Isfahan has a population of approximately 2.0 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, particularly 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. Even today the city retains much of its past glory.
It is famous for its Perso-Islamic architecture, grand boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, tiled mosques and minarets. Isfahan also has many historical buildings, monuments, paintings, and artifacts. The fame of Isfahan led to the Persian pun and proverb "Esfah?n nesf-e- jah?n ast": Isfahan is half (of) the world.
Isfahan is derived from Middle PersianSpah?n. Spah?n is attested in various Middle Persian seals and inscriptions, including that of Zoroastrian Magi Kartir, and is also the Armenian name of the city (). The present-day name is the Arabicized form of Ispahan (unlike Middle Persian, but similar to Spanish, New Persian does not allow initial consonant clusters such as sp). The region appears with the abbreviation GD (Southern Media) on Sasanian numismatics. In Ptolemy's Geographia, it appears as Aspadana (), translating to "place of gathering for the army". It is believed that Spah?n derives from sp?d?n?m "the armies", Old Persian plural of sp?da, from which derives sp?h () 'army' and spahi (, 'soldier', literally 'of the army') in Middle Persian.
Some of the other ancient names include Jey, Gey, Park, Judea
What was to become the city of Isfahan in later historical periods probably emerged as a locality and settlement that gradually developed over the course of the Elamite civilisation (2700-1600 BCE).
Under Median rule, this commercial entrepôt began to show signs of more sedentary urbanism, steadily 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 (reg. 559-529 BCE) had unified Persian and Median lands into the Achaemenid Empire (648-330 BCE), 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 (see Ezra ch. 1). 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 until they reached the city of Isfahan. There they rested, examined the water and soil, and found that both resembled Jerusalem. Thereupon they settled there, cultivated the soil, raised children and grandchildren, and today the name of this settlement is Yahudia.
The Parthians, in the period 247 BCE - 224 CE, 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, and the city's urban development accelerated to accommodate the needs of a capital city.
Isfahan at the end of the 6th century (top), consisting of two separate areas of Sassanid Jay and Jewish Yahudia. At the 11th century (bottom), these two areas are completely merged.
The next empire to rule Persia, the Sassanids (224 CE -651 CE), 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 then 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, and 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 (c. 224 - c. 651 CE). The historical facts suggest that in the late 4th and early 5th centuries, Queen Shushandukht, the Jewish consort of Yazdegerd I (reigned 399-420) settled a colony of Jews in Yahudiyyeh (also spelled Yahudiya), a settlement 3 km northwest of the Zoroastrian city of Gabae (it's Achaemid and Parthian name; Gabai was its Sasanic name, which was shortened to Gay (Arabic 'Jay') that was located on the northern bank of the Zayanderud River. The gradual population decrease of Gay (Jay) and the simultaneous population increase of Yahudiyyeh and its suburbs after the Islamic conquest of Iran resulted in the formation of the nucleus of what was to become the city of Isfahan. The words "Aspadana", "Ispadana", "Spahan" and "Sepahan", all from which the word Isfahan is derived, referred to the region in which the city was located.
Isfahan and Gay were both circular in design, a characteristic of Parthian and Sasanian cities. However, this reported Sasanian circular city of Isfahan is not uncovered yet.
Isfahan, capital of the Kingdom of Persia
Point Alla from Voyage to the Levant, Guillaume Cavelier, 1714.
When the Arabs captured Isfahan in 642, they made it the capital of al-Jibal ("the Mountains") province, an area that covered much of ancient Media. Isfahan grew prosperous under the Persian Buyid (Buwayhid) dynasty, which rose to power and ruled much of Iran when the temporal authority of the Abbasid caliphs waned in the 10th century. The city walls of Isfahan are thought to have been constructed during the reign of the Buyid amirs during the tenth century. The Turkish conqueror and founder of the Seljuq dynasty, Toghril Beg, made Isfahan the capital of his domains in the mid-11th century; but it was under his grandson Malik-Shah I (r. 1073-92) that the city grew in size and splendour.
