Familiar with Isfahan
Isfahan is a large city located almost in the center of Iran where the main north-south and east-west roads cross. It is estimated that the Isfahan metropolitan area has a population of about 4,000,000 , making it the second most populous metropolitan area in Iran after the capital Tehran.
Bridges over the Zayandeh Rood River
Si-o-Se-Pol, also known as Allahverdi Khan Bridge, is one of the eleven Isfahan bridges, crossing Zayandeh Rood River
. It is the most famous bridge of Isfahan due to its size, central location, and prominent architecture. The bridge is a center of city nightlife that attracts both Iranians and foreign tourists.
The bridge was built between 1599 and 1602 during the reign of Shah Abbas. The construction process was controlled by Shah’s chancellor, Allahverdi Khan Undiladze – that is where the second name of the bridge derives from. In 1598 Shah Abbas moved the capital of his Empire from Qazvin to Isfahan – partly because of close proximity to Zayandeh Rood River
, that gave life and nourishment to the city. 5 out of 11 bridges were built during Safavid era as the means of crossing the river. During 400 years of history of the bridge the river dried up, but Si-o-Se-Pol found other purposes. It was a place for evening walks, public meetings, events, an observation point for regattas and other water sports. Si-o-Se Pol is the longest among Isfahan bridges and the largest construction on the water in Iran – its total length is 297 meters, width is 13,75 meters. In Farsi “si-o-se” means 33 – this is the number of arches composing the first level of the bridge. The second level has pedestrian path fenced with walls, protecting travelers from wind and falling into the water. The bridge is built of yellow bricks and limestone, the typical materials for Safavid era structures. Niches formed by the arches are perfect for sitting and chatting while enjoying the view of the city. One of the arches hosted a tea house for a while, but later it was closed. Si-o-Se Pol connects Chahar Bagh-e Abbasi and Chahar Bagh-e Bala streets, being, in fact, their extension. It is located in the city center, within walking distance to main city attractions.
If you walk to the north along Chahar Bagh-e Abbasi street, in 20 minutes you will reach Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Hasht Behesht Palace, and Chehel Sotoun Palace. On the southeast from the bridge, there is Vank Cathedral and Isfahan music museum. If you would like to have a view of Si-o-Se-Pol Bridge from your hotel room, you have a couple of options to choose from. The closest hotel to the bridge is 5-star Parsian Kowsar Hotel with perfect service and exclusive rooms and suites. Another option for luxury stay – 5-star Abbasi hotel the oldest hotel in Iran, and 4-star Persian Ali Qapu hotel . For more budget stay you can choose one of the hotels located within walking distance from the bridge: 2-star Pars Hotel, 3-star Part Hotel or Tourist Hotel.
There are lots of worthy restaurants around Si-o-Se-Pol since it is one of the main tourist destinations. You can try traditional kebab in lovely decorated Arakhan restaurant, or check out one of the most famous Isfahan restaurants – Shahrzad Restaurant. For more modern atmosphere, snacks and coffee go to DiroozEmrooz Cafe, and if you want to experience the depth of Iranian culture, head to the bazaar with its small cafes and tea houses. It is widely admitted that the best time to visit Si-o-Se-Pol bridge is in the evening after the sun sets down. After a busy day full of tours and sightseeing come to the riverfront of Zayandeh Rood River to have a relaxing evening. When it gets dark, the bridges are lightened with hundreds of lamps and beautifully reflected in river waters. You can observe the lifestyle of Isfahan citizens, listen to a street musician and have a nice walk along the river.
