Before Shah Abbas I rebuilt this square there used to be a much smaller square called Naghsh-e-Jahan - The Design of the World. The picture above, taken looking north from the entrance to the Royal Mosque - shows the considerable size of the square which is 500 metres long and 150 metres wide. It was originally conceived as a polo ground and open square in front of the Royal Palace of Ali Qapu, on the left, but was re-designed this century to include the formal lawns and large pool. However the original goal posts are still in place and you can see two of them at the entrance to the park in the picture above.
On the right of the picture is one of the loveliest of all Iranian domes, the dome of the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, and at the far end of the square is the entrance to the Royal bazaar, The Qaysariya. The bazaar in Isfahan is said to be the largest in Iran, its southern entrance is at the north end of the Square and it crawls north via a convoluted route to the main Mosque of Isfahan, the Masjed-e-Jomeh where it splits into a number of smaller bazaars as its way up to the old quarter of Dardasht past the Tomb of Soltan Bakht Agha with its crumbling but impressive minarets.
The square is completely surrounded by wide galleries in which you can now find a number of shops and also some parts of the bazaar. The metalworkers' bazaar, for example is on the left beyond the Palace and the noise of craftsmen banging out their wares can be heard all over the Square. On the right at the far end are the spice shops. The entrances to the Square are in the corners. From the northwest corner one can visit the Palace of Chehel Sotoon, while from the Southwest a road leads behind the Palace of Ali Qapu to the Palace of Hasht Behesht and the Talar of Ashraf. To the South east lies the shrine of Imamzadeh Ahmad with its curious Bakhtiari Lions while to the north-east the road leads to the Friday Mosque, the Masjed-e-Jomeh.
Last Updated: 22 July, 1999