Top 10 Places You Must Visit in Isfahan
Best Places to Visit in Isfahan
Isfahan is one of the best Iran destinations full of historical and cultural tourist attractions; You can find the glorious manifestation of Iranian architecture in this city more than in other Iran cities. Now, among the numerous Isfahan tourist attractions, which ones are the best to visit during your short stay in Isfahan? To answer your question, here we present the top 10 places you must visit in Isfahan.
In other words, you should not miss these mentioned Isfahan attractions on your trip to Isfahan.
Notably, visiting the numerous points of interest in Isfahan takes at least three days and the best time to visit Isfahan is spring; When you can enjoy the beauties of nature along with the majesty of Isfahan historical sites.
Zayandehrood River stretches from west to east of Isfahan, and during the time, about eleven bridges have been build over it. Nowadays, the historical bridges are among the best places to visit in Isfahan. These monuments date from the Sassanid era and even earlier. Here we introduce the five most beautiful and famous Isfahan bridges.
- Si-o-Se Pol Bridge: It is also known as Allahverdi Khan Bridge and is Isfahan’s most famous bridge that belongs to the Safavid era. Si-o-Se Pol is the symbol of Isfahan and well-known because of its unique structure; It consists of 33 arches in a row.
- Khaju Bridge (Pol-e Khaju): This bridge is built during the Safavid era in 1650. Due to the stunning construction of the bridge, it becomes one of the famous bridges of Iran. It is decorated with paintings and delicate tile works. The Khaju Bridge is also a recreation center and a place for public meetings.
- Shahrestan Bridge (Pol-e Shahrestan): It is the oldest bridge over Zayandehrud Bridge in Isfahan. Accordingly, the foundation of the bridge is Sassanid and has been renovated during the time. The pillars are made of stone, brick, and clay and are standing on the riverbed rocks.
- Marnan Bridge (Pol-e Marnoon): This bridge is one of the oldest bridges crossing the Zayandeh Rood river that dates back to the Sassanid Dynasty. Marnoon bridge is 160 meters long and consists of 17 arches.
- Choobi Bridge (Pol-e Choobi): Choobi Bridge, also called Joui Bridge, is another famous bridge of Isfahan, constructed during the Safavid era in 1665. It has 21 arches, and Shah Abbas II ordered to build it to irrigate Safavid royal gardens.
Why you should visit Isfahan Bridges
- Isfahan bridges have historical value and are the symbol of creative Iranian architecture.
- In spring, when the Zayandehrud River has water, walking on Isfahan bridges can create one of the most enjoyable moments of your Iran trip.
- These bridges are the best places in Isfahan to meet locals who get together for fun.
Vank Cathedral can be considered one of the most important Armenian churches in the Jolfa Quarter and one of the top 10 places to visit n Isfahan. With about 8731 square meters, this cathedral was built during the Safavid dynasty based on Saint Stephanos Monastery’s architecture in Julfa, Azerbaijan. The church has a massive dome with high walls and arches, and the paintings and gilding of the roof of this building are impressive.
All the paintings in the interior of the church are painted in oil paint and gold. They picture the life of Jesus and heaven and hell. Also, manuscripts of the Bible are engraved on the church walls. Notably, the Vank Church includes various sections such as the library, museum, office space, etc.
Why You Should Visit Vank Cathedral
- Vank Cathedral is the largest and one of the most famous historical churches in Isfahan.
- Its historical paintings and interior decorations are famous worldwide.
- Vank Church architecture is a combination of Iranian and Armenian architecture that you cannot find anywhere in the world.
- It is located in the Julfa neighborhood of Isfahan so that you can spend memorable moments in this quarter.
- You have a chance to visit the Vank Church Museum.
Jolfa Neighborhood (Armenian Quarter of Isfahan)
About 400 years ago, Armenians migrated from northwestern Iran to Isfahan and settled along the south bank of the Zayandeh Rood river. Now this district is called Jolfa neighborhood, new Julfa or Armenian Quarter of Isfahan. Hence, with its ancient and intact architecture and texture, It has become one of the most famous and exciting Isfahan historical sites to visit.
Paved and clean streets, tall clocks, churches, cafes, ponds, statues, and everything present the significant difference between this area and other parts of Isfahan. There are also cozy cafes with Western-style music and wooden chairs that invite you to spend at least a few moments drinking a cup of coffee while watching the vibrant neighborhood.
Besides, there are 11 historic churches in the Jolfa Quarter of Isfahan, that the first and most important of which is the Vank Church.
Generally, unlike European churches, the architecture of Jolfa churches is traditional Iranian, and the primary material used in them is clay. Also, the dome of Jolfa churches is very similar to Isfahan mosques’.
Why you should visit Jolfa, the Armenian Quarter of Isfahan
- Walking in the cobbled streets of the Jolfa Quarter is reminiscent of walking in the historic neighborhoods of European cities.
