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Nesf-e Jahān (Half of the World)
|• Mayor||Ghodratollah Norouzi|
|• City Council||Fathollah Moein (Chairman)|
|• Urban||551 km2 (213 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,574 m (5,217 ft)|
|• Population Rank in Iran||3rd|
|Time zone||UTC+3:30 (IRST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+4:30 (IRDT 21 March – 20 September)|
Isfahan (Persian : اصفهان, romanized: Esfahān, [esfæˈhɒːn] (
Isfahan has a population of approximately 2.0 million,making it the third-largest city in Iran after Tehran and Mashhad, but was once one of the largest cities in the world.
Isfahan is an important city as it is located at the intersection of the two principal north-south and east-west routes that traverse Iran. Isfahan flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Safavid dynasty when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history under Shah Abbas the Great. Even today the city retains much of its past glory.
It is famous for its Perso–Islamic architecture, grand boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, tiled mosques and minarets. Isfahan also has many historical buildings, monuments, paintings, and artifacts. The fame of Isfahan led to the Persian pun and proverb "Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast": Isfahan is half (of) the world.
The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world. UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site.
Isfahan is derived from Middle Persian Spahān. Spahān is attested in various Middle Persian seals and inscriptions, including that of Zoroastrian Magi Kartir, Սպահան). The present-day name is the Arabicized form of Ispahan (unlike Middle Persian, but similar to Spanish, New Persian does not allow initial consonant clusters such as sp ). The region appears with the abbreviation GD (Southern Media) on Sasanian numismatics. In Ptolemy's Geographia , it appears as Aspadana (Ἀσπαδανα), translating to "place of gathering for the army". It is believed that Spahān derives from spādānām "the armies", Old Persian plural of spāda, from which derives spāh (𐭮𐭯𐭠𐭧) 'army' and spahi (سپاهی, 'soldier', literally 'of the army') in Middle Persian.and is also the Armenian name of the city (
Human habitation of the Isfahan region can be traced back to the Palaeolithic period. Recent discoveries archaeologists have found artifacts dating back to the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages.
What was to become the city of Isfahan in later historical periods probably emerged as a locality and settlement that gradually developed over the course of the Elamite civilisation (2700–1600 BCE).
Under Median rule, this commercial entrepôt began to show signs of more sedentary urbanism, steadily growing into a noteworthy regional centre that benefited from the exceptionally fertile soil on the banks of the Zayandehrud River in a region called Aspandana or Ispandana.
Once Cyrus the Great (reg. 559–529 BCE) had unified Persian and Median lands into the Achaemenid Empire (648–330 BCE), the religiously and ethnically diverse city of Isfahan became an early example of the king's fabled religious tolerance. It was Cyrus who, having just taken Babylon, made an edict in 538 BCE, declaring that the Jews in Babylon could return to Jerusalem (see Ezra ch. 1). Now it seems that some of these freed Jews settled in Isfahan instead of returning to their homeland. The 10th-century Persian historian Ibn al-Faqih wrote:
"When the Jews emigrated from Jerusalem, fleeing from Nebuchadnezzar, they carried with them a sample of the water and soil of Jerusalem. They did not settle down anywhere or in any city without examining the water and the soil of each place. They did all along until they reached the city of Isfahan. There they rested, examined the water and soil, and found that both resembled Jerusalem. Thereupon they settled there, cultivated the soil, raised children and grandchildren, and today the name of this settlement is Yahudia."
The Parthians, in the period 247 BCE – 224 CE, continued the tradition of tolerance after the fall of the Achaemenids, fostering the Hellenistic dimension within Iranian culture and the political organisation introduced by Alexander the Great's invading armies. Under the Parthians, Arsacid governors administered the provinces of the nation from Isfahan, and the city's urban development accelerated to accommodate the needs of a capital city.
