Isfahan is the cultural center of Iran. The Isfahan’s history date backs to the Jewish settlements of over 2700 years ago, but most of its glory comes from Safavid era around 1600 AC. Shah Abbas I moved the Safavid capital to Isfahan. Safavids build many palaces, mosques, caravanserais, gardens and bridges which some of them are considered as masterpieces of Islamic art.
The recommended time to visit Isfahan is 2 to 4 days. The best time to visit is during spring and early fall, although due to dry climate even high summer temperatures are supportable.
Most recommended attractions of Isfahan:
- Naghshe Jahan square
The Naghshe Jahan Square (also known as Imam square) is a must see attraction of Isfahan, with wonderful decorations and shops all around the place. Beside its historical importance, it is a popular place for locals to meet and enjoy the passage of time. Imam and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosques are located in the Naghshe Jahan square. The rich tile work of these two mosques leaves every visitor speechless!
- Grand Bazar
One of the largest and most vibrant bazaars of Iran just located in the north of Naghshe Jahan square. It was mostly constructed in 16th century, but parts of it dates back to early 13th century. Just dedicate an evening to stroll around the alleys to appreciate the craftsmanship of the Isfahanies in creation of the artistic objects considered as souvenirs of Isfahan.
- Jame mosque
In contrast to the other monuments of Isfahan, this mosque was not decorated elaborately with tiles, but still considered as a masterpiece in Persian architecture for its structural clarity and geometric balance. This is one of the oldest mosques still standing and functioning in Iran.
- Hasht Behesht palace
Hasht behesht in Persian means eight paradises and for sure while visiting this place you will get the same impression. Eight symbolizes the eight ports of the paradise and the octagonal form of the building is also inspired from this symbolizations. Beautiful wooden ceiling and great view from Ivan (balcony) is among the highlights of this palace.
- Chehel setoun
Literally means 40 pillars, but the palace itself has only 20 pillars and the other 20 pillars coming from reflection on the water. This venue was originally built foreign dignitaries, but today it is transformed to a museum.
- Vank catherdral and Armenian neighborhood
A gorgeous fusion of Armenian and Islamic architecture. The Vank Cathedral in the Jolfa, Armenian quarter of Isfahan, dates back to the 17th century.
- Si-o-se Pole
This bridge with 33 arches as mentioned by the name of the bridge is one of the signature of Isfahan!
- Chahar Bagh
A garden with 400 year old trees who are as old as Chahar Bagh school. An school with exquisite decor of this tiled Iranian architectures. None of the monuments in Isfahan is as diverse as the Chahar bagh School in the variety of designs and colors in the tiles.
- Ali Gholi Agha hammam
It’s an old bath from Safavid era. The architecture and all the paintings make it a unique and its water taps are one of a kind. Visiting to this place makes you feel the way people were living and bathing in the old days.
- Khajoo bridge
This beautiful bridge with many arches is a great spot to hang out in the evening.
Handicrafts of Isfahan
The Art of Enamel Work “Minakari”
An intricate design of handicrafts made by ornamenting the surface of metals and miniature paintings with vivid colors. “Mina” refers to the azure color of heaven in Persian.
In this art, metal is engraved with normally symmetric designs. Silver, copper, brass or gold are used as the base metal.
Painting with rich details representing religious or mythological themes. The miniature painting was flourished from the 13th to the 16th century as the artists used to decorate the building with them. These days contemporary artists producing remarkable Persian miniatures typically on camel bones.
Things to enjoy
Isfahan is full of traditional tea rooms with beautiful decorations and great ambiance. Also make sure not to miss traditional safran-pistachio ice creams in hot days.