I am madly in love with Esfahan. Noted for its Persian gardens and tree-lined River, it is unique compared to the other cities I have been to which are dry and dusty (of course beautiful in their own ways). Despite being a very religious city, Esfahan is also very cosmopolitan, one can easily find high fashion here (imported illegally), right along side the chador and hijabs.
Esfahan was the capital of Persia for many years, and it does not disappoint with relics from those times past. The Imam Square (Naqsh-e Jahan Square) is the centerpiece of the city, built in the early 1600’s as the seat of Shah Abbas’ capital. Abetting the square is the Royal Mosque, the public Mosque (Sheikh-Lotfollah) and the Ali Qapu Palace as well as a great bazaar. In the afternoons, all of the shops would close and polo matches would take place in the square.
Music Hall in Ali Qapu Palace
The Royal Mosque
Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Also of great importance in Esfahan is the Jolfa district, the Armenian quarter which was built in the 1600’s to help Armenians of a border town called Jolfa escape persecution from the Turks and also bring trade to Esfahan.
This church is the only place in Iran where I got told to mind my hijab (it had fallen down), this despite it having fallen down in 2 mosques! I am told that the Armenians have to be more careful because the Iranian government watches them closely.
The Holy Savior Cathedral (Vank Church) is a World UNESCO site and particularly interesting with its mix of Iranian and Armenian art.