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Chehel Sotoon Palace

Esfahan (Es·fa·han (ĕs'fə-hän') or Is·fa·han (Persian: اصفهان) is a city in central Iran. Located south of Tehran, it is considered not only by the locals to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. An ancient town and capital of Persia from 1598 to 1722, it was long noted for its fine carpets and silver filigree. Today textile and steel mills take over their place. Its architecture, tree-lined boulevards and relaxed pace make it one of the highlights of Iran's cities. The capital of Esfahan Province, and once the country's capital, the Persians call it "Nesf-e-Jahan", meaning "Half The World".



The city is 430 km south of Tehran at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The city enjoys a temperate climate and regular seasons. Esfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran. It is similar to Denver in the USA in terms of altitude and precipitation.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Esfahan International Airport or Esfahan Shahid Beheshti (IATA: IFN) (ICAO: OIFM) was a military air base before the revolution. There are daily flights to Tehran and Mashhad in Iran. There are also flights to Damascus, Dubai, Kuwait and Istanbul. From the Airport you can take cab for ~IRR150,000 to the city center. Note that since most people are going there anyway, you can always ask people to share taxi.

By train[edit]

There is a night-train to Tehran and a daily train to Mashhad. There are no trains to Shiraz.

The night train from Tehran to Isfahan costs IRR240,000 for sleeping in a comfortable 6-bed room.

The train station in Isfahan is located far from the old town. Take bus 37 from the train station to Safah bus terminal(ترمینال صفه;), where you can change for bus 91 to old town. The best place to get off is Chaharbaq street, where there are many hostels, hotels, cafes and sight seeings.

By car[edit]

Isfahan is well-served by highways. There are automobile routes to capital Tehran, Kashan, Shiraz, Yazd and Ahvaz.

By bus[edit]

Isfahan is well connected to most parts of Iran by bus. There are buses to/from Tehran every 15 minutes. Also there are a few luxury buses with a so-called "European standard" (very comfortable seats, open mini-bar, etc.). "Royal Safar Iranian" is one of them. Buy the IRR185,000 ticket to get the luxurious service. Note that there are multiple bus terminals in Isfahan and you should plan which one is more suitable for you.

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

It is easy to get around Isfahan by bus. A single journey costs IRR5000; you can pay the driver directly, or buy multi-journey contactless cards at certain bus stop booths. Note that there are separate men (front) and women (rear) sections on each bus.

From Kaveh Bus Terminal, take Bus 91 which runs down Chahar Bagh-e Pa'in St towards the city center, past Takhti Junction and Imam Hossein Sq.

See[edit][add listing]

Squares and Streets[edit]

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
  • Naqsh-e Jahan Square also known as shah square or imam square-1602. With two mosques and the bazaar. It is an important historical site, and one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. The square is surrounded by buildings from the Safavid era.
  • Meydan Kohne (Kohne Square)
  • Shahshahan square
  • Chaharbagh Boulevard - 1596, dating from the Saffavid era. The avenue is the most historically famous in all of Persia.
  • Chaharbagh-e-khajou Boulevard


The stunning mosques of Isfahan are among the most beautiful and interesting in the world.

  • Imam Mosque it was called Shah mosque before Iran's Revolution)Built during the Safavid period, it is an excellent example of Islamic architecture of Iran, and regarded as one of the masterpieces of Persian Architecture. The Shah Mosque of Esfahan is one of the everlasting masterpieces of architecture in Iran. It is registered, along with the Naghsh-i Jahan Square, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its splendor is mainly due to the beauty of its seven-colour mosaic tiles and calligraphic inscriptions.
  • Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque- one of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Iranian architecture.
  • Hakim Mosqueis one of the oldest mosques in Isfahan
  • Jame Mosque


Ali Qapu Palace
  • Ālī Qāpū(The Royal Palace) - Early 17th Century. It is forty-eight metres high and there are seven floors, each accessible by a difficult spiral staircase. In the sixth floor music room, deep circular niches are found in the walls, having not only aesthetic value, but also acoustic. It is rich in naturalistic wall paintings by Reza Abbassi, the court painter of Shah Abbas I, and his pupils. There are floral, animal and bird motifs.
  • Talar Ashraf (The Palace of Ashraf) - 1650.
  • Hasht Behesht (The Palace of Eight Paradises) - 1669: Reportedly built for residence purposes of the King's harem.
  • Chehel Sotoun (The Palace of forty columns) - 1647: It is called Palace of forty columns, as there are many columns, and in Iranian, 40 means many. Incidentally, there are twenty columns, and these are reflected in the pool in front, which might also account for its name. The function of this palace was for holding religious-national ceremonies and royal festivals and for receiving royal ambassadors and guests.


