Former capital of the Safavid Dynasty, Isfahan became the seat of Shah Abbas the Great in 1598, and at its zenith blossomed into of the most magnificent and cosmopolitan cities in history. Visitors from Mughal India and Europe were dazzled by the wealth of its bazaars and splendour of its buildings, erected by the finest architects and craftsmen in the Islamic world.
The great mosaic-tiled mosques and palaces flanking Naqsh-e Jahan Square in the centre of the city alone justify a visit to Iran, but the capital of Shah Abbas holds many more wonders, from the sublime Chehel Sotoun pleasure pavilion, with its UNESCO-listed 17th century murals, to the elegant arched bridges spanning the Zayande River and immaculately kept Persian gardens. There’s an exceptionally beautiful covered bazaar here too, winding from the main square to the ancient Jama Masjid mosque in the north of the old city, regarded as one of the masterpieces of medieval Islamic architecture. Crowned by mud-brick domes, the market’s main artery winds past a succession of shops selling fabulous ceramics, carpets, spices and jewellery.
A pleasurable city to explore on foot, with a collection of monuments unsurpassed anywhere in Asia, Isfahan epitomizes the great cultural sophistication of Iran and is, for most of our clients, the country’s standout attraction.