Naqsh e Jahan square or Imam Meidan is one of the historical and important squre of Iran. It has rectangular plan with 507 m. Length and 158 m. Width. It’s located in center of Isfahan city and is one of the world cultural heritage registered by UNESCO. There are four great monuments in this Meidan: Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Imam Mosque, Aliqapu Palace and Qeisarieh Bazaar. Beside these there are 200 chambers for representing Iranian handcraft at this Meidan.
History of Naqsh e Jahan square :
Naqsh e Jahan square was made during Shah Abbas Safavi in 1598. There are four great buildings with magnificent architecture at four sides of this squre. Imam Mosque is situated on south side, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on east side, Aliqapu Palace on west side and Qeisarieh Bazar is on the north part of Meidan . Each one of these monuments have a great, unique architecture.
Purpose of Naqsh Jahan Square:
Naqsh Jahan Square had very important position during Safavid era. Politically King palace was for ceremonies, military parades and etc…Religiously Mosque was for religious rites and rituals and congregation prayer.
Economically presence of shops and bazaar made people have business activities. And another important role of Square was entertainment for people. People used the square for Polo game, fireworks, festivals and national celebrations , puppet shows and narrating and story telling.
The main monuments of square
Shah Mosque is known as Imam Mosque, Soltani Mosque and Jame Mosque as well. This mosque which is located at Naqsh e Jahan Square was built during Safavid period and is one of the magnificent architecture in Islamic period.
This monument is an immortal masterpiece in architecture and tile work of 17 th century. This great mosque was made after 24 years kingdom of Shah Abbas.
Opposit Imam or jame Mosque, on north side of Naqsh e Jahan square there is a beautiful portal with great tile work and typical Safavid painting as entrance of Qeisarieh Bazar. Portal of Qeisarieh Bazar is the original entrance of Naqsh e Jahan Square. You can have the best view of Naqsh e Jahan Square from this angle.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is located on east side of Imam Square and opposite of Aliqapu palace. This great mosque was built 400 years back by Shah Abbas 1st. It took 17 years to be completed. It was made for religious ceremonies of royal family but later they named it Sheikh Lotfollah who was the greatest religious figure of that time.
This mosque is considered a masterpiece of architecture and tile work of 16 th century in Iran. Mihrab of this mosque is decorated with great tile work and unique moqarnas work. There are two inscriptions inside Mihrab and outside of Mihrab you can see more inscription which is done by Alireza Abbasi the famous calligraphist of that time. He has narrated about Imam Jafar Sadegh and prophet Mohammad.
There are some more poems by great philosopher , poet and scientist Sheikh Bahaie on the eastern and western walls of the mosque.
Aliqapu Palace is a unique style of architecture of Safavid era. Shah Abbas after moving capital of Iran from Qazvin to Isfahan decided to build this great palace in 16 th century. This palace has 6 stories, each floor has different special decoration.
Aliqapu Palace was renovated and completed after Shah Abbas1st for five times by his successors specialy Shah Abbas 2nd and Shah Soleiman during 70 to 100 years.
Aliqapu was the central gate of all the palaces located at Naqsh Jahan Square. Aliqapu means “high Portal”. This palace with 36m hight was the highest building till recent decades in Isfahan. Due to architectural additions this palace has different views from different angles. It looks 2 story building from front view , 5 story from back side and from both sides it looks 3 story building. Considering basement of palace, it is 6 story palace of Safavid era.
See also UNESCO sites in Iran