terraces are broken down, the parterres are unsightly bare patches, the trees, all lopped and pollarded, have been chipped and hollowed out or cut down for fuel by the soldiery of the Zil, the side pavilions are abandoned and tumbling to pieces and the gardens are wildernesses. Two centuries of decay could never make the Champs Elysees in Paris, the Unter 2 This pavilion was the Persian telegraph office of Isfahan for nearly forty years and was demolished in 2903.

den Linden in Berlin, or Rotten Row in London, look one half as miserable as does the ruined avenue of Shah Abbas. It is in itself an epitome of modern Iran." Towards the upper end of the avenue on its eastern side stands the medresseh (college) which Shah Hosain built in 1710. It still has a few students, but is very much out of repair; Lord Curzon spoke of it in 1888 as " one of the stateliest ruins that he saw in Persia." South of this college the avenue is altogether without trees, and the gardens on both sides have been turned into barley fields. Among the other notable buildings of Isfahan must be reckoned its five bridges, all fine structures, and one of them, the bridge of Allah Verdi Kahn, 388 yds. in length with a paved roadway of 30 ft. in breadth, is one of the stateliest bridges in the world, and has suffered little by the march of decay.

Another striking feature of Isfahan is the line of covered bazaars, which extends for nearly 3 m. and divides the city from south to north. The confluence of people in these bazaars is certainly very great, and gives an exaggerated idea of the populousness of the city, the truth being that while the inhabitants congregate for business in the bazaars, the rest of the city is comparatively deserted. When surveyed from a commanding height within the city, or in the immediate environs, the enormous extent of mingled garden and building, about 30 m. in circuit, gives an impression of populousness and busy life, but a closer scrutiny reveals that the whole scene is nothing more than a gigantic sham. With the exception of the bazaars and a few parishes there is really no continuous inhabited area. Whole streets, whole quarters of the city have fallen into utter ruin and are absolutely deserted, and the traveller who is bent on visiting some of the remarkable sites in the northern part of the city or in the western suburbs, such as the minarets dating from the 12th century, the remains of the famous castle of Tabarrak built by the Buyid Rukn addaula (d. 976), the ruins of the old fire temple, the shaking minarets of Guladan, &c., has to pass through miles of crumbling mud walls and roofless houses. It is believed indeed that not a twentieth part of the area of the old city is at present peopled, and the million or 600,000 inhabitants of Chardin's time (middle of the 17th century) have now dwindled to about 85,000. The Armenian suburb of Julfa, at any rate, which contained a population of 30,000 souls in the 17th century, has now only 4000, and the Christian churches, which numbered thirteen and were maintained with splendour, are now reduced to half a dozen edifices with bare walls and empty benches. Much improvement has recently taken place in the education of the young and also in their religious teaching, the wealthy Armenians of India and Java having liberally contributed to the national schools, and the Church Missionary Society of London having a church, schools and hospitals there since 1869.

