| Isfahan, Iran

Isfahan, Iran

I check out from the hotel that I stayed for 1 day in Kashan after having a nice breakfast. My next stop is the city of Isfahan in Iran. You can find a bus to Isfahan every hour on the hour. Since I am not in a hurry, I prefer to walk to the bus station. I pay 15.000 Tomans for my bus ticket and I sit on to my seat. After a 2,5 hours journey, I get off the bus in Isfahan bus station. It is a pretty big bus station and located in the city center.

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I had searched on internet where to stay beforehand. Since the hotel to which I wish to go is far from the bus station, I decide to take a taxi. I tell the name of the hostel to the drivers of the taxis which are at the exit of the bus station. I bargain with them and take one of them. We make a deal of 10.000 Tomans for a 20 minute journey. I did not book for the hostel beforehand. Luckily, they have empty rooms.

I make a deal of 20.000 Tomans per person for triple room and breakfast. Noone was in the room when I got in. Afterwards, a French person came to the room. After leaving my stuff, I go out for a city tour.

There are many places to visit in Isfahan and I have only 1 day. Therefore I already decided where to visit. These are the places that I plan to visit in Isfahan:

  • Naks-i Cihan Square
  • İmam Mosque
  • Sheikh Lütfullah Mosque
  • Ali Kapı Palace
  • Çehel Columns Palace
  • Bazar-e Bozurg
  • Mescid-i Cuma
  • Heşt Beheşt Palace
  • İsfahan Bridges

One of the 4 gates in the square opens to the bazaar, two of them open to the mosques and the last one opens to Ali Kapı Palace. Before touring the bazaar, I take some pictures of the square. At the same time, a few people come and invite me to their shops in order to sell their goods. When one of the tenneagers that I talked with learns that I come from Turkey, he begins to speak Turkish. He says that he worked in Grand Bazaar in İstanbul for a short time and learned Turkish. He wants me to come to his carpet shop even if I don’t buy anything and he says that he will tell his boss that he brang a customer. I say to him that I will come to his shop after my visit to Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lütfullah Mosque and Ali Kapı Palace. I was surprised when he told me not to visit them now since the entrance is paid. I asked “Why money?” and reacted. He says that if I want to visit them now, I would pay for expensive tickets. He adds that they sell tickets for a high price here like in Tahran. And I ask him if he could buy one of the cheap tickets which they sell to Iranian for me. J He said that he could if I want but he said that they are not similar the ones like in Tahran and they ask questions and try to understand if I am really a tourist or not. And then I canceled this plan. He advices me to visit Imam Mosque for free when the azan is recited. That is a great idea. There is one hour remaining until the azan and I begin to tour the bazaar.

Of course, my first destination is the shop in which my new friend works. They were performing a carpet show for 2 Korean couples inside. And I took a seat near them and began to listen to the stories of the carpets as I was drinking my tea. The prices are not very high. If I had money, I would definetely buy something. When you say that you have a low budget, they show you small carpets. You can pay by credit card if you want. I don’t know how it is possible but international credit cards are valid in the carpet shop.

After leaving the shop, I tour the rest of the bazaar. The  lower floors of 2 floor walls that surround the square are used as bazaar. It is really a big bazaar. You can find anything you want. After buying a few souvenirs, I go to the entrance gate of Imam Mosque. The azan hour is approaching.

İmam Mosque

Imam Mosque is located in the south part of the square. The mosque, which was built by Safavids in between 1598 and 1611, is one of the most beautiful examples of Iranian mosque architecture. You enter the mosque through a 30 meter high, blue tiled and great gate. In both sides of the entrance gate, there are 2 minarets which are 42 meters high and pretty elegant.

Like the outside of the mosque, the inside of it also blue tiled which is the symbol of the city. The mosque has another remarkable feature. According to the research, it was built with such an acoustic architecture which can create 49 echo types. Among those 49 echo types, human ear can only hear 12 of them.

I go out of the mosque because I don’t want to disturb people who began to pray. If you want to visit the mosque out of praying hours, you have to buy a ticket. If you have time, wait for the azan and make your visit for free.

Entrance Fee: 200.000 Riyals (20.000 Tomans)

Sheikh Lütfullah Mosque

Another place to visit is Sheikh Lütfullah Mosque which is in the east side of the square. Compared to İmam Mosque, it is a smaller mosque. Since Sheikh Lütfullah Mosque is not open to worship, I have to pay for my visit this time. Sheikh Lütfullah Mosque was built in between 1602 and 1619 by the order of I. Shah Abbas. The name of the mosque comes from Lebanese religious scholar Sheikh Lütfullah who was the father-in-law of I. Shah Abbas and the religious leader of the country.

