Isfahan, as one of the most important tourist cities in Iran, has many historical monuments. Most tourists visit 10 important historical monuments. But this beautiful historical city, which is also known as Florence of Iran, has other important sights. Some of these historical works are so beautiful and artistic that will dazzle the eyes of viewers.
This edifice was inside the royal quarter and does not have any attribution to Ashraf-e Afghan, (Ashraf meaning majestic or pompous) its construction dates back to the time of Shah Abbas II. Nevertheless, Chevalier Jean Chardin the French traveler who visited Esfahan at the end of Shah Abbas II's era does not mention anything about the Ashraf Hall. He described the coronation of Shah Abbas's successor Shah Suleiman as taking place in Talar-e Tavileh, however from the comparative historical point of view; we can say that Talar-e Tavileh and Talar-e Ashraf are contemporaneous. Talar-e Ashraf is among those monuments which enjoy very fine pure gilt pendentives, in contrast to the buildings of that time with flat ceilings. Nowadays Talar-e Ashraf is used as it was in days of old, functioning as a reception hall and protocol office to receive and entertain delegations and heads of state.
This madrasah, also known as Madreseh Madar Shah (meaning the King Mother's School), is considered the last grand monument of the Safavid era. It is located next to King's Mother's Caravanserai (which is the present Abbasi Hotel) and the "Boland Bazaar" (Boland means lofty). It was built at Shah Sultan Hossein's mother's expenses between 1704 and 1714. The Safavid king himself had a room and studied there. The madrasah is in a four-iwan plan with 121 rooms.
The school is a masterpiece of tile work with much diversity of color and design. Its dome, some 38 m high, is second only to the dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in terms of beauty and harmony of design. The inner dome is 32 m high. The attractiveness of the dome is heightened when paired with its splendid iwan and two charming minarets. The mihrab along with the cross-shape tile designs; the one-piece marble pulpit and the wooden inlaid windows are among the other attractions of this school. The wooden door should not be missed; it is gilded silver plated and is a masterpiece of engraving from the Safavid period.
This beautiful mosque is located at the end of Rangrazan Bazaar (meaning dyers' bazaar) and is accessible through Hakim Street. This four-iwan mosque was constructed by Hakim Mohammad Davoud, the private physician of Shah Abbas II, over the ruins of the Jurjir (or Gurgir) Deylamid Masjed Jame (10th century). Nowadays the remnants of the Deylamid Mosque form the northern portal of the Hakim Mosque bearing exquisite decorations of brickwork and plasterwork. The tile inscriptions of the iwan and the portals inside the mosque give dates between 1657 and 1661. Hakim Davud was forced to leave his country because of malicious rumors by his rivals and traveled to India, where he and his skill was welcomed. That he decided to build this mosque with his savings shows his love for the country. The southeast portal of the mosque is opposite the Kalbasi Tomb's interior, where there is an exquisite decoration of the vertical row type of pendentives.
When Shah Abbas I chose Esfahan to be his capital, the people residing under Ottoman rule in Armenia, Caucasus, and Georgia, who were eager to rejoin Persia, sent high-ranking representatives to Esfahan. Shah Abbas accepted their request to liberate them and in 1604, set out for Tabriz with a small army. After conquering them, he organized an obligatory migration of the Armenians to Esfahan and Mazandaran. Some settled in Azerbaijan. It is documented that some thirty or forty thousand Armenians migrated to Esfahan in 1607. They settled in a new district in Isfahan by the name New Jolfa (After the city of Jolfa in Azerbaijan). They even received some independence and religious freedom from the Safavid king. The Armenians built 25 churches and prayer halls, of which 13 have survived yet.
Amongst all Jolfa Churches, Bethlehem (1628) and Vank (1655) are the most famous, although the Hakup is the eldest. Other churches worth mentioning are Geverg, Saint Mary, Estepanus, Yuhanna, Katarina. Nikoghayus, Gregur, Minas, Serkis and Nerses. Chevalier Jean Chardin the French traveler in the Safavid period wrote this after his trip to Jolfa: "I have not seen such a splendid and beautiful town in any other part of the world. In Jolfa alone, I could spot 140 houses the equal of royal palaces in regard to their beauty and grandeur”. Nowadays, Sukias and David Houses, from the Safavid period, have been converted into art schools.
If you want to discover the Isfahan Armenian culture, be sure to visit it.
This church is located in Kelisa Alley - Nazar-e Sharghi Street. It was originally built as a prayer hall (Amenapergich) in 1606 and then renovated and extended to its current appearance with its high double-layer dome. It received the name of Vank Church in 1655. Underneath the 38-meter high dome is the prayer hall that holds a unique collection of beautiful frescos depicting stories from the Old and New Testaments. The influence of Italian and Dutch painting is quite obvious. In addition to these wall paintings, there are also floral ornamentations and exquisite tile work with gild decorations.
