Half of the World

Our first stop in Iran was Esfahan, where we arrived on a flight from Tehran. Esfahan is called “half of the world” and when you get to Imam Square it is easy to understand why. A space 512 m long and 163 m wide designed in 1602 following the vision that Shah Abbas the Great had for his new capital city, this square hosts the most majestic collection of buildings in Islamic world built in a style and decoration (blue-tiled mosaics) very typical of Central Asia.

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The Imam Mosque (considered one of the most beautiful mosques the world) and Ali Qapu Palace with its fantastic two-storey balcony with wood pillars and roof are the most impressive buildings facing this square but my favourite one was without any doubt Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, the smallest building of the ensemble but it is pure perfection inside.

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Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was built between 1602 and 1619 it was dedicated to Shah’s father-in-law. In theory it was intended to be of a private use, that’s why this mosque has neither a minaret nor a courtyard. Its mihrab is considered one of the finest in Iran but spent most of the time admiring the decoration of the dome.

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We spent the evening walking along the Shore of Zayandeh River, with its three medieval bridges as main sights. Locals enjoy this area a lot, especially at sunset and night when bridges are illuminated. There are also many spots of grass and some trees so it is the perfect place for a picnic or just chill out. Here people stopped us many times to exchange few words in English. They wanted to know if we liked Esfahan and if we were enjoying Iran. There were not many tourists in Iran and locals really cared to make a good impression. They kept telling us that they were quiet and peaceful people, only the government were bad people, lol. I don’t remember how many times I heard “welcome!” those days in Esfahan, I only remember that leaving that city for our next destination was very hard!

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