Khaju Bridge (Persian: پل خواجو Pol-e Khāju) is arguably the finest bridge in the province of Isfahan, Iran. It was built by the Persian Safavid king, Shah Abbas II around 1650 C.E., on the foundations of an older bridge. Serving as both a bridge, and a dam (or a weir), it links the Khaju quarter on the north bank with the Zoroastrian quarter across the Zayandeh River. Although architecturally functioning as a bridge and a weir, it also served a primary function as a building and a place for public meetings. This structure was originally decorated with artistic tilework and paintings, and served as a teahouse. In the center of the structure, a pavilion exists inside which Shah Abbas would have once sat, admiring the view. Today, remnants of a stone seat is all that is left of the king’s chair. This bridge is one of the finest examples of Persian architecture at the height of Safavid cultural influence in Iran. In words of Upham Pope and Jean Chardin, Khaju bridge is “the culminating monument of Persian bridge architecture and one of the most interesting bridges extant…where the whole has rhythm and dignity and combines in the happiest consistency, utility, beauty, and recreation.”
Khaju Bridge has 24 arches and is 133 metres long and 12 metres wide. The pass way of the bridge is 7.5 meters wide, made of bricks and stones with 21 larger and 26 smaller inlet and outlet channels. The pieces of stone used in this bridge are over 2 meters long and the distance between every channel and the ceiling base is 21 meters. The existing inscriptions suggest that the bridge was repaired in 1873.
Khaju is one of the bridges that regulate the water flow in the river because there are sluice gates under the archways over the river. When the sluice gates are closed, the water level behind the bridge is raised to facilitate the irrigation of the many gardens along the river upstream of this bridge.
On the upper level of the bridge, the main central aisle was utilized by horses and carts and the vaulted paths on either side by pedestrians. Octagonal pavilions in the center of the bridge on both the down and the upstream sides provide vantage points for the remarkable views. The lower level of the bridge may be accessed by pedestrians and remains a popular shady place for relaxing.
Iranian urban architects, however, note their dismay with the recent, and modern renovations that have taken place at the Khaju.
The Khaju Bridge lies in a row of such compound functions like the Old London Bridge and Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Despite having no shops, the Khaju Bridge had Chay Hanes (Tea Houses) on the lower level and at both feet of the bridge, which are used still now, functioning as a civic spot for amusement. The decorations with glazed tiles on walls over the arches also indicate that this was not only intended to be a practical bridge but also a composite facility of traffic and pleasure.
The Khaju Bridge also functions as a dam, incorporating equipment to adjust the quantity of water flow. Though its external view, consisting of a series of brick arches, is almost the same as those of caravanserais and madrasas, its appearance with spurting water narrowed by its piers with its sprightly sound give the townscape a fascinating dynamic view.
he Khaju Bridge is located at the east end of Kamal Ismael Isfahani street and the south end of Khaju street. The pass way of the bridge is 7.5 meterswide, made of bricks and stones with 21 larger and 26 smaller inlet and outlet channels. The pieces of stone used in this bridge are over 2 meters long and the distance between every channel and the ceiling base is 20 meters. The existing inscriptions suggest that the bridge was repaired in 1873.
The bridge is an arch bridge and thus does not need cables or additional supports. It is a semicircular structure with abutments on each end (part of a structure that bears the weight or pressure of an arch). The arches shift the weight from the bridge deck to the support structure. The force of compression is pushed outward along the curve of the arch toward the abutments.