Isfahan is located in the central part of Iran. It is the center of a province with the same name and the second biggest city of Iran. It has moderate and dry weather, and is watered with Zayandeh Rud with many historic bridges built over it. People speak Farsi with Isfahani accent and follow Shiite sect of Islam. In 2006, it was titled the second cultural capital of Islamic world, and in 2015 it became a world creative city for its craft and folk art.
The etymology of its name is not known, but since it was a military center in Sassanid Era, it has been assumed that the name Isfahan is the Arabized version of Espahan which means the “Place of Army”. There are also older names used for this place that their root is not known and includes Jay, Gabiyeh, Gaba and Gabian.
Although Isfahan is in the center of the country, for a long time it wasn’t a popular city or a center of trade. In the reign of Achaemenid rulers that the western part of the country and the lands around Mesopotamia were blooming, the central regions were neglected. When Cyrus the Great released the Jews from the Babylon, he moved them to Isfahan city. However, it was in the Sassanid dynasty, when it became a military center that the city came to attention.
From this time, Isfahan becomes an important city. It is chosen as the center of the government several time, and as capital of the country twice. The city experienced its zenith in the Safavid time, when for the second time it was chosen as the capital of the country. By the order of Shah Abbas many constructs were added to the city. In this time, Isfahan had four neighborhoods, each having their own mosques, palaces, schools, bathhouses, water reservoirs, and caravanserais. It was in this time that Shah Abbas moved the Armenian Refuge to the city of Isfahan, and gave them the lands below Zayandeh Rud to make their own neighborhood.
In Qajar time, Zel ol Sultan, the son of Naser al Din Shah, became the ruler of Isfahan and although some palaces were added to the city in his 34 years of ruling, many other invaluable buildings and streets were destroyed. With all the destructions, still, Isfahan is known for its Safavid Constructs. The magnificent Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, Royal Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and Bazaar, Chehel Sotoun Palace, Hasht Behesht Palace, Jameh Mosque, Minar Jonban, and Vank Cathedral are just part of the many attractions of the city.