After the fall of the Seljuqs (c. 1200), Isfahan temporarily declined and was eclipsed by other Iranian cities such as Tabriz and Qazvin. During his visit in 1327, Ibn Battuta noted that "The city of Isfahan is one of the largest and fairest of cities, but it is now in ruins for the greater part."
In 1387, Isfahan surrendered to the Turko-Mongol warlord Timur. Initially treated with relative mercy, the city revolted against Timur's punitive taxes by killing the tax collectors and some of Timur's soldiers. In retribution, Timur ordered the massacre of the city residents, and his soldiers killed a reported 70,000 citizens. An eye-witness counted more than 28 towers, each constructed of about 1,500 heads.
Isfahan regained its importance during the Safavid period (1501-1736). The city's golden age began in 1598 when the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I (reigned 1588-1629) made it his capital and rebuilt it into one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the 17th-century world. In 1598 Shah Abbas the Great moved his capital from Qazvin to the more central Isfahan; he named it Ispah?n (New Persian) so that it wouldn't be threatened by the Ottomans. This new status ushered in a golden age for the city, with architecture and Persian culture flourishing. In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands of deportees and migrants from the Caucasus, that Abbas and other Safavid rulers had permitted to emigrate en masse, settled in the city. So now the city had enclaves of Georgian, Circassian, and Daghistani descent. Engelbert Kaempfer, who dwelt in Safavid Persia in 1684-85, estimated their number at 20,000. During the Safavid era, the city contained a very large Armenian community as well. As part of Abbas's forced resettlement of peoples from within his empire, he resettled as many as 300,000 Armenians) from near the unstable Safavid-Ottoman border, primarily from the very wealthy Armenian town of Jugha (also known as Old Julfa) in mainland Iran. In Isfahan, he ordered the foundation of a new quarter for these resettled Armenians from Old Julfa, and thus the Armenian Quarter of Isfahan was named New Julfa. Today, the New Jolfa district of Isfahan remains a heavily Armenian-populated district, with Armenian churches and shops, the Vank Cathedral being especially notable for its combination of Armenian Christian and Iranian Islamic elements. It is still one of the oldest and largest Armenian quarters in the world. Following an agreement between Shah Abbas I and his Georgian subject Teimuraz I of Kakheti ("Tahmuras Khan"), whereby the latter submitted to Safavid rule in exchange for being allowed to rule as the region's w?li (governor) and for having his son serve as d?ru?a ("prefect") of Isfahan in perpetuity, the Georgian prince converted to Islam and served as governor. He was accompanied by a troop of soldiers, some of whom were Georgian Orthodox Christians. The royal court in Isfahan had a great number of Georgian ?ol?ms (military slaves), as well as Georgian women. Although they spoke both Persian and Turkic, their mother tongue was Georgian. During Abbas's reign, Isfahan became very famous in Europe, and many European travellers made an account of their visit to the city, such as Jean Chardin. This prosperity lasted until it was sacked by Afghan invaders in 1722 during a marked decline in Safavid influence.
In the early years of the 19th century, efforts were made to preserve some of Isfahan's archeologically important buildings. The work was started by Mohammad Hossein Khan during the reign of Fath Ali Shah.
In the 20th century, Isfahan was resettled by a very large number of people from southern Iran, firstly during the population migrations at the start of the century, and again in the 1980s following the Iran-Iraq War.
Today, Isfahan produces fine carpets, textiles, steel, handicrafts, and traditional foods including sweets. There are nuclear experimental reactors as well as facilities for producing nuclear fuel (UCF) within the environs of the city. Isfahan has one of the largest steel-producing facilities in the region, as well as facilities for producing special alloys. Mobarakeh Steel Company is the biggest steel producer in the whole of the Middle East and Northern Africa, and it is the biggest DRI producer in the world. The Isfahan Steel Company was the first manufacturer of constructional steel products in Iran, and it remains the largest such company today.
There are a major oil refinery and a large airforce base outside the city. HESA, Iran's most advanced aircraft manufacturing plant, is located just outside the city. Isfahan is also attracting international investment, especially in the Isfahan City Center which is the largest shopping mall in Iran and the fifth largest in the world.
