Meidan Emam, Esfahan (1979)
Islamic Republic of Iran

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Built by Shah Abbas I the Great at the beginning of the 17th century, and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-storeyed arcades, the site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qaysariyyeh and the 15th-century Timurid palace. 

They are an impressive testimony to the level of social and cultural life in Persia during the Safavid era. 

  • Iran 1984. Timurid Palace of Isfahan. 

Iran 1984. Timurid Palace of Isfahan.

Esfahan or Isfahan (ancient Aspadana), is a city in central Iran, capital of Esfahan (Isfahan) Province, on the northern bank of the Zaindeh Rud. Esfahan was renowned in former times for its architectural grandeur and the beauty of its public gardens. Most of the gardens and many of the edifices are now in ruins, but a number of imposing structures have been preserved or restored. 

Iran 1970. The Arcaded Seeyo-se-Pol Bridge, Isfahan.

In the central part of the city is a 17th-century royal mosque known as Masjid-i-Shah, which is faced with colored tile and regarded by many as an outstanding example of Persian architecture. The mosque is located within a huge rectangular garden, now surrounded by bazaars. 

Nearby is the Masjid-i-Shaikh-Lutfullah, a mosque famous for its dome of blue tile. The Ali-Kapu gate leads to the former royal gardens, in which is found the throne room, Chihil Sutun, or Forty Pillars. Additional points of interest include the Shah Hussain madrasa, a magnificent building constructed in 1710 as a school for dervishes, and an arcaded bridge spanning the Zaindeh Rud.

  • Iran 1970. The Arcaded Seeyo-se-Pol Bridge, Isfahan. 
When it was known as Aspadana, the city formed part of the ancient Asian country of Media. In the middle of the 7th century the city was occupied by invading Arabs. 

The Seljuk Turks conquered Esfahan and made it the capital of their empire in 1051. Tamerlane, the Turkic conqueror, captured the city in 1387, during his invasion of Iran, and reputedly massacred 70,000 inhabitants. 

  • Iran 1949. Seljuk coin found in Isfahan. 

Iran 1949. Seljuk Coin found in Isfahan.

Iran 1950. Building in Isfahan.

Esfahan's golden age began in 1598 when Abbas I, shah of Iran, made it the national capital. Under his patronage the city attained the peak of its growth, commercial prosperity, and architectural splendor. 

According to an unofficial estimate the population then numbered at least 500,000. 

Invading Afghans captured Esfahan in 1722, and the seat of the Iranian government was removed to Shiraz. The Afghans were expelled in 1729, but the city never fully recovered from their occupation. 

  • Iran 1950. Building in Isfahan. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Iran (on this site). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Iran for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 08 aug 2006  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus
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