- In this quarter, you will find attractive and cozy cafes and restaurants.
- Here, you can visit Isfahan tourist attractions such as Vank Cathedral and Isfahan Music Museum.
- New Julfa is one of the top places in Isfahan for sightseeing at night and meeting the fashionable local youths.
- The atmosphere of the Armenian Quarter is distinctive from other Isfahan historical sites.
Jame Mosque of Isfahan
Without douth, historical mosques are among the top 10 places you must visit in Isfahan. And among these mosques, the Jame Mosque of Isfahan, also called Atigh Mosque, and the Friday Mosque of Isfahan is the oldest monument of the city located in Isfahan’s old part the end of the Grand Bazaar.
This Isfahan historical site was constructed and renovated during about twelve centuries ( from the 8th century to the end of the 20th century). Hence, each part of the mosque shows the evolution of Persian architecture in different periods.
Moreover, Isfahan Jame Mosque is one of the architectural masterpieces in Iran and the world. Its four porches around the square (called Chahar Iwan) are characteristic of the Iranian mosque-building method. So, the building architecture was used as a prototype for later mosque designs in Iran and Central Asia.
Furthermore, you can see the delicate Muqarnas decorations, tilework, and plasterwork in its interior design.
Finally, a carved stucco Altar called Oljuytu Altar, belonging to the 14th century, is located in the prayer hall.
Why you should visit Jame Mosque of Isfahan
- It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Isfahan located in the heart of the city’s old part.
- This Isfahan historical place is one of the most important and oldest religious buildings in Iran.
- You will see the most beautiful plastered altar of the patriarchal period in this mosque.
- It has valuable and interesting inscriptions.
Chehel Sotoun Palace (Kakh-e Chehel Sotoun)
Isfahan Chehel Sotoun Palace, located near Naghsh Jahan Square, stands in the middle of a large and lush garden. The garden is an excellent example of Safavid royal gardens and is one of the nine Persian gardens on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
This Isfahan historical site is famous for its unique paintings, mirrors, and inlays. Besides, there is a museum in Chehelston Palace, which houses a collection of works from old Isfahan.
Moreover, the Chehel Sotoun Garden Pool in front of the mansion is one of the most important parts of the complex. With 108 meters in length and 16 meters in width, the design and proportions of the pool are such that it reflects the full image of the palace.
Another element of the site that dazzles your eyes at first glance is its columned porch; The porch consists of 20 wooden columns and a wooden ceiling decorated with mirrors, paintings, and geometric motifs.
The images of the pillars are reflected in the large pool, and it seems like the mansion has 40 columns. Interestingly, this is the reason for naming this site; Because in the Persian language, “Chehel” means forty, and “Sotoun” signifies column.
Why you should visit Chehel Sotoun Palace in Isfahan
- Chehelsotun Palace displays pure and unique examples of Iranian art at its highest level.
- The garden is an excellent example of the Persian Garden and is an Iran UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- If you are interested in painting and mirror work, Chehelsotun Palace is one of the best places you must visit in Isfahan.
- You can visit the Chehel Sotoun Museum, which houses manuscripts related to more than a thousand years ago, paintings, works related to the Safavid period, etc.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the Isfahan historical mosques, located on the eastern side of Naghsh Jahan Square across the Ali Qapu mansion. This mosque dates back to the Safavid dynasty and shows the masterpiece of Iranian architecture and tilework art of 400 years ago.
One of the exciting features of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is that there is no minaret above it. The reason for this is that the minaret was for inviting people to the mosque, and since Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was exclusive to the royal family, it does not have a minaret.
Another interesting point about Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is a secret corridor under Naghsh Jahan Square, from Aali Qapo Palace to the mosque. The women of the royal family used this tunnel to move between two buildings. However, no photo of this tunnel exists, and it is said that during the construction of the Naghsh Jahan pond, its roof has collapsed.
Why you should visit Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
- The decorations of this mosque, especially its unique tiles, are spectacular.
- The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque architecture is an example of the distinctive architecture in Iran and perhaps worldwide.
- Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque has the most circular dome in the world.
- This Isfahan historical site is located in the UNESCO-registered Naghsh-e Jahan Square. Hence, you can also see other attractions in the great plaza of Isfahan, such as Ali Qapu Palace, Imam Mosque, and Isfahan Bazaar.
Ali Qapu Palace
Ali Qapu Palace is one of the Safavid era’s monuments on the western side of Naghsh-e Jahan Square, maintaining its grandeur after more than four centuries.
What makes Ali Qapu Palace one of the top places to visit in Isfahan is its unique miniatures and delicate plasterworks.
Besides, one of the architectural wonders of this mansion is that you see a different number of floors from each direction; from the front view, you can see a 2-story palace, from behind, a 5-story building, and from the sides is like a 3-story edifice. But actually, Ali Qapu Palace is a 6-story mansion.