1972 to 2009 abundance percentage of years of drought and wet periods data isfahan atlas
The city is located in the lush plain of the Zayanderud River at the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. The nearest mountain is Mount Soffeh (Kuh-e Soffeh), just south of the city.
There is an artificial network of canals whose components are called Madi which were built during the rule of Safavid dynasty for water channeling from "Zaayaandeh Roud" river into different parts of the city. Designed by Sheikh Bahaï, an engineer of Shah Abbas, this network has 77 madis on the northern part, and 71 on the southern part of Zayandeh Roud. In 1993, this centuries-old network provided 91% of agricultural water needs, 4% of industrial needs, and 5% of city needs.
Towns and villages around Isfahan have been hit so hard by drought and water diversion that they have emptied out and people who lived there have moved.
An anonymous journalist said that what's called drought is more often the mismanagement of water.Subsidence rate is dire and has a decrease of about one meter of aquifer level annually.
Situated at 1,590 metres (5,217 ft) above sea level on the eastern side of the Zagros Mountains, Isfahan has an cold desert climate (KöppenBWk). No geological obstacles exist within 90 kilometres (56 miles) north of Isfahan, allowing cool winds to blow from this direction. Despite its altitude, Isfahan remains hot during the summer, with maxima typically around 35 °C (95 °F). However, with low humidity and moderate temperatures at night, the climate is quite pleasant. During the winter, days are cool while nights can be very cold. Snow falls an average of 7.8 days each winter. The Zayande River starts in the Zagros Mountains, flowing from the west through the heart of the city, then dissipates in the Gavkhouniwetland. Planting olive trees in the city is economically viable because it is compatible with water shortage.
Climate data for Isfahan (1961-1990, extremes 1951-2010)
Isfahan international convention center is under construction.
Isfahan annual literature prize began 2004.New Art Paradise built in district 6 in 2019 has the biggest open amphitheatre in the country. From 2005 November 22nd is Isfahan National Day commemorated with various events.
Based on statue creators symposium in 2020 the city decided to add 11 permanent art pieces to the city's monuments.
Atlas for Isfahan Megacity is an internet service for data and statistics in Farsi made available in 2015.IRIB has a TV network and Radio channel in the city.
During the Qajar era Farhang was printed for 13 years as first publication in the city by government.
Persian pottery from the city Isfahan, 17th century
The bridges on the Zayanderud river comprise some of the finest architecture in Isfahan. The oldest bridge is the Shahrestan bridge, whose foundations were built by the Sasanian Empire (3rd-7th century Sassanid era); it was repaired during the Seljuk period. Further upstream is the Khaju bridge, which was built by Shah Abbas II in 1650. It is 123 metres (404 feet) long with 24 arches, and also serves as a sluice gate.
Another bridge is the Choobi (Joui) bridge, which was originally an aqueduct to supply the palace gardens on the north bank of the river. Further upstream again is the Si-o-Seh Pol or bridge of 33 arches. The building was built during the reign of Shah Abbas the Great by Sheikh Baha'i and connected Isfahan with the Armenian suburbs of New Jolfa. Armenian suburb of New Julfa. It is by far the longest bridge in Isfahan at 295 m (967.85 ft).
In 2014, Isfahan province industry, mines and commerce accounted for %35 to %50(almost $229 billions) of Iranian Gross Domestic Product.Isfahan province governorate in 2019 said tourism is number one priority.
?According to Esfahan province Administrator for Department of Cooperatives, Labour, and Social Welfare , Iran has cheapest labor workforce anywhere in the world and this low wage attracts foreign investors. Unemployment rate was %15 by 2018.
Isfahan University of Technology is one of the most prestigious engineering universities in Iran and focuses on science, engineering and agriculture programs.
The labor force shows a continuous growth in the last three decades.
There are almost 500,000 people living in slums including northern part and specially eastern sector of the city.Isfahan Fair, a 22 hectare exhibition center aimed at increasing tourism, is under construction.Esfahan Province Electricity Distribution Company [fa] built in 1992 maintains powergrid expantion in the city.As of September 2020 handicrafts of Isfahan Province makes annual $500 million dollars.
