THE SHAKING MINARETS
Monar-e-Jonban was built as a simple shrine to a local hermit and holy man, the shaking minarets are famous all across Iran. The whole open plan structure was built around 1316 to cover the grave of Amu Abdollah Soqla (pictured). The minarets were added later, probably during the Safavid dynasty (1501-1722). The shaking of the minarets to entertain visitors has taken place so often and for so long, that it has caused significant structural damage. Another set of shaking minarets in Iran lost two thirds of their structure because of such displays. That’s why now it usually only one minaret shaken once per day. Timetable? Who knows. Just go in the morning and ask politely at the gate. Go down the road about 3 kms to visit the Sun Temple if you need to kill time.
So why do they shake?
The minarets were built with local sandstone which contains feldspar. Feldspar is a mineral that dissolves over time and this leaves the stone flexible – resulting in the shaking ability. The minarets were not known to shake at all originally, so it somewhat proves the theory.
The weblink below allows you to click on the minarets and shake them yourself!
Chehel Sotun (Forty Columns)
The Chehel Sotun palace was built as a reception hall by Shah Abbas II in 1647. It is set in the old royal park between the Ali Qapu Palace and the Chahar Bagh Avenue. The name means "The Forty Columns" and though there are only twenty columns of cypress wood, their reflections in the adjacent pool provide the other twenty.
There is also a small museum inside the building. Six Friezes are painted on the upper part of the inside walls representing Safavid court life and their military exploits. Beneath these great scenes are smaller paintings, closer in style and subject matter to Persian miniature. Covered in plaster during the Qajar period, they have recently been carefully restored. All around the room are a series of Safavid objects including carpets, armour, porcelain and coins.
Tea house under Si-o-se Pol bridge
The Si-o-se Pol (Persian: سی وسه پل, pronounced [siː oˈseh pol], which means 33 Pol, literally 33 Bridge) or the Bridge of 33 Arches, also called the Allah-Verdi Khan Bridge, is one of the eleven bridges of Esfahan, Iran. It is highly ranked as being one of the most famous examples of Safavid bridge design.
Zayandeh River is the largest river on the central plateau of Iran, Isfahan Province. The Zayandeh starts in the Zagros Mountains and travels 400 kilometres (200 mi) eastward before ending in the Gavkhouni swamp, a seasonal salt lake, southeast of Esfahan city. The Zayandeh has significant flow all year long, unlike many of Iran's rivers which are seasonal. The Zayandeh is spanned by many historical Safavid era bridges, and flows through many parks.
Vank Cathedral, also known as The Church of the Saintly Sisters, is the most visited cathedral in Isfahan, Iran. Vank means "cathedral" in the Armenian language.
Vank Cathedral was one of the first churches to be established in the city's Jolfa district by Armenian immigrants settled by Shah Abbas I after the Ottoman War of 1603-1605. The varying fortunes and independence of this suburb across the Zayandeh River and its eclectic mix of European missionaries, mercenaries and travelers can be traced almost chronologically in the cathedral's combination of building styles and contrasts in its external and internal architectural treatment.
Construction is believed to have begun in 1606, and completed with major alterations to design between 1655 and 1664 under the supervision of Archbishop David. The cathedral consists of a domed sanctuary, much like a Persian mosque, but with the significant addition of a semi-octagonal apse and raised chancel usually seen in western churches. The cathedral's exteriors are in relatively modern brickwork and are exceptionally plain compared to its elaborately decorated interior.
The interior is covered with fine paintings and gilded carvings and includes a wainscot of rich tile work. The delicately blue and gold painted central dome depicts the Biblical story of creation of the world and man's expulsion from Eden. Pendentives throughout the church are painted with a distinctly Armenian motif of a cherub's head surrounded by folded wings. The ceiling above the entrance is painted with delicate floral motifs in the style of Persian miniature. Two sections, or bands, of murals run around the interior walls: the top section depicts events from the life of Jesus, while the bottom section depicts tortures inflicted upon Armenian martyrs by the Ottoman Empire. No picture inside unless you buy separate ticket for taking pics.
The courtyard contains a large freestanding belfry towering over the graves of both Orthodox and Protestant Christians. A tile work plaque inscribed in Armenian can be seen by the entrance to the cathedral; graves are also placed along the exterior wall before the entrance, with inscriptions in Armenian. In one corner of the courtyard is a raised area with a memorial to the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Turkey. Across the courtyard and facing the cathedral is a building housing a library and museum; outside of this building are several carved stones showing scenes from the Bible
The library contains over 700 handwritten books and many invaluable and unique resources for research in Armenian and medieval European languages and arts. The museum displays numerous artifacts from the history of the cathedral and the Armenian community in Isfahan,
Si-o-se Pol or the Bridge of 33 Arches
The Si-o-se Pol, which means 33 Pol, literally 33 Bridge or the Bridge of 33 Arches, also called the Allah-Verdi Khan Bridge, is one of the eleven bridges of Esfahan, Iran. It is highly ranked as being one of the most famous examples of Safavid bridge design.
