Naqsh-e Jahan Square
There are so many beautiful places in Iran, but Isfahan wins the place in both our hearts. There’s just something so magical and sublime about this mesmerizing city. From the mosques’ intricately painted mosaic pieces, the bustling historic bazaar to the picturesque bridges and central square. But now we want to get closer to a magical place in isfahan and that is Naqsh-e Jahan Square.
If you do nothing else in Isfahan, take a walk on Naghsh-e Jahan Square, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The square occupies an area of 89,600 square meters and is surrounded by important buildings such as mosques and palaces. The Isfahan Grand Bazaar is on the northern end of the square. This 17th-century bazaar is a good place to buy Persian handicrafts, rugs, handmade tablecloths and mosaic tile items. Both the Shah Mosque and the Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque are located on the sides of the square and worth a visit because of their architectural and historical value.
Naqsh-e Jahan is one of the largest squares in the world. The name means ‘pattern of the world’ and it was designed to showcase the finest jewels of the Safavid empire – the incomparable Masjed-e Shah, the elegant Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfollah and the lavishly decorated Kakh-e Ali Qapu and Qeysarieh Portal. It is has changed little since it was built, and at each end the goal posts used in regular polo games 400 years ago are still in place (these polo matches are depicted on miniatures for sale around the square). The only modern additions are the fountains, which were added by the Pahlavis, and the souvenir and craft shops, which occupy the spaces on either side of the arched arcades.
Resisting grumbles from shop owners who occupy the surrounding arcades, recent civic administrations have restored the square to its full glory by making the entire space a pedestrian zone. Horse-drawn carriages, a few electric carts and Shank’s pony are now the only transport in the square allowing visitors to enjoy the majesty of the view untroubled by traffic.
The square is at its best in late afternoon when the blue-tiled minarets and domes are lit up by the last rays of the sun and the mountains beyond turn red. This is the time when local families congregate for a promenade around the perimeter, the fountains are turned on and the light softens, illuminating the truly splendid architecture.
Our tip: Visit this beautiful square twice. At night, the entire place transforms into a totally different place! Also, the fountains only turned on at night, we’re not sure why either.