Khajoo Bridge oldest bridge in Isfahan :
One of the most beautiful bridges of the world. Khaju is a name of small district in the neighborhood of bridge. It is about 132 meters long and 12 meters wide. The KhajuBridge is made of two decks (floors). This bridge was built to work for different purposes. As a bridge connected the old Isfahan to villages located on the southern side and also connected Isfahan to Shiraz road. It was built as a wonderful recreational place. Steps in front of bridge and arches in the first deck have been used to relax and listen to the sound of water. It was used as a dam too. Water canals of bridge were closed during spring and summer seasons. Water was reserved on the western side of bridge, then diverted to Maddies and distributed to different districts of city, used for gardening, and agricultural purposes. Houses which were built among Madies, after few meters of digging wells, citizens could use filtered and clear drinking water. A beautiful garden city with houses full of small gardens and great numbers of fruit trees. The Khaju Bridge was built in the 15th century, during Tamerlane’s successors. In 1650 the bridge was reformed and constructed during the time of Shah Abbas the second. It has been repaired specially in 1837.
The lower deck has 21 sluices, about three meters wide. At the central part of the upper deck, there is a beautiful pavilion fantastically decorated, used by the rulers and royal family. For construction of foundation of pavilion central part of the bridge is wider than the two sides. This means that preserved the bridge as a dam, stronger and more solid. On the two sides of passages of upper deck there are alcoves .Sitting in alcoves one can sees wonderful view of beauty of surrounding greenery and water.
Large alcoves of lower deck located between water canals show other unique beauties. The Khaju Bridge is known all over Iran, visited by millions of visitors every year. Ornamentation of two sides, facing to river is a mixture of brick and tile mosaic work
As the only historical bridge on the western side of Zayandeh Rood River , the amazing Marnan Bridge is 185 meters long with stone piers and brick superstructure, dating back to the 17th century Safavid era with some evidence to a much earlier date of Sassanid period and contemporary with the Shahrestan Bridge as they both closely resembles to each other. Situated in the vicinity of the Armenian Jolfa district, one of the oldest districts of Isfahan, the bridge was reconstructed during the Safavid period by the order of Khajeh Sarafraz, the district administrator.
Marnan is an Avestan name and is likely to be a different form of Mehrbin (meaning vision of the sun) and probably the bridge has been called so due to the Fire Temple in the surrounding area.
Having 17 lower sluices and 14 upper arches, the bridge was once used as a dam, making it to be built on an up-level foundation and from which the Niasarm Stream is separated that is still running in the middle of the city.
Undoubtedly, the fabulous bridge and its fantastic verdant environs bring up a kind of indescribable and unforgettable situation for sightseeing in terms of tranquility and joy matching with other famous bridges namely Khaju and Si-o-Se Pol. Here, visitors can bear witness to the rarely seen characteristic of friendship between humans and seabirds where migratory birds such as gull are fed by people, providing a nice and memorable scene.
Shahrestan bridge :
Shahrestan bridge is the oldest bridge on Zayandeh Rood River in Iran. The foundations are from the 3rd to 7th century Sasanian era, but the top was renovated in the 10th century by the Buyids and finally during the 11th century Seljuk period. However the architectural style is totally Sasanian. The bridge was built in two parabolic shapes. The vertical parabolic component means that the middle point of the bridge is the highest part. The horizontal parabolic produces a bend to the west strengthening it against the flow of the river. This bridge is 107.8 metres long and an average of 5.2 metres wide. It has two levels of arches, 13 in the bottom and 8 on the top. The higher sluices quickened the passage of water during floods, thus taking pressure away from the structure. About 100 metres away from the bridge, the Zayandeh Rood River has recently been diverted towards the south and an artificial lake has been established around the bridge to protect it from further damage.
Naqsh-e Jahan Square or Shah Square :
Fascinating Naqsh-e Jahan Square or Shah Square As one of the UNESCO registered monuments ( UNESCO World Heritage Sites) is the main tourist spot of Esfahan in the heart of Esfahan which you will visit this famuse place by
traveling to Iran. This 400-year-old monument is one of the first places you will be visiting in Isfahan . (It was laid out in 1602 AD under the reign of the Safavid ruler) . In 1598 Shah Abbas decided to move the capital of Persian Empire from Qazvin to Isfahan as a more secure and convenient place. Shaykh Bahai became the leading architect of this project .
