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Image:Naghshe Jahan Isfahan.jpg
Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Isfahan

This article is about the city of Isfahan. For other uses, see Isfahan (disambiguation).

Isfahan or Eşfahān (historically also rendered as Ispahan, Old Persian Aspadana, Middle Persian Spahān, Persian: اصفهان‎ ​), located about 340 km south of Tehran, is the capital of Isfahan Province and Iran's third largest city (after Tehran and Mashhad). Isfahan has a population of 1,573,378 (2006 estimates). [1]

The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also contains a wide variety of Islamic architectural sites ranging from the 11th century to the 19th.

The beauty of Isfahan inspired jazz musician Duke Ellington and his collaborator Billy Strayhorn to write a song in its name, as part of The Far East Suite.


[edit] Geography

Image:Chehel Sotoon.jpg
Chehel Sotoon is a famous tourism attraction.

The city is geographically located at 32°38′N 51°29′E, in the lush Zayandeh Rud plain, at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The city enjoys a temperate climate and regular seasons. No obstacle exists as far as 90 km north of Isfahan and cool northern winds blow from this direction. Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran. It is situated at 1590 meters above sea level. It receives an average of 355 mm of rain per year, making it similar to Denver, Colorado in terms of altitude and precipitation. The temperature ranges between 2 and 28 degrees Celsius. The record high temperature was 42 degrees Celsius and the record low was −19 degrees Celsius.

The southern and western approaches of Isfahan are mountainous and it is bordered northward and eastward by fertile plains. Thus, Isfahan's climate is varied and occasionally rainy, with a precipitation average varying between 100 and 150 mm.

Isfahan was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it become the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the proverb Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast: "Esfahan is half of the world".

Of all Iranian cities, Isfahan is perhaps the most popular for tourists.

[edit] History

A Persian Rug depicting an old scene from the turquoise blue mosque of Isfahan.

[edit] Prehistory

The history of Isfahan can be traced back to the Palaeolithic period. In recent Archaeological discoveries, archaeologist have found artifacts dating back to the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages.

[edit] From the Elamites to the Arab conquest

Ancient Isfahan was part of the Elamite empire. Under the name of Aspandana it became one of the principal towns of the Median dynasty, when Iranian Medes settled there. Subsequently the province became part of the Achaemenid Empire and after the liberation of Iran from Macedonian occupation by the Arsacids, it became part of Parthian Empire. Isfahan was the centre and capital city of a large province, which was administered by Arsacid governors. In the Sassanid era, Isfahan was governed by "Espoohrans" or the members of seven noble Iranian families who had important royal positions, and served as the residence of these noble families as well. Moreover, in this period Isfahan was a military centre with strong fortifications. There were large population of Jews and christians concentrated around Isfahan at this time. This city was occupied by Arabs after the final defeat of Iranians.

[edit] The Islamic Era

Isfahan, like other cities of Iran, fell under the rule of Arabs until the Abbasid era, only being attended to by Al-Mansur. In the 10th century, under the Buwayhid Dynasty, Isfahan regained its importance. In the reign of Malik Shah I of the Seljuk dyansty, Isfahan was again selected as capital and commenced another golden age. In this period, Isfahan was one of the most thriving and important cities of the world. The famous Persian philosopher Avicenna lived and taught there in the 11th century.

This city was raided and massacred by The Mongols in the 13th century, followed by Timur in 1387. However, as the result of its suitable geographic situation, Isfahan flourished again especially in Safavid dynasty, which developed considerably.

The entrance to Shah Mosque or Shah Jame' Mosque in Isfahan. This mosque is the most glorious sign of flourishing architecture during the Safavid dynasty.

The Golden Age of Isfahan arrived in the 16th century under Shah Abbas the Great (1587-1629), who made it the new capital of the Safavid dynasty. During the reign of Shah Abbas I, who unified Persia, Isfahan reached its pinnacle of briskness. Isfahan had parks, libraries and mosques that amazed Europeans, who had not seen anything like this at home. The Persians called it Nesf-e-Jahan, half the world; meaning that to see it was to see half the world. In its heyday it was also one of the largest with a population of one million; 163 mosques, 48 religious schools, 1801 shops and 263 public baths.

In 1722, it was raided by the Afghans after a long siege, which left much of the city in ruins. Although the Afghans were a primary cause of Isfahan's decline, this can also be attributed to the development of maritime commerce by European merchants from such countries such as the Netherlands. Isfahan's wealth originated in its role as a chief waystation along the trans-Asia trade route, but trade dwindled as the cheaper sea routes increased in popularity for transporting commodities between Asia and Europe.

[edit] Culture

[edit] Architecture of Isfahan

The architecture of Isfahan is made up of eight traditional forms which taken together form the foundation in the same way that music was once based on a finite number of notes. These are modulated by the use of colors and textures to leaven the surfaces and are held together in an overall construction akin to that of a sonata in which connection leads to culmination through a transition space. To appreciate the skill of the architects and designers fully, it is necessary to have an appreciation of these fundamental concepts i.e. garden, platform, porch, gateway, dome, arched chamber, and minaret, although in the geometry and architecture of the buildings they are woven together to present a seamless whole. A full discussion of the underlying principles can be found in the paper entitled "The Alchemy of the Mosque", given to a joint meeting of the School of Architecture and the Islamic Society of the University of Manchester in 1997.

