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Isfahan

Isfahan
Esfahan
Ancient names: Spadana, Spahan, Sepahan, Espahan
Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Isfahan, Iran

Seal
Nickname(s): Nesfe Jahan (Half of the world)
Isfahan
Isfahan is located in Iran
Isfahan
Isfahan
Isfahan in Iran
Coordinates: 32°38′N 51°39′E / 32.633°N 51.65°E / 32.633; 51.65
Country Flag of Iran.svg Iran
Province Isfahan
County Isfahan
District Central
Government
 - Mayor Cyrus Sadeghi
Area
 - Total 106,179 km2 (40,995.9 sq mi)
Elevation 1,590 m (5,217 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 1,583,609
 - Population Rank in Iran 3rd
  Population Data from 2006 Census[1]
Time zone IRST (UTC+3:30)
 - Summer (DST) March 21 - September 20 (?) (UTC+4:30)
Website http://www.Isfahan.ir

Isfahan or Esfahan (Persian: اصفهان Esfahān, Old Persian: Aspadāna, Middle Persian: Spahān), historically also rendered in English as Ispahan or Hispahan, located about 340 km south of Tehran and is the capital of Isfahan Province and Iran's third largest city (after Tehran and Mashhad). Isfahan city had a population of 1,583,609 and the Isfahan metropolitan area had a population of 3,430,353 in the 2006 Census, the second most populous metropolitan area in Iran after Tehran.[2]

The cities of Najafabad, Khaneh Esfahan, Khomeini-shahr, Shahin-shahr, Zarrinshahr, Mobarakeh, Falavarjan and Fouladshahr all constitute the metropolitan city of Isfahan.

Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran, and 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 became 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 Persian proverb "'Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast" (Isfahan is half of the world).[3]

The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the biggest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments ranging from the Sassanid to the Safavid dynasties. Remaining Islamic architectural sites were built from 11th to the 19th century, while older, pre-Islamic monuments date back to 1000 B.C.

Contents

History

Chehel Sotoon is a famous tourist attraction.
Entrance to Shah Mosque or Shah Jame' Mosque, the most glorious sign of flourishing architecture during the Safavid dynasty.
Detail of Khaju Bridge.

Prehistory

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

Elamite Empire

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. 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.

Islamic Era

Isfahan fell temporarily 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 dynasty, 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.

In 1387, Isfahan surrendered to the Turko-Mongol warlord Timur. Initially treated with relative mercy, the city revolted against Timur's punitive taxes by killing the tax collectors and some of Timur's soldiers. In retribution, Timur ordered the massacre of the city residents and his soldiers killed a reported 70,000 citizens. An eye-witness counted more than 28 towers, each constructed of about 1,500 heads.[4]

As the result of its suitable geographic situation, Isfahan flourished again especially during the Safavid dynasty.

The Golden Age of Isfahan arrived in the 16th century under Shah Abbas the Great (1587-1629), who conquered it and made it the new capital of the Safavid dynasty. During the reign of Shah Abbas I, who unified Persia, Isfahan reached its pinnacle. Isfahan had parks, libraries and mosques that amazed Europeans, who had not seen their like on their continent.

The Persians called Isfahan, Nesf-e-Jahan (half the world), meaning that to see it was to see half the world, and also referring to it as a point where many cultures and nationalities meet and mingled. In its heyday, Isfahan was one of the largest cities, with a population of over half a million;[3] 163 mosques, 48 religious schools, 1801 shops and 263 public baths.

In 1722, following the defeat of the Safavids in the Battle of Gulnabad, Afghans raided Isfahan after a long siege, which left much of the city in ruins. Although the Afghans were a primary cause of Isfahan's decline, it can also be attributed to competition from maritime commerce developed by European merchants from such countries as the Netherlands. Isfahan's wealth originated in its role as a chief waystation along the trans-Asia trade route (such as the Silk Road). Such land trade dwindled as the cheaper sea routes increased in popularity for transporting commodities between Asia and Europe.

