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Silk Road Tours

Silk Road Tours offer tailor made holidays through Central Asia, The Caucasus, Middle East and North Africa


Isfahan, known by its proverb of ‘Isfahan is half the world’ is one of Iran’s main tourism centres and offers a wealth of historical monuments to see. The city flourished from 1050 to 1722 particularly after 1598 when the Safavid’s moved the capital from Tabriz and Qazvin and building began in earnest. The UNESCO listed Imam Square, one of the largest in the world, sits at the centre of Isfahan and is dominated by the Masjid-i Shaikh Lutfallah, the Masjid-i Imam and the Ali Qapu or ceremonial entrance to the royal palace. At its north end of the entrance to Isfahan’s bustling bazaar – a great place to pick up souvenirs from hand painted camel bone boxes, blocked printed tea clothes or the famous Persian carpets. Away from Imam Square, Chehel Sutun or pavilion of 40 columns was where Safavid rulers received foreign dignitaries and one of Isfahan’s further architectural gems is the Majid-I Jami. The city is bisected by the Zayande River and the Safavid’s built the Allahverdi Khan and Khaju Bridges with their many arches which are particularly spectacular at night when they are illuminated. These bridges connected the city to the Julfa district, or Armenian quarter, where Vank cathedral is located and the visitor can experience a very different atmosphere to the rest of Isfahan. As a city of 1.5 million people, as with many Iranian cities, Isfahan does suffer from bad traffic congestion and resulting pollution – this is alleviated to a certain extent around Imam Square where some of the streets have been pedestrianised. The wealth of sights in Isfahan mean it easily warrants a full two days to explore this wonderful city.