Half of the World, City of Turquoise Domes
Once the capital of the Persian Empire and later the Safavid (1501-1722) dynasty, Isfahan was a place where various cultures and nationalities met and merged.
Due to its strategic location on the roads to Susa and Persepolis, the city had military significance in ancient Persia and some believe its name derives from the Pahlavi ‘Aspahan’ meaning ‘place of the army.'
During its golden age in the 17th century, Isfahan was bigger than London, more cosmopolitan than Paris, and grander than the fabled Istanbul.
Known as the City of Turquoise Domes for its beautiful mosques, which sparkled like gems along the Silk Road, Isfahan was where Islamic architecture achieved excellence and influenced the design of mosques throughout Asia.
Isfahan is the city of striking boulevards, stunning covered bridges, magnificent palaces, and beautiful churches.
Among the cities of Iran, Isfahan has the most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and therefore it is not surprising that it carries the nickname “Half of the World.”
Today, this ancient city is the third largest Iranian city and an important center of Armenian culture.
Top things to do
- Naqsh-e Jahan Square along with the Isfahan Bazaar, Lotfollah and Shah (Imam) Mosques and Ali Qapu Palace
- Vank Cathedral
- Swinging Minarets
Top foods to try
- Beriani - Cooked mutton or lamb grilled in special small round shallow pans in an oven or over a fire served with powdered cinnamon in local bread.
- Khoresht-e mast or yoghurt stew – A sweet pudding made of yogurt, lamb/mutton or chicken, saffron, sugar and orange zest .
- Gaz or the Persian nougat - A chewy mix of Pistachio, Almonds, cardamom and rosewater shaped into square or round little bites of sweetness.