Naqsh-e Jahan Square (Imam Square), formerly known as Shah Square is a square situated at the heart of Isfahan in Iran. It was 1598 and 1629 whe the square was built and it is now a major historical site, and one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. It is 160 meters wide by 560 meters long (an area of 89,600 square meters). Surrounding the square is Ali Qapu Palace and the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque face one another on the longer sides, plus Grand Bazaar and the Imam Mosque are located on the opposite side of one another. These buildings all belong to safavid era.
Shah Abbas I initiated making this magnificent and unbelievably peaceful square. It was used as a hub for festivities, polo, dramatics and military parades. It is the second biggest square in the world after Beijing’s Tianamen Square, and twice the size of Red Square in Moscow,
In addition to these monuments, there are hundreds of shops and workshops in which you can find Isfahan’s souvenirs, handicrafts and specialties. The ambiance is still what Shah Abbas have planned to depict the flourishing economy and innate talent of Iranians in art and handicraft.
The main attractions of Meidan Emam square are:
- Imam Khomeini Mosque: A 17th century stunning royal project of Shah Abbas who wanted a lavish Friday mosque than the already existent ones. The abundance of tile works and richness of the design will astound you when you enter the mosque.
The four high eyvans are looking at the central courtyard with a big pool in the middle. Two extra minarets at the entrance of the main eyvan show the visitors where the main domed chamber with the main mehrab of the mosque is. Two symmetric courtyards are the Madrasahs (religious schools) built here to show the emphasis on the importance of education by the government.
- Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque: A world-known masterpiece of Iranian architecture, standing on the eastern side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the first built of the four monuments of the square. The combination of modest shape and rich interior and exterior tile ornaments have made the mosque one of the most conspicuous success of architectural achievement. Although Imam Mosque was designed for public praying, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was the private mosque for the family of Shah Abbas. The doors of the mosque were always closed and guarded. To avoid being seen while crossing the square from Ali Qapu Palace to the mosque, Shah and his wives used a tunnel under the square.
- AliQapou Palace: on the western side of the Naqshe Jahan Square and facing the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, there is a remarkable building called Ali Qapu. Ali Qapu Mansion of Isfahan was built during the Safavid era and has been expanded and renovated in different periods. This mansion is one of the most important architectural success of the early 11th century AH. It has three floors that each floor divided into two floors, so in fact, this mansion has six floors. Ironically, each side of this palace is different on its floors. You can see two floors from the east side view, five floors from the western side, and three floors from the sides of the mansion. This mansion has a large porch that includes several high pillars and a copper pond.
- Qeysarieh Bazaar: The Isfahan’s historical market is one of the oldest and most known markets of Isfahan if not the world’s. It played a vital role in Iran’s history and had a great stock in Isfahan’s development as a city. In the Isfahan’s market, you will find all handmade industries as well as souvenir, which would make the place one good choice to visit. The market has a few entries and you can enter to this place in many different ways. The making of the market dates back to the years between 1602 and 1621 in the Safavid as well as Qajar era. Although it is not as crowded as Tehran or Tabriz markets, it is one of the biggest Iranian – Islamic markets in the world.