Isfahan (Es·fa·han (ĕs'fə-hän') or Is·fa·han (Persian: اصفهان) is a city in central Iran. Located south of Tehran, it is considered by the locals to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. An ancient town and capital of Persia from 1598 to 1722, it was long noted for its fine carpets and silver filigree. Today textile and steel mills take over their place. Its architecture, tree-lined boulevards and relaxed pace make it one of the highlights of Iran's cities. The capital of Isfahan Province, and once the country's capital, the Persians call it "Nesf-e-Jahan", meaning "Half The World".
The city is 430 km south of Tehran at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The city enjoys a temperate climate and regular seasons. Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran. It is similar to Denver, Colorado in terms of altitude and precipitation.
- Isfahan International Airport or Esfahan Shahid Beheshti (IATA: IFN) (ICAO: OIFM) was a military air base before the revolution. Now, there are daily flights to Tehran and Mashhad in Iran. There are also flights to Damascus, Dubai and Kuwait.
There are train routes from Tehran and the main cities in Iran.
There are automobile routes from the capital Tehran and from other main cities in Iran as well.
Isfahan is well connected to most parts of the country by bus . there are buses from Isfahan to Tehran and Tehran to Isfahan every 15 minutes. Also there are a few luxury buses with a so-called "European standard" (very comfortable seats, open mini-bar, etc.). "Royal Safar Iranian" is one of them, and don't forget to buy the 7000 tomans ticket to get the full package.
It is easy to get around Esfahan by bus, and possibly the cheapest way as well. Tickets are sold at IR 500 / trip - you can purchase the tickets on the bus or at the booths at the bus stops. Note that there are separate men (front) and women (rear) sections on the bus.
Squares and Streets
- Naqsh-e Jahan Square also known as shah square or imam square-1602. With two mosques and the bazaar.
- Meydan Kohne (Kohne Square)
- Shahshahan square
- Chaharbagh Boulevard - 1596.
- Chaharbagh-e-khajou Boulevard
The stunning mosques of Isfahan are among the most beautiful and interesting in the world.
- Imam Mosque (it was called Shah mosque before Iran's Revolution)
- Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque
- Jame Mosque
- Ali Qapu (The Royal Palace) - Early 17th Century
- Talar Ashraf (The Palace of Ashraf) - 1650.
- Hasht Behesht (The Palace of Eight Paradises) - 1669.
- Chehel Sotoun (The Palace of forty columns) - 1647.
- Madreseye Sadr
- Madreseye Shah (Imam Jafar Sadegh after revolution)
- Madreseye Khajoo
- Carvanserai Shah
- Pol-e Shahrestan (The Shahrestan Bridge) - 11th Century.
- Pol-e Khaju (Khaju Bridge) - 1650.
- Si-o-Seh Pol (The Bridge of 33 Arches) - 1602.
- Pol-e-Joui or choobi(Joui bridge)
- Pol-e-Maarnaan (Maarnaan Bridge)
Churches and Cathedrals
- Vank Cathedral - 17th century.
- Kelisaye maryam (maryam church)
- Flowers Garden
- Birds Garden
- Atashgah - a Zoroastrian fire temple. This temple is dramatically set atop a rock on the outskirts of Esfahan and provides a commanding view of the city (although much of it is covered in smog). You can take one of the blue buses (ask at the drivers), which will take you there.
- Buqe'h-ye Ibn-Sina (Avicenna's Dome) - 12th Century.
- The Tombs of Nizam al-Mulk & Malek Shah - 12th & 18th Century.
- Jolfa (The Armenian Quarter).
- The Bathhouse of Sheikh Bahai.
- Pigeon Towers - 17th Century.
- The Bathhouse of Ali Gholi Agha
- Take a walk in any of Esfahan's beautiful and well kept gardens, or go and take a look at the bazaar of Esfahan.
- Walk along the Zayandehrood river beside the ancient bridges. You see many locals doing this everyday.
- Get some take out food and go to Naqsh-e Jahan Square for a dinner. You'll find many locals doing this especially on fridays.