The next empire to rule Persia, the Sassanids (224 CE –651 CE), presided over massive changes in their realm, instituting sweeping agricultural reform and reviving Iranian culture and the Zoroastrian religion. Both the city and region were then called by the name Aspahan or Spahan. The city was governed by a group called the Espoohrans, who came from seven noble and important Iranian royal families. Extant foundations of some Sassanid-era bridges in Isfahan suggest that the Sasanian kings were fond of ambitious urban planning projects. While Isfahan's political importance declined during the period, many Sassanid princes would study statecraft in the city, and its military role developed rapidly. Its strategic location at the intersection of the ancient roads to Susa and Persepolis made it an ideal candidate to house a standing army, ready to march against Constantinople at any moment. The words 'Aspahan' and 'Spahan' are derived from the Pahlavi or Middle Persian meaning 'the place of the army'. km northwest of the Zoroastrian city of Gabae (it's Achaemid and Parthian name; Gabai was its Sasanic name, which was shortened to Gay (Arabic 'Jay') that was located on the northern bank of the Zayanderud River. The gradual population decrease of Gay (Jay) and the simultaneous population increase of Yahudiyyeh and its suburbs after the Islamic conquest of Iran resulted in the formation of the nucleus of what was to become the city of Isfahan. The words "Aspadana", "Ispadana", "Spahan" and "Sepahan", all from which the word Isfahan is derived, referred to the region in which the city was located.Although many theories have been mentioned about the origin of Isfahan, in fact little is known of it before the rule of the Sasanian dynasty (c. 224 – c. 651 CE). The historical facts suggest that in the late 4th and early 5th centuries, Queen Shushandukht, the Jewish consort of Yazdegerd I (reigned 399–420) settled a colony of Jews in Yahudiyyeh (also spelled Yahudiya), a settlement 3
Isfahan and Gay were both circular in design, a characteristic of Parthian and Sasanian cities.However, this reported Sasanian circular city of Isfahan is not uncovered yet.
When the Arabs captured Isfahan in 642, they made it the capital of al-Jibal ("the Mountains") province, an area that covered much of ancient Media. Isfahan grew prosperous under the Persian Buyid (Buwayhid) dynasty, which rose to power and ruled much of Iran when the temporal authority of the Abbasid caliphs waned in the 10th century. The Turkish conqueror and founder of the Seljuq dynasty, Toghril Beg, made Isfahan the capital of his domains in the mid-11th century; but it was under his grandson Malik-Shah I (r. 1073–92) that the city grew in size and splendour.
After the fall of the Seljuqs (c. 1200), Isfahan temporarily declined and was eclipsed by other Iranian cities such as Tabriz and Qazvin. During his visit in 1327, Ibn Battuta noted that "The city of Isfahan is one of the largest and fairest of cities, but it is now in ruins for the greater part."
In 1387, Isfahan 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.
Isfahan regained its importance during the Safavid period (1501–1736). The city's golden age began in 1598 when the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I (reigned 1588–1629) made it his capital and rebuilt it into one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the 17th-century world. In 1598 Shah Abbas the Great moved his capital from Qazvin to the more central Isfahan; he named it Ispahān (New Persian) so that it wouldn't be threatened by the Ottomans. This new status ushered in a golden age for the city, with architecture and Persian culture flourishing. In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands of deportees and migrants from the Caucasus, that Abbas and other Safavid rulers had permitted to emigrate en masse, settled in the city. So now the city had enclaves of Georgian, Circassian, and Daghistani descent.Engelbert Kaempfer, who dwelt in Safavid Persia in 1684–85, estimated their number at 20,000. During the Safavid era, the city contained a very large Armenian community as well. As part of Abbas's forced resettlement of peoples from within his empire, he resettled as many as 300,000 Armenians ) from near the unstable Safavid-Ottoman border, primarily from the very wealthy Armenian town of Jugha (also known as Old Julfa) in mainland Iran. In Isfahan, he ordered the foundation of a new quarter for these resettled Armenians from Old Julfa, and thus the Armenian Quarter of Isfahan was named New Julfa. Today, the New Jolfa district of Isfahan remains a heavily Armenian-populated district, with Armenian churches and shops, the Vank Cathedral being especially notable for its combination of Armenian Christian and Iranian Islamic elements. It is still one of the oldest and largest Armenian quarters in the world. Following an agreement between Shah Abbas I and his Georgian subject Teimuraz I of Kakheti ("Tahmuras Khan"), whereby the latter submitted to Safavid rule in exchange for being allowed to rule as the region's wāli (governor) and for having his son serve as dāruḡa ("prefect") of Isfahan in perpetuity, the Georgian prince converted to Islam and served as governor. He was accompanied by a troop of soldiers, some of whom were Georgian Orthodox Christians. The royal court in Isfahan had a great number of Georgian ḡolāms (military slaves), as well as Georgian women. Although they spoke both Persian and Turkic, their mother tongue was Georgian. During Abbas's reign, Isfahan became very famous in Europe, and many European travellers made an account of their visit to the city, such as Jean Chardin. This prosperity lasted until it was sacked by Afghan invaders in 1722 during a marked decline in Safavid influence.
