Known popularly as “Nesf e Jahan” (half of the world), Isfahan has grown, over the years, into a splendid architectural and cultural marvel set amidst a modern day metropolis. The city has seen Zoroastrian, Muslim, Turkic, and Mongolian settlers and rulers, and has adapted to the new ideas, technology, and architecture brought in by each invading nation. It has been plundered, razed, rebuilt, ornamented, and updated as the years have rolled on, and today houses relics from all the nations that set foot within it, either to embrace or disgrace the city. In fact, a large portion of the city has been declared as a permanent UNSECO World Heritage Site.
The city is famous for its large number of historic monuments, its mosques, its bazaars, and its royal palaces. All of these places are usually open to the public. Consequently, Isfahan attracts the largest number of foreign tourists than any other city in Iran, after the religious pilgrimages to the holy shrines at Mashhad.
The Naqsh e Jahan Square has shaped the modern Isfahan – from the time it was constructed by Safavid emperor Shah Abbas I to serve as the center point of the new Isfahan during the 17th century, the Square has grown in size to include monuments on its South, East and West sides, and the Grand Bazaar of Isfahan to the North – enter and get lost in the sands of time as you stroll through never-ending series of dimly illuminated street stalls, presenting an enchanting, almost mesmerizing experience!
The Zayandeh River still divides the city like it did ages ago, but now it contains quite a few splendid bridges laid out across it – all architecturally breathtaking.
Today, Isfahan, after Tehran and Mashhad, is the 3rd largest city in the country. It has grown into an industrial and economic hub, and contains a nuclear plant within its premises, and processing plants for steel and alloys that serve the whole country. Even with such modern development, Isfahan is still known for the quality of its handiwork – carpets, fine textiles, wood products, and metalwork.