History of Polo in Iran
Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam Square) with its surrounding monuments were built in Naqsh-e Jahan Garden in 1006 AH when Isfahan city was selected as the seat of Safavid Empire. This square was a place of polo at the time of the great Shah Abbas and his successors in the days when the royal celebrations were held and before that, it was also a polo field.
The two polygonal gates of that period are still in the field. It demonstrates that Polo sport was existed at that time and they are the oldest gates of the world's polo. The design of this field definitely affected the way in which the polo game was played. Because of that, Harlingen's sports fields and other famous Polo fields have been built more or less base on this field. Naqsh-e Jahan Square has been registered as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Naqsh-e Jahan Square is one of the most standard and historic places for playing this game, which is like a green gem in the historical complex of Naqsh-e Jahan in Isfahan. This field was used as a place to play polo games during Timurid and it was rebuilt at the time of the Safavid Empire. The Safavid dynasty's kings also ordered to construct the Mosque, Bazaar and Royal Palace surrounded this square which was considered as a political, religious, economic, cultural and sports complex.
Historical Evidence of Playing Polo in Iran
Historical books claim that Polo game was held in Meidan-e Imam and the Safavid's Kings were watching the game from the Ivan of Ali Qapu Palace. Isfahan city is known as the home of Iran and the world which led the officials of the Cultural Heritage Organization to begin their activities for the registration of this game as a heritage of Iran from this historic city.
Dr. Hossein Yaghini in a conversation with IRNA stated: Herodotus, a prominent Greek historian, pointed that Polo game had been playing by Iranians before Christ. Accordingly, Darius III by using Polo game confronted Alexander in 332 BC which is the most important historical document.
Attemps for UNESCO Registration
In 2013, Massoud Soltani Far, the Vice President and the chairman of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, with shooting 25 balls in the historic square of Naqsh-e Jahan and performing the symbolic game of polo, attempted to register this game with Iranian name at UNESCO.
In this symbolizing game, riders competed with local uniform in Naqsh-e Jahan Square to launch the game to global registration at UNESCO simultaneously with the second day of the program so-called "Noruzgah" in Isfahan.
Meanwhile, the American president of International Polo Federation travelled to Isfahan in order to visit Naqsh-e Jahan as the world's oldest polo field and he confirmed that this game is Iranian. He also said that there is no doubt that Iran is the home of the polo in the world and the polo of Iran is supported by us because everyone knows that the history of Iran belongs to Iran."
Finally Polo Game on 6 December, 2017 was recorded with the Iranian name and signature in the Intangible World Heritage List.