Imam Square: Story of a prime tourist destination in Iran 

June 11, 2018

TEHRAN – The UNESCO-registered Imam Square has long been full of life thanks to being a prime destination for both domestic and foreign travelers.

Best known as Naghsh-e Jahan Sq. (literary meaning “Image of the World”), the property is in Isfahan, central Iran. At 512m long and 163m wide, it is one of the largest squares in the world.

Naghsh-e Jahan Sq. was laid out in the very early 17th century under the reign of the Safavid ruler, Shah Abbas the Great, to signal the importance of Isfahan as a capital of a powerful empire.

It is hemmed on four sides by magnificent buildings: to the east, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque; to the west, the palace of Ali Qapu; to the north, the portico of Qeyssariyeh; and to the south, the eminent Imam Mosque.

The sizeable open space has changed little since it was built, the only modern additions are some fountains added during the Pahlavi era.

According to UNESCO, the square was at the heart of the Safavid capital’s culture, economy, religion, social power, government, and politics. Its vast sandy esplanade was used for celebrations, promenades, and public executions, for playing polo and for assembling troops.

Imam Square is perhaps at its best in late afternoon when the encircling blue-tiled domes and minarets are lit up by the last rays of the sun while the mountains beyond turn red.

It’s when local families, domestic travelers and foreigners make the entire space a pedestrian zone!

Under travelers’ eyes

Here is a select of comments that visitors to the mausoleum have posted to TripAdvisor, one of the most popular travel websites in the world:

“Great for buying handmade souvenirs”

This is a very interesting place, the highlight for me was the various stalls selling handmade products, some of them are so beautiful, I could have bought so many things but luggage limits, I bought just a few.

The place is very clean and safe and well organized, one of the big problems for tourists in Iran is trying to cash foreign money and you should be well cashed up prior to visiting.

Allow at least two hours and best to do a bit of research to narrow down your buying intentions otherwise, you'll be gobsmacked. (Noel T. from Forbes, Australia; reviewed April 2018)

“A truly beautiful square in Isfahan”

We were extremely impressed by the beauty and atmosphere of this huge square.

Very friendly shops, beautiful palaces and mosque. (Denis P. from Paris; reviewed April 2018)

“Amazing!”

Square is just amazing! As it is the city. Great place to chill out, look at people, relax with music... Bazaar and shops are near for your needs. A must! (Bob R. form Nis, Serbia; reviewed April 2018)

“Exiting”

Most beautiful square in Iran or even in the Middle East. You need to be there if you are in Isfahan.

Great place to make a memorable photo. A lot of restaurants and small shops. (Przemyslaw P. from Warsaw; reviewed April 2018)

“Interesting place to occupy your day”

We spent one full day just near the square. This is a massive square lined with bazaar around it and it takes a lot of time to explore all the unique shops.

The best bazaar (with a lot of artistic shop) in Iran I reckon and we got most of our souvenirs here. This is the perfect place to buy things, don't wait for Yazd and Shiraz you will regret it...(ywwonglp from Cambridge; reviewed April 2018)

“A must see in Isfahan”

Great place to wander about. You might get some attention from sellers but most of them are respectful and not too ongoing.

The view is great both during daytime and at night. (Vegard W. from Oslo; reviewed April 2018)

AFM/MQ/MG

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