Commissioned in 1602 by Shah Abbas I from his chancellor Allahverdi Khan Undiladze, an Iranian ethnic Georgian, it consists of two layers of 33 arches. There is a larger base plank at the start of the bridge where the Zayandeh River flows under it, with a mounted tea house there.
See more pic for night view.
Khaju Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in Isfahan, Iran and has roused the admiration of travelers since the 17th century. Shah Abbas II built it on the foundations of an older bridge around 1650. It has 23 arches and is 105 metres long and 14 metres wide. It links the Khaju quarter on the north bank with the Zoroastrian quarter across the Zayandeh River. It also functions as a weir; the downstream side is formed as a series of steps carrying the water to a much lower level.
The pass way of the bridge is 7.5 meters wide, made of bricks and stones with 21 larger and 26 smaller inlet and outlet channels. The pieces of stone used in this bridge are over 2 meters long and the distance between every channel and the ceiling base is 20 meters. The existing inscriptions suggest that the bridge was repaired in 1873.
Khaju is one of the bridges that regulate the water flow in the river because there are sluice gates under the archways over the river. When the sluice gates are closed, the water level behind the bridge is raised to facilitate the irrigation of the many gardens along the river upstream of this bridge.
On the upper level of the bridge, the main central aisle was utilized by horses and carts and the vaulted paths on either side by pedestrians. Octagonal pavilions in the center of the bridge on both the down and the upstream sides provide vantage points for the remarkable views. The lower level of the bridge may be accessed by pedestrians and remains a popular shady place for relaxing.
Esfahani rugs and carpets
Esfahan has long been one of the centers for production of the famous Persian Rug. Weaving in Esfahan flourished in the Safavid era. But when the Afghans invaded Iran, ending the Safavid dynasty, the craft also became stagnant.
Not until 1920s, between two world wars, was weaving again taken seriously by the people of Esfahan. They started to weave Safavid designs and once again became one of the most important nexus of the Iranian rug weaving industry. Esfahani carpets today are among the most wanted in world markets, having many customers in western countries.
Esfahani rugs and carpets usually have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. Rugs and carpets often have very symmetrical and balanced designs. They usually have a single medallion that is surrounded with vines and palmettos and are of excellent quality.
Jamé Mosque is the result of continual construction, reconstruction, additions and renovations on the site from around 771 to the end of the 20th century. Jamé stems from the Arabic root word Jam, signifying the place of gathering. This is one of the oldest mosques still standing in Iran, and it was built in the four-iwan architectural style, placing four gates face to face. An iwan is a vaulted open room. The qibla iwan on the southern side of the mosque was vaulted with muqarnas during the thirteen hundreds. Muqarnas are niche-like cells.
Construction under the Seljuqs included the addition of two brick domed chambers, for which the mosque is renowned. The south dome was built to house the mihrab in 1086-87 by Nizam al-Mulk, the famous vizier of Malik Shah, and was larger than any dome known at its time. The north dome was constructed a year later by Nizam al-Mulk's rival Taj al-Mulk. The function of this domed chamber is uncertain. Although it was situated along the north-south axis, it was located outside the boundaries of the mosque. The dome was certainly built as a direct riposte to the earlier south dome, and successfully so, claiming its place as a masterpiece in Persian architecture for its structural clarity and geometric balance. Iwans were also added in stages under the Seljuqs, giving the mosque its current four-iwan form, a type which subsequently became prevalent in Iran and the rest of the Islamic world.
Admission IR4,000 (May 2008).
Ali Qapu Palace
Âlî Qâpû is a grand palace in Isfahan, Iran. It is located on the western side of the Naghsh-i Jahan Square opposite to Sheikh lotf allah mosque, and had been originally designed as a vast portal. It is forty-eight meters high and there are seven floors, each accessible by a difficult spiral staircase. In the sixth floor music room, deep circular niches are found in the walls, having not only aesthetic value, but also acoustic, fronted with a wide terrace whose ceiling is inlaid and supported by wooden columns.