Thereafter, Isfahan experienced a decline in importance, culminating in a move of the capital to Mashhad and Shiraz during the Afsharid and Zand periods respectively, until it was finally moved to Tehran in 1775 by Agha Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Qajar dynasty. (See https://www.britannica.com/place/Tehran)
In the early years of the 19th century, efforts were made to preserve some of Isfahan's archeologically important buildings. The work was started by Mohammad Hossein Khan during the reign of Fath Ali Shah.
In the 20th century, Isfahan was resettled by a very large number of people from southern Iran, firstly during the population migrations at the start of the century, and again in the 1980s following the Iran–Iraq War.
Today, Isfahan produces fine carpets, textiles, steel, handicrafts, and traditional foods including sweets. There are nuclear experimental reactors as well as facilities for producing nuclear fuel (UCF) within the environs of the city. Isfahan has one of the largest steel-producing facilities in the region, as well as facilities for producing special alloys. Mobarakeh Steel Company is the biggest steel producer in the whole of the Middle East and Northern Africa, and it is the biggest DRI producer in the world.The Isfahan Steel Company was the first manufacturer of constructional steel products in Iran, and it remains the largest such company today.
The city has an international airport and a metro line.
There are a major oil refinery and a large airforce base outside the city. HESA, Iran's most advanced aircraft manufacturing plant, is located just outside the city.Isfahan is also attracting international investment, especially in the Isfahan City Center which is the largest shopping mall in Iran and the fifth largest in the world.
Isfahan hosted the International Physics Olympiad in 2007.
The city is located in the lush plain of the Zayanderud River at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The nearest mountain is Mount Soffeh (Kuh-e Soffeh), just south of the city.
Situated at 1,590 metres (5,217 ft) above sea level on the eastern side of the Zagros Mountains, Isfahan has an cold desert climate (Köppen BWk). No geological obstacles exist within 90 kilometres (56 miles) north of Isfahan, allowing cool winds to blow from this direction. Despite its altitude, Isfahan remains hot during the summer, with maxima typically around 35 °C (95 °F). However, with low humidity and moderate temperatures at night, the climate is quite pleasant. During the winter, days are cool while nights can be very cold. Snow falls an average of 7.8 days each winter. The Zayande River starts in the Zagros Mountains, flowing from the west through the heart of the city, then dissipates in the Gavkhouni wetland.
|Climate data for Isfahan (1961–1990, extremes 1951–2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||20.4|
|Average high °C (°F)||8.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||2.7|
|Average low °C (°F)||−2.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||−19.4|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||17.1|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||4.0||2.9||3.8||3.5||2.0||0.2||0.3||0.1||0.0||0.8||2.2||3.7||23.5|
|Average snowy days||3.2||1.7||0.7||0.1||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.2||1.9||7.8|
|Average relative humidity (%)||60||51||43||39||33||23||23||24||26||36||48||57||39|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||205.3||213.3||242.1||244.5||301.3||345.4||347.6||331.2||311.6||276.5||226.1||207.6||3,252.5|
|Source 1: NOAA|
|Source 2: Iran Meteorological Organization (records)|
The city centre consists of an older section revolving around the Jameh Mosque, and the Safavid expansion around Naqsh-e Jahan Square, with nearby places of worship, palaces, and bazaars.
The bridges on the Zayanderud river comprise some of the finest architecture in Isfahan. The oldest bridge is the Shahrestan bridge, whose foundations were built by the Sasanian Empire (3rd–7th century Sassanid era); it was repaired during the Seljuk period. Further upstream is the Khaju bridge, which was built by Shah Abbas II in 1650. It is 123 metres (404 feet) long with 24 arches, and also serves as a sluice gate.
Another bridge is the Choobi (Joui) bridge, which was originally 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. The building was built during the reign of Shah Abbas the Great by Sheikh Baha'i and connected Isfahan with the Armenian suburbs of New Jolfa. Armenian suburb of New Julfa. It is by far the longest bridge in Isfahan at 295 m (967.85 ft).
Another notable bridge is the Marnan Bridge.
The central historical area in Isfahan is called Seeosepol (the name of a famous bridge).[ citation needed ]
Aside from the seminaries and religious schools, the major universities of the Esfahan metropolitan area are:
There are also more than 50 technical and vocational training centres in the province under the administration of Esfahan TVTO, which provide free, non-formal training programs.
