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Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Maidan-e Naqsh-e Jahan; trans: "Image of the World Square" also known as Meidan Emam, is a square situated at the center of  Isfahan city, Iran. Constructed between 1598 and 1629, it is now an important historical site, and one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. It is 160 metres (520 ft) wide by 560 metres (1,840 ft) long (an area of 89,600 square metres (964,000 sq ft)). It is also referred to as Shah Square or Imam Square. The square is surrounded by buildings from the Safavid era. The Shah Mosque is situated on the south side of this square. On the west side is the Ali Qapu Palace. Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is situated on the eastern side of this square and at the northern side Keisaria gate opens into the Isfahan Grand Bazaar. Today, Namaaz-e Jom'eh (the Muslim Friday prayer) is held in the Shah Mosque.

The square is depicted on the reverse of the Iranian 20,000 rials banknote.

Authenticity

The historical monuments at Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Esfahan, are authentic in terms of their forms and design, materials and substance, locations and setting, and spirit. The surface of the public urban square, once covered with sand, is now paved with stone. A pond was placed at the centre of the square, lawns were installed in the 1990s, and two entrances were added to the northeastern and western ranges of the square. These and future renovations, undertaken by Cultural Heritage experts, nonetheless employ domestic knowledge and technology in the direction of maintaining the authenticity of the property.

 

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Ali Qapu

Ali Qapu (pronounced, ah-lee gah-pooh) is in effect but a pavilion that marks the entrance to the vast royal residential quarter of the Safavid Isfahan which stretched from the Maidan Naqsh-e-Jahan to the Chahar Bagh Boulevard. The name is made of two elements: "Ali", Arabic for exalted, and "Qapu" Turkic for portal or royal threshold. The compound stands for "Exalted Porte". This name was chosen by the Safavids to rival the Ottomans' celebrated name for their court: Bab-i Ali, or the "Sublime Porte"). The building, another wonderful Safavid edifice, was built by decree of Shah Abbas the Great in the early seventeenth century. It was here that the great monarch used to entertain noble visitors, and foreign ambassadors. Shah Abbas, here for the first time celebrated the Nowruz (New Year's Day) of 1006 AH / 1597 A.D. A large and massive rectangular structure, the Ali Qapu is 48 meters high and has six floors, fronted with a wide terrace whose ceiling is inlaid and supported by wooden columns.

Ali Qapu 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. Ali Qapu 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.

Shah Abbas II was enthusiastic about the embellishment and perfection of Ali Qapu. His chief contribution was given to the magnificent hall, constructed on the third floor. The 18 columns of the hall are covered with mirrors and its ceiling is decorated with great paintings.

 

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Imam Mosque

is a mosque standing in south side of Naghsh-e-Jahan square. Built during the Safavid period, an excellent example of Islamic Architecture in Persia (Iran). This mosque has been constructed during the Safavid period, in 1611 with seven-color mosaic tiles and valuable inscriptions. The portal of the mosque measuring 27 meters high, crowned with two minarets being 42 meters in height, frames the front of the mosque which opens into Naqsh-e Jahan square. On top of the entrance, among the stalactites and above the turquoise lattice window, there is a frame of seven-color mosaic tile shaped like a vase with two peacocks on both sides which is an example of mosaic tile. The inscription above the entrance being made of white mosaic tile on ultramarine background is written in Sols script by Alireza Abbasi.

The wooden door of the mosque, covered with layers of gold and silver, is ornamented with some poems written in Nasta'liq script. The overall entrance hall proves the mastery of the designer of the building. The master architect has designed two passageways being different in length on both sides of the hall to assimilate the axis of the mosque to the direction of kiblah which has an angle of 45 degrees, to cover the change of direction without losing the proportions.

 

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The Mosque is surrounded with four ivans and arcades. All the walls are ornamented with seven-color mosaic tile. The ivan of the mosque is the one which is toward kiblah measuring 33 meters high and has two minarets being 48 meters high. Behind this ivan is a space which is roofed with the most enormous dome of the city being 52 meters high. The dome consists of two covers. The outer cover is 12 meters away from the inner one. There are two schools for religious education at the southwest and southeast of the mosque. The southwest school has an inscription from the Safavid period. There is also an indicator stone, inserted in the inscription, the shape of which is right-angled triangle. This stone shows the mid-day of all the days of the year scientifically in a simple way.

The mosque has two halls in the east and west part of its interior. The eastern hall is bigger but its walls are covered with plaster without any ornamentation while the walls and ceiling of the western hall are covered with seven-color mosaic tiles.

 

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