Naghsh-e Jahan square, the top must see in Isfahan

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Before traveling to Iran, Maybe you have visited Tian-an-men in China or Red Square in Moscow or the other historic squares in the world, and you have just heard about Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan.

The first glance is enough to fall in love with the beauty, peace, simplicity and the compatibility of all components.


According to the tourists who have traveled to Isfahan and visited this square, Naghsh-e Jahan Square or Meidan-e Imam is the most beautiful historic square in the world.



When Shah Abbas ascended to power, he decided to move his capital from Qazvin on the north to Isfahan in the center. Before Shah Abbas, the power was decentralized in Iran by local institutions in every corner of Iran. Recreation of Isfahan, as a grand capital was an important step in centralizing the power in the center of Iran to distance from the powerful enemies on the north-east and north-west of Iran such as Uzbeks and Ottomans and undermine the other local institutions in Iran.

The other reason to choose Isfahan was zayanderud River which was necessary to Irrigate their gardens. Beside, Isfahan was the capital of Seljuks in the past and there was some basic infrastructures from the past.

The first step to recreate the capital was the project of Meydan-e Shah or Naghsh-e Jahan Square as a crown gem of the city. The other name of the square was the new Square after the old square of Seljuk period, 2400 meters far from the new square.



Shah Abbas built his masterpiece closer to the river, but he did not want the old square and bazaar to be abandoned. The solution was connecting these two squares by building a covered bazaar between.

Shah Abbas also centralized the power of clergy in Isfahan by settling Shiite sect as the official religion of Iran.

He invited Shia dignitaries from Lebanon to promote this new belief and started to build the Grand Shah Mosque or Jame Abbasi Mosque on the southern side of the square and Sheykh Lotfollah Mosque and Islamic school in the name of his father in law who was one of the Lebanese dignitaries.





These two monuments have been constructed with a peculiar orientation which nobody feel it at the entrance. This shows the architect ingenuity.

The reason is that the square does not lie in alignment of Mecca, but has been built to the best direction to catch the relevant light.

The other important element in the square is Ali Qapu Palace on the western side. This palace was the entrance gate of the government yard and its balcony is a VIP place to watch the square and Polo matches.



The length of the square is 560 meters and its width is 165 meters with a Polo field in the middle. Although the square experienced a lot of alterations during 400 years, the Polo goal posts still stands on the both side of the square. It shows that Polo is an old sport in Iran, however, today Iran has not a powerful national team.



On the northern side of Naghsh-e Jahan square, the Grand gate of Qeysarieh or Imperial Bazaar invites you to enter a peaceful active place full of handicraft shops and the sound of eager shoppers bargaining with shopkeepers and vendors.

Through this bazaar you can find not only handicrafts and workshops, but also spices, medical herbs, antiques and cafes as well.




Imagine in Safavid period after the dusk when the shops got closed, the square changed to an entertainment place by jugglers, mummers, puppet players and acrobats.

Today, after 400 years people still go to Naghsh-e Jahan square in the evening with the beautiful illumination to picnic with the family. Children wade in the long pound in the middle of the square. Someone plays music and someone sing. The lovers date in the cafes around the square specially the one over the square with a nice view. The horse and buggies are waiting for you to give you a delightful ride around the square to experience a feeling being in Safavid period.




In a word, the complex of Naghsh-e Jahan square had several functions which made it unique in the world such as religious, educational, economic, commercial, entertainment and touristic functions.

The Portuguese ambassador in Shah Abbas period, De Gouvea, stated that:

The people of Isfahan are very open in their dealing with foreigners, having to deal every day with people of several other nations.   




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