Naks-i Cihan Square

Like many others, my first destination in Isfahan is Naks-i Cihan Square, as knows as İmam Square. I think that it is the most important place of Isfahan. Naks-i Cihan Square is the second most biggest square in the world after Tiamennen Square in China. It has the dimensions of 512 x 163 meters. It got to be built by Shah Abbas in 1611 and the construction took 25 years. Just in the middle of the Imam Square, there is a nice fountain and the square has 4 gates.

You can see the beautiful examples of Safavid architecture inside the mosque. The 13 meter high and tiled dome of the mosque virtually changes its color during the daylight. You are allowed to take pictures without the flash light.

Entrance Fee: 200.000 Riyals (20.000 Tomans)

Visiting Hours: Open everyday  Summer 09.00 – 18.30, Winter 09.00 – 16.00

Ali Kapı Palace

Ali Kapı Palace, located in just across the Sheikh Lütfullah Mosque, got to be built by I. Shah Abbas as a house. It is 48 meters high and consists of 6 floors. It is on a height dominant to the square. Ali Kapı Palace is well-known for its friezes. You can see birds, flowers and many animal figures in these friezes. On the sixth floor which you can use a spiral stair to climb, there is an astonishing music room which was designed to have a nice acoustic environment.

Entrance Fee: 200.000 Riyals (20.000 Tomans)

Visiting Hours: Open everyday Summer 09.00 – 18.30, Winter 09.00 – 16.00

I leave after visiting Naks-i Cihan Square and its gates. I plan to come back and take pictures if I have time. My next stop is Çehel Sütun Palace.

Çehel Columns Palace

I was not planning to visit here actually. Or rather, I forgot that. But fortunately, while walking in the streets of İsfahan, I found the park in which this palace is located. The palace that got to be built by II. Shah Abbas in 1647 is located in Çehel Sütün Garden to which it gave its name. “Çehel” means 40 in Farsi. There is a big pool in the garden in which the palace was built. The palace has 20 columns. And with the reflections of those 20 columns on the pool, it seems like 40 columns and therefore this place is called Çehel Columns Palace which means Forty Columns Palace. Çehel Columns Palace was a place where big parties were given and foriegn visitors wre hosted during the Shah’s era.

You can see excellent ceiling and wall engravings and miniatures inside the palace. Unfortunately, taking pictures is forbidden.

Entrance Fee: 200.000 Riyals (20.000 Tomans)

Visiting Hours: Open everyday Summer 09.00 – 18.30, Winter 09.00 – 16.00

Bazar-e Bozung

Bazar-e Bozung, in which you can tour by feeling the history in your soul, is at least 1000 years old. Bazar-e Bozurg (Big Bazaar) is one of the oldest and biggest bazaars of Middle East. It is said that the most beautiful carpets of İran are sold in Isfahan. There are many carpet shops in Big Bazaar that you can buy those famous Isfahan carpets. You can visit the bazaar, which is open everyday, in between 09:00 and 20:00.

After leaving Big Bazaar, I decide to go somewhere and eat something. I go to a place and eat my kebap. After that I begin to walk in order to reach the famous Isfahan Bridges. The bridges are far away and the weather is pretty hot. I see a place in which drinks are sold. Many people were buying drinks there. I don’t know what the drink is but I decided to buy it too. It really has a different taste. It tastes like you drink the grains inside a kiwi. It does not taste wonderful but it makes you feel good during this hot weather.

İsfahan Bridges

There are many bridges which add a beauty to the city of Isfahan. There are 11 bridges over Zayenderud River which crosses just between the city. 5 of those bridges are old and 6 of them are new. The most known ones among those bridges are Siosepol, Çubi and Hacu Bridges.

You can see more detailed information in my article about Isfahan Bridges.

Where is Isfahan and How to Go There?

Isfahan, located in the middle of Iran, is on the highway between Tahran and Şiraz. It is 450 km away from Tahran, the capital city, and 485 km away from Şiraz. You can prefer highway or railway, if you want to go to Isfahan from Tahran. It is possible to go to Isfahan by wagon lit which departs from Tahran every night. The price for wagon lit for 6 people is 280.000 Riyals.

If you prefer the highway like me, you can arrive to the city after a smooth 5 hours bus ride. If you take Royal Safar’s buses with wide chair and air condition, you have to pay 260.000 Riyals. The prices of other bus companies are cheaper but the buses do not offer the same comfort.

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