[edit] Historical sites

Interior view of the dome, Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque
Squares and Streets
Madressa (religious schools)
  • Shah Carvanserai
Khaju Bridge over Zayandeh rud River.
  • Pol-e Shahrestan (The Shahrestan Bridge) - 11th Century. sharestan bridge
  • Pol-e Khaju (Khaju Bridge) - 1650.khajoo bridge
  • Si-o-Seh Pol (The Bridge of 33 Arches) - 1602.
  • Pol-e-Joui or Choobi (Joui bridge).
Churches and Cathedrals
Other sites

[edit] Rugs of Isfahan

Main article: Isfahan rug
Image:Esfhan market(1).jpg
An old master of hand-printed carpets in Isfahan bazaar.

Isfahan has long been one of the centers for production of the famous Persian Rug. Weaving in Isfahan flourished in the Safavid era. But when the Afghans invaded Iran, ending the Safavid dynasty, the craft also became stagnant.

Not until 1920s, between two world wars, was weaving again taken seriously by the people of Isfahan. They started to weave Safavid designs and once again became one of the most important nexus of the Iranian rug weaving industry. Isfahani carpets today are among the most wanted in world markets, having many customers in western countries.

Isfahani rugs and carpets usually have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. Isfahani rugs and carpets often have very symmetrical and balanced designs. They usually have a single medallion that is surrounded with vines and palmettos and are of excellent quality.

[edit] Famous people from Isfahan

Political figures
Religious figures
Writers and poets
Tomb of Arthur Pope and his wife in Isfahan.

Arthur Pope, a famous American archaeologist and historian of Persian art, and his wife Phyllis Ackerman, are buried near Khaju Bridge in Isfahan.

[edit] Isfahan today

Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF), Isfahan. Here, uranium oxides, uranium hexafluoride, and other uranium compounds are produced. This fuel fabrication assembly is a vital part of Iran's nuclear fuel cycle.

Today Isfahan, the third largest city in Iran, produces fine carpets, textiles, steel, and handicrafts. Isfahan also has nuclear experimental reactors as well as facilities for producing nuclear fuel (UCF). Isfahan has one of the largest steel producing facilities in the entire region, as well as facilities for producing special alloys.

At Isfahan uranium is converted into Uranium hexafluoride UF6, which in its gaseous form is spun at high speed in the centrifuges to extract the fissile isotope. Isfahan is Iran's only domestic source of UF6. According to IAEA Iran is building hardened bunkers under Isfahan to protect UF6 production. ( January 25, 2006 1145)

The cities of Najaf-abad, Khaneh Isfahan, Khomeini-shahr, Shahin-shahr, Zarrin-shahr, and Fulad-e Mobarakeh all constitute the metropolitan city of Isfahan. The city has an international airport and is in the final stages of constructing its first Metro line.

Over 2000 companies are working in the area using Isfahan's economic, cultural, and social potentials. Isfahan contains a major oil refinery and a large airforce base. HESA, Iran's most advanced aircraft manufacturing plant (where the AN-140 aircraft is made), is located nearby.[2]

[edit] Sports

Isfahan has two football (soccer) clubs that have been title contenders in Iran's Premier Football League. These are:

[edit] Colleges and universities

Aside from the seminaries and religious schools, the major universities of the Isfahan metropolitan area are:

  1. Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
  2. Isfahan university of technology, Isfahan University of Technology ranks among the top 5 universities of Iran.
  3. University of Isfahan
  4. Isfahan University of Art
  5. Isfahan University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences
  6. Islamic Azad University of Isfahan
  7. Islamic Azad University of Khomeinishahr
  8. Islamic Azad University of Khorasegan
  9. Islamic Azad University of Mobarakeh
  10. Islamic Azad University of Najaf Abad
  11. Ashrafi Isfahani Academic Institute
  12. Malek Ashtar University of Technology
  13. University of Defence Sciences and Technologies

There are also more than 50 Technical and Vocational Training Centers under administration of Isfahan TVTO which provide non-formal training programs freely over the province:

Isfahan Technical and Vocational Training Organization

[edit] Sister cities

[edit] Further References

[edit] Gallery

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Municipality or other government related websites
Other websites

bg:Исфахан de:Isfahan el:Ισπαχάν es:Isfahan eo:Esfahano eu:Ispahan fa:شهر اصفهان fr:Ispahan id:Kota Isfahan it:Esfahan he:איספהאן ka:ისპაჰანი nl:Isfahan ja:エスファハーン no:Isfahan pl:Isfahan pt:Isfahan ru:Исфахан (город) sr:Исфахан fi:Isfahan sv:Isfahan tl:Isfahan (lungsod) tg:Исфаҳон


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