Isfahan is a city in Iran. It is located 406 kilometres south of Tehran, is the capital of Isfahan Province. Isfahan has a population of 1.6 million, making it the third largest city in Iran after Tehran and Mashhad, but was once one of the largest cities in the world. Isfahan is an important city as it is located at the intersection of the two principal north–south and east–west routes that traverse Iran. Isfahan flourished from 1050 to 1722 in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Safavid dynasty when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history under Shah Abbas the Great. Today the city retains much of its past glory, it is famous for its Perso–Islamic architecture, grand boulevards, covered bridges, tiled mosques, minarets. Isfahan has many historical buildings, monuments and artefacts; the fame of Isfahan led to the Persian pun and proverb "Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast": Isfahan is half the world. The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world.
UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site. See also: Names of Isfahan"Isfahan" is derived from Middle Persian Spahān. Spahān is attested in various Middle Persian seals and inscriptions, including that of Zoroastrian Magi Kartir, is the Armenian name of the city; the present-day name is the Arabicized form of Ispahan. The region appears with the abbreviation GD on Sasanian numismatics. In Ptolemy's Geographia it appears as Aspadana, translating to "place of gathering for the army", it is believed. Human habitation of the Isfahan region can be traced back to the Palaeolithic period. Recent discoveries archaeologists have found artifacts dating back to the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Iron ages. What was to become the city of Isfahan in historical periods emerged as a locality and settlement that developed over the course of the Elamite civilisation. Under Median rule, this commercial entrepôt began to show signs of a more sedentary urbanism growing into a noteworthy regional centre that benefited from the exceptionally fertile soil on the banks of the Zayandehrud River in a region called Aspandana or Ispandana.
Once Cyrus the Great had unified Persian and Median lands into the Achaemenid Empire, the religiously and ethnically diverse city of Isfahan became an early example of the king's fabled religious tolerance. It was Cyrus who, having just taken Babylon, made an edict in 538 BCE, declaring that the Jews in Babylon could return to Jerusalem. Now it seems that some of these freed Jews settled in Isfahan instead of returning to their homeland; the 10th-century Persian historian Ibn al-Faqih wrote:"When the Jews emigrated from Jerusalem, fleeing from Nebuchadnezzar, they carried with them a sample of the water and soil of Jerusalem. They did not settle down anywhere or in any city without examining the water and the soil of each place, they did all along. There they rested, found that both resembled Jerusalem. Thereupon they settled there, cultivated the soil, raised children and grandchildren, today the name of this settlement is Yahudia." The Parthians in the period 250–226 BCE continued the tradition of tolerance after the fall of the Achaemenids, fostering the Hellenistic dimension within Iranian culture and the political organisation introduced by Alexander the Great's invading armies.
Under the Parthians, Arsacid governors administered the provinces of the nation from Isfahan, the city's urban development accelerated to accommodate the needs of a capital city. The next empire to rule Persia, the Sassanids, presided over massive changes in their realm, instituting sweeping agricultural reform and reviving Iranian culture and the Zoroastrian religion. Both the city and region were called by the name Aspahan or Spahan; the city was governed by a group called the Espoohrans, who came from seven noble and important Iranian royal families. Extant foundations of some Sassanid-era bridges in Isfahan suggest that the Sasanian kings were fond of ambitious urban planning projects. While Isfahan's political importance declined during the period, many Sassanid princes would study statecraft in the city, its military role developed rapidly, its strategic location at the intersection of the ancient roads to Susa and Persepolis made it an ideal candidate to house a standing army, ready to march against Constantinople at any moment.
