Isfahan is a large city located almost in the center of today’s Iran where the main north-south and east-west roads cross. It is estimated that the Isfahan metropolitan area has a population of about 4,000,000, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in Iran after the capital Tehran.
It is not well known when exactly Isfahan was first established as a city. But, it is known that its origins go back more than 1,500 years. While Isfahan grew considerably from the early 11th through the 18th century, it flourished particularly during the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century when it became the capital of the old Persia for the second time. Isfahan was once one of the largest cities in the world.
Isfahan is located in the central Iran inside the plains stretching along Zayandeh Rood River. The city is located in a relatively mountainous area in the center of the Iranian Plateau and stretches from the snowy Zagros Mountains in the West to the East and North-central deserts of Iran. There exists a variety of climatic conditions in the city thanks to regions with different altitudes.
Generally, as the altitude falls from Western city to the Eastern, the area temperature increases together with the decrease in the amount of rainfall. There is a breeze drifting in the city throughout the four seasons. The Western and Southwestern winds which blow along Zayandeh Rood River in the spring and fall endow the city with a glorious weather. Isfahan is a city with regular seasonal changes. Spring begins in late March with the trees in full bloom, summer in late June. The city greets fall color in late September with the leaves falling off the trees and winter starts in late December. Among all the seasons and months, Isfahan is in its perfect splendor in May. It’s the month when a breeze from the sky drifts through the colorful city in possession of a pleasant weather and luring lights. Isfahan is dowered with a full sunlight and is sunny three fourth of a year.
Many visitors believe Isfahan is the most beautiful city in Iran and one of the most beautiful in the world. It features numerous tree-lined boulevards and flower gardens, miles of beautiful parks along the Zayandeh Rood river; 1300 year-old covered bazaars, bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. No wonder Isfahan is called nesf-e jahān meaning half of the world. The city attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over Iran and around the world each year.
Isfahan is called the city of Iranian handicraft and traditional arts. These works of art comprise a major portion of Iran’s exports, particularly to Europe. The contemporary traditional arts and handicrafts of Isfahan are in fact a continuance of the Safavid Art pursued by the modern Iran craftsmen. Their artistic works are appreciated by Iranians and non-Iranians alike, and play a pivotal role in exports from Isfahan. Carpet weaving, engraving, miniature painting, Moarragh, tile art, brocade, calico work and enamelwork are among the most prominent works of art in Isfahan.
The contemporary artists of Isfahan have made new innovations in recent years in the areas of miniature painting, tile making and engraving. Isfahan also has an age-old musical tradition. Today, most Iranian musicians speak Persian with an Isfahani accent.
Isfahan has achieved a significant growth and development in the past decades. It has turned into a modern city following an increase in its population, development of its urban area and formation of new streets as well as the rise in the number of buildings and plants. Isfahan has witnessed a dramatic growth after the Islamic Revolution. However it has never lost any of its character.