The city that's 'half the world'

Updated: 2015-05-25 07:52

By Mike Peters(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

The city that's 'half the world'

Esfahan's striking Islamic architecture and distinctively colored tiles draw tourists to the buildings around the city's huge public square. Mike Peters / China Daily

The skyline explodes in a fantasy of blue, yellow and white tiles-a symphony of architecture that a Persian ruler orchestrated to celebrate an empire at its peak.

Shah Abbas I became known as Abbas the Great, but it was for his capital that he sought true greatness. "Esfahan," an admiring French poet once declared, echoing a local saying, "is half the world."

More than four centuries after Abbas, the gleaming tiles of an immense square, its adjacent mosques and palace, and a stunning series of bridges are a magnet for tourists, evoking that golden era when exquisite silk carpets, Chinese porcelain, saffron and other spices flowed in and out from every direction.

The city is located on the main north-south and east-west ancient Silk Road routes crossing Central Asia. Once one of the largest cities in the world, today it is the country's third largest after the modern capital, Teheran, and Mashhad.

It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when Abbas made it Persia's capital for the second time.

Previous Page 1 2 3 4 Next Page