Group 2 playoff round of Davis Cup tennis match of Asia Pacific between two teams of Vietnam and Iran began today at Apadana Stadium of Isfahan.
Flick through almost any travel magazine these days and you’re bound to come across an article hailing Iran as the next big destination.
Prompting the spike in interest in the Islamic Republic is recent geopolitical wrangling in the shape of a nuclear deal with world powers that has ended some longstanding sanctions.
But while the country is trying to modernize its tourism industry in the face of increasing visitor numbers – 5.2 million came in 2016 and more are expected in 2017 – its more traditional offerings still have the potential to charm.
None more so than the Abbasi Hotel, an opulent if careworn establishment located in the ancient city of Isfahan, CNN reported.
It’s a place like no other.
Isfahan has its fair share of historical wonders (some which are UNESCO World Heritage sites), but in many ways the Abbasi has become a tourist attraction in its own right, CNN reported.
Built around 300 years ago, under the Safavid dynasty reign of Shah Sultan Husayn, it was originally used as a pit stop for merchants traveling the ancient Silk Road.
The complex provided shelter not only for traders but also for the camels and horses they used to help transport their goods.
The years, decades and centuries that followed took their toll on the old caravanserai (during the early 1900s it was used as a military complex) and it started to fall into disrepair.
In the 1950s, French archeologist André Godard, working in Iran at the time, took it upon himself to fight for its restoration.
Soon after that, the Abbasi became what it is today: a 4-star hotel drenched in an ancient past.
The Abbasi may not have an abundance of modern amenities. There are no state-of-the-art gym or in-room cappuccino machines (although it does have great Wi-Fi), but that adds to its charm.
In a globalized and franchise-dominated world, the Abbasi is unique.
This hotel is all about atmosphere. Moreover, it’s uniquely Persian.
“I’d highly encourage anyone traveling to Iran to stay here as it’s an experience of a lifetime,” says General Manager Jamal Zandi.
He’s not really exaggerating.
Hallways are lined with authentic miniature paintings, the ceiling of the lobby is finely detailed and the dining areas adorned with beautiful mirror work, glittering chandeliers, and exquisite colorful wall motifs often associated with romantic notions of “the Orient.”
An array of emerald greens, jasmine blues and deep golds inevitably make visitors reach for their cameras as soon as they walk in.
The hotel has around 225 rooms, including 23 suites, and is divided between the hotel’s old wing and new wing.
Built in the 1970s, the rooms in the new wing are rather characterless – it seems that the recreation of the hotel’s original look and feel was not a priority at the time of construction and the rooms are bland in color and nondescript.
Guests who get to stay in the old wing, especially the Qajar and Safavid suites, are in for a treat. These rooms have been superbly restored and are decorated in an elegant traditional style without being overloaded.
At about $350 a night, they’re relatively pricey.
Christian Iranians living in the city of Jolfa in central Iranian province of Isfahan, like other Christian cities across the globe, are preparing themselves for the beginning of the new Christian year.
Jolfa: The Armenian Quarter
The Armenian quarter of Isfahan dates from the time of Shah Abbas I, who transported a colony of Christians from the town of Jolfa (now on Iran’s northern border) en masse, and named the village ‘New Jolfa’. Abbas sought their skills as merchants, entrepreneurs and artists and he ensured that their religious freedom was respected – albeit at a distance from the city’s Islamic centre. At one time over 42,000 Armenian Christians lived here.
Today there are a number of Armenian churches and an old cemetery, serving a Christian community of approximately 5000. It’s worth heading out here (it’s not far, southwest of the centre) in the afternoon, seeing the sights and staying around to enjoy dinner in the relatively liberal village atmosphere.
Golden Eagle luxury tourist train arrived in Isfahan on 18 October 2016.
European and American tourists, who are on sightseeing trip to some Iranian cities on luxury train named ‘Hezar-o Yek Shab’ (Thousand and One Nights), visited the central provinces of Isfahan (on Oct. 26) and Yazd (on Oct. 25).
They are due to go on to Shiraz in Fars Province.
Speaking on the sojourn, caretaker of Yazd Cultural Heritage Department, said 48 tourists who embarked on the trip from Budapest, Hungary, arrived in Iran on Oct. 21 after traversing Bulgaria and Turkey.
Mostafa Fatemi added that they visited the southern province of Kerman for two days before arriving in Yazd.
In Yazd, they went to the Yazd Jame’ Mosque, Zoroastrian fire temple, Dowlatabad Garden and strolled through the city’s historical textures, he said.
He continued that provinces of Isfahan, Fars and Yazd are considered golden triangle of Iranian tourism. “A majority of foreign tourists choose these provinces as a tourism destination during their trip to Iran.”
Yazd is one of the most well-known desert cities of Iran.
Many Iranians and foreign tourists like to visit Yazd to view the architecture typically found in desert regions.
The city is famous for its wind towers, termeh (traditional broçade), silk weaving and sweets (such as ‘baqlava’ and ‘qotab’).
