Isfahan; not Just a Province, but Half of the World
Considering all the magnificent gardens, palaces, mosques, churches, bridges and handicrafts scattered all over this area of land, rich in history, culture and civilization, it will not be hard to imagine why Isfahan province is known as Nesf-e Jahan or “Half of the World”. One of the places you definitely should not miss out when visiting Iran is Isfahan.
Geography of Isfahan
Isfahan province is located in the center of the country of Iran. It borders with the following provinces: Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari on the west, Fars on the south, Yazd on the east and Semnan on the north, The province mostly consists of deserts and generally enjoys a four-season climate. Rising from Zagros Mountains, Zayanderud River flows through this province and finally runs into Gavkhouni swamp. The river helps making a more pleasant weather in the nearby areas. The capital, Isfahan, is the third most populous city in the country following Tehran and Mashhad. Only 25 km from the city, there is an
international airport, which makes your travel way easier.
A common tradition among the ancient Iranian civilizations was assigning the famous cities a zodiac symbol. Of course, Isfahan was no exception. Its zodiac symbol is Sagittaruis (the Archer); A half-human, half-animal (tiger) creature holding a bow and aiming the arrow at a dragon, which is its own tail. Watch
closely when you visit Qeysarieh Bazaar (Grand Bazaar). You will find the sign on the tilework of the main entrance.
Isfahan has borne various names through the history. Some references believe that the current name comes from “Sepah” meaning “army” as the city was once where the army gathered. Others assume that the name “Espahan” derived from “Aspah” meaning horse. It reffered to the huge number of horse
riders in the region. Latter, “Espahan” it transformed into “Isfahan” in the Arabic language.
Isfahan throughout the history
Isfahan especially flourished during the Seljuk Empire, when the emperors chose it as the capital. The city developed around the main square and the mosque, at the time. Putting behind the next reigns and harshness of the wars, it once again thrived to life as the capital of the Safavid dynasty. Many of the
famous historical sights and monuments in Isfahan province are the heritage of that era namely Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Jame Abbasi Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and Ali Qapu Palace.