In the northern part of the church's courtyard, there are other important memorials, namely a library (with more than 10,000 books), a monument to the Armenian martyrs killed in the 1915 genocide by the Ottoman Turks, and a museum. The museum houses some of the earliest books ever printed in Esfahan, royal decrees of Safavid and Qajar monarchs, and other interesting valuable items. The Armenian ecclesiastic center for Esfahan and southern Iran is located in the eastern part of the church. There are 64 gravestones in the church belonging to archbishops, priests, Russian and British consuls, politicians, and doctors.
Minarets were used as observation posts or watchtowers and guided desert caravans towards the cities both in pre-Islamic as well as post-Islamic periods. Nowadays they stand high and proud in the cities and their outskirts. They are of great significance both architecturally, and with their brick ornamentations, aesthetically. The name minaret comes from the word “Nar” meaning fire and originally during the Zoroastrian time was used for keeping that everlasting and sacred fire. Later in the Islamic period, they were used as a point from which to call the faithful to prayer. Cheheldokhtaran, Sareban, and Ali Mosque Minarets are amongst those that will be briefly described.
Cheheldokhtaran means "Forty Girls" however, the reason for this name remains an intriguing mystery. It is located in an ancient quarter of Jubareh and reaches as high as 40 m. This beautiful and simple minaret has fine brickwork embellishments and has a brick inscription introducing the founder and giving the date of construction 1107.
One of the most beautiful minarets of the Seljuk dynasty in Iran is to be found in a quarter called Jubareh and is close to another Seljuk minaret, Cheheldokhtaran. It is approximately 54 m high. The decorations on this minaret are in seven parts, starting from the bottom, the first layer is of simple brickwork whilst the second and third layers are of magnificently decorated bricks. The fourth layer is the first crown of the minaret with fine pendentives and turquoise tile work combined with inscriptions in brickwork. Again, the fifth. The layer is of brick, the sixth is the second crown of the minaret, and the final, the seventh layer is the apex. The date of minaret construction goes back to the late 11th century. Ali Minaret is built next to a mosque with the same name in Harun Velayat Street and dates back to the late 11th century. It is the remnant of a Seljuk Mosque. It is 52 m high and is decorated with very fine brickworks and turquoise tile inscriptions, enhancing its beauty. The adjacent current mosque belongs to the Safavid dynasty (16th century).
It is located in Rahrovan Village, 8 km to the east of Esfahan. It seems that it was a single tower and used as a lighthouse for the caravans who entered the city at night. It is like the other Seljuk minarets, decorated with magnificent brickworks and contains a turquoise tile inscription. It is dated between 1179 and 1278. Sultan Bokht Agha Dome and the twin Dardasht Minarets; in Dardasht Quarter close to the bazaar, there are two attached historical monuments from the Muzaffarid period (14th Century). One is the resting place of Sultan Bokht Agha, an Injuid (Al-e Inju) Lady who was Sultan Mahmud's Queen. Her gravestone gives the date as 1376. The height of the dome is 18 m; it is decorated with bricks inside and faience mosaic with geometrical patterns outside. The twin minarets are relics of a building functioning as a school or a caravanserai in the Muzaffarid era. The only remains of which is the portal with azure and turquoise tile decorations.
Dar ol Ziafeh twin Minarets
In the middle of Kamal Street, there is a high-rise portal with two minarets belonging to the Muzaffarid era (14th century). The exact function of these is not known but it seems most likely that these are remnants of a caravanserai from the same period. The minarets are 38 m high and are ornamented with very fine tile works on the apex. Bagh Ghushkhaneh Minaret literally means the garden where falcons were housed. Hence the name for this minaret since it was close to one of these gardens where falcons were bred for
hunting. The minaret is built over an octagonal base and reaches a height of 38 m. Tile works and other ornamentations of this building belong to the Ilkhanate (14th century) style and are the ruins of a mosque called “Baba Sukhteh”.
7-Monar Jonban (Shaking minarets)
Six kilometers to the west, beside the road to Najaf Abad, are the famous shaking minarets. The whole building is in fact the tomb of Sheikh Abdullah Karladani, whose epitaph gives 1315 as the construction date. The minarets were, however, annexed to the building in the early 18th century (late Safavid dynasty). The monument's fame is due to the obvious vibrations of the whole structure when one of the minarets is shaken. In fact, by shaking one minaret, the other one starts to shake and the whole building consequently shakes as well. One reason for this interesting phenomenon is the structure of the minarets. It can be said that the minarets are so designed and constructed that there is enough strength in their structure to bear the kinetic dead load, which is inflicted on them. It is a gap of about 3 cm between the minaret's stem and the main construction that causes the minarets to shake free and make an impact on the main construction. Some square-shaped wooden frames have been used in the structure of the minarets. They also play a role as flexible supports in the body of minarets. Though wonderful, the Shaking minarets are not the only example with this feature, it is also found with the minarets of the portal of the Oshtorgan Masjed Jame (35 km west) which were built contemporarily.
