Isfahan

Isfahan (Persian: اصفهان, also known as Esfahan) is a city in central Iran, south of Tehran and is the capital of Isfahan Province. The Persians call it "Nesf-e-Jahan", meaning "Half The World". Due to its beautiful hand-painted tiling and magnificent public square, it is considered 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 their place. Its architecture, tree-lined boulevards and relaxed pace make it one of the highlights of Iran.

Understand

The city is 430km south of Tehran at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The city enjoys a temperate climate and regular seasons. Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran.

The city has an Armenian Quarter called Jolfa (originally called New Julfa) established by Shah Abbas I in the 1600s after he destroyed the prosperous Armenian town of Julfa in Armenia and forced all of the Armenians to move to Persia, mostly to Isfahan. They were allocated land and rebuilt a prosperous community that was a key part of an Armenian trade network extending from Singapore and India to Venice and Amsterdam. Today the quarter still has many Armenian Churches, an Armenian school, shops and Armenian residents.

Get in

By plane

Isfahan International Airport or Isfahan Shahid Beheshti (IATA: IFN) 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 c. IRR200,000 to the city centre. Since most people are going there anyway, you can always ask people to share taxi.

By train

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 compartment.

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 things to see.

By car

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

By bus

Isfahan is well connected to most parts of Iran by bus. There are multiple bus terminals in Isfahan and you should note which one is more suitable for you.

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 a few luxury bus operators. Seats are extremely comfortable with lots of leg room. Water is provided and movies are shown. The ticket to Tehran costs IRR220,000.

Get around

By bus

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

Squares and streets

Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Mosques

Shah Mosque
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, interior of the dome

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

Palaces

Ali Qapu Palace
Chehel Sotoun

Schools

Bridges

Si-o-se Pol, another one of the 11 bridges

Walk along the Zayanderud River beside the ancient bridges. You see many locals doing this everyday. However, as a result of a drought and badly planned dam, there is usually no water in the river.

Churches and Cathedrals

Vank Cathedral

Gardens

Others

Do

Learn

Work

There is a technology university known as IUT and there are a lot of technology towns such as 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

Isfahan bazaar

Note that shops in the main square must pay an additional 8% tax on sales, which is passed on to the customer. Unless the item that you are purchasing is unique or inexpensive, you may be better off shopping outside of the main square.

Eat

In some parks, 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.

Local foods

Drink

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

Coffee

There are lots of coffee shops in Isfahan.

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

Sleep


Budget

Mid-Range

Splurge

Connect

There are various Internet cafés in Isfahan. 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.

Cope

Visas & Permits

There is an old consulate of Russia behind the bazzar.

Money safety

You might want to have plastic money to prevent having your money stolen. Bank-e Melli-ye Iran (National Bank of Iran) which is a government-owned bank in Iran, provides an ATM debit card service (plastic magnetic card) for tourists who visit Iran. Tourists just need to head the nearest branch of this bank. Information on this service can be found here. Another way to prevent having your money stolen, is going to the nearest bank and getting a gift card. They are exactly like ordinary ATM debit cards, but once they get empty, they cannot be recharged. Sepah Bank or Bank -e- Sepah is a governmental bank that has a current account service for foreigners which provides both ATM debit card and cheque writing option. A list of permitted Iranian banks can be found here

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.