Isfahan is a historical city in the center of Iran and is the third largest city of the country after Tehran and Mashhad. It is located 406 kilometers (252 miles) south of Tehran, and is the capital of Isfahan Province. Isfahan is an important city as it is located at the intersection of the two principal north–south and east–west routes that traverse Iran. Isfahan flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Safavid dynasty when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history under Shah Abbas the Great. Even today the city retains much of its past glory.
Isfahan is famous for its Perso–Islamic architecture, grand boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, tiled mosques, and minarets. Isfahan also has many historical buildings, monuments, paintings and artifacts. The fame of Isfahan led to the Persian pun and proverb “Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast“: Isfahan is half of the world. The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world and UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site.
On December 11, 2015, Isfahan and Rasht as the first cities of Iran were designated as new members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Isfahan was registered because of its creative ‘Crafts and Folk Art’. By joining the Network, cities commit to collaborate and develop partnerships with a view to promote creativity and cultural industries, to share best practices, to strengthen participation in cultural life, and to integrate culture in economic and social development strategies and plans.
Some magnificent and beautiful monuments in Isfahan include Menar Jonban, Si-o-Seh Pol or bridge of 33 arches, Khaju bridge, Shahrestan bridge, Naghsh-e Jahan Square, Chehel Sotoun (The Palace of Forty Columns), Ali Qapu (The Royal Palace)