The words'Aspahan' and'Spahan' are derived from the Pahlavi or Middle Persian meaning'the place of the army'. Although many theories have been mentioned about the origin of Isfahan, in fact little is known of it before the rule of the Sasanian dynasty; the historical facts suggest that in the late 4th and early 5th centuries, Queen Shushandukht, the Jewish consort of Yazdegerd I settled a colony of Jews in Yahudiyyeh, a settlement 3 km northwest of the Zoroastrian city of Gabae (its Achaemid and Parthian name. The gradual population decrease of Gay and the simultaneous population increase of Yahudiyyeh and its suburbs
Chahar Bagh Boulevard is a historical avenue in Isfahan constructed in the Safavid era of Iran. The avenue is the most famous in all of Persia, it is about 6 kilometers long. On the east side of this street, there are the Hasht Chehel Sotoun gardens. Shah Abbas I was the king who changed his capital from Qazvin to Esfahan and decided to pour all the countries artistic wealth into that central spot, dubbed for centuries "Nisfi Jahan" or "Half the World"; the chief architect of this task of urban planning was Shaykh Bahai, who focused the programme on two key features of Shah Abbas's master plan: the Chahar Bagh avenue, flanked at either side by all the prominent institutions of the city, such as the residences of all foreign dignitaries, the Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Chaharbagh Pa'in, or lower Chaharbagh, is the northern section of the avenue; this part of Chaharbagh is from Shohada Squrare to Darvazeh Dowlat. Chaharbagh Abbasi, is the middle section of the avenue; this part of Chaharbagh is from Darvazeh Dowlat to Northern 33 pol at Enqelab Square.
Chaharbagh Bala, or upper Chaharbagh, is the southern section of the avenue. This part of Chaharbagh is from southern 33 pol to Azadi Squrare
Zāyandé-Rūd or Pāyanderūd spelled as Zayandeh-Rood or Zayanderood, is the largest river of the Iranian Plateau in central Iran. The Zayandeh starts in the Zard-Kuh subrange of the Zagros Mountains in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, it flows 400 kilometres eastward before ending in the Gavkhouni swamp, a seasonal salt lake, southeast of Isfahan city. The Zayandeh used to have significant flow all year long, unlike many of Iran's rivers which are seasonal, but today runs dry due to water extraction before reaching the city of Esfahan. In the early 2010s, the lower reaches of the river dried out after several years of seasonal dry-outs; the Zayandeh River basin has an area of 41,500 square kilometres, altitude from 3,974 metres to 1,466 metres, an average rain fall of 130 millimetres and a monthly average temperature of 3 °C to 29 °C. There are 2,700 square kilometres of irrigated land in the Zayandeh River basin, with water derived from the nine main hydraulic units of the Zayandeh River, wells and springs in lateral valleys.
Zayandeh River water gave life to the people of central Iran in Isfahan and Yazd provinces. Before the drying-out, water diverted per person was 240 litres per day in urban areas and 150 litres per day in villages. In the 1970s, the flow of the river was estimated at 1.2 cubic kilometres per annum, or 38 cubic metres per second. People have lived on the banks of Zayandeh River for thousands of years; the earliest evidence of human occupation along the River is found in a cave site called Qaleh Bozi near Dizicheh at SW of Isfahan. More than 40,000 years ago, groups of Paleolithic hunters used Qaleh Bozi caves as shelter for seasonal or temporary occupations and left their stone tools and bones of hunted animals. An ancient prehistoric culture, the Zayandeh River Civilization, flourished along the banks of the Zayandeh in the 6th Millennium BC. Zayandeh River crosses the city of a major cultural and economic center of Iran. In the 17th century, Shaikh Bahai and built a system of canals, to distribute Zayandeh water to Isfahan's suburbs.
Water from the Zayandeh River helped the growth of the population and the economy, helped established Isfahan as an influential center, gave a green landscape to Isfahan, a city in the middle of a desert. The Zayandeh river bed is spanned by many historical Safavid era bridges, the river used to flow through many parks. Arthur Pope and his wife Phyllis Ackerman are buried in a small tomb in pleasant surroundings in its banks. Richard Frye has requested to be buried there; until the 1960s in Isfahan Province the distribution of water followed the Tomar, a document claimed to date from the 16th Century. The Tomar divided the flow of the Zayandeh River into 33 parts which were specifically allotted to the eight major districts within the region. At the district level the water flow was divided either on a time basis, or by the use of variable weirs, so that the proportion could be maintained regardless of the height of the flow. For centuries Isfahan city had been an oasis settlement, noted for its surrounding fertile lands and prosperity.
Until the 1960s industrial demand for water was minimal, which enabled the scarce water resources to be utilized for agriculture. With a growing population within the basin, rising standards of living within the city, the pressure on water resources increased until the division of water Tomar was no longer feasible; the creation of large steel works and other new industries demanded water. The Chadegan Reservoir dam project in 1972 was a major hydroelectric project to help with stabilizing water flow and generate electricity; the dam was named Shah Abbas Dam after Shah Abbas I, the most influential king of the Safavid dynasty, but it was changed to Zayandeh Dam after the Islamic revolution in 1979. Since 1972, the Chadegan Reservoir has helped prevent seasonal flooding of the Zayandeh River. Water discharge is increased during Persian New Year to allow the river to flow through Esfahan once more during the public holiday. 80% of the Zayandeh's extracted water is used for agriculture, 10% for human consumption, 7% for industry and 3% for other uses.
