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“Isfahan – Nesf-e-Jahan”, a Photo Essay

“Isfahan – Nesf-e-Jahan”, a Photo Essay

By on May 15, 2016 in Blog, Featured, Travellogue, Travelogue |

Sana Gillani

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.


A beautiful old woman walking through Shah Mosque's courtyard, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

A muqarnas on the entrance of the Shah Mosque, Isfahan. The Mosque was constructed during the Safavid period and features beautifully crafted mosaic riles and calligraphic inscriptions.

Shah Mosque, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Shah Mosque, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Shah Mosque, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Part of the dome of Shah Mosque, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

The Nagsh e Jahan Square, Isfahan. We spent a lot of our time in Isfahan, here. It hosts most of the tourist attractions. You can be transported around the square by a horse-drawn carriage and treat yourself to an ice cream available through food stalls. © Sana Gillani

The enchanting Ali Qapu Palace, Nagsh e Jahan Square, Isfahan. The palace was built by Safavid Shah Abbas I in the 17th century. This is the cleverly crafted Music Hall, its deep ceramic shaped niches serving the purpose of both beauty and acoustics. © Sana Gillani

A ceiling at the Music Hall at Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Another section of the ceiling in the Music Hall of Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

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

Quranic calligraphy skilfully set into the mosaic tiles, cut specially to form the script, Sheikh Lotfollah Masjid, Isfahan. Abdul Hadi recognised this set of quranic tilework as being selected from Juz Amma (the 30th section of the holy Quran). © Sana Gillani

The muqarnas of the Iwan in the Sheikh Lotfollah Masjid, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Decorative floral motifs forming part of the tilework in Sheikh Lotfollah Masjid, Isfahan. © 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

Another view of the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Masjid, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Sheikh Lotfollah Masjid, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

The entrance hall of Sheikh Lotfollah Masjid, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Joubi Bridge, Isfahan, constructed in the 17th century during the reign of Shah Abbas II. I love this photo because each subject within it is so distinct and tells a tale of their own. © Sana Gillani

Joubi Bridge, Isfahan, at sunset. The historic bridges in this part of Isfahan are very popular amongst locals who flock to them with family to enjoy the sights and parks surrounding the Zayandeh river. © 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

Detail of the Masjid-e Jame, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Interior of Masjid-e Jame, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

The ornate muqarnas of Masjid-e Jame, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Delicate mosaic and calligraphic work on the Iwan of Masjid-e Jame, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

The intricately carved stucco mihrab of Masjid-e Jame, Isfahan. Take note of the distinct style, as it was constructed by Mongol ruler Oljaytu in 1310. It was fascinating to look at, and we were glad it was well preserved. © Sana Gillani

Segment of the Iwan at Masjid-e Jame, Isfahan. © Sana Gillani

Masjid-e Jame, Isfahan. © 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

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