The Naghshe Jahan Square: Isfahan’s Pride & Joy

The Naghshe Jahan Square

The Naghshe Jahan Square
The Naghshe Jahan Square

The pride and joy of the city and the finest monument to the Safavid dynasty, Naghshe Jahan Square (also known as Meydan-e-Shah or Meydan-e-Imam) is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Isfahan. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by decree of Shah Abbas the Great to serve as a hub for the city -similar to the forums of ancient Rome. There are four main attractions on each side of the rectangle that is Naghshe Jahan: The expansive Shah Mosque (also known as Imam Mosque) and the smaller but more ornate Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque -two of the finest mosques in Islamic architecture, the six-story palace of Ali Qapu, and the Qeysarie Bazaar.

The Jameh Abbasi Mosque – Nagshe Jahan Square

Interior of Jameh Abbasi (Shah) Mosque
Interior of Jameh Abbasi (Shah) Mosque

The great Friday Mosque of the city was once located in Sabzeh Meydan. In the Safavid era, Shah Abbas the Great intended for the Naghshe Jahan Square to replace the old square and ordered for another Jameh Mosque to be built. This remarkable structure, with its four towering minarets, a total of 6 Eyvans -or porches, and two turquoise domes will be a highlight in your trip to Isfahan.

The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque's Dome from the Inside
The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque’s Dome

The smaller and more ornate Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is positioned on the eastern flank of the Naghshe Jahan Square and is one of the few mosques in Iran that doesn’t have a courtyard or any minarets. Sheikh Lotfollah was commissioned as a private mosque, you see, only to be visited and used by members of the royal court. The most notable part of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is its beautiful and colourful dome.

The Ali Qapu Palace

A View of the Ali Qapu Palace from the Naghshe Jahan Square
The Ali Qapu Palace

The towering six-story-tall Ali Qapu Palace is another awe-inspiring structure in Naghshe Jahan Square. The massive balcony of the palace where the king and members of the royal court would sit and watch Polo games (called Chogan in our language) take place, the music room with its unique plasterwork designed to enhance acoustics, and the unfortunately damaged wall paintings by the noteworthy Safavid artist, Reza Abbasi and his students that cover different parts of the palace are all reasons for you to visit this magnificent site (though it’s worth mentioning that parts of Ali Qapu are off-limits to normal visitors).

The Qeysarie Bazaar – The Facade in the Naghshe Jahan Square

Qeysarieh Bazaar Gate
Qeysarieh Bazaar Gate

The façade of the Qeysarie Bazaar, covering the northern flank of the Naghshe Jahan Square and positioned across the Jameh Abbasi Mosque is the final part of this significant historical and cultural complex. This façade features more works by Reza Abbasi which have also unfortunately been under a lot of water damage.

Final Words

We hope your visit to Isfahan is lengthy enough that you won’t have to cram multiple destinations into a few days, and actually get to discover everything that the city has to offer. But even if not, we hope we’ve helped you better organize your itinerary! we’d love to host you in Sarv or Mahbibi when you come by Isfahan! And also, make sure you visit our other blogs about our fair city!

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