By Afshin Majlesi

Danish ambassador tells of his 'unforgettable' visit to Isfahan

October 24, 2021 - 18:2

ISFAHAN – On Thursday evening, when I was roaming through the gorgeous Imam Square of Isfahan, I suddenly bumped into the Danish ambassador to Iran, Jesper Vahr, and his family who were also touring the UNESCO-designated site.

The envoy kindly accepted to share his views over the journey to the ancient city as well as ways to expand tourism. Below is an excerpt from his conversation with the Tehran Times:

"It has been a spectacular visit we have to Isfahan where my wife and I visited for the first time 25 years ago when we came here as tourists…. and actually, it is our third visit [to Isfahan]."

"Now, we are here with my son and his fiancée….. and the sites here are absolutely spectacular and I think this is the most beautiful square I have seen anywhere in the world."

The ambassador called the visit an "unforgettable experience", saying: "Also the location with the mountains in the background and a very friendly atmosphere adds to our unforgettable experience here."

"So we will come back on a regular basis actually with my sister and brother-in-law on our next flight so we will take on a trip out of Tehran to Isfahan. We would be here again the week after next."   

"The sites here are absolutely spectacular and I think this is the most beautiful square I have seen anywhere in the world."In response to a question about ways to enhance tourism, the envoy said; "Well, I think we have a very, very significant interest in tourism to Iran."

"I think the tendency is to move toward more exotic, cultural destinations and the focus on this regardless of the [U.S.-led] sanctions and maximum pressure."

"We focus on it that there would be many Danish agencies that would come here 15  or 20 people who would usually conduct these tours for ten days …. They would move from Tehran to Isfahan, to Yazd, to Shiraz and Persepolis, where is a fantastic, important part of the Danish exploration history because one of our famous explorers came to Persepolis in the 18th century."

The top diplomat noted. However, parts of travelers in the Danish tourism markets and package tours consist of people who prefer "to go to Spain, Portugal, or Italy and stay at the beach that makes sense that people enjoy beaches [as well]."

Vahr added the cultural tourism is gaining momentum in his country. "This sort of cultural-oriented tourism which is also  high in tourism in which people stay a lot more in a host country is picking up in Denmark."

"And I think many parts of Iran almost see themselves interested in tourism," he added.            

He also appreciated efforts made by his Iranian counterpart to enhance tourism ties between the two nations, saying "I know very well that my good friend, the ambassador of Iran to Copenhagen, Afsaneh Nadipour, is also promoting this side of tourism through considerable efforts."

The huge Imam Square, best known as Naghsh-e Jahan Sq. (literary meaning “Image of the World”), is one of the largest in the world (500m by 160m), and a majestic example of town planning. Built in the early 17th century, the UNESCO-registered square is punctuated with the most interesting sights in Isfahan.

Isfahan has long been nicknamed as Nesf-e-Jahan which is translated into “half the world”; meaning seeing it is relevant to see the whole world. In its heyday, it was also one of the largest cities in the region with a population of nearly one million.

The ancient city is renowned not only for the abundance of great historical bridges but also for its ‘life-giving river’, the Zayandeh-Rood, which has long bestowed the city an original beauty and fertility. The cool blue tiles of Isfahan’s Islamic buildings, and the city’s majestic bridges, contrast perfectly with the encircling hot, dry Iranian countryside.

Modern Isfahan is now home to some heavy industry, including steel factories and a nuclear facility on its outskirts, however, its inner core wants to be preserved as a priceless gem.


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