Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Naqsh-e Jahan Square historical structure World Heritages

Naqsh-e Jahan Square (Design of the world), officially known as Imam Square, is situated at the center of Isfahan city. This famous square was built during Shah Abbas the Great who made Isfahan his capital and then decreed that the square should be extended to its present size, and lovely buildings set around it. Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the second largest square in the world after Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, is a masterpiece of Islamic and Iranian architecture, which sits at the heart of Isfahan city in an area of 89,600 square meters. The length of this great square, which is actually rectangular, is 500 meters from north to south, and its width about 150 meters from east to west. It was laid out and beautified in the reign of Shah Abbas the Great, at the beginning of the seventeenth century. This mosque has a famous under dome which has inspired the creation of beautiful Persian carpets and Iranian squares. Imam (Shah) Mosque, also known as Jame Abbasi Mosque or Royal Mosque, was built to replace the Jame Mosque of Isfahan as the venue for the Friday Prayers. The dome of this mosque was designed by Sheikh Baha’i so that travelers on the Silk Road could see it glittering like a turquoise gem from miles away. This royal square, which literally means ‘Exemplar of the World,’ was designed by the polymath Sheikh Baha’i (1547- 1621) upon the order of the founder of the Safavid Dynasty, Shah Abbas I (1571-1629). The square is surrounded by Isfahan Bazaar or Qeisarieh in the north, Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque in the east, Imam Mosque in the south and Ali Qapu Palace in the west. The first of the four monuments dominating Naqsh-e Jahan Square is Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque which was built as the private mosque of the royal family and court over a period of 18 years. Unlike other mosques in Iran, Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque has no courtyard or minarets. Despite its simple architecture, the finest materials were used in the construction of the mosque and prominent artists like calligrapher Ali Reza Abbasi were commissioned to create its complex interior and exterior decorations.  Ali Qapu (Imperial Gate) Palace is actually a six-story pavilion, which was the entrance to the Safavid royal quarters. Shah Abbas I spent most of his time in this palace, entertained visitors and foreign emissaries there and used the upper galleries to watch polo games, military parades and to host lavish banquets. Above the portal of Qeisarieh Bazaar is a tribune that once accommodated musicians giving public concerts. The magnificent multi-purpose Naqsh-e Jahan Square, which served as a marketplace, polo field, place for social meetings. Naqsh-e Jahan Square is an important historical site and one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

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