The people of Isfahan have a very poor reputation in Persia either for courage or morals. They are regarded as a clever but at the same time dissolute and disorderly community, whose government requires a strong hand. The lutis (hooligans) of Isfahan are proverbial as the most turbulent and rowdy set of vagabonds in Persia.. The priesthood of Isfahan are much respected for their learning and high character, and the merchants are a very respectable class. The commerce of Isfahan has greatly fallen off from its former flourishing condition, and it is doubtful whether the trade of former days can ever be restored. (A. H.-S.) History. - The natural advantages of Isfahan - a genial climate, a fertile soil and abundance of water for irrigation - must have always made it a place of importance. In the most ancient cuneiform documents, referring to a period between 3000 and 2000 B.C., the province of Anshan, which certainly included Isfahan, was the limit of the geographical knowledge of the Babylonians, typifying the extreme east, as Syria (or Martu-ki) typified the west. The two provinces of Anshan and Subarta, by which we must understand the country from Isfahan to Shuster, were ruled in those remote ages by the same king, who undoubtedly belonged to the great Turanian family; and from this first notice of Anshan down to the 7th century B.C. the region seems to have remained, more or less, dependent on the paramount power of Susa. With regard to the eastern frontier of Anshan, however, ethnic changes were probably in extensive operation during this interval of twenty centuries. The western Iranians, for instance, after separating from their eastern brethren on the Oxus, as early perhaps as 3000 B.C., must have followed the line of the Elburz mountains, and then bifurcating into two branches must have scattered, westward into Media and southward towards Persia. The first substantial settlement of the southern branch would seem then to have been at Isfahan, where Jem, the eponym of the Persian race, is said to have founded a famous castle, the remains of which were visible as late as the 10th century A.D. This castle is known in the Zoroastrian writings as Jem-gird, but its proper name was Saru or Saruk (given in the Bundahish as Sruwa or Srobak), and it was especially famous in early Mahommedan history as the building where the ancient records and tables of the Persians were discovered which proved of so much use to Albumazar and his contemporaries. A valuable tradition, proceeding from quite a different source, has also been preserved to the effect that Jem, who invented the original Persian character, " dwelt in Assan, a district of Shuster " (see Flugel's Fihrist, p. 12, 1.21), which exactly accords with the Assyrian notices of Assan or Anshan classed as a dependency of Elymais. Now, it is well known that native legend represented the Persian race to have been held in bondage for a thousand years, after the reign of Jem, by the foreign usurper Zohak or Biverasp, a period which may well represent the duration of Elymaean supremacy over the Aryans of Anshan. At the commencement of the 7th century B.C. Persia and Ansan are still found in the annals of Sennacherib amongst the tributaries of Elymais, confederated against Assyria; but shortly afterwards the great Susian monarchy, which had lasted for full 2000 years, crumbled away under continued pressure from the west, and the Aryans of Anshan recovered their independence, founding for the first time a national dynasty, and establishing their seat of government at Gabae on the site of the modern city of Isfahan.

The royal city of Gabae was known as a foundation of the Achaemenidae as late as the time of Strabo, and the inscriptions show that Achaemenes and his successors did actually rule at Anshan until the great Cyrus set out on his career of western victory. Whether the Kabi or Kavi of tradition, the blacksmith of Isfahan, who is said to have headed the revolt against Zohak, took his name from the town of Gabae may be open to question; but it is at any rate remarkable that the national standard of the Persian race, named after the blacksmith, and supposed to have been first unfurled at this epoch, retained the title of Darafsh-a Kavani (the banner of Kavi) to the time of the Arab conquest, and that the men of Isfahan were, moreover, throughout this long period, always especially charged with its protection. The provincial name of Anshan or Assan seems to have been disused in the country after the age of Cyrus, and to have been replaced by that of Gabene or Gabiane, which alone appears in the Greek accounts of the wars of Alexander and his successors, and in the geographical descriptions of Strabo. Gabae or Gavi became gradually corrupted to Jai during the Sassanian period, and it was thus by the latter name that the old city of Isfahan was generally known at the time of the Arab invasion. Subsequently the title of Jai became replaced by Sheheristan or Medineh, " the city " par excellence, while a suburb which had been founded in the immediate vicinity, and which took the name of Yahudieh, or the " Jews' town," from its original Jewish inhabitants, gradually rose into notice and superseded the old capital.' Sheheristan and Yahudieh are thus in the early ages of Islam described as independent cities, the former being the eastern and the latter the western division of the capital, each surrounded by a separate wall; but about the middle of the 10th century the famous Buyid king, known as the Rukn-addaula (al-Dowleh), united the two suburbs and many of the adjoining villages in one general enclosure which was about 10 m. in circumference. The city, which had now resumed its old name of Isfahan, continued to flourish till the time of Timur (A.D. 1387), when in common with so many other cities of the empire it suffered grievously at the hands of the Tatar invaders. 'Timur indeed is said to have erected a Kelleh Minar or " skull tower " of 70,000 heads at the gate of the city, as a warning to deter other communities from resisting his arms. The place, however, owing to its natural advantages, gradually recovered from the effects of this terrible visitation, and when the Safavid dynasty, who succeeded to power in the 16th century, transferred their place of residence to it from Kazvin, it rose rapidly in populousness and wealth. It was under Shah Abbas the first, the most illustrious sovereign of this house, that Isfahan attained its greatest prosperity. This monarch adopted every possible expedient, by stimulating 1 The name of Yahudieh or " Jews' town " is derived by the early Arab geographers from a colony of Jews who are said to have migrated from Babylonia to Isfahan shortly after Nebuchadrezzar's conquest of Jerusalem, but this is pure fable. The Jewish settlement really dates from the 3rd century A.D. as is shown by a notice in the Armenian history of Moses of Chorene, lib. iii. cap. 35. The name Isfahan has been generally compared with the Aspadana of Ptolemy in the extreme north of Persis, and the identification is probably correct. At any rate the title is of great antiquity, being found in the Bundahish, and being derived in all likelihood from the family name of the race of Feridun, the Athviyan of romance, who were entitled Aspiyan in Pahlavi, according to the phonetic rules of that language.

