Naqsh-e Jahan facing another catastrophe

September 29, 2009

TEHRAN -- As the threat to the Naqsh-e Jahan Square from the Jahan-Nama Tower still remains, another catastrophe is threatening the square, which is an Isfahan historical site registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

A restoration project now underway as part of the square’s second floor known as Hojreh has turned into a destructive factor for the site, the Persian service of CHN reported on Monday.
The use of heavy mortar in restoring the site has caused wide cracks in the ceiling and experts believe that catastrophic irreversible damage can be expected.
A restoration project conducted by the late Dr. Baqer Ayatollahzadeh began on the second floor about ten years ago, but shortly afterwards it was stopped and no specific reason was given for the halt.
A new restoration project has started in that part over the past year to convert the structure into a museum.
“The new restorations are gradually resulting in a historic destruction,” member of the Isfahan Cultural Heritage Enthusiasts Society Davud Paknejad said.
“The mortar used in the restoration has overloaded the structure and now cracks can be seen in the ceiling,” he added.
Some time ago, the Isfahan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department replaced the broken bricks in the ceiling in order to repair the cracks, but more have emerged in other parts, Paknejad explained.
Experts have warned that if the overburden is not removed from the ceiling, the structure will collapse in the near future, he noted.
Comprising the Imam Mosque, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, the Aali-Qapu Palace and the Qeisarieh Bazaar, the 17th-century Naqsh-e Jahan Square was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.
In 2006, UNESCO asked CHTHO to modify the Jahan-Nama Tower, a trade center built near the square about eight years ago.
UNESCO had claimed that the tower spoiled the horizontal view of the Safavid complex.
Photo: Aali Qapu Palace (R) and the Imam Mosque on Naqsh-e Jahan Square