Over the past decade, Isfahan's internal highway network has been undergoing major expansion. Much care has been taken to prevent damage to valuable, historical buildings. Modern freeways connect the city to the country's major cities, including the capital Tehran (length approximately 400 km) to the north and Shiraz (200 km) to the south. Highways also service satellite cities surrounding the metropolitan area.
A line of metro that runs for 11 km from north to south opened on 15 October 2015. Two more lines are in construction, alongside three suburban rail lines.
Zob Ahan and Sepahan are the only Iranian clubs to reach the final of the new AFC Champions League.
Isfahan has three association football clubs that play professionally. These are:
Sepahan has won the most league titles among the Iranian clubs (2002–03, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2014–15).
Giti Pasand also has a futsal team, Giti Pasand FSC, one of the best teams in Asia. They won the AFC Futsal Club Championship in 2012 and were runners-up in 2013.
The city's divided into 15 municipal districts.
|Municipal districts of Isfahan|
Isfahan is twinned with:
Isfahan cooperates with:
Iranian Georgians are Iranian citizens who are ethnically Georgian, and are an ethnic group living in Iran. Today's Georgia was a subject to Iran from the 16th century till the early 19th century, starting with the Safavids in power. Shah Abbas I, his predecessors, and successors, relocated by force hundreds of thousands of Christian, and Jewish Georgians as part of his programs to reduce the power of the Qizilbash, develop industrial economy, strengthen the military, and populate newly built towns in various places in Iran including the provinces of Isfahan and Mazandaran. A certain amount, amongst them members of nobility, also migrated voluntarily over the centuries, as well as some that moved as muhajirs in the 19th century to Iran, following the Russian conquest of the Caucasus. The Georgian community of Fereydunshahr have retained their distinct Georgian identity until this day, while having to adopt aspects of Iranian culture such as the Persian language and Twelver Shia Islam.
Abbas the Great or Abbas I of Persia was the 5th Safavid Shah (king) of Iran, and is generally considered the strongest ruler of the Safavid dynasty. He was the third son of Shah Mohammad Khodabanda.
Isfahan province, also transliterated as Esfahan, Espahan, Isfahan, or Isphahan, is one of the thirty-one provinces of Iran. It is located in the center of the country in Iran's Region 2. Its secretariat is located in the city of Isfahan.
Iranian architecture or Persian architecture is the architecture of Iran and parts of the rest of West Asia, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Its history dates back to at least 5,000 BC with characteristic examples distributed over a vast area from Turkey and Iraq to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and from the Caucasus to Zanzibar. Persian buildings vary from peasant huts to tea houses, and garden pavilions to "some of the most majestic structures the world has ever seen". In addition to historic gates, palaces, and mosques, the rapid growth of cities such as the capital Tehran has brought about a wave of demolition and new construction.
Naqsh-e Jahan Square, also known as Shah Square or Imam Square, is a square situated at the center of Isfahan, Iran. Constructed between 1598 and 1629, it is now an important historical site, and one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. It is 160 metres (520 ft) wide by 560 metres (1,840 ft) long. It is also referred to as Shah Square or Imam Square. The square is surrounded by buildings from the Safavid era. The Shah Mosque is situated on the south side of this square. On the west side is the Ali Qapu Palace. Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is situated on the eastern side of this square and at the northern side Qeysarie Gate opens into the Isfahan Grand Bazaar. Today, Namaaz-e Jom'eh is held in the Shah Mosque.
The Shah Mosque is a mosque located in Isfahan, Iran. It is located on the south side of Naghsh-e Jahan Square. It was built during the Safavid dynasty under the order of Shah Abbas I of Persia. It was also known as the Imam Mosque after the Iranian Revolution.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the masterpieces of Iranian architecture that was built during the Safavid Empire, standing on the eastern side of Naqsh-i Jahan Square, Esfahan, Iran. Construction of the mosque started in 1603 and was finished in 1619. It was built by the chief architect Mohammadreza Isfahani, during the reign of Shah Abbas I of Persia. On the advice of Arthur Upham Pope, Reza Shah Pahlavi had the mosque rebuilt and repaired in the 1920.