Aquaculture and agriculture
Isfahan city is one of the active cities in this field with the production of 1,300 tons of salmon. More than 28% of the country's ornamental fish is produced in Isfahan province and 780 units are active in the field of ornamental fish production, which in 2017 produced 65 million and 500 thousand pieces of ornamental fish in Isfahan province.
Opium was produced and exported in Isfahan from 1850 until it became illegal and was an important source of income.Isfahan has a large number of aqueducts, Farmers had to divert water from the river to farms by canal.Niasarm is one of the biggest water canals.
From 2012-2013 there have been large protests against Isfahan-Yazd water tunnel by farmers.
Fruits and vegetables central market is where farmers sell their product wholesale buying 10,000 tons farmers product a day.
High tech and heavy industries
The industrialization of Isfahan dates from the Pahlavi period as in all of Iran, and was marked by the strong growth at that time of the textile industry; which earned the city the nickname " Manchester of Persia".There are 9200 industrial units in the city %40 of Iranian textile industry is in Isfahan.
Telecommunication Company of Iran and Mobile Telecommunication Company of Iran provide 4G, 3G, Broadband and VDSL.
Isfahan Scientific and Research Town started its executive activity in 2001 for acting as a medium between government, industry and academia toward a knowledge-based economy.
It is also the third largest medicine manufacturing hub in Iran.
Education and science
In 2019 there were 20 special schools with 5000 children in the city.
There are also more than 50 technical and vocational training centres in the province under the administration of Esfahan TVTO, which provide free, non-formal training programs.
As of 2020 %90 of workforce skills trainees are women.
Snapp! and Tapsi are two of the carpooling apps in the city.
There are 42 bicycle sharing stations and 6 bicycle pavements built by city, Women are not allowed according to decree by Representative of the Supreme Leader in Isfahan Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabai Nejad and General Attorney Ali Esfahani.
Shared bicycles were reintroduced to the city again in 2020 with the condition that women won't be allowed, men can use their national ID for getting a bicycle
Control of transfer of freight cargoes to the city are under Isfahan Customs Administration domain.
Over the past decade, Isfahan's internal highway network has been undergoing major expansion. Much care has been taken to prevent damage to valuable, historical buildings. Modern freeways connect the city to the country's major cities, including the capital Tehran (length approximately 400 km) to the north and Shiraz (200 km) to the south. Highways also service satellite cities surrounding the metropolitan area.Isfahan Eastern Bypass Freeway is under construction.
In 2019-2018 some 450,000 foreign nationals visited the city.Some 110 trillion rials (over $2 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials(2020) have been invested in the province's tourism sector.
The central historical area in Isfahan is called Seeosepol.
Coloring theme for the city has been Turquoise for a period of time.
City waste is processed and recycled in Isfahan Waste Complex.
Water & wastewater treatment
Esfahan water & wastewater Organization [fa] is responsible for piping operation, network installation, preventive maintenance, repairing waterworks, wastewater equipment, supervising wastewater collection and treatment and disposal in the city.
Municipality created a document in 2020 outlining future development program for the city.
In 2020, Municipality employed 6250 people with additional 3000 people in 16 subsidiaries.
During Iran-Iraq war 23000 were killed from Isfahan and there are 43000 veterans.
As of June 2020, 65% of the population of Isfahan province has had social security insurance .
Isfahan is known as the capital of the world Multiple sclerosis disease due to the presence of polluting industries.
In 2015, with the cut-off of the Zayandehrood River, almost 15% of people suffered from depression.
Russian Federation General Consulate in Isfahan is registered cultural heritage.
Chinese have expressed readiness to be the first country that opens consulate in a diplomatic zone in the central city
The residence of Afghan nationals is allowed in Esfahan city.There is a plan in the future to create a diplomatic district next to Imam Khamenei international convention center for countries to base their consulates offices in.
Twin towns - sister cities
Esfahan Street in Kuala Lumpur, and Kualalampur Avenue in Isfahan
^ abAslanian, Sebouh (2011). From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa. California: University of California Press. p. 1. ISBN978-0520947573.