On the way from Isfahan to Monar Jonban (Shaking Minaret), one of the oldest and most prestigious fire temples in Iran stands on top of a mountain. The Fire Temple of Isfahan is a Sassanid-era archaeological complex located on a hill of the same name about eight kilometers west of the city center of Isfahan.
If you are going to get acquainted with the culture, architecture, art, and people of Isfahan, the old houses of Isfahan will be your best choice. The traditional homes contain a valuable collection of different arts of the people. Houses usually enjoyed a porch-like portal with stucco and brickwork decorations and two brick platforms flanking the entrance. The eye-catching plain and unadorned wooden doors had two metal door-knockers that made different sounds. One was for males and the other for females, the inhabitants of the house would thereby know whether the newcomer was a man or a woman, an intimate or a passer-by, acquainted or alien. Some people used to leave their house doors open as a symbol of their hospitality. Open doors also were an indication of the security and safety level of the quarter. At the entrance of the house, there was a Hashti and then a corridor to the courtyard usually curved in order to prevent the courtyard from being visible to those outside or even already in the hashti.
All houses enjoyed a courtyard and flowerbeds, four main residential sections were located in four geographical directions so that they could be used in all seasons of the year. A small garden was either in the middle or in the northern part of the central pond. The garden consisted of an orchard, various flower species, and decorative trees. Almost all houses were about one meter lower than the vestibule or the alley level and usually included basements as the sitting room or for storage. The builder would use the soil of that very property as the main material to make mud bricks used in building the house. Using the land's soil would cleverly provide a suitable depth to build the basement, a crypt, or for drainage.
Iranian houses usually consisted of two main spaces. The Andaruni was for the family and household, and the biruni for the guests and visitors. The biruni space was made up of different parts, including a shahneshin. This alcove was the most beautiful and artistic part, being embellished with frescoes, mirror work, and stucco work in a very eye-catching style. It would be designed with a high-rise ceiling up to 4 or 7 m tall, and included sash windows adorned with stained glass, facing onto the courtyard. There are 5- or 8-door rooms as well as some labyrinthine chambers with their specific decoration in other parts of the house. Rooms and spaces occupy most of the area but little is taken up by stairways. This is the reason we find stairs with very steep, space-saving, 30 or 40 cm high steps in these buildings.
The summer part of the house is located in the southern part of the courtyard enjoying tall ceilings, void spaces, and sometimes including badgirs such as what is seen at the Mojtahedzadeh Mansion. The winter part is located in the northern part of the courtyard where rooms have small doors and windows. The central room of the household's winter quarters was considered a place for family gatherings sitting around the korsi. Other winter rooms were equipped with fireplaces in the wall. The ceiling was made of adobe and wood and the roof was covered with mud and straw. Adobe or brick walls were covered with plaster or mud and straw. In some winter rooms, double-layer doors or windows increased thermal insulation. The space between the two layers was 40 to 60 cm. There are some houses left in Esfahan dating back to different eras from 17th-century Safavid to 20th-century Pahlavi. Most of the Safavid houses are located in Jolfa Quarter such as the Sukias and the Davidos Mansions which are recognized as valuable art treasures and now house the Art Faculty.
They are 5* hotels for Pigeons.
Pigeon towers were built to maintain a secure environment for pigeons and to allow the collection of their droppings (guano) to use as a fertilizer for farming and agriculture. There is no clear history of the first pigeon tower but it is estimated that the earliest pigeon towers date from the Sassanid dynasty. According to some travelogues, which were written in the Safavid era (17th century), the pigeon towers were built during the Ilkhanate dynasty (13-14th century) with the owners paying heavy taxes to the state. There were 606 pigeon towers in 1977 a fraction of the 3,000 reported by Chevalier Jean Chardin.
The important aspects of pigeon tower construction are:
-The location is based on security and the pigeons' access to food
-Ventilation to provide a suitable internal temperature in the towers throughout the year.
-Light is provided through the latticed brick windows at the top of the tower, moreover, these windows were designed in such a way that only the pigeons or smaller birds could enter the tower.
The pigeon tower types are classified as follows:
a) Simple tower: the single cylindrical tower with a dome.
b) Multi-cylindrical tower: contains a number of the attached simple
cylinders in one row or two.
c) Improved multi-cylindrical tower: contains ground level with numerous passageways and corridors to increase the number of pigeonholes and an upper level.
The height of the pigeon towers varies from ten to about twenty meters with diameters of 5 to 10 m. They are designed to hold as many pigeonholes as possible. In a grand pigeon tower, such as that in Chaharborj Village in Falavarjan County, the number of pigeonholes can reach up to 50,000, each measuring 20x25x30 cm.
Another example is to be found in Kelisan Village where there are 34 attached towers with some 50,000 pigeonholes. The amount of droppings produced depends on the size of the tower complex and the number of pigeons and varies between 600 and 3,000 kg a year. This may be collected once or twice a year. Millet is normally used to supplement the birds' feed.
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