The Zayanderud and it’s Many Bridges

DSC01900The Zayanderud (Zayandeh River) is the largest river in the central plateau of Iran. It crosses directly through the city of Isfahan. In 2010, the river dried out completely after several years of draught. Today the river flows with water once again, however the city continues to close and open the dam throughout the year depending on water shortages throughout the districts. The water that forms the river originates from the inside of the Zagros Mountains and flows 400 kilometers. The 400 km of river is spanned by may historical bridges that were built in the Safavid era. The Zayanderud is the reason for the prosperity of the central Iranian provinces of Isfahan and Yazd. Two of the most famous bridges on the Zayanderud are the Siosepol (33 Bridge) and Pol-e Khaju (Khaju Bridge).
DSC01901 Women wearing head-to-toe hijab are having kayaking practice on the Zayanderud. They are padding upstream while simultaneously passing a volleyball back and forth. It is great to see that despite the suppression of women from participating in sports, they continue to do so.


Khaju Bridge:

The Khaju bridg was built by the Safavid king, Shah Abbas II, around 1650. The bridge serves both as a pedestrian bridge and as a dam. Furthermore, the bridge has multiple rooms on the inside which used to serve as meeting rooms and now serve as tea houses and restaurants. In the center of the structure, a pavilion exists which Shah Abbas would have once sat, today there are remnants of a stone seat.

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The Khaju bridge has 24 arches. The pass way of the bridge is made of bricks and stones with 21 larger and 26 smaller inlet and outlet channels.

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Siosepol:

Siosepol, which means 33 Bridge in Persian, is one of the eleven bridges of Isfahan and the longest bridge on the Zayandeh River. It was constructed during the Safavid period in 1632. It is one of the most famous examples of Safavid bridge design. It is named 33 Bridge because of its 33 arches. The Architectural design of the bridge is a double-check arch bridge, which means for each large arch on the bottom there are two smaller arches on the top.

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The bridge was constructed specifically to serve as a pedestrian bridge and still serves the same purpose today.

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Swan Paddle Boats 🙂

One of the best parts about the Zayandeh River are the swan paddle boats that I have always loved to ride since I was a child. The river and its paddle boats bring back memories from when I was around five years old. No matter how old I get, I will never get tired of them. Now that I’m older, the older cousins take the younger cousins out on the river so they can make the same memories :).

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 Siosepol (33 Bridge) at night:

At night, every single one of the arches of the Siosepol lights up and it’s a truly beautiful site.

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Isfahan Bound!

iran-1232[1] A few days ago I made the trip from Shiraz to Isfahan, traveling north for about 6 hours. My dad’s side of the family is located in Shiraz whereas my mom’s side of the family is in Isfahan (apart from my one aunt who lives in Tehran). The city of Isfahan is capital of the province of Isfahan (like Shiraz is the capital of the province of Fars). Isfahan is about half way in between Tehran and Shiraz and is Iran’s third largest city and third most populated (about 4 million) after Tehran and Mashhad.
DSC01395 (640x420)An image of the inside of the VIP buses that travel to and from almost every city in Iran, definitely the cheapest and best way to tour the country. The seats are super comfortable and bend way back, it’s air conditioned, and they give you snacks and drinks throughout the whole ride!
DSC01419As Shiraz flourished in the Zand and Sassanid dynasties, Isfahan flourished in the 16th century during the Safavid dynasty when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Isfahan is one of the most beautiful cities in Iran (I think it surpasses Shiraz in beauty). The city still retains its former glory and is famous for its Persian-Islamic architecture, beautifully landscaped boulevards, famous Zayanderud river and its many covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets.

The city is located in the lush plain of the Zayanderud River at the foothills of the Zagros mountains. The province of Isfahan is considered to be a desert and has an arid climate (with very little rain throughout the year). However, cool northern winds blow toward the city making it a livable climate.
DSC01427Isfahan and many other cities in Iran have sites that are designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. One of the most famous sites in Isfahan is the Nagsh-e Jahan Square (post to come), which is one of the largest city squares in the world and has remarkable architecture and is surrounded by two mosques and a bazar.

The history of Isfahan can be traced back to the Paleolithic period. Archaeologists have found artifacts dating from the Paleolithic period to the Bronze and Iron ages. In the Pre-Islamic era, Isfahan was home to the settlement that developed into the Elamite civilization (2700 BC) and was the home of the Median dynasty until Cyrus the Great unified Persian and Median lands into the Achaemenid Empire ~ 600 BC.
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One of the most beautiful streets in Isfahan is Chahar Bagh (literally translated to “four gardens”). Chahar Bagh is split up into Chahar Bagh Bala (upper Chahar Bagh) and Chahar Bagh Payeen (lower Chahar Bagh). The long boulevard which spans almost the entire length of the city is a beautiful tree lined street with shops on either end. The span of the boulevard also contains multiple rotaries and bridges and runs over the Zayanderud river (which runs perpendicular to the boulevard through the city).