Naqsh-e Jahan Square

May 17, 1998
The vast and majestic square of Naqsh-e Jahan in Isfahan, dating back to the Safavid Dynasty (1491-1722), is embellished with a magnificent ensemble of buildings: the Masque of Sheikh Lotfollah, the Imam Mosque (formerly: the Royal Masque), and the Palace of Ali Qapu. The great Square was, under the Safavid manarchs, the scene of maneuvers, processions and games, especially polo. It is surrounded by two-leved arcades.

The mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah, the Imam Masque, and the palace of Ali Qapu stand gloriously on the east, south, and west sides respectively. At the north end of the square is the royal Carvanseria and bazaar. Now we describe only three of the these great buildings in brief. Ali Qapu Palace With Shah Abbas I (1589-1627) the great period of Safavid architecture started.

Under his auspices, Ali Qapu, originally a Seljuq-Teimurid pavilion, was considerably enlarged and perfected and became the seat of government, chancellery of State Administration, and a place for ceremonial events. A large and massive rectangular structure, Ali Qapu is 48 meters high and has six floors, fronted with a wide terrace whose ceiling is inlaid and supported by wooden columns. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is located in the eastern side of the Naqsh-e Jahan square, opposite the Ali Qapu Palace. This mosque was constructed by the order of Shah Abbas I, in 1590 and was completed in 1608.

This mosque was the private mosque of the Safavid royal family and it is probably the only major mosque in Iran which does not have minarets on its side. Its beautiful dome attracts the attention of any viewer, due to its enormous size, bright and beautiful tilework. It is named after Sheikh Lotfollah the prominent religious leader of the Safavid era.

In the past an underground tunnel connected the Ali Qapu Palace to this mosque. Imam Mosque It is located on the south side of the square. Shah Abbas of the Safavid Dynasty ordered the construction of the mosque in 1612 but did not live to see it finished. His successor completed the construction. The minarets inside of the court of the mosque on the sides of the huge dome face the holy city of Mecca. The dome has two layers: the outer layer is 54 meters the inner layer is 38 meters to the floor.

If you stand in the main mehrab under the dome and clap your hands the echo will travel all over the mosque and under the dome you will fear it three times. The mosaic work of this mosque is among the best in Iran.