Esfahan: The City That Once Called “Half The World”

For everyone going to Iran, Esfahan is a mandatory city to visit.

Forget about Paris, Esfahan is the most beautiful city in the world.

The Persians called it “Nesf-e-Jahan”, meaning “Half the World”. Located right at the center of Iran, Esfahan was one of the largest cities in the world and had been given the honor to be the capital of Iran twice. This former capital of Persian empire is still full of history with beautiful Persian Islamic architecture, palaces, mosques and a lively bazaar famous for their Persian carpets.

Modern carpet shop with A/C

What to see in Esfahan

Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Known as Imam Square, the square is situated at the center of Esfahan City. Captured between intricate blue-tiled mosaics, splendid Quranic calligraphy, glittering iwans, perfectly geometrical floral motifs, architectural masterpieces are visible at every angle. Currently one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, the place is surrounded by the buildings from Safavid era: mosques, a palace, a madrasah, a bazaar, you name it!

A small portion of Imam Square
Soaking in water fountain during Summer

Imam Mosque

Also called as Shah Mosque or Royal Mosque, it is one of the everlasting masterpieces of architecture in Iran and considered being the most beautiful mosque in Iran.

Admission fee: 200,000Rls (~USD4.70) as of May’16

Exterior of Imam Mosque
Inside the mosque

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

While the Imam Mosque was built for the public, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was constructed as a private mosque to be used by royal court. Though smaller than Imam Mosque, entering the inner dome will take your breath away. 

Admission fee: 200,000Rls (~USD4.70) as of May’16

Perfectly designed geometrical shapes

Grand Bazaar

On the back side of the Imam Square is one of the biggest bazaars in the Middle East. I got lost there a few times and had never managed to exit the same way I got in.

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Si-o-Seh Bridge

There are a total of eleven bridges in Esfahan, and Si-o-Seh Bridge is the most beautiful of all. Si-o-Seh is literally translated into “thirty-three” due to its 33 arches that stretch across the Zayandeh River. Built at the turn of the 17th century, the bridge extends to nearly 300-meters in length, making it the longest bridge in the city.

Night view of the bridge
River was drying up during Summer
Men singing underneath the bridge

Jolfa – The Armenian Quarter

In the early 17th century, hundreds of thousands of Christian Armenians from northwest Iran were resettled in Esfahan. The christian neighborhood has a very distinct atmosphere and it shows how multicultural the city of Isfahan is.

Vank cathedral is most impressive church in the district with its interior mural paintings. There is also an interesting Christian museum which displayed historical artifacts telling the story of Christians in Iran and a memorial to the Armenian Genocide.

Doesn’t look impressive from the outside
Impressive mural paintings of the interior church
Memorial to the Armenian Genocide

Esfahan is a perfect city to just walk around the small streets and alleys. They are interesting sights everywhere and a big opportunity that locals will treat you with some cups of tea. I’ll recommend you to say yes! Iranians are by far, some of the friendliest and welcoming people on earth.

A lunch invitation by the family
Try exploring on a bike… your own risk!

Getting in and out of Esfahan

I took a night bus from Rafsanjan to Esfahan which was a 6-hours journey.

There are several bus terminals serving different destinations from Esfahan:

  1. Kaveh Bus Terminal is in the north is the biggest and has buses to Tehran, Kashan, Shiraz, Yazd and most other destinations in Iran.
  2. Soffeh Bus Terminal is in the south and has services to most destinations in the south of Iran including Shiraz and Kerman.
  3. Jey Bus Terminal is best for the desert cities east of Isfahan like Varzaneh, Nain and Yazd.

Isfahan has a train station with daily night trains to Tehran and Mashad, however there are no trains to Shiraz.

Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!

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Aloha! I'm Bunzy, a curious dreamer who is passionate about roaming around the world getting lost, experiencing new cultures and meeting the locals. My superpower is to be able to sleep anywhere, anyhow!

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