A trip to Yazd will make you familiar with life in desert towns and how people have adapted to it. You learn about ‘qanat’ (underground water supply system) for which Iranians are well-known.
The water reservoirs, icehouses, wind-towers and pigeon towers make the visit to Yazd worthwhile, as tourists explore the uniqueness of this ancient city.
Yazd, located 270km southeast of Isfahan, has a population of approximately 560,000. It attracts a growing number of tourists.
The city is hot and dry in summer due to its location, which is between the two main deserts of Dasht-e Kavir and the Kavir-e Lut.
Traditionally, Yazd is famous for termeh, the brocades made with Iranian patterns and used in dresses, bags, footwear and interior decoration.
Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential Council Bakir Izetbegovic who is visiting Iran has travelled to Isfahan, the city of handicrafts and historical monuments, on Wednesday 26 October 2016.
The traveler Mag introduce the 50 Most Beautiful Cities in the World and Isfahan is one of it.
We seek beauty in many forms: through art and architecture; from water views and mountain highs; in its people and its history. This list circles the globe, finding the most beautiful cities in the world from Italy to Iran. Vote for your favorite cities in the 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards survey.
Once one of the largest cities in the world, Isfahan had such serious cosmopolitan clout in the 16th century that it inspired the phrase Isfahan nesf-e jahan, or “Isfahan is half the world.” Today, it’s is one of the country’s largest metropolises, and has wide, tree-lined boulevards, significant Islamic architecture, and hidden Persian gardens, all perfect for exploring.
Video: Isfahan historic bridge
Video: Isfahan churches
President of French National Assembly Claude Bartolone after official meetings in tehran traveled to Isfahan.
President of French National Assembly visited Naqsh-e Jahan squre and Vank church in historic site of Isfahan.
By Andrew Lawler, Smithsonian Magazine:the courtyard is coated in a fine brown dust, the surrounding walls are crumbling and the flaking plaster is the same monotonous khaki color as the ground. This decrepit house in a decaying maze of narrow alleys in Isfahan, Iran, betrays little of the old capital’s glory days in the 17th century. Suddenly, a paint-splattered worker picking at a nearby wall shouts, waves his steel trowel and points. Underneath a coarse layer of straw and mud, a faded but distinct array of blue, green and yellow abstract patterns emerges—a hint of the dazzling shapes and colors that once made this courtyard dance in the shimmering sun.
I crowd up to the wall with Hamid Mazaheri and Mehrdad Moslemzadeh, the two Iranian artist-entrepreneurs who are restoring this private residence to its former splendor. When these mosaics were still vibrant, Isfahan was larger than London, more cosmopolitan than Paris, and grander, by some accounts, than even storied Istanbul. Elegant bridges crossed its modest river, lavishly outfitted polo players dashed across the world’s largest square and hundreds of domes and minarets punctuated the skyline. Europeans, Turks, Indians and Chinese flocked to the glittering Persian court, the center of a vast empire stretching from the Euphrates River in what is today Iraq to the Oxus River in Afghanistan. In the 17th century, the city’s wealth and grandeur inspired the rhyming proverb, Isfahan nesf-e jahan, or “Isfahan is half the world.”
After a brutal siege shattered that golden age in the early 18th century, new rulers eventually moved the capital to Tehran, leaving Isfahan to languish as a provincial backwater, which not incidentally left many of the old city’s monuments intact. “One could explore for months without coming to an end of them,” marveled British traveler Robert Byron on his 1933-34 journey across Asia. That artistry, he wrote in The Road to Oxiana, “ranks Isfahan among those rarer places, like Athens or Rome, which are the common refreshment of humanity.”
Today, however, the city is mainly known abroad as the site of Iran’s premier nuclear research facility. What once was a sleepy town has emerged as the country’s third largest metropolis, surrounded by expanding suburbs, belching factories and the choking traffic of more than three million people. Nothing symbolizes Iran’s disconcerting modernity more than its launch, in February, of a satellite named Omid (Hope). In Isfahan, however, hope is a commodity in sharp decline. The elegant urban landscape that survived invasions by Afghan tribesmen and Mongol raiders is now threatened by negligence and reckless urban development.
Mazaheri and Moslemzadeh are members of a new generation of Isfahanis who want to restore not just buildings but their city’s reputation as a Persian Florence, one they hope will one day enthrall Westerners with its wonders once again. Inside the cool and dark interior of the house that is their current focus, the freshly painted white stucco ceiling bristles with scalloped stalactites. Delicate gilded roses frame wall paintings of idyllic gardens. (Paradise is a Persian word meaning “walled garden.”) Above a central fireplace, hundreds of inset mirrors reflect light from the courtyard. “I love this profession,” says Safouva Saljoughi, a young, chador-clad art student who is dabbing at a faded painting of flowers in one corner of the room. “I have a special relationship with these places.”
