Naqsh-e Jahan Square

The largest square in the world is Tiananmen Square. Second to the Chinese square is Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan. The grandeur of Naqsh-e Jahan Square allows the modern world to understand the loftiness of the Persian Empire. Built in the 17th century, it was where Shah Abbas the Great reviewed his army. Thousands of soldiers and horses gathered here and began their expansion of the Persian territory. 

Next to the square, there are three major tourist attractions, namely Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on the east side, Imam Mosque (Shah Mosque) on the south and Ālī Qāpū Palace on the west. North of the square is a bazaar for civilians shopping and recreation. The square is neatly designed with an extensive grassland and fountain in the middle. Thus, you can be blessed with a cooling breeze while marvelling at the magnificence of the empire. The grand square and beautiful gardens are the best heritages of the Persian Empire.

Khaju Bridge

Rivers developed civilisation. For Persians, Zayandeh River is the mother river giving birth to the glorious Persian civilisation. Above the great river is the Khaju Bridge which is the finest of all Persian bridges.

With 24 arches and double arcade, the bridge is, in fact, a barrage, community and art gallery. The beauty of the bridge stuns everyone and the artistic tilework and paintings mesmerise all. The tea houses and shisha bars on the bridge are where locals chill out. After taking photos of the light and shade in the octagonal pavilions at four o’clock, you can chat with the locals in the tea house until sunset. The Khaju Bridge turns into the most beautiful park when night falls. Everyone sings and enjoys the shade under the arches for a relaxing night. 

Vank Cathedral (Holy Savior Cathedral)

In this ancient Persian capital, there is a miniature Armenia where the locals have kept their own culture. They have their own newspapers and church. It might seem surreal in the Middle East, but it is true. After Shah Abbas the Great conquered part of the territory of the first Christian country in history, he saw the trading and artistic talents in Armenian people. Therefore, he relocated Armenians to Isfahan, allowing them to beautify the new capital city with Armenian art. Surprisingly, these Armenian outsiders were not discriminated against, they were highly respected by the nation instead. The king even gave strict instructions that all Muslims must treat the Armenians well and respect their religion and culture. This accounts for the preservation of the most traditional Armenian culture and art in Iran till now.

The Vank Cathedral is the spiritual centre for Armenians in Iran. Although the exterior is influenced by mosque architecture, the top of the cathedral surprisingly features a small cross. The interior design, yet, fully presents the cultural elements of Armenia. The cathedral features a blend of the Islamic and Armenia styles. The interior walls of the golden cathedral show worshippers the stories in the Bible. The museum inside even exhibits precious Armenian heritage treasures. For example, the Bible in Hebrew, traditional handicrafts and the edict by Shah Abbas the Great on the protection of Armenians. All cultural relics are presented with English translations for you to gain a better understanding of this exotic land. 

Chehel Sotoun

The centre of this historic city has Chehel Sotoun erected. Chehel Sotoun is the former palace for Persian kings. After Shah Abbas the Great moved the capital city to Isfahan, Shah Abbas II built this majestic palace in this trading hub in the 17th century for handling national affairs and receptions of foreign officials. The bewitching Persian gardens of the palace attracted many foreign officials and business visitors.

The square in front of the palace was elegantly designed. A rare scene in Iran can be found here with nude female statues at the gate – proving the openness of Isfahan. As you count the number of columns at the entrance pavilion, you may wonder why there are only 20 columns when the palace is named “Chehel Sotoun”, literally forty columns. In fact, the number of columns includes the reflection of the columns in the waters of the fountain. In Persian, the number“40” is a symbol of respect and appreciation. The Persian miniatures will have you stunned as they present the stories of Persians interacting with people from neighbouring countries. They are also a reflection of the social environment at that time. In this palace, you will learn about the diplomatic and sociocultural history of the Persian Empire. 

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

Feeling visually tired of majestic mosques and the glitters of extravagance? Then you should visit Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, known as the most beautiful mosque in the globe, for a brand-new literature and art experience. 

This mosque was never intended for public use, but rather served as a worship place for imperial consorts. They would visit the mosque through a secret tunnel and start worshipping. There are neither minarets nor courtyards. It only features a prayer chamber, but still, the mosque is beautiful in its own way. The dome in perfect ratio changes colours with the sun – sometimes blue, sometimes red. Intricate and vibrantly coloured, the floral patterns fully painted on the wall are so special that you cannot find elsewhere. It is so bewitching that every romantic girl will fall for. The sunbeam lights up the dome through a small window, creating a unique, breath-taking scene in which you will be amazed at the work of the Creator.