commerce, encouraging arts and manufactures, and introducing luxurious habits, to attract visitors to his favourite capital. He built several magnificent palaces in the richest style of Oriental decoration, planted gardens and avenues, and distributed amongst them the waters of the Zendeh-rud in an endless series of reservoirs, fountains and cascades. The baths, the mosques, the colleges, the bazaars and the caravanserais of the city received an equal share of his attention, and European artificers and merchants were largely encouraged to settle in his capital. Ambassadors visited his court from many of the first states of Europe, and factories were permanently established for the merchants of England, France, Holland, the Hanseatic towns, Spain, Portugal and Moscow. The celebrated traveller Chardin, who passed a great portion of his life at Isfahan in the latter half of the 17th century, has left a detailed and most interesting account of the statistics of the city at that period. He himself estimated the population at 600,000, though in popular belief the number exceeded a million. There were 1500 flourishing villages in the immediate neighbourhood; the enceinte of the city and suburbs was reckoned at 24 m., while the mud walls surrounding the city itself, probably nearly following the lines of the Buyid enclosure, measured 20,000 paces. In the interior were counted 162 mosques, 48 public colleges, 1802 caravanserais, 273 baths and 12 cemeteries. The adjoining suburb of Julfa was also a most flourishing place. Originally founded by Shah Abbas the Great, who transported to this locality 3400 Armenian families from the town of Julfa on the Arras, the colony increased rapidly under his fostering care, both in wealth and in numbers, the Christian population being estimated in 1685 at 30,000 souls. The first blow to the prosperity of modern Isfahan was given by the Afghan invasion at the beginning of the 18th century, since which date, although continuing for some time to be the nominal head of the empire, the city has gradually dwindled in importance, and now only ranks as a second or third rate provincial capital. When the Kajar dynasty indeed mounted the throne of Persia at the end of the 18th century the seat of government was at once transferred to Teheran, with a view to the support of the royal tribe, whose chief seat was in the neighbouring province of Mazenderan; and, although it has often been proposed, from considerations of state policy in reference to Russia, to re-establish the court at Isfahan, which is the true centre of Persia, the scheme has never commanded much attention. At the same time the government of Isfahan, owing to the wealth of the surrounding districts, has always been much sought after. Early in the 19th century the post was often conferred upon some powerful minister of the court, but in later times it has been usually the apanage of a favourite son or brother of the reigning sovereign.' Fath Ali Shah, who had a particular affection for Isfahan, died here in 1834, and it became a time-honoured custom for the monarch on the throne to seek relief from the heat of Teheran by forming a summer camp at the rich pastures of Ganduman, on the skirts of Zardeh-Kuh, to the west of Isfahan, for the exercise of his troops and the health and amusement of his courtiers, but in recent years the practice has been discontinued. (H. C. R.)


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  • Esfahan

Proper noun

Singular
Isfahan

Plural
-

Isfahan

  1. Third largest city of Iran.

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