The famous 16th century saying about this city, “Isfahan, nesf-e-jahan”, literally, Isfahan is half of the world, is no exaggeration.
Isfahan holds some of the most mesmerising historical monuments that makes it the most important city to visit in Iran. Marvel at her mosques, palaces, gardens and bazaars that will transport you to the glory of the Safavid dynasty and beyond. Wander through the Unesco-listed Nagsh-e-Jahan Square, which hosts all the major historical monuments.
It is currently the third largest city in Iran and has been a pivotal centre of trade for centuries. Isfahan’s history tells also of tragedy that came with the Mongol invasion and the onslaught of Timur Leng’s army. Still, some of her jewels have survived or been restored, and the city’s energy and vibrance of today proves to be a very memorable cultural experience.
I have decided to convey my time spent in Isfahan by means of a photo essay. This seems most fitting as a journey through Isfahan is a richly visual one.
The breath-taking and mystical Sheikh Lotfollah Masjid in Nagsh e Jahan Square, Isfahan. Spend the bulk of your time here because this mosque emanates some of the most peaceful and tranquil vibes of any of the mosques you will visit. It’s classically Persian bold blue tile work beautifully attempts to signify the infiniteness of God and its simple circular structure provides intrigue as light playfully streams through its windows. One of the highlights of the entire trip for sure. © Sana Gillani
The dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Masjid, Isfahan. A peacock tail effect can be viewed from the centre of the dome if seen from the correct angle. The dome is a reflection of Islamic style geometric patterns at their most exquisite, inviting one to see how the patterns interact as you twirl. © Sana Gillani
Another incredible view from Sheikh Lotfollah Masjid, Isfahan. What I loved most about this Mosque is that it was historically built as a private Mosque for the Royal Court. This led to the mosque being built without minarets and expansiveness. Its walls must hold stories of solace and refuge for the members of the royal family. © Sana Gillani
Sio-Seh Pol Bridge, Isfahan. Also on the Zayandeh river, it was built during the reign of Safavid Shah Abbas I. We tried to walk to a restaurant that we had been recommended which was apparently closeby. We got wonderfully lost and for some reason there were hardly and taxis to hail in this area. Made for a very long night on the streets of downtown Isfahan. © Sana Gillani
Masjid-e Jame, Isfahan. When Abdul Hadi and I first entered the courtyard of the mosque, our mouths dropped in amazement, subhanAllah. This mosque is another of the powerful, grand, exquisitely crafted masajid in Iran. Masjid-e Jame is quite interesting because it was first built during the 8th century but was burnt down and rebuilt by the Seljuk dynasty in the 11th century. It has been added to restored and added to ever since. The mosque is one of the oldest still standing in Iran and it documents the various different styles of masjid construction of the various eras. © Sana Gillani
Carpet shopping with Muhammad and his family. So let me tell you the story of Muhammad. This was a kind gentleman that was working at our hotel in Isfahan as a concierge and was answering an enquiry Abdul Hadi had about Iranian sim cards, or some other inane matter that travellers pester hotel staff about. Muhammad was interrupted by another urgent matter and asked us to come back at a later time. He felt so guilty about this that he made every effort to call our hotel room and help us set up our Iranian sim cards. Muhammad went well beyond the call of duty as a hotel staff member. He became our friend through plenty of interesting conversatons, a guide, and also helped us secure a good deal on a Persian carpet, as pictured here. He also introduced us to his sister and mother, who took us out for lunch. We’re still in touch with Muhammad and still very grateful for everything he done for us. © Sana Gillani