Isfahan or Esfahan is one of the oldest cities of Iran with the 1,001,000 population located 355 km (220 miles) south of Tehran. This 2 500 years old city served as Persia’s capital from 1598 to 1722.
Isfahan was a crossroad of international trade and diplomacy, and therefore was a kaleidoscope of resident languages, religions, and customs. The city is known for its silver filigree and metal work.
The city’s golden age took place under the reign of Shah Abbas I (1587-1629) who unified Persia. Once the capital of ancient dynasties, Isfahan reached height of prosperity and fame as the seat of the Safavid Kings in the seventeenth century. At that time, Isfahan, enjoyed the reputation of being one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the whole world.
This city is renowned not only for the abundance of great historical monuments, but also for its Life-Giving River, The Zayandeh-Rood, which has given the city an original beauty and a fertile land. Isfahan is filled with old gardens and some of the best sights in Iran. Some of these are: the Naqsh-e-Jahan Square where you can visit the breathtakingly beautiful Sheik Lotfollah mosque, as well as the larger (and bluer)Imam Mosque. The Chehel Sotun (40 columns) palace has some beautiful paintings adorning the walls, and a lovely garden to stroll around. And don’t miss the ancient bridges crossing the river, or the amazing Vank Cathedral in the Armenian quarter – a real crossroads between Christian and Islamic art.
There are some lovely places to eat too, and of course the fabulous covered bazaar where you can see artisans at work as well as feast your eyes on an array of beautiful carpets. Isfahan is a wonderful place to walk around and spend a few days soaking up Persian culture.