The amazing history and architecture of Isfahan, once called “Half the World”

History Contributor
Isfahan, Iran - 2019-04-13 - Sie So Pol Bridge after sunset during blue hour.

Isfahan with outstanding history and amazing Architecture is a tourist spot and a third largest city of Iran. The city was also known by “Isfahan nasf-e-jahan’ which means ‘Half world”. Isfahan was knowns as the capital of Iran twice and was one of the largest cities.

Isfahan is well-known for its wide-ranging history that starts from the period of Achamaenids and ends with the Qajar dynasty. To enumerate, different empires ruled over Isfahan. Many valleys and peaks occur during this time.

Rulers of Isfahan, from the Acamaenids to the Seljuks

Between 651 C.E and 1220 C.E. Iran managed to get out from conquest of Arab, and the Persian Empire established with an Iranian dynasty. During this period the most famous Mosque (Masid-e-Jameh Isfahan) constructed by Nizam al-Mulk. Today the mosque is totally changed due to frequent construction until the late 20th century.

From the II-Khans to the Safavids

In II-Khans, or the ‘Lord of the World’, Oljeitu Khan was the most crucial ruler and was the first leader to accept the Shi’ite belief. He was a patron of art; some of his art work are on display in stucco prayer niche in the Friday Mosque.

Hafez, the great poet of Iran, lived at the time of the Muzaffarid.“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing lights of your own being” says Hafez in one of his famous poems.

This period ended by Timurid and followed by the Qara-Quiunlus, who built the Darb-e-Iman. After the arrival of Safavid dynasty, this period left amazing architecture. The Khajou Bridge, the Mosque of Hakim, the palaces of chehel, and Talar-e-Ashraf got constructed.

From Afghan interregnum to the Qajar

“Porch of Omar”, is the only construction at the time of Afghani interregnum, which is mehrab in the Friday mosque. In 1753, Shiraz became the capital when Karim Khan took the authority. Further constructions stopped in Isfahan, during the period of Qajar. “Masjed-e-Seyyed” was the only construction at that time.

UNESCO designates all these architectural constructions as World Heritage Sites. A British travel worker, Robert Byron, ranks it as “Isfahan along those rare places, like Athens or Rome, which are the common refreshment of humanity”. Knowing its impressive history and seeing its amazing architecture.

Isfahan was rightly called the “hidden jewel of Iran”.


(Written by Sadaf Riaz, freelance journalist)

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