What? Isfahan is actually half of the world? Well… locals say that this ancient capital of the Persian Empire is so beautiful and that has so great sights, that if you’ve seen this city you’ve actually seen half of the things worth to see in the world.
I are not going to doubt that indeed is nice and has some of the most impressing things I’ve seen in Iran, but, honestly, I think this sentence is from long ago, from when there were not so many things to see anyway.
The first thing we saw when we got there was of course the huge traffic jam that you can find at any city in this country. Lots of cars, buses, motorbikes, bicycles, carriages pulled my horses, you name it! Just there blocking the way, but there is nothing that can stop us! Pumped with the energy rush that we get while approaching cities we managed to get to our host’s place in the southern part of town.
After taking a so long needed shower our hosts took us to the center, to see Isfahan in the evening. After sunset most cities look different, many times better, and Isfahan is not an exception.
Probably some of the nicest things to see in the evening are the bridges crossing the Zayandeh “river” (not sure when it has water, because if it’s not in March … people even cycle where the water supposedly flows!). After dark the lights go on and the people gather in the arches and play music, sing … it really is a nice place. During the day it’s still a nice view, but not as much.
The next two days we spent our time exploring what the city had to offer, and it really didn’t let us down. The central square (Naqsh-e Jahan Imam Sq.), apart from being so huge that they used to play polo matches inside, it’s a really beautiful and peaceful place.
Around the square (and not sure how, across several streets) the huge Bazaar-e Bozorg (literally “big Bazaar” and there is one in every town) it’s quite interesting, but as I wrote about the bazaar in Tehran, once you’ve seen twelve, all of them start looking uninteresting, unless you want to buy something. Inside there are caravanserais, madrassas, mosques … but it’s almost impossible to find any of them, even with the help of a map and the signs!
But actually inside this bazaar you can find (by asking several times) the place I liked best in Isfahan: Masjed-e Jameh. The biggest Friday mosque in Iran it’s inside a bazaar! The building itself it’s stunning but it’s so quiet and peaceful inside that just because of this it’s worth the entrance fee.
Once inside there were people praying, reading, resting … and one woman tried to covert us to Islam. I didn’t really liked the way she tried to make statements so I left quite quickly, but Javi stayed there some time. Still the woman was not very persuasive and Javi remains faithless (or with his faith on atheism).
Probably what impressed us the most was the Kakh-e Cheheh Sotun a XVIIth century reception hall. We didn’t really know what to expect and before you get your ticket you can’t really see anything. So suddenly this wonderful palace with the garden and fountains caught us unguarded. It’ really is one of the top things to see in Iran.
And for the last day we left the Armenian quarter. The cathedral is interesting, and a change from so many mosques. The museum is quite big but not that interesting, I would say. With a quick walk through it’s enough. It’s basically centered on the Armenian genocide led by the Turks at the beginning of the last century.
And this is pretty much everything we did in Isfahan. Our host had to work long hours at the family’s greengrocery, so we only saw him for breakfast and late in the evening, but he was nice and really eager to prepare his first bike tour. Thanks and goodluck!