Esfahan is more than 2,500 years old. It was the capital of the Persian Empire twice in its history and has a large number of impressive historical buildings.
Most of the biggest and most lavish ones where constructed in the 17th century. Imam Square, the central point in town, used to be a polo field where the king would watch matches from a giant stand. Today it is mostly a lawn area where people come to walk, kids play sports, and students make sketches of the many impressive buildings and mosques.
The biggest one of the blue mosques here was completed in 1606. Covered in blue tiles, its minarets stand more than 40 meters tall. The towering mosque acted as a giant amplifier, ensuring that worshippers across this ancient city would be able to hear every word said during the Imam’s sermon.
Imam square is also lined with a bazaar that offers many local handicrafts. International sanctions, however, have hit Esfahan’s tourism industry hard, and the markets were nearly empty when we arrived.
Esfahan is also famous for the many bridges running over the Zayanderud — the river that serves as a life line for this town. But unfortunately that is not always the case nowadays. The river is often nearly dry, as much of the water has been diverted to other cities along its path.
We were lucky when we arrived. The river flowed plentifully downstream, and many people came to the famous bridges to watch the water pass through.
One of the best-known is the Khaju Bridge, which also has its origins in the 17th century. It is closed to car traffic but bicycles and motorcycles pass over it. The best thing to do is to walk across the bridge and then stand at the edge of the river and just take in the architectural beauty. There are also sitting areas inside the arches that make up the structure, where many people sit and talk for hours.
Esfahan is the last stop on our Iran tours. It is a vast, rugged and amazing country that offers surprises almost anywhere.