Naghsh-e Jahan Square: Majestic Splendor at the Heart of Isfahan

Naghsh-e Jahan

Naghshe-e Jahan Square is one of the tourist attractions of Isfahan. This square is also known as Imam Square and is one of the most beautiful attractions in Isfahan. In fact, many of historical sites of this city are located in Naghsh-e Jahan.

Another name for Naghsh-e Jahan is the Shah Square; which after Iran’s revolution in 1978 formally known as Imam Square. It’s the central square of the city, located at the heart of Naghsh-e Jahan historical complex.

Monuments in the four sides of Naghsh-e Jahan Square are: Ali Qapu palace, Shah (Imam) Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and Qeisarie Gate which opens into Isfahan’s Grand Bazaar. In addition to these, there are 200 two-story chambers around the square which are usually presentation stations of Isfahan’s handicrafts.

Naghsh-e Jahan Square was registered on the Iran National List on 28 January 1935 No. 102 and on May 1980 was among the first Iranian monument to be registered as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

Prior to the Safavid period, there was a garden called Naghsh-e Jahan. During the time of Shah Abbas II, due to overcrowding in the surrounding bazaar it was decided to construct another square, in addition to Atiq Square (or Old Square) and Shah Square. The square, which was very close to the Shah’s Square and behind the Sheik Lotfollah Mosque, was named The New Square, and it was also called Naqsh-e Jahan because at the same time as the construction, the demolition and materials of the old palace in the Naqsh-e Jahan garden was used to build the new square.

By the time, both old and new squares were destroyed and disappeared, but the Shah Square remained. In recent years, the Old Square has been rebuilt but the New Square, which did not have the beauty and elegance of the two other squares is abandoned and its only surname, Naghsh-e Jahan, has become the other name of Shah Square or Imam Khomeini Square.

Many of the tourists who have described Isfahan in the past times, have spoken a lot about the glory and majesty of the Naghsh-e Jahan Square and have described memories of the visits of ambassadors, foreign delegates and citizens of other countries from this square and many historical negotiations were conducted between Iranian governors and foreign envoys in this place.

The garden was also place of government buildings and the palace of Timurid and Akquyunlu lords. At that time, the garden’s area was called “Dare Koshk”(the grange’s door). It is located on the western side of the Naghsh-e Jahan Square, where the Ali Qapu Palace is located.

During the Seljuk period, at least part of the garden was called the “Kushk” Square. The arrest of Berkarak by his brother Mahmud occurred in this square. The Kushk Square was also the site of executions and official ceremonies such as Nowruz.

Around the square are the most famous and the greatest historic buildings of Isfahan, such as the Grand Mosque of Abbasi or the Mosque of the Shah (on the south side), the Mosque of Sheik Lotfollah (on the east side), the Ali-Qapu palace (on the west side), and the Qeisarie Gate (on the north side). Around the square are four major markets. In 1609, the income of the four markets was devoted toward the Fourteen Infallibles.

Vali Gholi Shamlou writes in his book ghesas-ol-Khaqani (stories of khaqani) that in 1606, Shah Abbas dedicated the Naghsh-e Jahan’s bazar, the Grand inn of Isfahan, the Qeisarie Monument, and the Royal Bath to descendants of the prophet in Medina, especially for the marriage cost of the city’s descendants of the prophet. The coexistence of commercial buildings with government and religious buildings and the existence of the world’s oldest gate of the polo game in the middle of the square are some of the architectural attractions of the field.