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Four hour drive away from Tehran, lies Isfahan in the center of Iran. The city's golden age took place when Shah Abbas the Great made it the capital of  Safavid Empire in 17 centuriy. From that era, there has remained many magnificent  historical monuments. Iíve taken the pics in March 2003, Norooz holiday.


bulletImam Square : It's is one of the largest squares in the world (500m x 160m), twice as large as Moscow's Red square. It was the symbolic centre of the Safavid Empire and was used for holding festivals, markets and games of polo. The square is surrounded on all four sides by long walls with the Imam Mosque in the south, the Mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah in the east, the Ali Qapu Palace in the west and the entrance of the great Bazaar in the north. 


bullet Imam Mosque : In the south of the Imam Square is one of the most stunning buildings in Iran, the Imam Mosque. Two turquoise minarets flank the huge gateway (27m high) Which are shown in the below picture. The mosque  was built over a period of 26 years and was eventually completed in 1638. The mosque is decorated with glazed tiles which take on a different hue according to light conditions.
Behind the Imam Mosque gateway  and slightly to the right ,is the main dome of the prayer hall. Itís a double cupola  38 meters high on the inside and 52 meters on the outside leaving a 12 meter empty space which serves as an extraordinary " echo chamber".  Consequently the speaker in the mehrab (alter) can be distinctly heard in all other parts of the mosque. In the center of the great prayer hall there are a few black paving stones underneath the dome, which stamped upon create seven clear echoes. 



Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque: This small mosque was built during Shah Abbasí peroid and dedicated to his father in law, Sheikh Lotfollah. The pale tiles on the dome change colour from cream to pink, depending on the light condition,; and the mosque is unusual because it has no minaret or courtyard. The mosque was once called the Womenís Mosque, because there is apparently a tunnel between this mosque and the Ali Qapu Palace, allowing women from the old dynasties to attend prayers without being seen in public.


Ali Qapu Palace : It's a magnificent palace built  in the reign of Shah Abbas to be used as a reception center for guests, foreign envoys and courtiers. The palace which is six floors tall, the tallest in the time,  has a tiled staircase and a remarkable plaster-work,  and much of its interior is covered with frescos and miniature paintings.



Si-o-Se Pol Bridge: "Si-o-Se Pol" or bridge of 33 arches is the most magnificent bridge over Zayandeh Rud, the main river of Isfahan. Built during the rule of Shah Abbas the Great in 1632, it is by far the longest bridge in Isfahan at 295m.


The Abbasi Hotel : This hotel was originally built as a caravanserai by the mother of Shah Sultan Hossein, the last the Safavid ruler.  The old caravanserai was restored in the 1960ís as a luxury hotel. To stay at the Abbasi Hotel is to walk through history. The first picture shows its courtyard and a veiw of Madrassah Chahar Bagh's magnificent yellow and turquoise dome which is beside it.

A masterpiece of Iranian art and architecture, the Abbasi Hotel, while enjoying all the facilities of a modern hotel, gives you the opportunity to see authentic Persian miniatures, paintings and tiles, gilt ornaments, mirror, inlaid and plaster works.The second pic shows its expansive courtyard where guests can dine, enjoy tea and relax.



Hasht Behesht Palace: The palace of Hasht Behesht was completed in 1669.  'Hasht Behesht' translates as 'Eight Paradises' and refers to a Timurid style palace which consists of two stories of 4 octagonal corner rooms around a central domed hall. The garden around  Hasht Behesht Palace has been beautifully restored in recent years.


Madrasah Chahar Bagh: Madrasah Chahar Bagh ( Four Garden School) is a religios school which is built beside Caravanserai Abbasi. The construction of this Madrasah marked the end of a sustained and brilliant period in the history of architecture. The Madrasah was built on the initiative of Shah Sultan Hussein's mother between 1706 and 1714.

Madrasah Chahar Bagh tile decorations are really wonderful. As tiles are monochrome to create these colorful decorations, hundreds of thousands of tiny tiles in different shapes and colors are put side by side like a great puzzle.