Isfahan

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Isfahan (Persian: اصفهان‎ Esfāhān pronunciation (help·info)), historically also rendered in English as Ispahan, Sepahan or Hispahan, is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 kilometres (211 miles) south of Tehran. It has a population of 1,583,609 and is Iran’s third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad. The Greater Isfahan Region had a population of 3,793,101 in the 2011 Census, the second most populous metropolitan area in Iran after Tehran.
The cities of Zarrinshahr, Fooladshahr and Najafabad, Se-deh, Shahin-shahr, Mobarakeh, Falavarjan and Charmahin all constitute the metropolitan city of Isfahan.
Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian proverb “Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast” (Isfahan is half of the world).
The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments and is known for the paintings and history.
The Zayande River starts in the Zagros Mountains, flows from west to east through the heart of Isfahan, and dries up in the Kavir desert.
The bridges over the river include some of the finest architecture in Isfahan. The oldest bridge is the “Pol-e Shahrestan”, which was probably built in the 1100s during the Seljuk period. Further upstream is the “Pol-e Khaju”, which was built by Shah Abbas II in 1650. It is 123 metres long with 24 arches, and also serves as a sluice gate.
The next bridge is the “Pol-e Jubi”. It was originally built as an aqueduct to supply the palace gardens on the north bank of the river. Further upstream again is the Si-o-Seh Pol or bridge of 33 arches. Built during the rule of Shah Abbas the Great, it linked Isfahan with the Armenian suburb of Jolfa. It is by far the longest bridge in Isfahan at 295 m (967.85 ft).

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