There have been a number of tunnel projects to redirect water to the Zayandeh. These have helped provide water for the growing population and new industries in both Isfahan and Yazd provinces. While the drying-out of the lower reaches of the Zayandeh River has been attributed to drought, the main reasons are man-made. Poor planning and populist politics have led to years of mismanagement and overuse which resulted in seasonal dry-outs and caused the river to dry out before reaching Isfahan. There are several old bridges over the Zayandeh River; the oldest, built in the 5th century AD, is still in use as a pedestrian crossing in Sharestan village. Bridges on Zayandeh River in City of Esfahan: In the section of the Zayandeh River crossing Esfahan, parks, paddle boats and traditional cafes and restaurants amongst the rest of Esfahan rich cultural heritage, are major to
Iran called Persia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2, it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, to the west by Turkey and Iraq; the country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center. Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BCE, it was first unified by the Iranian Medes in the seventh century BCE, reaching its greatest territorial size in the sixth century BCE, when Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire, which stretched from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, becoming one of the largest empires in history.
The Iranian realm fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE and was divided into several Hellenistic states. An Iranian rebellion culminated in the establishment of the Parthian Empire, succeeded in the third century CE by the Sasanian Empire, a leading world power for the next four centuries. Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century CE; the Islamization of Iran led to the decline of Zoroastrianism, by the country's dominant religion, Iran's major contributions to art and science spread within the Muslim rule during the Islamic Golden Age. After two centuries, a period of various native Muslim dynasties began, which were conquered by the Seljuq Turks and the Ilkhanate Mongols; the rise of the Safavids in the 15th century led to the reestablishment of a unified Iranian state and national identity, with the country's conversion to Shia Islam marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history. Under Nader Shah, Iran was one of the most powerful states in the 18th century, though by the 19th century, a series of conflicts with the Russian Empire led to significant territorial losses.
The Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the early 20th century led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and the country's first legislature. A 1953 coup instigated by the United Kingdom and the United States resulted in greater autocracy and growing Western political influence. Subsequent widespread dissatisfaction and unrest against the monarchy led to the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of an Islamic republic, a political system that includes elements of a parliamentary democracy vetted and supervised by a theocracy governed by an autocratic "Supreme Leader". During the 1980s, the country was engaged in a war with Iraq, which lasted for eight years and resulted in a high number of casualties and economic losses for both sides; the sovereign state of Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, OPEC. It is a major regional and middle power, its large reserves of fossil fuels – which include the world's largest natural gas supply and the fourth largest proven oil reserves – exert considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy.
The country's rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the third largest number in Asia and 11th largest in the world. Iran is a multicultural country comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, the largest being Persians, Azeris and Lurs. Organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized Iran's women's rights record; the term Iran derives directly from Middle Persian Ērān, first attested in a third-century inscription at Rustam Relief, with the accompanying Parthian inscription using the term Aryān, in reference to the Iranians. The Middle Iranian ērān and aryān are oblique plural forms of gentilic nouns ēr- and ary-, both deriving from Proto-Iranian *arya-, recognized as a derivative of Proto-Indo-European *ar-yo-, meaning "one who assembles". In the Iranian languages, the gentilic is attested as a self-identifier, included in ancient inscriptions and the literature of the Avesta, remains in other Iranian ethnic names Alan and Iron.
Iran has been referred to as Persia by the West, due to the writings of Greek historians who referred to all of Iran as Persís, meaning "land of the Persians", while Persis itself was one of the provinces of ancient Iran, today defined as Fars. As the most extensive interaction the Ancient Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term persisted long after the Greco-Persian Wars. In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, effective March 22 that year; as The New York Times explained at the time, "At the suggestion of the Persian Legation in Berlin, the Tehran government, on the Persian New Year, March 21, 1935, substituted Iran for Persia as the official name of the country." Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, Professor Ehsan Yarshater, editor of Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated a move to use Persia and Iran interchangeably. Today, both Iran and Persia are used in cultural contexts, while Iran remains irreplaceab