Isfahan, often regarded as one of the most beautiful and historically significant cities in Iran, boasts a plethora of tourist, recreational, commercial, and most importantly, historical attractions. If one were to encapsulate Isfahan in a brief description, it might be said that Isfahan is a museum where people live.
Located nearly in the center of Iran, Isfahan is significant due to its historical role as the country’s capital during the Safavid era. This period saw the construction of numerous structures that still today stand as testimony to Iran’s grandeur and magnificence, such as the Imam Mosque of Isfahan.
As you wander through the city, you will encounter sights that may be unparalleled elsewhere in the world; for example, the Menar Jonban, one of the city’s most intriguing landmarks. Isfahan is also famously referred to as “half the world”, and it’s interesting to note that André Malraux, the French politician and writer, once remarked, “The most beautiful cities in the world are Venice, Florence, and Isfahan.”
Given the points highlighted above, we intend to delve deeper into the Imam Mosque of Isfahan, introducing you to this historical and beautiful monument and answering all your questions about it. Be sure not to miss this article in the travel magazine SURFIRAN.
A Brief History of Imam Mosque in Isfahan
Also known by names such as the Shah Mosque, the Sultani Mosque, and the Jameh Abbasi Mosque, the Imam Mosque is Isfahan’s most prominent historical mosque and stands among the mosques around the Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Constructed with precise design and everlasting artistry in stonework, architecture, and tilework during the Safavid era, it is considered a significant masterpiece of Islamic architecture in Iran.
This edifice, along with the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The beautiful mosque is located on the southern side of the square, and as you enter, it is easily visible. Shah Abbas the First commissioned its construction in the year 1020 AH, during the 24th year of his reign, with the intent to honor his ancestor, Shah Tahmasp.
Among the architects of this mosque, we can mention Master Ali Akbar Isfahani and Mohabbat Ali Bikallah. As for the calligraphers, Ali Reza Abbasi, Abdul Baqi Tabrizi, Mohammad Reza Emami, and Mohammad Saleh Emami are notable figures who crafted this beautiful masterpiece during their time. An interesting fact about this mosque is that during its construction, marble quarries around Isfahan were discovered, and this marble was utilized in the building. No matter how much is said about this magnificent structure, it’s insufficient; you truly need to see it up close to marvel at the depth of artistry infused into this astonishing edifice.
Architecture of Imam Mosque in Isfahan
As previously mentioned, the architecture of the Imam Mosque is among the most distinct in the post-Islamic era. This stunning structure comprises a main dome, four minarets, two prayer halls, and a marbled Imam Mihrab, which stand out as highlights of its design. During the Safavid period, two schools were established on either side of the mosque, one named the Sulaymaniyyah School and the other named the Nasiriyyah School due to the renovations that took place during Naser al-Din Shah’s reign.
The tilework of Imam Mosque in Isfahan uses an innovative seven-color method. Moreover, the stone carvings and intricate inlay works reveal the artistry and beauty of the site. One of the most intriguing aspects, which you may not notice at first glance, is the consistent background of the tiles and the unity and harmony throughout the mosque; it seems as if a single individual crafted the entire edifice.
General Description of Imam Mosque in Isfahan
The Imam Mosque in Isfahan is constructed using 18 million bricks and 474,000 tiles, and abundant marble can be seen throughout. Each of its minarets stands approximately 33 meters tall. However, the minarets located above the prayer halls are significantly taller. The mosque has a primary dome and a central courtyard underneath. The main minaret of the mosque is aligned towards the Qibla, while another is oriented towards Naqsh-e Jahan Square. In this structure, one can observe the four-iwan architectural layout, and the eastern and western prayer halls, along with the Nasiriyah and Sulaymaniyah schools, are distinctly evident.
The Prayer Halls and Dome of Imam Mosque in Isfahan
No matter where you stand in the Naqsh-e Jahan Square of Isfahan, the beautiful dome of the Imam Mosque is visible. The artistic carvings and designs on it can be admired from various angles, especially at night when the lighting accentuates its beauty even more.
Upon entering the prayer halls, one can truly grasp the grandeur and magnificence of the mosque. It feels as if you have been transported back in time. This sensation and ambiance is a tribute to those talented individuals who, with their artistry and knowledge, bequeathed this historical site to us from centuries past.
Access Routes to Imam Mosque
This square is located in the city center. To reach it, you can utilize the metro, taxis, or public buses heading towards Imam Hossein station, which is situated close to Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Due to the immense popularity of this location in Isfahan, you can easily find it indicated on signs, or alternatively, you can inquire about it from the locals.
Cost and Suggested Visit Time for the Mosque
Given what has been mentioned above, few would lack the desire to visit this incredibly beautiful site. It’s worth noting that entering Naqsh-e Jahan Square is free, but there is an entrance fee for the Imam Mosque in Isfahan. The mosque welcomes tourists every day (except during retreat days) from 9:30 am to 11:30 am and then from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm.
Nearby Attractions to Imam Mosque in Isfahan
Isfahan is filled with many attractions; wherever you go, you won’t be disappointed. Nearby the mosque, you can visit the Ali Qapu Palace, Constitutional House, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Chehel Sotoun, Ashraf Hall, Sheikh Bahai Bathhouse, Khaju Bridge, Si-o-Se Pol, and more. Each of these sites boasts unique features and architecture.
Hotels near Imam Mosque
Due to the significance of the location, the nearby hotels offer great quality and amenities. Some of the hotels around the mosque include:
- Abbasi Hotel
- Parsian Kowsar Hotel
- Ali Qapu Hotel
- Piroozi Hotel
- Sepahan Hotel
- Espadana Hotel
- Mellat Hotel
- Azadi Hotel
Nearby Restaurants to Imam Mosque
We highly recommend trying the Biryani in Isfahan, a delectable dish that you can’t find in any other part of Iran with the same taste and authenticity. Some restaurants near the Imam Mosque are:
- Shahrzad Restaurant
- Azadegan Teahouse and Dizi House
- Bastani Traditional Restaurant
- Abbasi Hotel Restaurant
For a comprehensive list of the best restaurants in Isfahan, you can check out more details elsewhere.
Upon entering the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, you’ll be surrounded by markets offering high-quality goods at reasonable prices. There, you can also witness and purchase the fine craftsmanship of Isfahani artisans, especially their exquisite calligraphy works.
In summary, when talking about visiting the Imam Mosque in Isfahan, you get to experience multiple attractions in one go. You can explore the mosque, add several stunning photos to your collection, savor Isfahani dishes from high-quality restaurants, and finally indulge in some shopping at the market. It’s a location you shouldn’t miss while in Isfahan.