Esfahan is Half of the World!

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As I mentioned in my first post (Welcome to Iran, a country of mosques…), Iran is a country that has always fascinated me. And of course, nothing tickled my imagination as much as Esfahan, often called, the jewel of Iran.

Esfahan (or Isfahan) is the third largest city in Iran and was one of the largest cities in the world in its heyday during the 16th century. This led to the Persian proverb “Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast” (Esfahan is half of the world). Its main square, the Naqsh-e-Jahan Square is the world’s second largest square, only the sadly famous Tiananmen Square in Beijing is bigger. Naghash-e-Square is said to be 3 times the size of St-Mark Square in Venice.

A lot has been said about Esfahan’s size. But it is also quite simply a magnificent city. Famous for its Persian-Islamic architecture, the square itself is visually breathtaking. Around it are two of the most beautiful mosques in Iran, the Sheik Loftallah and the Imam (formerly Shah) mosque, a the Ali Qapu which is a charming palace, and of course, an immense bazaar. The elegance of the square is only rivaled by the picturesque historic bridges one can take to cross the Zayandeh River, particularly the Khaju Bridge and the Se-o-se-Pol Bridge (the name refers to its 33 arches). And, let’s not forget the Vank Cathedral, an Armenian church with walls covered with frescoes and gilded carvings.

But of course its people, not only its buildings, defines a city and I was struck by the way the Esfahan citizens seem to thoroughly enjoy their city. The square is full of people all day, and particularly so in late afternoon. Of course, many people come to do their shopping in the bazaar, but others come merely to enjoy the atmosphere of the square. I met young people there after school, some rollerblading around the square carefully avoiding the horse-drawn carriages available to provide a tour around the square. A group of older men holds court there every day, gladly chatting with anyone willing to engage (as I was) and singing the occasional song.

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The Vank cathedral is also a popular destination for tourists and locals.   After seeing the colorful frescoes, an older lady was resting waiting for her grandchildren to join her–one of them already a stunning young woman. A group of young Kurdish men were also there to enjoy the church’s fineries.

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On Fridays, which is a day of rest, everyone is out for a stroll or a picnic along the Zayandeh River, crossing back and forth on the historic bridges. Entire families are sitting on a rug or a blanket with elaborate baskets of food that they are always willing to share. Some men are singing and dancing under the bridge, (dancing in public is not allowed for women.)   Time and time again, I am invited to sit down and partake into whatever is being consumed, be it a full meal, a slice of fresh fruit or the inevitable cup of tea. And who would not want to share a cup of tea looking at the water falling from the imposing Khaju Bridge.

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Be salamati,

France

P.S. You can follow on Instagram at franceleclerc

This entry was posted in Esfahan, Iran, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

16 Comments

  1. Harrie May 8, 2016 at 15:39 #

    Great photo’s, thanks for sharing!

  2. Jane Bradbear May 8, 2016 at 17:39 #

    A incredibly beautiful place and people captured so well in your inspiring pictures, France.
    Thank you, Jane Bradbear

  3. Julie Manley May 8, 2016 at 18:57 #

    Beautiful photography, and now I so want to go there.

  4. michele zousmer May 8, 2016 at 19:57 #

    Beautiful photos. makes me want to visit. How’s your foot? Off to africa? Just back in Kathmandu after Everest trek.

  5. Barbara Colbert May 8, 2016 at 22:00 #

    Another beautiful set of images and storytelling. It’s so heartening to see the welcoming smiles of the people you photographed; those are my favorites. Adding Iran to my already long list of places to see!

  6. Alison May 8, 2016 at 22:31 #

    A wonderful set of photographs. I would love to go there. The square is magnificent and the architecture exquisite, and I’ve read about the famous Iranian hospitality.
    Alison

  7. Joyce May 9, 2016 at 00:17 #

    Another well-written post with beautifully taken images, France. I so enjoy reading your blog posts. Esfahan was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. Hope the foot’s recovering well.

    • franceleclerc May 9, 2016 at 09:12 #

      Joyce, Thank you very kindly. Good to hear that you are enjoying the blog. Yes Esfahan was a great time. I am glad we did it together. The foot is recovering… I think!

  8. Brian Rope May 9, 2016 at 02:17 #

    Yet another beautiful set of images.

  9. Ruti Alon May 9, 2016 at 10:52 #

    Hi France,

    A beautiful collection of images. I have last been to Iran in 1971. Unfortunately, I do not believe I will ever be able to return. It is too bad, but politics, and unfortunately ugly and dangerous politics dictates the world’s events. I am glad you had a great time and had a chance to see a country I remember as a beautiful one. Ruti

  10. Elise May 9, 2016 at 13:30 #

    We happen to be in Esfahan today!
    Wonderful place!
    You took some great photos.
    Iran is fantastic.

  11. Judy onthank May 22, 2016 at 06:43 #

    Your blog on Esfahan was spot on! Beautifully written with gorgeous photos. Are you home from Africa yet and how is your foot?

    • franceleclerc May 25, 2016 at 09:37 #

      Thanks Judy. What a fabulous city it was, wasn’t it? I am still in Africa and basically just out of the bush. The foot was a bit of a challenge initially but it is getting better now. Warm regards. France

  12. Rasoul Soleimani January 15, 2017 at 06:32 #

    hi, your album have great sense for me .i am from Esfahan.wish you come again

    • franceleclerc February 3, 2017 at 17:22 #

      Rasoul, sorry for the late reply. I was traveling with limited email access. I am glad you agree with my Esfahan post. I love your city. I hope to be able to visit again. All the best, France

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