You might think that Iran sightseeing tours are limited to those including brilliant nature tours. But Naghshe Jahan Square is definitely a must-see. This square hosts a number of monuments and has many historical buildings. So when you visit the square, you will see an important part of Isfahan’s wonderful treasure. In this article, we are about to see why.
Any Isfahan travel guide offers Naghshe Jahan Square as a great place to see. Naghshe Jahan Square, officially known as Imam Square, is the central square of the city of Isfahan and is part of a historical complex. It is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. What distinguishes this square from similar squares in the world is its rectangular shape. The shape actually differs from the circular or oval shape of many common squares. This rectangular square is 560 meters long and 160 meters wide.
Iran tailor-made tours might even spend more time in Naghshe Jahan Square. To understand the greatness and attractiveness of this square, just know that Naghshe Jahan is larger than the Red Square in Moscow, one of the world’s largest and most famous squares. The large and well-known square of Brussels, Belgium, with a dimension of 110*68 square meters, occupies less than a tenth of what Naghshe Jahan does. Naghshe Jahan Square is historically superior to the Concorde Square in Paris and is named after the Tiananmen Square in Beijing as the world’s second-largest square.
Before the city of Isfahan became the capital of Iranian Safavid, there was a large garden area called Naghshe Jahan. The garden was also home to government buildings and the palaces of the rulers of Timurid and Ak Koyunlu. At that time, the square part of the garden was called “The Door of the Kiosk”. Located on the western side of the modern-day square, this section is home to Ali Qapu Palace.
Seljuqs era and Kushk Square
In the Seljuqs era, at least part of the garden was known as Kushk Square. Barkiaruq’s arrest by his brother Mahmoud, a very historically important event, happened in this area. Kushk Square was the place of executing the convicted and celebrating official ceremonies such as Nowruz.
Since the beginning of the reign of Shah Abbas I, the square has become much larger than the former Kushk Square, and there have been numerous ceremonies and important events here. Various sources ascribe the current shape of the monument to the reign of Shah Abbas I. Master Mohammad Reza and Master Ali Akbar Isfahani are the names of two architects who designed the square and built it in its current form. You can see the names of these two architects on two buildings around the square.
In the design of the square, the architects used the former Atigh Square in Isfahan as a prototype. Taken together, this type of square design called the Iranian Square, which links the market, government center, and religious site (mosque) together, had been common in other cities of Iran.
During the construction of the square, and later throughout the Safavid era, the square was alive and bustling, but it gradually declined during the reign of King Sloeyman and Sultan Hussein. During the reign of King Sultan Hussein, the water levels gradually declined, and the last remaining trees died.
During the Qajar reign, the square was neglected like other monuments in Isfahan. Parts of the square were demolished during the turbulent period of Iran from the invasion of Ashraf to the establishment of the Qajar government. Parts of the house, including the mausoleum of the Qajar dynasty, were also destroyed.
Naghshe Jahan is situated in the center of Isfahan. Around the square, there are pavilions or shops offering fine craftsmanship. Everything is so spectacular that you forget to step inside the buildings and want to spend more time looking at these beauties. Perhaps this is why there are also stone benches in the square so you can sit on them and become immersed in the lives of the people of Isfahan for a few minutes.
When you set foot into Naghshe Jahan Square, you enter a different space from the city. The square has a large pond in its midst and a beautiful fountain. Numerous crossings allow you to easily move around the square and enjoy its glamour. On both sides of the square, there are religious buildings and mosques, and on one side there is a spectacular palace. You can also enter the Isfahan Market from here.
One of the eye-catching monuments in Naghshe Jahan is Ali Qapu Palace. It is on the west side and invites you into its inner world. The mansion is 48 meters high and has 6 stories connected with spiral staircases The monument was built by the order of Shah Abbas I after the transfer of the Safavid capital from Qazvin to Isfahan. The government people used it as the office of the Safavid government. The architects finished the construction of Ali Qapu in 6 stages. During the reign of the successors of Shah Abbas I, especially Shah Abbas II and King Soleyman, this place became more beautiful day by day.
The most spectacular part is the top floor, which is known as the Music Room or the Sound Room and features sketches of various instruments. The magnificence of this building lies in its miniatures, which are the work of the famous artist of the Safavid era, Reza Abbasi, and have given beauty to this place.
In one corner of this historic square, the beautiful dome of a mosque attracts the attention of any passer-by. Unlike other mosques whose minarets have gone into the blue of the sky, there are no minarets above this one. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the special mosques of Iran built during the Safavid era. Today, it has many fans as one of the most spectacular places in the world.
The mosque is considered a masterpiece of architecture and tile-work. Master Mohammad Reza Isfahani built the mosque. He was a renowned architect of the period and did it at the behest of Shah Abbas I. It took about 18 years to build, and after many years, it is still an astonishing masterpiece in the use of color and light in architecture. One of the wonders of this building is the peacock, which is designed in the inner center of the dome, and its feathers are complemented by light from the top arch at the entrance of the mosque.
On the south side of the square, there are dome and minarets belonging to Imam Mosque. The mosque, also known as the Mosque of Shah, Soltani and Jame Mosque, is the most important historical mosque in Isfahan and one of the most important Islamic architectural monuments in Iran. The magnificence of this mosque comes from the most stunning images and the repetition of the building elements, the symmetrical arches, the beauty of the great ablution pond, and the tile-work.
Isfahan bazaar is one of the biggest and most beautiful markets in Iran. Because of its presence in Naghshe Jahan Square, it is one of the most privileged markets of Iran in terms of tourism. The construction of the main building of this market and its various sections ended in the Safavid and Qajar periods.
Part of this market is known as the Qisariyya Market. Its entrance in the Naghshe Jahan Square is marked by a beautiful gate. There are many main shopping lines in this market, among which are samovar makers, Makhlas, Maghsudbeik, Haroonieh, and Golshan. There are a number of religious schools, too.
You can buy all kinds of souvenirs of Iran from here, including Gaz and other famous confectionery, handicrafts, and rugs.
The place is called Naghshe Jahan (a miniature of the world) because it was virtually the center of all activities of the Isfahani people. The market, the religious centers, educational centers, and government offices were all concentrated here. It was as if a small version of the whole world was alive and bustling here.
Naghshe Jahan was also a Chogan field. In its heyday, it was host to many games and the king would watch the game from Ali Qapu’s famous porch.
Iran Tours are a great opportunity to explore places around famous tourist attractions. When you visit Naghshe Jahan, you can also go and enjoy visiting Hasht Behesht Palace. This is another one of the Safavid buildings. In addition, Chehel Sotun is very close to this area. This one is a brilliant tourist attraction, and you will eventually visit it when in Isfahan. In the case of your interest, you can have a private tour in Isfahan historical center and most highlighted ones to explore all of them. Also, you can apply for a 6-day trip to most architectural cities of Iran from Tehran which includes Tehran, in addition, to Isfahan and Kashan.
You can stay at many great hotels in Isfahan because almost all Isfahan hotels are good. But those closest to the square are Keryas Traditional Hotel, Kowsar Hotel, and Abbasi Hotel. The three hotels provide high-quality service and a memorable stay.
Many cafes and restaurants are around the square. Naghshe Jahan restaurant is a great choice. It provides traditional Isfahani food of very good quality.
Next time you’re applying for an Iran visa, make sure you put Naghshe Jahan Square on your itinerary and see all the wonders mentioned in this article.