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Meidan Emam

Meidan Emam is located in the heart of Isfahan, a city situated at the nexus of routes crossing central Iran. This is one of the largest urban squares in the world (160 meters wide by 560 meters long), popularly known as Meidan Naghsh-e-Jahan and formerly known as Meidan Shah (Abbas). It was built by Shah Abbas I in the early 17th century based on the concept of his ideal city, where the three pillars of power, religion, and economy were realized around the square with Ali Qapu Palace, the Sheikh Lotfollah and Emam Mosques, and the Qeisarieh Bazaar. These four exquisite structures are exemplar of superlative Persian and Islamic architecture built during the Safavid period.

 

North of the square is the Qeisarieh Bazaar; with hundreds of shops it was one the largest and most opulent trade centers during the Safavid era, and also one of the first structures built around the square. The new bazaar was effectively constructed to absorb business from the older pre-Safavid bazaar which was located to northeast around Atique Square and the Friday mosque.

 

The Ali Qapu Palace, located west of the Meidan was the entrance to the royal court complex. Ali means great or grand in Arabic and Qapu means portal or gate in Turkic, combined to signify the ‘great gateway’. This imperial palace is fabled for its apartments which are bejeweled with paintings and mostly exposed to the outside, its high portal (48 meters), and its covered terrace connected from behind to the throne room, where the shah sometimes received dignitaries.

 

 

Located east of the Meidan and across from Ali Qapu Palace is the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, a masterwork of Iranian architecture, with an elegant dome and impressive arabesques, inscriptions, and tile work. It is a unique mosque in Isfahan as it consists of a single domed chamber, all the standard features of a four-iwan courtyard-centered mosque, including minarets, are absent here, as it was a mosque designed exclusively for private royal functions instead of congregational prayer. Its placement outside the royal compound on the Meidan, where the royals could be seen walking across from Ali Qapu Palace was a symbolic representation and reinforcement of the royals’ devotion to religion.

 

The resplendent and enormous Emam Mosque (Masjed-e Shah) was positioned south of the Meidan to establish a constant movement of people going through the Meidan for prayer. Facing Mecca, it was built in a four-iwan style with a courtyard. All of the colorful monuments around the Meidan are superbly embellished with enameled ceramic tiles and paintings with a prevailing floral motif.

 

The remarkable Naghsh-e Jahan Square, once the sociocultural and economic center of Safavid era life and the venue for public gatherings, celebrations, assembling of troops, and polo games, continues to be a vital and integral part of modern day Isfahan.

Meidan Emam

Meidan Emam is located in the heart of Isfahan, a city situated at the nexus of routes crossing central Iran. This is one of the largest urban squares in the world (160 meters wide by 560 meters long), popularly known as Meidan Naghsh-e-Jahan and formerly known as Meidan Shah (Abbas). It was built by Shah Abbas I in the early 17th century based on the concept of his ideal city, where the three pillars of power, religion, and economy were realized around the square with Ali Qapu Palace, the Sheikh Lotfollah and Emam Mosques, and the Qeisarieh Bazaar. These four exquisite structures are exemplar of superlative Persian and Islamic architecture built during the Safavid period.

 

North of the square is the Qeisarieh Bazaar; with hundreds of shops it was one the largest and most opulent trade centers during the Safavid era, and also one of the first structures built around the square. The new bazaar was effectively constructed to absorb business from the older pre-Safavid bazaar which was located to northeast around Atique Square and the Friday mosque.

 

The Ali Qapu Palace, located west of the Meidan was the entrance to the royal court complex. Ali means great or grand in Arabic and Qapu means portal or gate in Turkic, combined to signify the ‘great gateway’. This imperial palace is fabled for its apartments which are bejeweled with paintings and mostly exposed to the outside, its high portal (48 meters), and its covered terrace connected from behind to the throne room, where the shah sometimes received dignitaries.

 

 

Located east of the Meidan and across from Ali Qapu Palace is the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, a masterwork of Iranian architecture, with an elegant dome and impressive arabesques, inscriptions, and tile work. It is a unique mosque in Isfahan as it consists of a single domed chamber, all the standard features of a four-iwan courtyard-centered mosque, including minarets, are absent here, as it was a mosque designed exclusively for private royal functions instead of congregational prayer. Its placement outside the royal compound on the Meidan, where the royals could be seen walking across from Ali Qapu Palace was a symbolic representation and reinforcement of the royals’ devotion to religion.

 

The resplendent and enormous Emam Mosque (Masjed-e Shah) was positioned south of the Meidan to establish a constant movement of people going through the Meidan for prayer. Facing Mecca, it was built in a four-iwan style with a courtyard. All of the colorful monuments around the Meidan are superbly embellished with enameled ceramic tiles and paintings with a prevailing floral motif.

 

The remarkable Naghsh-e Jahan Square, once the sociocultural and economic center of Safavid era life and the venue for public gatherings, celebrations, assembling of troops, and polo games, continues to be a vital and integral part of modern day Isfahan.

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