- Shahid Ashrafi Esfahani University - It is possible for foriegners to learn persian at an Iranian University here as part of tailor-made courses to suit their needs. Contact: Foreign Student Coordinator Ghaem Blv., Sepahan Shahr, Esfahan, Iran, Po Box: 81798-49999,Tel: 98-311-6502820-28
- University of Isfahan
- Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
- Isfahan University of Technology
- Malek Ashtar University
- Sheikh Baha'i University
- Mohajer Technical College
- Khorasgaan(Isfahan) Azad University
There is a technology university known as IUT and there are a lot of technology towns like Sheikh bahaee, Jay, Amir Kabir , Oshtorjaan and many others which all are active in industry. Qualified people would like work in these towns or Foolad mobarakeh or Melt Iron companies, both active in the steel industry.
- Isfahan carpets are world-famous, being the very finest of the Persian carpets. They are also often extremely expensive. Carpets from the nearby town of Nain are similar in style, also well-known, and are expensive too. For those who are interested, it is possible to buy the highly decorative and brightly coloured traditional dress of Isfahan, but such clothing can be expensive, so it's better to haggle for a reasonable price.
- For a real treasure trove, shop in the famous bazaar.
- Miniatures These exquisite miniature paintings are painted on camel bone. Most of them are sold framed, and prices start from about IR15,000 upwards. It can be more costly if the artwork is done by a miniature master. Shop and look at various stores before making your decision.
As with most of Iran, the standard national dish of Chelo kebab is a must. Try the regional variations of this dish in the numerous restaurants in Isfahan. Food is usually of high standard. In some parks in Isfahan, you can simply obtain a carpet and tea from the park warden, and have a picnic on the grass! You will find families gather in these parks, and bring barbecues and cook freshly made kebabs, which smell (and taste) delicious.
Another favorite meal is a beryani which you can eat for lunch .This is a special meal of Isfahan. It has made with sheep meat and lung. Although Iranians love this meal, it is very fatty. Therfore some westerners may dislike Beryani.
If you have the chance, try Fereni (a concoction of flour, water and milk) at Fereni Hafez, which is along Hafez Street near Imam Square. It costs IR3000 for a small bowl or IR5000 for a bigger one.
Visit one of the tea-houses in the bazaar or under one of the bridges.
- The Amir Kabir Hotel is a favorite among backpackers. Simple dorm beds are IR10,000. There is internet next door (IR10,000/hour) as well as a laundry service (IR15,000/kg). Rooms are clean and toilets are shared (with hot water showers inclusive)
- Dibai House, 1 Masjed Ali Alley, Harunie, ☎ +98 311 2209787(firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +98 311 2209786), . This is Isfahan's most atmospheric hotel. Dibai House comprises a fully and scrupulously restored 17th-century Safavid historic mansion that nevertheless boasts all modern facilities. Ideally located in the Old Quarter. No smoking indoors.€ 40/60/80 per room/night for single/double/triple rooms. 10% discount for stays longer than a week and for groups of 5 or more.
- Abbasi Hotel,  was built at the time of king Sultan Hossein of Safavids about 300 years ago. King Soltan Hossein attributed this magnificent complex of building to his mother. That is why; it is called "the school and caravansaray of Madar-shah" (which means king's mother).
- Kowsar International Hotel  overlooks Zayandeh Rood River.
- Hotel Ali Ghapou is one of the best 4-star hotels in Isfahan.
- 'Hotel Aseman is another 4-star hotel , with a very beautiful view of Zayande Rood River.
There are various Internet cafés in Isfahan. The best place which has the fastest connection and also cheapest in the city is the Central Library of Esfahan. It is accessible from Naghshe-Jahan Square by five minutes walk.
Visas & Permits
There is an old consulate of Russia behind the bazzar.
This page was last edited at 19:11, on 25 March 2009 by Wikitravel user Vidimian. Based on work by cz, Espen Antonsen, Omid Hatami and otto mahlanen, Wikitravel user(s) Hot Coffee, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.