Isfahan

Central Iran

November 2019

Isfahan is the 3rd biggest city and a major transport hub of the country. One of the highlights of the city is the Zayandeh river (below) that is meandering through the city. Walking is so peaceful along the well designed recreation line near the riverbed and in the green boulevards with huge plane trees. For centuries Isfahan was an oasis settlement but a population explosion and industrialization demanded more water and sadly the Zayandeh River is nowadays suffering. But still the water looks quite clean and attracts many birds to its environment.

Siesepol Bridge (above) is one of the 11 bridges crossing the river. It is more than 400 years old and has 33 spans from which it gets its name.

Isfahan is known around the world for its spectacular architecture and amazing public spaces. Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Square (above) is like the heart of the city. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 17th century. In south there is Shah Mosque, in east there is Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and the whole square is surrounded by the main bazaar. So many great attractions are in the same place. Iranian families and couples come out to enjoy here. To me it hosts the cutest cafes throughout entire Iran.

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque (above) is one of my favourite architectures in the whole country. It is literally magical. Inside the space, the complexity of the mosaics on the walls and the extraordinarily beautiful ceiling is a masterpiece of design. The sunlight that filters in through the high windows produces a constantly changing interplay of light and shadow.

The mosque is unusual because it has neither a minaret nor a courtyard. This was probably because it was never intended for public use, but rather served as the worship place for the women of the shah’s harem.
The other highlight of Isfahan is the Shah Mosque (below) located in the south of the square which is a great complex dates back to 17th century.

Entrance doors to each space is majestic. Geometric designs are breathtaking. When you visit these wonders in Iran always look up as some of the most beautiful architecture is located on the ceilings.

Shah Mosque is beautifully decorated with seven colored wall tiles and mosaics featuring wide variety of geometric patterns, floral motifs and calligraphy.

The inner courtyards are also demonstrating the beautiful harmony of blue and yellow tiles. Oh what a journey it is in between the colours and patterns.

Coming to great Isfahan Bazaar.. Beside Tabriz Bazaar it is the most amazing bazaar in Iran to me. It is located around Naqsh-e Jahan Square. I really enjoyed wandering in the alleys of the bazaar with Faeze (below), my lovely host in Isfahan. I was touched by the naiveness of her kind heart and her enthusiasm and excitement while she was doing her best to tell me about Isfahan.

Isfahan can be considered as the main center of handicrafts in Iran. Amongst all the diversity of handicrafts I so much liked ‘Qalamkar’ works (below). It is a form of Persian woodblock printed textile that originates from Isfahan. Copperware artisans (below) are still preserving this traditional craftsmanship.

As in every bazaar in different cities in Iran carpet shops are dominant in the diversity. The patterns of the designs change due to its hometown. For instance designs of the nomads are so much simpler. My father was a carpet seller when I was a child. As I was exploring the carpets here, I went back to those days when he was telling me about the features of different traditions.

Also in Isfahan Bazaar semi precious stones, camel bone boxes, delicately detailed potteries are decorating the windows of many little shops that sell different souvenirs.

Then it was the time to leave for more remote areas which I adore the most. From Isfahan I hit the road to Mesr desert.

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