King’s Square of Isfahan (World Heritage)

By | September 14, 2021

Isfahan was the capital of Persia from 1598 to 1788. The huge, 512 × 160 m “Königsplatz” Meidan-e Shah was laid out by Shah Abbas the Great. The square is framed by two-story arcades and is decorated on its sides with a total of four buildings: the magnificent Shah and Lotfollah mosques, the Ali Kapu Palace and the main portal to the bazaar.

Isfahan’s King’s Square: Facts

Official title: Meidan-e Shah (King’s Square) from Isfahan
Cultural monument: Meidan-e Shah, the so-called King’s Square or Shah Square with the Shah mosque, which was renamed Masjed-e Imam in 1979, was built from 18 million bricks and has half a million faience tiles, with the Masjed-e Lotfollah, originally a private court mosque for the father-in-law Abbas ‘I, the bazaar portal (Sar dar-e Qaisarieh) with festival and battle scenes from the time of Abbas’ I, the Masjed-e Djomeh (Friday mosque), a total building complex of 170x140m, and the high gate, Ali Qapu
Continent: Asia
Country: Iran; According to directoryaah, Iran is a country in Middle East.
Location: Isfahan, south of Tehran
Appointment: 1979
Meaning: symbol of high Persian civilization from the 15th to 17th centuries

Isfahan’s King’s Square: History

around 900 Construction of the Masjed-e Djomeh
1088/89 Extensions to the Friday Mosque
1092 Construction of the south portal and mihrab of the Friday Mosque
1598 Isfahan becomes the capital of Persia
1612-30 under Shah Abbas I. Main construction period of the Masjed-e Imam
1612-16 Construction of the Masjed-e Lotfollah
1619 Plant of the bazaar
1638 Consummation of the Masjed-e Imam
1803 Restoration of the Friday Mosque

In the name of the prophet – an oriental dream

“Meidan” describes the distance that an Arabian stallion can gallop without becoming visibly tired, a truly oriental measure of length. And: the central square of the Persian Isfahan is still the perfect setting for a courtly polo game. The recent line-loyal rededication to “Meidan-e Imam” – after having survived three centuries – does little to change this.

The fundamentalist religious zealots of the present have a hard time with the glamorous historical legacy of the oasis city. The declaration of love to a submerged, courtly capricious variety of Islam, performed in traditional brick construction, clad inside and outside by blue-ground fine ceramics, must represent a provocation in the eyes of the ruling ascetic Ayatollahs.

Isfahan, the »sky-blue pearl of Persian architecture«, is aristocratic through and through – a stylishly staged architecture of the mighty can be experienced with the senses. Clearly inspired by monumental Hellenistic plazas and not least by their incredibly practical offshoots, the Roman forums, a representative palace front, religious collection sites, a promenade and at the same time a transshipment point for silk and cotton were created in Isfahan’s center. Against this background, the existence of the immediately neighboring bazaar is anything but a coincidence; the consequent connection between culture and commerce was intended. In general, the informal reception of ancient models in Islamic architecture was already evident during the early Umayyad dynasty in the 8th Century a completely natural part of urban planning routine. The functional inheritance of crumbling Roman cities and the lively Sassanid decorative art form a »Belle Alliance«, especially in the Persian variant, which did not fail to impress the few European travelers of the 18th century. Ancient thought, literature and science had always remained alive in the North African-Middle Eastern core regions of the militant prophet and founder of religion Mohammed, “the praised”, and therefore, in contrast to western Europe, there was no need for an actual “Islamic renaissance”. The functional inheritance of crumbling Roman cities and the lively Sassanid decorative art form a »Belle Alliance«, especially in the Persian variant, which did not fail to impress the few European travelers of the 18th century. Ancient thought, literature and science had always remained alive in the North African-Middle Eastern core regions of the militant prophet and founder of religion Mohammed, “the praised”, and therefore, in contrast to western Europe, there was no need for an actual “Islamic renaissance”. The functional inheritance of crumbling Roman cities and the lively Sassanid decorative art form a »Belle Alliance«, especially in the Persian variant, which did not fail to impress the few European travelers of the 18th century. Ancient thought, literature and science had always remained alive in the North African-Middle Eastern core regions of the militant prophet and founder of religion Mohammed, “the praised”, and therefore, in contrast to western Europe, there was no need for an actual “Islamic renaissance”.

A far-reaching rebirth of the ancient world was forbidden by itself, considering the primacy of the new religion. Thus, especially in the religious field, Arabic calligraphic writing gradually replaced the traditional world of images in the West. Regardless of the noticeable dependence on historical models, the “King’s Square” with its magnificent buildings and shady arcades is without a doubt a sovereign and independent creation, which can also come up with surprising architectural instinct and remarkable precision in the craftsmanship. After all, the orientation of the mosques to Mecca, as prescribed by Islam, had to be matched.

As is customary among newly selected residential cities all over the world, the princely client wanted to experience the completion of his personal dream as far as possible. Unfortunately, in Isfahan, too, the pace of construction was not conducive to the durability of the architecture. Inadequate foundations and the typical tremors of the extremely quake-prone region affected the sensitive magnificent buildings of the 17th century, as did the ruthless looting of Afghan mountain tribes.

This is the depressing realization at the beginning of the 21st century that Isfahan, as the jewel of Central Persia and the oriental dream of a supposedly golden age, is facing dangerous times.

King's Square of Isfahan (World Heritage)