Imam Square (Naqsh-e Jahan)
Naqsh-e Jahan Square (World Heritage Site) and the centerpiece to the majestic collection of palaces, public mosque, and bazaar of the ambitious city planning of Shah Abbas the Great. During the reign of Shah Abbas I and his successors, this square was an area where festivities, polo, dramatics and military parades took place. Two stone gates of the polo are embedded in the north and south of this square. The length of this great square is 500 meters from north to south, and its width about 150 meters from east to west. Most of the foreign tourists believe that Imam square is one of the greatest squares in the world. Naqsh-e Jahan Square has witnessed many historical memories of Iran during the past four centuries. Memories of the life of Shah Abbas the Great and his successors until the end of the Safavid era is associated with this great historical square.
The construction of this mosque situated at the south side of Imam Square (Naqsh-e Jahan) started in 1020 A.H under the order of Shah Abbas I during the twenty-fourth year of his reign, and the decorations and extensions of the building were completed during the rule of his successors. The chief architect and the supervisor of the building were Ostad Ali Akbar Isfahani and Moheb Ali Beik. This mosque is a masterpiece of the 16th century from the viewpoint of architecture, tile work and stone carving. One of the interesting features of this mosque is the echo of sound in the center of the gigantic dome in the southern section. The huge one-piece marble and other slabs of stone, besides the intricate tile work and adornments prove extremely spectacular views of this mosque.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
This mosque is another masterpiece of architecture and tile work of the 16th century which was constructed by a decree issued by Shah Abbas I and took a period of 18 years to be completed. The architect and mason of this structure was Ostad Mohammad Reza Isfahani. Inside tile work decorations of the plinth to the top are covered with mosaic tiles. In terms of the architectural grandeur of the mosque, foreign archaeologists believe: “It can hardly be considered a product of human hands.” Sheikh Lotfollah was one of the great pious in the Shia sect, in what is known as Lebanon today. At the invitation of Shah Abbas I, he came to reside in Isfahan. This place was constructed in honor of this great man who led the prayers and preached in this mosque.
At the west of Maidane Immam (Naghsh-e Jahan), just in front of the Sheikh Lotfollah mosque one, of the most magnificent palaces of 17th century is located. The Ali Qapu palace is well-known palace all over Iran. The first part of palace was built in 1597. It was used as a residential palace. Shah Abbas the great, ordered to construct the palace on the site of palace and garden from the Timurid time. Shah Abbas’s palace was a four floors with a veranda. Shah Abbas the second, expanded the palace and a music hall (room) was constructed on the top of palace.
The palace is about 38 meters high, the loftiest and tallest building in the 17th century. There are 52 rooms, but because a long restoration most of rooms are closed to visitors.
An old door was replaced from the shrine of Immam Ali in Najaf, to Isfahan. All people even the Shah, when they entered the palace dismounted from horses, in order to respect Immam Ali.
Shah Abbas considered himself as a real follower of Immam Ali. A beautiful door ornamented with gold, silver and other fine arts was made in Isfahan and dedicated to the holy shrine of Immam Ali which is located in Najaf Iraq.
Ali Reza Abbasi the prominent artist has worked on glorious miniature paintings. The main reception hall and all other rooms were decorated with fabulous plaster work, plaster carving and miniature paintings.
There are two sets of staircases to the top floor. Staircases are very narrow only one Person can climb the stairs at the same time. On the west side of the fifth floor, there is a balcony facing to royal gardens, and the palace of Chehel Sotoun. Just on western side in the same neighborhood there is an old monument, called Tohid Khaneh. It was used by Dervishes at the time of Shah Abbas the great. This monument and all rooms enclosed the Tohid Khane’s courtyard, now are used as a part of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Isfahan.
The Bazaar of Isfahan or Isfahan Bazaar is a historical market in Isfahan, one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the Middle East, dating back to the 17th century. The bazaar is a vaulted two-kilometre street linking the old city with the new.
The Bazaar of Isfahan is located in downtown old Isfahan, Iran, in the northern section of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square. The main entrance called Qeisarieh and you can walk all along to the Friday mosque Jameh Mosque the oldest mosque in Isfahan, and one of the oldest in Iran.
Before you enter the Grand Bazaar, if you look back you will see the magnificent view of the square, which is one of the biggest squares in the entire world. All around the square are bazaars full of magnificent Persian handicrafts .Meidan Emam was inscribed on the world heritage list of UNESCO in1979.