Several times throughout history, Isfahan has been chosen as the capital and it's under the Safavid Dynasty that the city took the nickname of "Half of the world" for gathering so many arts and architectural splendours. This experience introduces you to the most outstanding monuments of Isfahan. Not only inspires with awe for tile work, paintings, carving, etc, but the pattern of the world also recalls the history of one of the greatest Persian Kings, Shah Abbas 1st. A visionary, conqueror who ordered the best architects to make of his city a jewel, that has not cease to captivate the attention of the rest of the world since.
Admiring gems of Iranian Islamic architecture in Ali Qapu building and Abbasi mosque
Wandering into Qeysarieh Bazaar through finest crafts and local craftsmen off the beaten track
Admiring an unparalleled landscape of Naqsh-e Jahan square over Qeysarieh roof
Exploring a holy shrine far from fuss in bazaar listening to the stories of Naser Al-Din Shah's eldest son
Visiting traditional bath, royal oil press museum to discover the arts and daily life of Isfahan
Walking through Isfahan's historical avenue to historical bridges to catch the sunset by the Zayandeh Rood River
Enjoying traditional Isfahani food in an antique teahouse and tasting its worldwide known Doogh and Gosh-e fil dessert
This excursion through Isfahan's history and most stunning monuments starts in the morning at the heart of the historical centre on one of the world's largest plazas, Naghshe Jahan Square. It brings the reminiscent of Safavid the strongest ruler of the Safavid Dynasty, one of Persia's most significant empires.
Built in 1597, the five-storey wooden palace was the head of the administration and the cardinal point of the capital. Ali Qapu's 52 rooms are richly decorated with tile work, plasterwork, inlay, paintings, and mirrors, and contain the memories of the lavish receptions organized by the king to impress its important guests.
Next to the palace, stands the unique and impressive Abbasi (Shah) Mosque, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture with its golden minarets and stunning blue-tiles ornaments. Rising up to 52 meters, the mosque has the world's tallest dome after Hagia Sophia. Shah Abbas entrusted the renowned architect Ali Akbar Esfahani to build this monumental gem, which was achieved just a few years before the king's death.
Have a break in the antic teahouse, probably the most famous in Isfahan. More than a typical teahouse, this place is colourful bric-a-brac, full of antiques, old utensils, lanterns, daggers, candlesticks and whatever you hardly can ever think of them. Sit beside amongst history to enjoy the strange and phenomenal taste you have never had in your life: the companionship of salt and a sweet dessert of Isfahan endemic dessert, "Gosh-e Fil".
Dared to add a new taste to your experiences list? Now head toward the Hassan Abad quarter. Here is a famous shrine dedicated to the offspring of the fifth Imam. The beautiful Imamzadeh Ahmad is a fine example of Islamic architecture with its large blue portal. It also holds the tomb of Hamdam Al-Saltaneh, the daughter of the famous minister of Naser Al-Din Shah, Amir Kabir.
It's time to enter the maze of the Grand Bazaar, one of the most stunning covered markets in Iran housing impressive art and artisans. Shah Abbas ordered its construction to develop trading. This part of the bazaar was built as a transition between the central zone of the old 11th-century texture and the new one, of the 17th-century, as well as a link between the court and ordinary people. Full of beautiful caravanserais, domes, and madrassas (religion school), it has remained a social crossroad where you can hear the anecdotes of people's lives.
Wandering between the artcraft workshops and stalls of spices, attentive visitors can find the old Shahzadeh bathhouse. The entrance door of this historical monument is decorated with two fine angels, which are a foretaste of the delicate painting inside the bath. It was built under the Safavid for Shahrbanoo, the daughter of Prince Sultan Hossein, who also created a two-storey school next to it.
Walking further, discover the surprising Shahi Assar Khaneh, the royal oil press house of Isfahan. Under the reign of Shah Abbas, this place was used to extract the oil of various seeds, such as apricot, line, sunflower or rocket seed by camel power. These oils were not just a seasoning, but also a major element of medicine, and often used for lightning. The two large millstones and other traditional equipment are a valuable testimony of an ancestral creative technology you are going to know more about its function.
But the most featured part of this experience happens on the roof of Qeysarieh Bazaar where you can appreciate a marvelling view over Naqsh-e Jahan square and its famous landmarks posing in front of your lens to be photographed in a frame no one can take from beneath! Wait to be surprised.
After visiting the narrow alleys of Isfahan's old quarters, head toward the banks of Zayandeh Rood River passing through the iconic Chaharbagh e Abbasi Avenue full of life on your bike. Follow the row of plane trees to reach the fabulous Si-o-Se Pol Bridge. Built under the Safavid era, it's the largest of the 11 bridges over the Zayandeh Rood River. Walking between its delicate 33 rock arches you will feel the real sense of this city or even the country. some think it comes from Christianity, other from Zoroastrianism, or even physic laws.
Whatever the reason is, its beauty and ingenuity have made it the icon of the city. At near Distance end your day by watching the sunset over the Khaju Bridge, the oldest in Isfahan, by the melody of street singers performing under its arches. Appreciating the relaxing atmosphere of the city, you can realize that even after centuries, Isfahan still seems to contain half the beauty of the world.
The walking tour starts at 9:00 a.m. at Naqsh-e Jahan square, where you will meet your guide and the rest of the group. There, you will begin with the administrative palace of Safavid kings in the western quarter of the square and later on continue with visiting the imposing Shah mosque at the south of Naghshe Jahan. Taste Isfahani dessert and get into the cosy nook of the bazaar to explore hidden shrines and artcrafts. Visiting Assar khaneh, the royal oil press house museum and getting rewarded by the best view over UNESCO world heritage, Naghsh-e Jahan square. Turning to another side of Isfahan toward the alive river of Zayandeh Rood and its magnificent bridges and dams via 2 wheels of your rental bike in Chaharbagh-e Abbashi Avenue. Having a delicious traditional lunch and finally going to host the sunset over the Khaju Bridge as the end of this memorable walking day tour.