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Isfahan: the splendid blue city


Stronghold of the Safavid dynasty for nearly two centuries, Isfahan, 340 kilometres from Tehran in the centre of the country, dazzles with its beauty.

With its dome of blue tiles that stands out in the sky and its arcades of shops, the perfect symmetry of the 512-metre-long Imam Square (or Naghsh-e Jahan), is truly astounding. Occupying the entire south side of the square, the mosque of the Shah—otherwise known as ‘Imam Mosque'—has four minarets, two turned towards Mecca and two standing on either side of the monumental portal in response to the Queysarieh door at the entrance of the bazaar. See also the Ali Qapu Palace and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, both of which are also on this incredible square.

Make your way afterwards into the alleys of the bazaar to do some shopping. If you are reluctant to bargain, set your sights on state shops with fixed prices; the products are of excellent quality. Then head to the Chehel Sotoun (‘Forty Columns') Palace, where half of the columns are actually reflections in a pool, and take a stroll on the 298-metre-long ‘Thirty-Three Arches' bridge (Siosepol). Take time to sit in a teahouse to enjoy the view. And do not miss a tour around the Armenian neighbourhood of Jolfa to admire Vank Cathedral, also known as the Holy Saviour Cathedral of Isfahan.

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