Modern age

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). In its gaseous form it 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 in 2006, Iran was building hardened bunkers under Isfahan to protect UF6 production.[5]

The cities of Najafabad, Khaneh Esfahan, Khomeini-shahr, Shahin-shahr, Zarrinshahr, Mobarakeh, Fouladshahr and Falavarjan 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 IR.AN-140 aircraft is made), is located nearby.[6]

Isfahan hosted the International Physics Olympiad in 2007.

Geography and climate

The city is located in the lush plain of the Zayandeh River, at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The city enjoys a temperate climate and regular seasons. No geological obstacles exist within 90 km north of Isfahan, allowing cool northern winds to blow from this direction. Situated at 1590 meters above sea level, Isfahan is still very hot during the summer with maxima typically around 36 °C (97 °F). However, with low humidity and moderate temperatures at night, the climate can be very pleasant. During the winter, days are mild but nights can be very cold and snow is not unknown. However, on the whole Isfahan's climate is extremely dry. Its annual precipitation of 113 millimetres (4.4 in) is only about half that of Tehran or Mashhad and only a quarter that of more exposed Kermanshah.

Culture

Architecture and landmarks

View of Ali Qapu Palace.
A carpet shop in Grand Bazaar, Isfahan.
Khaju Bridge.
33 Pol Bridge.
Armenian Vank Cathedral

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.

Historical sites

Squares and Streets
  • Naqsh-e Jahan Square also known as "Shah Square" or "Imam Square" - 1602.
  • Meydan Kohne (Old Square)
  • Shahshahan Square
  • Chaharbagh Boulevard - 1596.
  • Chaharbagh-e-khajou Boulevard
Palaces
  • Ali Qapu (The Royal Palace) - Early 17th Century.
  • Talar Ashraf (The Palace of Ashraf) - 1650.
  • Hasht-Behesht (The Palace of Eight Paradises) - 1669.
  • Chehel Sotoun (The Palace of Forty Columns) - 1647.
Old schools (Madresse);
  • Madreseye Sadr.
  • Madreseye Shah (Chahar Bagh School).
  • Madreseye Khajoo.
Mosques
  • Shah Mosque
  • Hakim Mosque Isfahan
  • Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque
  • Esfahan Jame (Congregative) mosque[7]
Caravanserais
  • Shah Carvanserai
Bazaars
  • Grand Bazaar, Isfahan
  • Shahi Bazaar
Bridges

The Zayandeh Rud (river) starts in the Zagros Mountains, flows from west to east through the heart of Isfahan, and dries up in the Kavir desert.

The bridges over the river include some of the nicest architecture in Isfahan. The oldest bridge is the "Pol-e Shahrestan," which was probably built in the 12th century during the Seljuk period. Further upstream is the "Pol-e Khaju," which was built by Shah Abbas II in 1650. It is 123 metres long with 24 arches, and it also serves as a sluice gate. The next bridge is the "Pol-e Jubi". It was originally built as an aqueduct to supply the palace gardens on the north bank of the river. Further upstream again is the Si-o-Seh Pol or bridge of 33 arches. Built during the rule of Shah Abbas the Great, it linked Isfahan with the Armenian suburb of Jolfa. It is by far the longest bridge in Isfahan at 295m.

  • Pol-e Shahrestan (The Shahrestan bridge) - 11th Century.
  • Marnan bridge
  • Pol-e Khaju(Khaju Bridge) - 1650.
  • Si-o-Seh Pol (The Bridge of 33 Arches) - 1602.
  • Pol-e-Joui or Choobi (Joui bridge).
Churches and Cathedrals
  • Vank Cathedral - 17th century.
  • Kelisaye Maryam (Maryam Church).
Bathhouses (Hammam)
  • Khosro Agha
  • Ali Gholi Agha
  • Khajouha
  • Shahzadeha
  • Bigdeli
  • Sheikh Bahaei
Houses
Other sites
  • Atashgah - a Zoroastrian fire temple.
  • Buqe'h-ye Ibn-Sina (Avicenna's Dome) - 12th Century.
  • The Tombs of Nizam al-Mulk & Malek Shah - 12th & 18th Century.
  • New Julfa (The Armenian Quarter).
  • The Bathhouse of Sheikh Bahai.
  • Pigeon Towers - 17th Century.
  • Manar Jonban, a famous minaret

Art

An old master of hand-printed carpets in Isfahan bazaar.
Hand crafted, hand painted pottery.
Mina
Ghalam Zani
Rug manufacture

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. Esfahani carpets today are among the most wanted in world markets, having many customers in western countries.