Âlî Qâpû is rich in naturalistic wall paintings by Reza Abbassi, the court painter of Shah Abbas I, and his pupils. There are floral, animal, and bird motifs. The highly ornamented doors and windows of the palace have almost all been pillaged at times of social anarchy. Only one window on the third floor has escaped the ravages of time. Âlî Qâpû was repaired and restored substantially during the reign of Shah Sultan Hussein, the last Safavid ruler, but fell into a dreadful state of dilapidation again during the short reign of invading Afghans. under the Qajar Nasir al-Din shah's reign (1848-96), the Safavid cornices and floral tiles above the portal were replaced by tiles bearing inscriptions.
The chancellery was stationed on the first floor. On the sixth, the royal reception and banquets were held. The largest rooms are found on this floor. The stucco decoration of the banquet hall abounds in motif of various vessels and cups. The sixth floor was popularly called (the music room).
Here various ensembles performed music and sang songs. From the upper galleries, the Safavid ruler watched polo, maneuvers and the horse-racing opposite the square of Naqsh-i-Jahan.
Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque
Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is one of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Iranian architecture, standing on the eastern side of Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Isfahan, Iran. It was built in 1615 by the orders of Shah Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty. The architect (Mimar) of the edifice was Muhammad Reza ibn Ustad Hosein Banna Isfahani. He finished construction of the mosque in 1618.
See more pics for details of the Interior design of Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque.
Admission: IR4,000 (May 2008).
The Shah Mosque is a mosque in Isfahan (Eşfahān), Iran standing in south side of Naghsh-i Jahan Square.
Built during the Safavids period, it is an excellent example of Islamic architecture of Iran, and regarded as the masterpiece of Persian Architecture. The Shah Mosque of Esfahan is one of the everlasting masterpieces of architecture in Iran and all over the world. It is registered along with the Naghsh-i Jahan Square as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its construction began in 1611, and its splendor is mainly due to the beauty of its seven-color mosaic tiles and calligraphic inscriptions.
The Seljuqs and the Safavids found the Shah Mosque as a channel through which they could express themselves with their numerous architectural techniques. The four- iwan format, finalized by the Seljuq dynasty, firmly established the courtyard facade of such mosques as more important than their exterior ones. During the Seljuq rule, as Islamic mysticism was on the rise in the region, the four-iwan arrangement came to be interpreted as seeking true meaning within the appearance. Their presence can serve the sole purpose of being the passageway between the material world and that of the spiritual. It must also be noted that glazed brickwork and tiling had little appeal to the Seljuqs as they primarily favored the distinct tranquil color of turquoise blue.
Covered with premeditated calligraphic fresco, the front doors are used as an apparatus to remind the spectator of the glory of God and of Shah Abbas I himself. Entering from the northern iwan, the compelling physical presence of the identical side iwans direct our attention to the soaring qibla iwan situated straight ahead. As a result such architecture stresses the degree of fidelity in the structure which makes it explicitly pervasive.
See more pics for inside. Admission fee: IR4,000 (May 2008)
Kelisa-ye Beit-ol-Lahm is nothing else than the Church of betlehem, another stunning church in the Jolfa quarter - and another one well-known for its frescoes and paintings. This church was built in 1628 and has the largest dome of all churches in the quarter.
The paintings are very much different of those in Vank cathedral, but they are of a much finer quality. Backgrounds are often black and gold - and they also depict scenes from the bible - but are painted in more realistic style than the nearly sci-fi ones in Vank cathedral.
Vank cathedral is the main religious site in the Jolfa quarter, and the most imposing one, too. This cathedral (well, complex, in fact) was built between 1655 and 1664 and is made up by a church, a bell tower, a printing press, a library and a small museum of Armenian artefacts and old manuscripts.
The best thing to visit is the church's paintings - very colourful and very bizarre. They were painted by three monks (Havans, Stepanus and Minas) ad depict very crude biblical scenes, many about damnation - and mostly with naked people. Because of these very unislamic paintings, photography is (theorethically) not allowed inside the church - in practice everyone is taking pictures of these paintings and no one seems to care.
If the Imam's mosque is referred to as the male mosque of imam's square - this other mosque is knowns as the female mosque. Its construction started in 1601 and lasted 17 years - but it was not meant for common people - but only for the family members of the Shah Abbas I. The name - Loftollah - is the name of the father-in-law of Shah Abbas I.
Because it was a private mosque it is quite a small one with only a square worship house topped with a dome, but it ddoesn't have any courtyard and even more surprisingly, a minareth. Another peculiarity is that very little in terms of green and blue tiles were used in the decorations (compared to other iranian mosques) - but rather some yellow and gold ones, as you can see on the dome.