Esfahan, known and not without a reason, as half of the world, is a city of unrivalled historical and aesthetic significance both in Iran and abroad. Esfahan at a glance is mesmerising and the more you look, the more you enjoy what you see. Aside from the sheer beauty of its historic monuments, for which credit is largely due to the mighty Safavid Dynasty (1501–1736), Esfahan’s distinctive feature is truly its craftsmanship. One of the joys of wandering around the UNESCO-listed Naqsh-e Jahan Square on a sunny day is the sound of the coppersmiths at work in the mesgarha section of the bazaar. Esfahan is home to Iran’s most beautiful mosques, finest bridges and majestic Armenian churches. Uniqueness of this city lies in that it has to date maintained historic and cultural heritage of Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians and Muslims and it is so very special in itself.
Esfahan at a glance
- Start with a visit to the grandiose Naqsh-e Jahan Square and make sure to return here at various times throughout the day to witness the change in colours as the sun starts going down.
Take a moment, enjoy the light and silence under the magnificent tiled dome of Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, while pondering about your past, present and future.
Wander around under the high-rise vaults of the Qeysariyeh Bazaar, historically more affluent part of the Iranian bazaar (whose name not incidentally originates in the Roman ‘Kaiser’).
For the finest Safavid architectural and fresco delights, head to the Chehel Sotun Palace, attesting to the dynasty’s good taste in arts.
Enjoy a good cup of coffee and a freshly baked cake in the Armenian quarter of Jolfa before visiting the spectacular Vank Cathedral and the nearby Bethlehem Church, both dating to the 17th century when many Armenians were resettled here on the order of the Safavids.
Have a stroll along the Se-o-Se Pol bridge, stunning any time of the day, but certainly most beautiful in the evenings.
Have a tea or a warm bowl of soup in the courtyard of Hotel Abbasi, formerly a caravanserai but currently a luxurious hotel with Iranian hospitality at its best. Book a room here, budget allowing.
Ladies should in particular consider a quick stop by the Bazaar-e Honar, a historic gold bazaar, whose rents were once the main lifeline of the nearby Madrasa Chahar Bagh.
Make every effort to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of masjed-e jame (main congregational mosque), whose classic four-ivan plan is a masterpiece in itself as well as a prototype for mosques in Iran and the entire region.