ISFAHAN historically also rendered in English as ISPAHAN, SEPAHAN, ESFAHAN or HISPAHAN, is the capital of ISFAHAN Province in Iran, located about 340km south of Tehran.
The city is located in the lush plain of the ZAYANDERUD River, at the foothills of the ZAGROS mountain range. The nearest mountain is Mount SOFFEH (KUH-e SOFFEH). No geological obstacles exist within 90km north if Isfahan, allowing cool northern winds to blow from this direction. Situated at 5,217ft above sea level, Isfahan has an arid climate. Despite its altitude, Isfahan remains hot during the summer. However, with low humidity and moderate temperatures at night, the climate can be very pleasant. During the winter, days are mild while nights can be very cold. Snow has occurred at least once every winter except 1986 / 1987 and 1989 / 1990.
Isfahan is Iran’s 3rd largest city after Tehran and Mashhad. It was once the one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the SATAVID DYNASTY, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Persian – Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques and minarets. This led to the Persian Proverb : ESFAHAN NESF-E JAHAN AST (Esfahan is half of the world).
The NAQSH-e JAHAN SQUARE in Isfahan, is also known as IMAM SQUARE (1602) is an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. The Square contains 2 mosques, a palace and a bazaar. The square is the largest historical public square in the world after Tiananmen Square in Beijing and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Square is surrounded by buildings from the SAFAVID ERA.
The history of Isfahan can be traced back to the Palaeolithic Period. In recent discoveries, archaeologists have found artefacts dating back to the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. Today, Isfahan produces fine carpets, textiles, steel and handicrafts. Isfahan also has nuclear experimental reactors as well as facilities for producing nuclear fuel (UCF). Isfahan has one of the largest steel-producing facilities in the entire region, as well as facilities for producing special alloys.
Over 2,00 companies work in the area using Isfahan’s economic, cultural and social potentials. Isfahan contains a major oil refinery and a large air force base. Isfahan is also becoming an attraction for international investments, like investment in Isfahan City Centre, which is the largest shopping mall in Iran with a museum and has the largest indoor amusement park in the Middle East.
(2) SI-O-SEH POL (The Bridge of 33 Arches): Built in 1602, it is highly ranked as being one of the most famous examples of SAFAVID Bridge Design. It is beautiful whether there is water underneath it or not, and there is a basic eatery at the northern end.
(5) HASHT BEHESHT (The Palace of 8 Paradises) : Built in 1669, reportedly for residence purposes of the king’s Harem, it is set with lush gardens, and if you do not want to go inside, you are free to roam in the gardens.
(6) ATASHGAH : A Zoroastrian Fire temple, dramatically set atop a rock on the outskirts of Isfahan and it provides a commanding view of the city (although much of it is covered in smog).