Naqsh-e Jahan (half the world or pattern of the world) is the most magnificent sight of Isfahan, it is more than 80000 m2 (about 510 m long and 163 m wide) and located in the center of Isfahan city; the construction of the square dates back to the beginning of 17th century. 200 two-story shops and 4 buildings that belong to Safavid era surround Naghsh-e Jahan square, but the origin of Naghsh-e Jahan square dates back to 1602 when it was used as a garden. At the time, the old square, belonging to Seljuk dynasty that is located opposite of the Jame mosque was the center of Isfahan; however, when Isfahan was chosen as the capital, Shah Abbas ordered the creation of a new center for the city’s development.
He expanded a new city with a central square and decorated it on each side with a remarkable monument. During the Safavid dynasty, the square was the center of religious, economic, and political events and used for celebration, promenades, playing polo, public execution and military parade. Nowadays, The Royal Mosque along the side, the sheikh Lotf Allah on the east side, The Ali Qapu on the west and the Qeysarieh Bazar on the north surround the square that is said to be the pattern of the world. This important historical site of Iran was listed as the UNESCO world Heritage site in 1979.
The Royal Mosque along the side, the sheikh Lotf Allah on the east side, The Ali Qapu on the west and the Qeysarieh Bazar on the north surround the square that is said to be the pattern of the world.
The Royal mosque
The Royal mosque is the masterpieces of architecture, tilework and carpentry and was built in the eleventh century. It is situated on the south side of Naghsh-e Jahan square and opposite the Qeysarieh portal entrance. Its construction coincided with the 24th year of reign of Shah Abbas, in 1611 and took eighteen years to be complete. The great master of tile working Ali Akbar Isfahani finished the mosque in the last year of reign of Shah Abbas, however the decoration of the mosque completed after his death.
Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque
The sheikh Lotf Allah mosque, the smallest Iranian mosque, dominates the eastern side of Naghsh-e Jahan Square. The construction of mosque dates back to between 1602 and 1619, during the reign of Shah Abbas I, and named after a local clergyman of Lebanese origin, Sheikh Lotf Allah. He was one of the biggest clergymen of Safavid dynasty that came to Iran when Shah Abbas invited him, he was honored by Shah Abbas (his son in law) to supervise the royal mosque. During Safavid dynasty, Sheikh Lotf Allah mosque was used as private section for Shah and his haram.
Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque is the smallest Iranian Mosque.
The royal palace of Ali Qapu is located in the west of Naghsh-e Jahan square and against Sheikh Lotf Allah mosque. The palace was built by the order of Shah Abbas in 1597. It is a rectangular building, 48 meters high with five stories that were connected by spiral staircase. There is a massive balcony in front of the palace that was covered with paintings, wooden roof and decorated wooden columns. The balcony was used by Safavid kings to watch ceremonies such as polo-games, horse-racings and other events held in the square below. The most important part of this palace is its miniature paintings and the most decorated room is located on the sixth floor. Reza Abbasi and his skilled students performed the paintings. It was later named “the music room” the upper part of the walls are filled with stucco niches in shape of various vessels motifs including bottles and flasks. Unlike the one made in Sheikh Safi Al din mausoleum, these room was not used as displays of vessels. As the name signifies, the room was used as a music room and the stucco niches stopped the echo of the room and helped the listeners to hear sounds better.
Gheysarieh bazaar is located in the northern end of Naghsh-e Jahan square. It begins from Gheysarieh portal and continue to Dar-Al-Shafa bazar. Majestic tiles and mural painting (fresco) that is attributed to Raza Abbasi ornament the Gheysarieh portal. It shows Shah Abbas’s war with Uzbeks with scenes of hunting and celebration. On the top part of portal, there are tiles showing two archers with lion torso and dragon’s tail referring to Constellation and Sagittarius of Isfahan. A large clock decorated the entrance of Bazar in the past. An Englishman named Festy made the clock in King’s honor. Beside the Clock, a Bronze bell used to be there as well that was a booty from Portuguese castle in Hurmuz. The bell never worked and was melted down and turned into cannon around 1800, at the same period, the clock disappeared.