Esfahani rugs and carpets usually have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. 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.

Food

  • Fesenjan - a casserole type dish with a sweet and tart sauce containing the two base ingredients, pomegranate molasses and ground walnuts cooked with chicken, duck, lamb or beef and served with rice.
  • Gaz - the name given to Persian Nougat using the sap collected from angebin, a plant from the tamarisk family found only on the outskirts of Isfahan. It is mixed with various ingredients including rose water, pistachio and almond kernels and saffron.
  • "Khoresht-e mast" (yoghurt stew) is a traditional dish in Isfahan. Unlike other stews despite its name, it is not served as a main dish and with rice; Since it is more of a sweet pudding it is usually served as a side dish or dessert. The dish is made with yogurt, lamb/mutton or chicken, saffron, sugar and orange zest. Iranians either put the orange zest in water for one week or longer or boil them for few minutes so the orange peels become sweet and ready for use. People in Iran make a lot of delicate dishes and jam with fruit rinds. This dish often accompanies celebrations and weddings.
  • Isfahan is famous for its Beryooni. This dish is made of baked mutton & lungs that are minced and then cooked in a special small pan over open fire with a pinch of cinnamon. Beryooni is generally eaten with a certain type of bread, "nan-e taftton".
    See also Biryani.

Famous people

Artists
  • Jalal al din Taj Esfahani,1903-, one of the best vocalists of classical music of Iran
  • Hasan Kasaie,1928-, greatest ney player of Iran (ney is a musical instrument used in Iran's classical music)
  • Jalil Shahnaz, 1921-, greatest Tar player of Iran
  • Master Ahmad Archang famous artist and designer of Isfahan rug patterns
  • Alireza Eftekhari, 1956-, vocalist of popular and classical music
  • Mohammad Esfahani, popular music
  • Moein, 1951-, popular and classical music
  • Hassan Shamaie zade, music composer
Actors & Movie Directors
  • Reza Arhamsadr-, 1923-2008, a famous father of Persian comic cinema and theater, popular actor
  • Nosratolah Vahdat,1925, a famous & popular actor
  • Mohamad Ali Keshvarz-, 1930-, a famous & popular actor
  • Hassan Aklili, 1953-, famous actor in theater and popular director
  • Kiumars Poorahmad, 1949-, a famous & popular director
Painters
  • Sumbat Der Kiureghian, 1913-1999, سمبات دِركي وُرقيان, the best Isfahanian Armenian painter
  • Hossein Mosaverolmolki,1889-1969, حسين مصورالملكي, one of the best painters and miniaturists
  • Yervand Nahapetian, 1917-, يرواند نهاپطيان, Isfahanian Armenian painter
  • Ostad Javad Rostamshirazi, 1919-, Isfahanian painter
  • Mahmuod Farshchian, 1930-, the best miniaturist of Iran
Political figures
  • Shapour Bakhtiar, Ex Prime Minister of Iran
  • Ahmad Amir-Ahmadi, 1906-1965, military leader and cabinet minister of Iran
  • Hossein Kharrazi, chief of army in the Iran & Iraq war
  • Abdollah Noori, ?-, reformist politician and cleric
  • Mohsen Nourbakhsh, 1948-2003, economist, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran
  • Hossein Fatemi, 1919-1954, PhD, politician
Religious figures
  • Salman Farsi(Rouzbe Piranestani)
  • Allamah al-Majlisi, 1616-1698, Safavid cleric, Sheikh ul-Islam in Isfahan
  • Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, 1927-, reformist cleric
  • Ayatollah Rahim Arbab, 1847-?, cleric, Ayatollah-al-ozma rank
  • Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, 1928-1981, cleric, Chairman of the Council of Revolution of Iran
Sportspeople
  • Moharram Navidkia, Captain of the Sepahan Football Club
  • Ehsan Haj Safi, youth phenomenon of teh Sepahan Football Club
Writers and poets
  • mohamad ali jamalzadeh,1891-1977, father of story writing of Iran
  • Mokrame Esfahani, anti-superstition poet
  • Hatef Esfahani,1198(died) moral poet
  • Houshang Golshiri, 1938-2000, writer and editor
  • Mirza Abbas Khan Sheida, 1880-1949, poet and publisher
  • Hamid Mosadegh, 1939-1998, poet and lawyer
  • Hassan Safdari, poet and writer
Others
  • Nasser David Khalili, 1945-, property developer, art collector, and philanthropist
  • Arthur Pope, 1881-1969, American archaeologist, buried near Khaju Bridge