  • Madreseye Sadr
  • Madreseye Shah (Imam Jafar Sadegh after revolution). The compound was built during Soltan Hossein, a Safavid king, to serve as a theological and clerical school to train those who were interested in such sciences.The dome and the greater part of the walls are covered in bright yellow bricks which give a feeling of lightness. The entrance gate decorated with gold facade and silver, and the tile-works inside the building are masterpieces of fine art and industry. The central court, with its pool and garden, are surrounded by arcades on two levels, each giving access to a student's room.
  • Madreseye Khajoo


Khajoo Bridge
  • Carvanserai Shah


  • Pol-e Shahrestan (The Shahrestan Bridge) - 11th Century. It is one of the oldest surviving bridges in Iran, built in the 14th Century (C.E.).
  • Pol-e Khaju (Khaju Bridge) - 1650. It is the finest bridge in the province of Esfahan.It was built by the Persian Safavid king, Shah Abbas II around 1650 C.E. This structure originally was ornated with artistic tile works and paintings serving as a teahouse
  • Si-o-Seh Pol (The Bridge of 33 Arches) - 1602. It is highly ranked as being one of the most famous examples of Safavid bridge design.
  • Pol-e-Joui or choobi(Joui bridge)It is one of Isfahan's oldest bridges and was built in 1665, during the Safavid era.
  • Pol-e-Maarnaan (Maarnaan Bridge)

Churches and Cathedrals[edit]

Vank Cathedral
  • Vank Cathedral(The Church of the Saintly Sisters) - 17th century. The interior is covered with fine paintings and gilded carvings and includes a wainscot of rich tile work. The delicately blue and gold painted central dome depicts the Biblical story of creation of the world and man's expulsion from Eden.
  • Kelisaye maryam (maryam church)


Flowers Garden
  • Flowers Garden
  • Birds Garden

Other sights[edit]

  • Atashgah - a Zoroastrian fire temple. This temple is dramatically set atop a rock on the outskirts of Esfahan and provides a commanding view of the city (although much of it is covered in smog). You can take one of the blue buses (ask at the drivers), which will take you there.
  • Buqe'h-ye Ibn-Sina (Avicenna's Dome) - 12th Century.
  • The Tombs of Nizam al-Mulk & Malek Shah - 12th & 18th Century.
  • Jolfa (The Armenian Quarter).
  • The Bathhouse of Sheikh Bahai.
  • Pigeon Towers - 17th Century.
  • The Bathhouse of Ali Gholi Agha

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Take a walk in any of Esfahan's beautiful and well kept gardens, or go and take a look at the bazaar of Esfahan.
  • Walk along the Zayandehrood river beside the ancient bridges. You see many locals doing this everyday.
  • Get some take out food and go to Naqsh-e Jahan Square for a picnic dinner. You'll find many locals doing this especially on Fridays and holidays.
  • Get a taxi to the south of the city to Soffeh Mountain and catch a telecabin up for IRR60,000 or go bowling at the only bowling alley in the city underneath the telecabin station


  • Shahid Ashrafi Esfahani University - Foreign students may learn Persian here as part of tailor-made courses to suit their needs. Contact: Foreign Student Coordinator Ghaem Blv., Sepahan Shahr, Esfahan, Iran, Po Box: 81798-49999,Tel: 98-311-6502820-28
  • University of Esfahan
  • Esfahan University of Medical Sciences
  • Esfahan University of Technology
  • Malek Ashtar University
  • Sheikh Baha'i University
  • Mohajer Technical College
  • Khorasgaan(Esfahan) Azad University
  • Art University Of Esfahan


There is a technology university known as IUT and there are a lot of technology towns like Sheikh bahaee, Jay, Amir Kabir , Oshtorjaan and many others which all are active in industry. Qualified people would like work in these towns or Foolad mobarakeh or Melt Iron companies, both active in the steel industry.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Esfahan carpets are world-famous, being the very finest of the Persian carpets. They are also often extremely expensive. Carpets from the nearby town of Nain are similar in style, also well-known, and are expensive too. For those who are interested, it is possible to buy the highly decorative and brightly coloured traditional dress of Esfahan, but such clothing can be expensive, so it's better to haggle for a reasonable price.
  • For a real treasure trove, visit the famous bazaar.
  • Miniatures These exquisite miniature paintings are painted on camel bone. Most of them are sold framed, and prices start from about IRR15,000. It can be more costly if the artwork is done by a miniature master. Shop and look at various shops before making your decision.

Eat[edit][add listing]

As with most of Iran, the standard national dish of Chelo kebab is a must. Try the regional variations of this dish in the numerous restaurants in Esfahan. Food is usually of high standard. In some parks in Esfahan, you can simply obtain a carpet and tea from the park warden, and have a picnic on the grass! You will find families gather in these parks, and bring barbecues and cook freshly made kebabs, which smell (and taste) delicious.

Beryani is a popular lunch dish in Isfahan. It has made with sheep meat and lung. Although Iranians love this meal, it is very fatty. Therefore some westerners may dislike Beryani.

