Esfahan nesf-e jahan

Esfahan is half the world” – Persian poetry

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Esfahan

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Esfahan

My guide book was correct in saying that the above quote could only be truer in the geographical sense. This statement Esfahan is Iran’s most stately metropolis; a true city of class and sophistication, ranking amongst Rome and Athens in terms of history, cultural and architectural wonder. Esfahan is still, after 40 countries and 12 years of travelling, one of my favourites places in the world.

Imam Square, Esfahan

Imam Square, Esfahan

In central Esfahan is Imam Square. It is the world’s second largest square (after Tiananmen Square in Beijing). It is home to at least 5 mosques (there might be smaller ones hidden), a bazaar, fountains and countless tea-shops. All of these are tiled intricately with blue mosaic and some truly breathtaking designs. These buildings are regarded by historians as being among the world’s most spectacular Islamic architecture.


Imam Mosque, Esfahan

Imam Mosque, Esfahan

Imam Square is also where most of Esfahan‘s touts hang out, although they are soft-core compared with in other Middle Eastern cities. If you say that you don’t want to buy a carpet, they say “No? Ok… well you’re always welcome to drop by for tea if you like!” Very civilised indeed!

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Esfahan

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Esfahan

But the real star here is the square itself – walking among the tea shops and narrow marketplaces which ring the square; sitting and watching the breathtaking sunset over the fountains and domes; or getting lost in the cavernous, labyrinthine mosques, sideswept by the unfolding displays of mosaic beauty and spiritual devotion.

Imam Mosque, Esfahan

Imam Mosque, Esfahan

Which city would you consider to be “half the world”? Comment below!

Comments (8)

  • Andrew Boland Reply

    a truly amazing spot on the Earth! Very special thanks for sharing Tim

    May 25, 2016 at 8:42 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      It really does hold a special place in my heart. Thanks for reading 🙂

      May 30, 2016 at 12:33 am
  • Agness Reply

    This shape and colours remind me of my last visit in India exploring the beautiful Taj Mahal! What a beautiful place to be at!

    May 28, 2016 at 12:48 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      You would love it, Agness – a must-see!!

      May 30, 2016 at 12:36 am
    • EdelAli Reply

      Unsurprisingly, Taj Mahal was built by a Persian Muslim architect (Ahmad Lahori) in memory of a Persian Empress (Mumtaz Mahal) of Mughal King Shah Jahan (his name Persian for King of the World; Persian was the official language in India back then.) Taj Mahal is also a World Heritage Persian Garden.

      October 1, 2017 at 4:41 pm
      • Tim Blight Reply

        That’s right! Thank you for reading 🙂

        October 2, 2017 at 5:41 pm
  • Simon Proudman Reply

    A memorable place. I spent hours here last year, and did not want to leave. Beautiful

    June 8, 2016 at 9:45 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Esfahan has that effect – I was there for a week or two, and still could’ve stayed much longer. A great place to get stuck.

      June 9, 2016 at 8:51 pm

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