Education

Central library of Isfahan.

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

  • Universities
  • High schools
    • Harati High School
    • Adab High School

There are also more than 50 Technical and Vocational Training Centers under the administration of Isfahan TVTO which provide non-formal training programs freely throughout the province.[8]

Sports

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

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

A town is twinned with:

  • Flag of Kuwait Kuwait City, Kuwait
  • Flag of Lebanon Beirut, Lebanon [9]
  • Flag of Spain Barcelona, Spain [10]
  • Flag of Egypt Cairo, Egypt
  • Flag of Italy Florence, Italy
  • Flag of Italy Venice, Italy
  • Flag of Germany Freiburg, Germany
  • Flag of Cuba Havana, Cuba
  • Flag of Armenia Yerevan, Armenia[11]
  • Flag of Romania Iaşi, Romania

Gallery

See also

  • Iranian architecture
  • Isfahan Province

References

  1. ^ Census (from the Statistical Center of Iran, in Persian.)</
  2. ^ 2006 Census Results (Statistical Center of Iran, Excel file, in Persian.)
  3. ^ a b "Isfahan Is Half The World", Saudi Aramco World, Volume 13, Nr. 1, January 1962
  4. ^ Fisher, W.B.; Jackson, P.; Lockhart, L.; Boyle, J.A. : The Cambridge History of Iran, p. 55.
  5. ^ "Iran - is military action feasible?", The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 25 January 2006
  6. ^ Contact Us (from the HESA official company website)
  7. ^ "Isfahan Jame(Congregative) mosque - BackPack - Fotopages.com". Fz-az.fotopages.com. http://fz-az.fotopages.com/?entry=942627&back=http://fz-az.fotopages.com/?page=0jame. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  8. ^ Isfahan Technical and Vocational Training Organization
  9. ^ "Isfahan, Beirut named sister cities". MNA. http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=392389. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  10. ^ "Barcelona internacional - Ciutats agermanades" (in Spanish). © 2006-2009 Ajuntament de Barcelona. http://w3.bcn.es/XMLServeis/XMLHomeLinkPl/0,4022,229724149_257215678_1,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  11. ^ "Yerevan Municipality - Sister Cities". © 2005-2009 www.yerevan.am. http://yerevan.am/main.php?lang=3&page_id=194. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  12. ^ "Sister Cities of Istanbul". http://www.greatistanbul.com/sister_cities.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  13. ^ Erdem, Selim Efe (2009-07-01). "İstanbul'a 49 kardeş" (in Turkish). Radikal. http://www.radikal.com.tr/haber.php?haberno=94185. Retrieved 2009-07-26. "49 sister cities in 2003" 
  14. ^ "Sisterhoods". Isfahan Islamic Council. 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-12-19. http://web.archive.org/web/20071219202932/http://www.council.isfahan.ir/EStatic/WFESisterhood.aspx. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  15. ^ "Saint Petersburg in figures - International and Interregional Ties". Saint Petersburg City Government. http://eng.gov.spb.ru/figures/ities. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 

External links

Governmental websites
Other websites