Naqsh-e Jahan Square is 160 meters wide by 560 meters long, which results in a total area of 89,600 square meters.
The north end if the square through Qeisarie Gates turns to the Imperial Bazaar – the main bazaar of Isfahan . Imam Mosque (Shah Mosque) is located on the south side of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square . Western side of this mosque stands Ali Qapu palace and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is located on the eastern side of Imam square . In fact they comprise the huge complex to explore in Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Inside the square, there are some horses with their carriages on which you can do horseback riding and they will take you back in time to the Safavid era as if you are the king on the horse. Among these monuments there is a large and old bazaar where you can go shopping and buy souvenirs for yourself and your friends or family. The architecture of this amazing and shiny square is also unique as it is one of the largest squares in the whole world.
The Imam Mosque as the everlasting masterpieces of architecture in Esfahan –Iran started in 1611 and finally terminated in 1629 and which its splendor is mainly due to the beauty of its seven-color mosaic tiles and calligraphic inscriptions. This magnificent monument is inspired by the creativity of Shah Abbas and the expertise of his architect.This creativity has caused wondrous view to your eyes as a part of Naqsh-e Jahan Square complex .The white marble stones for its foundation were brought from the Ardestan city and its portal is festooned with Kashi Moarraq (A kind of tile) by very skillful artists of that era .
Its portal was constructed to face the square, but the mosque’s orientation is toward Mecca and the square is connected to the inner courtyard through a short corridor, having a pool for ritual ceremonies of absolution and four iwans. Its portal had an ornamental function in the beginning, but it changed to be the Qeysarieh Portal at the entrance of Grand Bazaar of Isfahan. The majesty of the architecture of this mosque cannot be described in words; thus you must go there to pay a visit in person.
Ali Qapu:Another attraction on the west side of Imam Square is Ali Qapu Palace, which is opposite to Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, was frist constructed to be a huge portal. The monument with its six floors and forty-eight-meters of height has deep circular niches in the sixth floor. Its name means great gate because it was located exactly at the entrance to the Safavid palaces from Naqsh-e Jahan Square to the Chahar Baq Boulevard.
The monument, built by the order of Shah Abbas I in the seventeenth century was originally constructed to receive foreign guests and ambassadors. Shah Abbas used to celebrate Nowrooz (Iranian New Year) here in this fabulous edifice.
Inside the monument is replete with naturalistic wall paintings of the court painter of Shah Abbas. There are flower, animal, and bird themes in his work. The last Safavid ruler, Shah Sulan Hussein, repaired and restored the whole monument, but again Afghans invaded Iran and made a mess of it. Shah Abbas II who was passionate for the embellishment and perfection of Ali Qapu, again restored it and added the third floor to its magnificent hall. 18 columns of this monumental edifice are decorated with mirrors and the ceiling is covered with great paintings. This palace is displayed on the back of the Iranian 20,000 Rials note.
Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is another monument dominating the boundary of the Naqshe Jahan Square, which was the first one among the four constructed edifices around the Square. This mosque, unlike Imam Mosque which was built for the public, was built for the private life of the royal court.At the entrance of the mosque, there were standing guards who protected the women of Shah, and the doors were held closed all the time. Although, in comparison with Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is very simple in design, but it has an exceedingly complex decoration both inside and outside. The exterior of its single 13 m in diameter dome is richly ornamented with exquisitely made and beautiful tiles.
The Chehel Sutun Palace
Several palaces were built in Isfahan, during Safavid era few of them have survived. Even those which have survived were severely damaged. The palace of Chehel Sotun(palace of 40 pillars) is located in a vast beautiful garden. The original garden was larger than now.