Another unique architectural feature of this Isfahan historical site is its music hall. This hall is famous worldwide for its gorgeous decorations and acoustic properties.
Another beautiful part of Ali Qapu Palace is its porch with 18 tall columns. This porch was a place from where the royal family used to watch polo and horse riding competitions. And today, from this porch, you can see a beautiful view of Naghsh-e Jahan Square.
Why you should visit Ali Qapu Palace
- Among the top places, you must visit in Isfahan Ali Qapu mansion is so unique.
- It is a part of the Naghsh-e Jahan Complex that is one of the significant Iran UNESCO sites.
- This palace has eye-catching miniatures and plastering.
- Its music hall on the sixth floor is a masterpiece of architecture and decoration.
- The porch of this mansion offers a picturesque view of Naghsh-e Jahan Square.
Isfahan Grand Bazaar (Qeisarieh Bazaar)
Isfahan Grand Bazaar or Qeisarieh Bazaar is one of the best places you must visit in Isfahan and entertain for a couple of hours. This bazaar is located in the city center around Naghsh Plaza and stretches to Atiq Square (Jame Mosque of Isfahan).
Qeisarieh Bazaar is one of the historical bazaars and one of Iran’s most famous and vibrant bazaars, including various sections such as shops, Timchehs, corridors, caravanserais mosques, schools, baths, etc. Besides, the best place in Isfahan to buy beautiful handicrafts as Iran souvenirs is the Qaisaria Bazaar in Isfahan.
Interestingly, among other traditional markets in Iran, the architecture and interior sections of Qeysarieh Bazaar are less damaged and have retained their traditional forms. Even, you can find shops and stalls where only one type of goods has been sold since 400 years ago.
You can buy different Persian souvenirs such as Persian handicrafts, fabrics, clothes, gold and jewelry, Persian carpets, spices and herbs, traditional sweets, etc., in Isfahan Grand Bazaar.
Why you should visit Isfahan Grand Bazaar
- It is one of the most charming and vibrant Iranian markets and has a unique structure and atmosphere.
- It is one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the Middle East.
- You can find Isfahan and Iran’s best handicrafts in this market, from Termeh and Minakari to Khatamkari and Ghalamzani.
- The bazaar houses many historical monuments and cozy old and new cafes and restaurants.
- One of the entrances of this market called Sardar Qeysarieh, is located in Naghsh-e Jahan Square, one of Isfahan’s splendid tourist attractions.
Imam Mosque (Shah Mosque)
The historical mosques are always on the list of top 10 places you must visit in Isfahan but the Imam mosque is really exceptional. The Imam Mosque, also known as Shah Mosque and Soltani Mosque, is the most significant historical mosque in Isfahan. This mosque is one of the monuments in Naghsh-e Jahan Square, belongs to the Safavid period. This mosque is a unique example of Islamic architecture in Iran; an eternal masterpiece of architecture, tiling, and carpentry of more than four centuries ago. The Shah Mosque, along with Naghsh Jahan Square, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The monument is located on the south side of the plaza, the height of the enormous dome is 52 meters, and the height of the minarets is 48 meters.
Why you should visit Imam Mosque
- Imam Mosque is the most magnificent representative of Islamic-Iranian architecture and demonstrates the evolution of a thousand years of mosque construction in Iran.
- Innovative techniques in the decoration of Imam mosque became the model for later mosques.
- It is a part of the Naghsh-e Jahan Complex that is one of the significant Iran UNESCO sites.
- This historical mosque is located next to famous monuments such as Aali Qapu palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and Qeisariyeh Bazaar.
Naghsh-e Jahan Square
Naghsh-e Jahan Square is the great plaza of Isfahan located in the old district of the city and one of the top places you must visit in Isfahan. Entering the Naghsh-e Jahan Square, you step into a different world. This vast and astonishing square, belonging to the Safavid period, houses the wonders of Iranian architecture. In the middle of the plaza, there is a large pool whose fountains dance with lights. There are also stone benches around the square where you can sit and watch the people, the carriages pulled by horses, and children running around the pools.
On the four sides of the square stand stunning historical buildings; Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Aali Qapoo Palace.
Furthermore, the entrance of Isfahan Qeisariyeh Bazaar is on the north of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, which invites you to a colorful world; a magical world full of gorgeous Persian handicrafts and traditional sweets and dishes.
Why you should visit Naghsh-e Jahan Square
- Naghsh-e Jahan Square is the largest rectangular square in the world after China’s Tiananmen Square.
- It is one of the Iran UNESCO World Heritage sites and the symbol of Isfahan city.
- This historic square is located in the Isfahan tourist district, close to many other attractions, hotels, and restaurants.
- There are many colorful handicraft shops and traditional pastry shops around this plaza.
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