As the 17th-century capital of the Safavid Empire, Isfahan was one of the world’s greatest cities – architecturally striking, wealthy beyond imagining, and politically powerful with Europeans, Ottomans, Indians and Chinese came to its court – the heart of a vast Persian Empire that stretched from the Euphrates River in present-day Iraq to the Oxus River in Afghanistan. Indeed, its grandeur inspired the rhyming proverb, Isfahan nesf-Jahan (Isfahan is Half the World).
Today you’ll join our expert guide to begin your exploration of the city, starting with some of the centuries-old, still elegant bridges that span the Zayandeh River. The 14th-century Shahrestan Bridge, for example, evokes the greatest aqueducts of ancient Rome and is the oldest bridge in Iran.
Continue your exploration in Isfahan at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Simple at first glance, but wondrous in its rich detail and bold design, the Masjed-e Jamé is another masterpiece of Iranian architecture, covering nearly 5 acres in the heart of this historic city. This is one of the oldest congregational mosques in the country, and its construction and embellishment over the past twelve centuries illustrate a number of important periods in Islamic architecture.
Next up is Chehel Sotun. Set in a landscaped and forested park in front of a tranquil reflecting pool, this graceful pavilion was built by Shah Abbas II for entertainment and court receptions. Entering through a portico with twenty slender wooden columns, you’ll discover soaring halls embellished with frescoes, paintings and mosaics; the Hall of Mirrors is especially breathtaking!
This afternoon, your exploration continues in Imam Square. This 17th-century site is one of the largest public spaces in the world. Here in the square, you’ll visit the 17th-century Shah Mosque, revered as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and easily recognized by its magnificent tile-work and soaring cupola and minarets. In the Ali Qapu Palace, you’ll marvel at its beautiful music rooms and the balconies where Safavid kings would sit to enjoy the polo matches unfolding in the square below. You’ll end your day exploring the Qeisarieh Bazaar that surrounds Imam Square. With hundreds of local vendors that specialize in traditional arts and crafts, it’s a wonderful place to shop for pottery, enamel, jewelry and delicately inlaid board games.
Later, we take you to Kashan, the city of textiles and ceramic productions.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room Available
Included Meals: Breakfast