The present garden is 60000 square meters. The palace area is about 2125 square meters. There is a large pool in front of the palace. The first part of palace was built during Shah Abbas the great period. The beautiful frontal porch and the mirror ornamented Eivan were built during Shah Abbas the second era. It was used as a reception palace; foreign delegations and royal guests were entertained in this palace.
In some parts of the palace more than three layers of plaster work has been found, made by the commands of different rulers. The palace was completed in 1647. it was restored by the last Safavid king. The palace has some of pre- Islamic architecture’s specification. For example like Persepolis, the palace stands on a platform higher than ground floor. Chehel means forty. This number is used to indicate a large number. There are twenty wooden pillars in the front porch. These pillars are reflected in the pool located in front of palace. Twenty pillars and bright reflected pillars in the pool is a reason to call it “The Palace of Forty Pillars”.
Each pillar was made of Sycamore trunk, originally decorated with coloured wooden ornamentation and mirror work. Unfortunately pillars decoration has been vanished.
The ceiling of porch is decorated with Beautiful inlaid works. It has the best kind of inlaid decoration among Iranian palaces. In the centre of this part there is small marble pool. At four corners of rectangular shaped pool there are four stones made lions, facing toward the pool. These lions were used as bases of four pillars and the same lions work as water fountains.Above the entrance door of the main reception hall, there used to be a holy Quran which was stamped by the Third Imam of Shiites (Immam Hossein). It is a popular tradition even today, that when people who travel pass under the holy Quran, for luck and safe journey. The above mentioned holy Quran is kept in the palace’s museum.
Three remarkable kinds of paintings can be seen in the main reception hall. First the ceiling has a wonderful glittering gold designs. Second, traditional miniature paintings which have decorated lower parts of the hall. Different ideas were taken from Iranian literature, in order to create these paintings. The third type is portraits of kings, rulers, battle scenes and royal receptions, from different periods. On some parts of walls more than two layers of painting can be seen.
This palace was restored by Iranian and Italian masters. All paintings have been cleaned and some parts were repaired. The famous Chaldoran war and Karnal war paintings belong to Qajar period. Original Safavid era’s paintings are beneath these two paintings.
Chaldoran war took place between Shah Ismail Safavid and the Ottoman’ Karnal war paintings are about invasion of India by Nader shah Afshar.
One of the paintings shows a reception feast by Shah Abbas the great, receiving Vali Mohammad Khan king of Turkistan. Another painting is showing Shah Thahmasb Safavid receiving Homayon Shah from India.
Another painting shows a battle between Shah Ismail Safavid and Uzbeks. The last one shows Shah Abbas the second receiving Mahmood Khan from Turkistan. For visitors short tables are hanged under large paintings, with very brief information.
On northeastern and southeastern of the palace there are two beautiful semi large rooms which are beautifully ornamented with plasters works and paintings. Unfortunately these rooms have been seriously damaged.
The northern eivan and western eivan was decorated with portraits of European ambassadors and famous members of European delegations. The Chehel Sotun palace is also used as a small museum, worth visiting.
In the south eastern rooms, there is a master piece of art, a strained glass window, which was transferred from another monument, called Darbe Emam.
At the southern garden’s wall of Chehel Sotun palace glorious portal of a mosque was transferred from Qotbieh Mosque. Unfortunately expansion of Isfahan and construction of new streets has deeply damaged historic part of Isfahan. Qotbieh Mosque was one of them. There are four statues showing human and lion at four corners of the large pool in the front of palace. These stones belonged to a palace called “Ghasre Sarpush Khaneh”.
The palace like hundreds of other historic monuments was ruined. These statues were pillar’s bases have been removed to Chehel Sotun.
Hasht Behesht Palace
One of the remaining monuments of Safavid Era is Hasht Behesht Palace. Its brilliant architecture along with its design and decoration have made it a legendary palace.
It has four different façades each one visible through a particular angle. There is also a garden around this structure from which not much has remained. However, a park has recently been established near the building with modern affiliations.