If you have the chance, try Fereni (a concoction of rice flour, water and milk) at Fereni Hafez, which is along Hafez Street near Imam Square. It costs IRR3000 for a small bowl or IRR5000 for a bigger one.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Visit one of the tea-houses in the bazaar or under one of the bridges.


There are many coffee shops in Isfahan.

Feel Cafe in "Mir Fendereski" St. is one of the most popular Cafes in Isfahan.

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • The Amir Kabir Hotel is a favourite among backpackers. As of June 2013, single bedrooms are IR270,000, sleeping in the carpet room (on the floor) is cheaper (IR200,000). A triple room costs 900,000 rials (October 2014). Breakfast is included. Wifi is slow but the signal is strong. The dorm rooms have airconditioning. There is internet next door (IR10,000/hour) as well as a laundry service (IR25,000/kg). Rooms are clean and toilets are shared (with hot water showers). Address: Charbagh st., Esfahan. Tel. 0098 311 2227273; fax: 0098 311 2210255 (email: There is a bus stop right outside the entrance.


  • Bekhradi Historial Residence, No. 56 Sonbolestan Alley, Ebn-e-Sina, Shohada Sq., +98 31 34482072-3 (, fax: +98 31 34882073), [1]. Quiet, traditional khane-sonnati (Iranian traditional house). The Bekhradi’s Historical House is the first Safavid (17th century) historical house that has been restored and used in Iran for a traditional Bed & Breakfast since 1999. Five beautifully resorted Safavid-style rooms and suites, all with private bathrooms set around a garden courtyard. There is also on-demand home made foods and internet in this quiet area north of Imam Square. Rooms between US$60-US$90 per night (with breakfast and all taxes & services included).  edit
  • Dibai House Heritage Guesthouse, 1 Masjed Ali Alley, Harounie, Isfahan (From Hatef Street turn into Yakhchal Street, follow and then turn second on your right into Moshir Street. Follow, then again turn second on your right into a narrow cul-de-sac called Shahid Farhangi. Follow straight, and at its end there is a pedestrian alleyway. A couple of meters into it, to your left, you will find Dibai House's front door.), +98 31 32209787 (, fax: +98 311 2209786), [2]. Perhaps Isfahan's most atmospheric accommodation, Dibai House comprises a scrupulously restored 17th-century Safavid historic mansion that nevertheless boasts modern facilities. Ideally located in the Old Quarter. No smoking indoors. WiFi. Use of kitchen. Price includes breakfast, and owner Sufi is extremely helpful with travel information. € 40/60/80 per room/night for single/double/triple rooms. (32.6646515,51.6829776) edit
  • Hasht Behesht Apartment Hotel, Ostandari st, +98 31 322 00 967 (), [3]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Amazing value apartments, clean, modern and central.Free Wi-Fi internet in the rooms and's travelers choice 2013 mid.  edit


  • Abbasi Hotel, [4] was built at the time of king Sultan Hossein of Safavids about 300 years ago. King Soltan Hossein attributed this magnificent complex of building to his mother. That is why; it is called "the school and caravansaray of Madar-shah" (which means king's mother).
  • Kowsar International Hotel [5] overlooks Zayandeh Rood River.
  • Hotel Ali Ghapou is one of the best 4-star hotels in Esfahan.
  • 'Hotel Aseman is another 4-star hotel , with a very beautiful view of Zayande Rood River.


There are various Internet cafés in Esfahan. The best place which has the fastest connection and also cheapest in the city is the Central Library of Esfahan. It is accessible from Naghshe-Jahan Square by five minutes walk.


Visas & Permits[edit]

  • Russian Consulate, Chahar Bagh Payin street, Masjed-e-Sofretchi, 11 (behind the bazaar), +98 (311) 222-2060, 223-99-51 (, fax: +98 (311) 222-0804).  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Na’in is the first Desert city toward east. it's a small and quiet town at the edge of desert. A perfect pattern of a desert town. Everything you like to see in a desert town you can find there. to get there, buses depart Jay terminal US$2 every half an hour from 06:00 to 20:00. private taxi is also available. 140km 1/5 hrs.
  • Toudeshk-Cho is 100km from Esfahan, on the way to Yazd. It is a very, quaint traditional desert village and it is easy to get to from the Jey Minibus terminal. It is well known among backpackers as the location of the Tak-Taku Homestay (details on the Toudeshk-Cho page or call Mohammed on +98 913 365 4420).
  • Qom is a holy city a few hundred kilometres away.
  • Shiraz is located south from Esfahan.
  • Kashan is famous for its beautiful mansions from the 1800s and its gardens.
  • Dasht-e-Kavir (central desert of Iran) is easily reached by a 6 hours bus journey from Esfahan. You'll find oasis, salt lakes...
Detail of the frescos inside Chehel Sotun Palace2.jpg
Esfahan bazaar2.jpg
Rigareh Qanat based watermill in Na’in
Pitnia traditional house in Na’in

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