Naqsh-e Jahan (“Image of the World”) Square:
In the time of the Shah, Naqsh-e Jahan Square was called Shah Square. The square is located in the heart of the city of Isfahan and was constructed between 1598 to 1629. The square is one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. The square is 160 meters wide and 560 meters long. Within the walls of the square are two very spectacular mosques and king Abbas’s palace. Also within the walls of the square is Isfahan’s largest bazaar that is built inside the walls and spans the entire perimeter of the square.
Something very special about the square is that anywhere you stand within the square you do not see any buildings or skyscrapers peeking out from behind the walls of the square. The only obstacles in view that are not part of the architecture of the square are mountains. This is very unique in a huge city such as Isfahan where skyscrapers poke out from every street corner. As part of a world heritage site, this is a regulation that must be met.
In 1598, Shah Abbas moved the capital of his empire from the city of Qazvin to the city of Isfahan. It was then that he chose chief architect Shaykh Bahai to redesign and urbanize the entire city. What was special about building this square was that the Shah would bring together the three main components of the Persian empire: the clergy (represented by the mosques), the merchants (represented by the bazaar), and the Shah himself (represented by the Ali Qapu palace).
Young children take advantage of the large reflection pool inside the square to cool off on a hot day in Isfahan.Buildings from the Safavid era surround the square. Included are multiple world-famous mosques, the Shah Mosque and Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, and the Ali Qapu Palace. (Blog of pics from inside this mosque above to come)
Horse & Carriage Rides:
One of my favorite things about the square are the horse-driven carriages that give rides to passengers. The horses have been at the square for as long as I can remember ever since I was a child, and is definitely worth experiencing at least once. The carriages circle half of the square and each ride is either one or two rounds.
My cousins waiting for an empty carriage.
Center for Persian Handicraft:
Isfahan is famous for being the center of handicraft in the country of Iran. For example if you want to buy fabric or rugs, you have to buy them from Shiraz. If you want to buy handicraft such as gold and silver jewelry or hand crafted metal work and enamel work, you have to buy them from Isfahan.
Another famous Persian handiwork is called “mina.” It is hand painted-enamel work on metal. Mina work can be made into anything from plates to vases. Usually, these plates are hung up on walls and used as decoration.
Hand Block Printed Fabric:
One of my favorite handicraft that’s unique to the city of Isfahan is block-printing. When we visited Naqsh-e Jahan Square, we walked into this block-printing shop that is located within the walls of the bazaar. I was lucky enough to catch an artist mid-action and take pictures of his work step-by-step. Block printing is done on plain white, thin canvas-like fabric. The artist starts by painting his carved block (similar to a large wooden stamp).He paints his fabric one color at a time. Here, he was in the process of creating a table cloth. He starts with the color red and uses multiple uniquely designed blocks to stamp the entire cloth. Once the red dries completely, he will move on to blue, and then green, and so on, until a beautifully designed table cloth is complete.
I spent so much money in this store, because I love this work so much. I bought a table cloth, four couch throw cushion covers, and two side tablecloths for my apartment :). The things I got were all turquoise-blue colored.
Here is a glimpse at some of the stuff I bought: this is the table cloth, the throw cushion covers and side table clothes were in the same pattern 🙂