One of the two gardens in Chahar Bagh Street (the Four Gardens) is Hasht Behesht Palace and its garden. This spectacular historical structure is located in the western part of Chahar Bagh Street and across from Sheykh Bahaei Street. Reaching here by public transportation is possible by bus. Municipal Bus Station is the closest station to this palace. Other attractions near Hasht Behesht Palace are Naghsh-e Jahan Square, Chehel Sotoun Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Ali Qapu, Qeysarieh Gate (The Grand Bazaar), and Imam Mosque. Consequently, you can consider these sites to visit afterward. Isfahan owes a great deal to Safavid Era and its kings. Shah Abbas, the first king of Safavid Empire, selected Isfahan as the capital city. One of his decisions to make Isfahan a competent city for his empire was to build up a long street, Chahar Bagh Street (the four gardens), and develop some gardens in it. Sad to say, none of these gardens have remained excluding Chehel Sotoun Garden and Hasht Behesht Garden. The beauty of the garden is not fully left for us to explore however the palace is still a lively monument. The word Hasht Behesht used to mean “The Entrance to Heaven” in the Persian language. Hasht Behesht Palace was built in 1669 and for a long time was called “the most beautiful palace in the world.” In 1964, the garden was conceded to Culture and Art Ministry of Iran.
The magnificent tiling of Hasht Behesht Palace includes different kinds of birds, reptiles, and predators paintings on. This mansion has four different façades that despite their similarities are all unique. It may seem that the northern front view is the main façade but the pool in the garden suggests that the main façade is the eastern one. The two-storey palace is built 2 meters above the ground level. The walls of the first floor contain paintings and fascia architecture. The second floor exhibits some rooms, windows, and doors with cachet design. In the middle of the hall, there is a marble pool called “The Pearl Pool”. The design of the pool is in such way that the water seeps through its holes like pearl. This palace was a house to the eight wives of Shah Abbas. Four of them used to live on the first floor and the four others on the second floor. The artistic and glorious decorative design of the building has made the travelers speechless through all these years.
You might like to have some Persian delicious meals in the good restaurants around Hasht Behesht Palace. Apochi offers some of the best restaurants to you as it always cares to put forth the bests for its customers. These restaurants are Adak Fast Food Restaurants, Venice Restaurants, Nobahar Restaurants, Saraye Simorgh Restaurant, Shahrzad Restaurant, Pasto Restaurant, Hakim Bashi Persian Restaurant, and Kowsar Restaurant.
MONARE JONBAN (SHAKING MINARATES) :
It is the most famous historic monument all over Iran, but it is not the most important building.
Shaking Minaret was built in 1316 during IlKhanid period. It was constructed over the tomb of a Sufi learned man called Abdollah Soqla.
The building was ornamented by pieces of dark blue tiles and brick. It is a vaulted building. There are two small and semi light brick towers on the top of eivan added at the time of Safavid dynasty. Each minaret has a very narrow spiral staircase to the top of minaret.
The summit of each minaret has small open arches. It is very famous because one can shake not only the minarets, but also the whole eivan and the vault.
There is a staircase from ground floor to the roof of the vault and eivan, if you climb to the summit of one of minarets, through narrow staircase and hold the minaret by hands and shake it, the same minaret and the opposite minaret shake.
People watching from the courtyard can see it shaking and visitors on the roof see and also feel minor shaking.
Each minaret is about six meters tall and the arch’s width is about ten meters. Isfahanologists believe that all minarets shake a little, but in this monument, it shakes remarkably.
It is located in far west of Isfahan. During peak season of domestic tourism, thousands of visitors pay a visit to this monument.
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Persiansurfing as full-service travel holding located in Isfahan, Iran, offering a variety of travel packages and services. Our team consists of a group of young Iranians, who have educated in tourism as well as tourism management . We are aiming to present Iran in a different light and promote the country’s rich culture heritage and architecture to the world.
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