The Russo-Persian Wars or Russo-Iranian Wars were a series of conflicts between 1651 and 1828, concerning Persia and the Russian Empire. Russia and Persia fought these wars over disputed governance of territories and countries in the Caucasus. The main territories disputed were Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, as well as much of Dagestan – generally referred to as Transcaucasia – and considered part of the Safavid Persian Empire prior to the Russo-Persian Wars. Over the course of the five Russo-Persian Wars, the governance of these regions transferred between the two empires. Between the Second and Third Russo-Persian Wars, there was an interbellum period in which a number of treaties were drawn up between the Russian and the Persian Empires, as well as between both parties and the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman interest in these territories further complicated the wars, with both sides forming alliances with the Ottoman Empire at different points throughout the wars. Following the Treaty of Turkmenchay, which concluded the Fifth Russo-Persian War, Persia ceded much of its Transcaucasian territory to the Russian Empire.
New Julfa is the Armenian quarter of Isfahan, Iran, located along the south bank of the Zayande River.
The Allahverdi Khan Bridge, popularly known as Si-o-se-pol, is the largest of the eleven historical bridges on the Zayanderud, the largest river of the Iranian Plateau, in Isfahan, Iran.
Fereydan is a region of Isfahan Province, Iran.
Persia and Georgia have had relations for thousands of years. Eastern and Southern Georgia had been under intermittent Persian suzerainty for many centuries up to the early course of the 19th century, while western Georgia had been under its suzerainty for much shorter periods of time throughout history. Georgia especially rose to importance from the time of the Persian Safavids.
Farahabad was a palace and city built by Shah Abbas I in Mazandaran, Iran. It was built on a site formerly known as Tahan and linked to the town of Sari, 17 miles (27 km) away, by a stone causeway. The shah used the city as his winter capital, and he died there in 1629.
Hakim Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Isfahan, Iran. Completed in the mid-17th century, in the Safavid era, it is named after Moḥammad-Dāvud Khan Ḥakim who funded the construction.
Iranian Armenia (1502–1828) refers to the period of Eastern Armenia during the early-modern and late-modern era when it was part of the Iranian empire. Armenians have a history of being divided since the time of the Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Empire, in the early 5th century. While the two sides of Armenia were sometimes reunited, this became a permanent aspect of the Armenian people. Following the Arab and Seljuk conquests of Armenia, the western portion, which was initially part of Byzantium, became eventually part of the Ottoman Empire, otherwise known as Ottoman Armenia, while the eastern portion became and was kept part of the Iranian Safavid Empire, Afsharid Empire and Qajar Empire, until it became part of the Russian Empire in the course of the 19th century, following the Treaty of Turkmenchay of 1828.
Maghsoudbeyk Mosque is near the northeastern corner of Naqsh-e Jahan Square. It was built in 1601 by the order of Maghsoudbeyk, who was one of the very rich stewards of Abbas I. There is an inscription in the mihrab of this mosque, which is one of artworks of the famous calligrapher of the Safavid era Ali Reza Abbassi. It's said, after that Shah Abbas was very satisfied with this inscription, he ordered Ali Reza Abbassi to work on the inscriptions of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. Behind the entrance hall of the mosque in a small chamber, there's a tomb which is the tomb of Mir Emad, the art rival of Ali Reza Abbassi. Maghsoudbeyk mosque was a very glorious and beautiful mosque in Isfahan in the Safavid era.
Safavid Iran or Safavid Persia, also referred to as the Safavid Empire, was one of the greatest Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Persia, ruled from 1501 to 1736 by the Safavid dynasty. It is often considered the beginning of modern Iranian history, as well as one of the gunpowder empires. The Safavid shahs established the Twelver school of Shia Islam as the official religion of the empire, marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history.
Emamzadeh Esmaeil and Isaiah mausoleum is a historical complex in Isfahan, Iran, which dates back to the Seljuk and Safavid era. This complex is located near the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, in the Hatef street and contains two mausoleums, one believed to be for Esmaeil, one of grandsons of Hasan ibn Ali, and another which is believed to be Isaiah's.
Mohammad Beg, was a Muslim of Armenian origin, who served as the Grand Vizier of the Safavid king (shah) Abbas II from 1654 to 1661.
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Isfahan, Iran.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Isfahan .|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Isfahan .|
| Capital of Seljuq Empire (Persia)|
Hamadan (Western capital)
Merv (Eastern capital)
| Capital of Iran (Persia) |
| Capital of Safavid dynasty |
Largest cities or towns in Iran
|2||Mashhad||Razavi Khorasan||3,001,184||12||Zahedan||Sistan and Baluchestan||587,730|