If we want to describe Isfahan with a symbol, undoubtedly, the Thirty-Three Bridges takes the top spot on the list. The Thirty-Three Bridges, also known as Si O Se Pol or Allahverdi Khan Bridge, is a two-story stone arch bridge that spans nearly 300 meters. It’s one of eleven bridges in Isfahan that crosses the Zayandeh Rud River. The Si-o-se-pol Bridge is the most famous in Isfahan due to its size, central location, and impressive architecture. This bridge serves as the central hub for nightly city entertainment, attracting Iranians and foreign tourists. Stay with us to learn more about this bridge, its history, and its attractions.
Location of Si-o-Se-Pol Bridge
Address: Iran, Isfahan, Isfahan City, Enqelab Square, at the beginning of the southern side of Chahar Bagh Street or the beginning of the northern side of Abbasi Chahar Bagh Street.
Si-o-Se-Pol Bridge is located at the starting point of the southern side of Chahar Bagh Street on one side and the beginning of the northern side of Abbasi Chahar Bagh Street (Enqelab Square) on the other side. You can reach it by using your car or public transportation. The Si-o-Se-Pol metro station is just a few steps from the bridge. Additionally, the Enqelab Square bus station is on the other side of the bridge. If you’re driving your car, consider the local traffic during busy hours.
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History of Sio Seh Pol Bridge
This bridge dates back to the Safavid era and the reign of Shah Abbas I, a time when Isfahan was the country’s capital. The bridge’s construction began in 1599 during Shah Abbas’s reign and was completed in 1602. This bridge spans the Zayandeh Rud River. Typically, bridges are built at narrower points in rivers, but this bridge was constructed at the widest point of the Zayandeh Rud River and is the longest bridge in Isfahan.
The name “Si-o-Seh Pol” indicates 33 arches and main columns. Initially, it had 40 arches, but some have gradually been abandoned. This bridge is known as “Pol-e Jolfa” and “Pol-e Abbasi. The old tales say It’s famous for being built using white egg-based mortar, contributing to its strength. Additionally, some studies have suggested that the bridge’s columns were designed to withstand immersion in water, as the drying of the Zayandeh Rud River could potentially damage its structural integrity.
The architecture of Si-o-Se-Pol Bridge
The architecture of the Si o Se Pol Bridge is considered one of the world’s incredible architectural masterpieces. The architect of this historic structure was Hossein Esfahani, whose son, Mohammad Reza Esfahani, followed in his father’s footsteps and created the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque.
This bridge, with a length of around 360 meters and a width of 14 meters, was built with 40 arches. One of the first things that stands out in the architecture of this bridge is its durability over time, thanks to the materials used in its construction. The bridge’s foundations are made of Sarooj (a traditional mortar mix), while the upper level is constructed with bricks and plaster. Sarooj is an architectural innovation of Iran, consisting of a blend of lime, clay, ashes, and fibers.
This masterpiece is a two-story structure, and both levels were used for the passage of people. Even caravans, vehicles, and heavy machinery used to pass on the upper level, but later, it was restricted to only pedestrian traffic to prevent damage to the bridge’s structure.
What materials were used to build the Si-O-Se-Pol Bridge?
Three main materials were used in the bridge’s construction: stone for the lower parts, bricks, mortar, and plaster for the upper sections. Another crucial component of this bridge with unique adhesive properties is Sarouj. Sarouj is one of the ancient innovations of Iranian architects and was used to construct the Si-O-Se-Pol Bridge. It’s made from clay, limestone, ashes, and organic materials like egg whites. It becomes even stronger when it absorbs water. According to experts from the Department of Geology and Cultural Heritage, the foundation and base of the bridge were made with this material to increase its moisture resistance, durability, and structural integrity. This is why it can withstand long-term exposure to water without getting damaged.
Attractions of History of Si O Se Pol
In the distant past, this bridge hosted grand ceremonies. For instance, during the Safavid era, it was customary to celebrate Nowruz (the Persian New Year) and the arrival of spring for up to seven consecutive nights. People would gather at this location and scatter flowers on the path of Shah Abbas and his entourage; this ceremony was known as “Golrizan.”
Another old-time ceremony on this bridge was called “Abpashan” or “Water Pouring.” It took place every July. During this event, even the king, nobles, scholars, and poets of the time would gather alongside the common people at this spot. The custom involved people sprinkling water and rosewater on each other, creating a joyful atmosphere. This day coincided with the “Tirgan” festival, making it a splendid and happy occasion for Iranians.
Another ceremony observed on this bridge was “Khaj Shuyan.” This ritual, commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ, was traditionally held by the Armenians of Isfahan in the month of Dey, alongside other festivities.
See more: Isfahan Travel Guide
Recreational Activities at Si-o-Se Pol
The unique location of Si-o-Se Pol, coupled with its extraordinary architecture, has made it one of the most famous and foremost tourist attractions in Isfahan. The recreational activities you can enjoy at this bridge include:
- Photography: Without a doubt, Si-o-Se Pol is one of the best and most beautiful subjects for photographers. Capturing memorable images of this astonishing architecture is one of the most intriguing things tourists do.
- Strolling: Another enjoyable and wholesome activity is walking along the streets leading to Si-o-Se Pol or on the bridge. Walking beside this special structure, especially at night, is an unparalleled tourist experience.
- Boating: The presence of the Zayandeh Rud River has made boating in this river and enjoying a different perspective of Si-o-Se Pol one of the most popular tourist activities.
FAQs about Si O Se Pol Bridge
- How old is Siosepol Bridge?
Construction of the bridge began in 1599 during the reign of Shah Abbas I and was completed in 1602.
- When is the best time to visit Si-o-Se-Pol Bridge?
The best time to visit the Si-o-Se Pol Bridge is when the Zayandeh Rud River is full, displaying its timeless grandeur. Daytime hours offer better visibility and a chance to appreciate more details, while the nights at Si-o-Se Pol are adorned with captivating lighting. However, if you’re into photography, daytime shots can give you more variety and better quality.
- What is the architectural style of Si-o-Se Pol?
Si-o-Se Pol is a prime example of Safavid-era architecture and displays a blend of traditional Iranian and Islamic architectural styles.
Is photography allowed at Si-o-Se Pol?
Yes, photography is allowed, and the bridge offers excellent opportunities for capturing its architectural beauty and surroundings.
- Why is it called Si-o-Se Pol?
Si-o-Se Pol is called so because it has 33 arches. There are several theories about the significance of the number 33. One theory connects it to the Georgian lineage of Allahverdi Khan and the 33-letter Georgian alphabet. Some also believe that the number 33 is related to Anahita, the goddess of water.