Esfahan is Feri’s home-city and I have heard so much about this place that I felt that I could make my way round blindfold. That was of course before I encountered Iranian driving. I have read books about Esfahan, looked it up on the internet, watched videos and listened avidly to Feri’s stories and descriptions about the wonderful sites, culture and the history of Esfahan from way back when.
I had been looking forward to my first visit for quite a while, but nothing prepared me for the sight which greeted me as we entered the world-famous Maydan Imam, the main square. There are not enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe my first experience of this view. Suffice to say I was blown-away by its sheer size, beauty and proud impact. For once in my life I was speechless.
These huge gardens are 500m by 160m and are now landscaped with trees, bushes, flower beds, and magnificent fountains. Coupled with the wonderful back-drops of the fascinating Ali Qapu Palace, the highly decorated blue mosaic Imam and Sheikh Lotfollah mosques, and the“bazaar”, it is a sight that everyone should see for themselves.
There are so many attractions in Esfahan that we will need 5-6 mornings to cover the main ones. On my first visit we only managed a visit to the Ali Qapu Palace, parts of the “Bazaar, the last remaining traditional tea house in the square and to finish off, a ride round the square in a pony and trap (Doroshkeh) which cost us the grand total of £2.80.
The palace of Ali Qapu was constructed around 1600 and, when you consider that this was 400 years ago, the technology and art-work must have been far ahead of its time. My favourite points of interest, of which there were many, were the Music Room and the original tile staircases.
Tiles-I cannot believe that with the number of visitors treading up and down these steps every day that no effort has yet been made to protect the beautiful ceramic tiles which are being gradually worn down and would, without intervention, erode completely. I understand however, that there is an Act currently being discussed in Parliament to provide some protective covering for the tiles so that this important artistic history is retained for generations to come. I vote “yes please and soon”.
Music Room-You could call this technology one of the earliest Dolby stereo systems but at 400 years old, that may be hard to believe unless you see it for yourself. The Palace itself is four stories high and the musician’s quarters were on the ground floor. The Shah however, sat on a platform on the higher floor listening to the music whilst watching parades and celebrations in the square. So how was this achieved without blaring out music at uncomfortable decibels? The music travelled from the ground floor up to the Shah’s music room by way of hollow columns which was then transmitted around the room by the hollow acoustic carvings in the plaster. Truly an amazing achievement and many more to come…..