The house may have been built in the 17th century by a wealthy merchant or prosperous government official, then remodeled to suit changing tastes over the next two centuries. Even the fireplace damper is shaped in the delicate figure of a peacock. “Ornament and function together,” says Mazaheri in halting English. Located just a short walk from the medieval Friday Mosque, the house is of classic Iranian design—a central courtyard surrounded by rooms on two sides, a single entrance on the third and a grand two-story reception room with large windows on the fourth.
Rocket attacks during the war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the early 1980s emptied this old neighborhood, and the house was badly vandalized. As Moslemzadeh guides Saljoughi’s careful restoration effort, Mazaheri nods toward gaping holes in the reception room, which once held oak-framed stained glass that bathed the interior in a rainbow of vivid colors. “There are still a few masters left in Isfahan who can rebuild such windows,” he says. Just repairing the elaborate stucco ceiling took five professionals on scaffolding more than a year.
Trained as a specialist in conservation techniques, the lean and energetic Mazaheri, 38, says he has built a restoration business that tackles anything from old ruins to 17th-century wall paintings. Together with his colleague Moslemzadeh, who is 43 and studied art conservation in St. Petersburg, Russia, they are investing their time and profits to convert this wreck of a home into a teahouse where visitors can appreciate traditional Isfahani crafts, music and art. Like many Isfahanis I meet, they are welcoming to foreigners, refreshingly open and immensely proud of their heritage. Without a trace of irony or discouragement, Mazaheri looks around the half-finished reception room and says, “It may take five more years to finish fixing this place up.”
Isfahan’s history is an epic cycle of fabulous boom and calamitous bust. Here a road traveling across the Iranian plateau east to the Mesopotamian plain meets a path connecting the Caspian Sea to the north with the Persian Gulf to the south. That geography linked the city’s fate to the merchants, pilgrims and armies who passed through. Blessed with a pleasant climate—the city lies at nearly the same altitude as Denver and has relatively mild summers—Isfahan evolved into a bustling township at ancient Persia’s crossroads.
A taxi driver, thumbing intently through his Persian-English dictionary as he swerves through dense traffic, offers to sell me a gold statue he claims is 5,000 years old. I would be surprised if it were authentic—not least because such ancient artifacts remain elusive, making it difficult to pinpoint the precise era when Isfahan emerged as an urban center. What little has been found of the city’s distant past I see in the basement of the cultural heritage office, an immaculately restored 19th-century villa just down the street from Mazaheri and Moslemzadeh’s project. A few boxes of stone tools sit on a tile floor, and a couple of dozen pieces of pottery—one incised with a writhing snake—lie on a plastic table. A few miles outside town, on top of an imposing hill, sit the unexcavated ruins of a temple, which may have been built during the Sassanian Empire that dominated the region until the Arab conquest in the 7th century A.D. Within the city itself, Italian archaeologists digging below the Friday Mosque just before the 1979 Islamic Revolution found Sassanian-style columns, hinting that the site originally might have been a Zoroastrian fire temple.
South African President Jacob Zuma visited Iran’s central city of Isfaha on Monday after visiting President Rouhani in Tehran.
Welcome to Isfahan
This is Iran’s number-one tourist destination for good reason. Its profusion of tree-lined boulevards, Persian gardens and important Islamic buildings gives it a visual appeal unmatched by any other Iranian city, and the many artisans working here underpin its reputation as a living museum of traditional culture. Walking through the historic bazaar, over the picturesque bridges and across the Unesco-listed central square are sure to be highlights of your holiday.
Such is Esfahan’s grandeur that it is easy to agree with the famous 16th-century half-rhyme ‘Esfahan nesf-e jahan’ (Esfahan is half the world). Robert Byron, author of the 1937 travelogue The Road to Oxiana, was slightly more geographically specific when he ranked ‘Isfahan among those rarer places, like Athens or Rome, which are the common refreshment of humanity’.
There are, however, some less-than-refreshing elements to Esfahan. This is the country’s third-largest city, and the outskirts are home to plenty of heavy industry, including steel factories and a much-discussed nuclear facility. Traffic jams are also a regular occurrence. (lonelyplanet.com)
As part of Nowrouz events, a Polo match was played between teams from Isfahan and Alborz Province at the famous Naqsh-e Jahan Square.
Polo was invented and first played in Iran (or ancient Persia) thousands of years ago. The original name of polo is “Chogan” and in Iran the game is still referred to as “Chogan”. From its Iranian origins in Persia it spread to Constantinople, and eastward through Bactria and Afghanistan to Tibet, China, and Japan, and from Tibet to India, where it flourished throughout the Mughal (Mogul) dynasty. The word “polo” comes from the Tibetan word for the willow root from which polo balls were made of, which is “Pulu “.
In the 16th century AD, a polo ground (300 yards long and with goal posts 8 yards apart) was built by Shah Abbas the Great, at Esfahan, then the capital of the Safavid Persian Empire. The Iranian monarch would watch polo matches from his terrace at the Ali Ghapu palace.
The polo field,which is called “Meydaneh Naghsheh Jahan” still exists today and it’s dimensions are the standard for polo fields across the globe.