Sunday, April 27, 2008

Esfahan

Esfahān or Isfahan (historically also rendered as Ispahan or Hispahan, Old Persian: Aspadana, Middle Persian: Spahān, Persian: اصفهان Esfahān), located about 340 km south of Tehran at 32°39′5″N, 51°40′45″ECoordinates: 32°39′5″N, 51°40′45″E, is the capital of Esfahan Province and Iran's third largest city (after Tehran and Mashhad). Esfahan City had a population of 1,986,542 and the Esfahan metroplitan area had a population of 3,430,353 in the 2006 Census, the second most populous metropolitan area in Iran after Tehran.[2]
The cities of
Najafabad, Khaneh Esfahan, Khomeini-shahr, Shahin-shahr, Zarrinshahr, Mobarakeh, Falavarjan and Fouladshahr all constitute the metropolitan city of Esfahan.The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahan is one of the biggest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments ranging from the Sassanid to the Safavid dynasties. Remaining Islamic architectural sites were built from 11th to the 19th century while older pre-Islamic monuments date back to 1000 B.C.

So says Wiki.

It is an amazing city and the Eman mosque, located on a square upon which once Persian Kings gazed at games of polo, is one of the great sites of the Islamic world. To a Western visitor what strikes is the "emptiness". There are no tourists. I've had to get up at 5 :30 am to get the sort of pictures I got here. These were all taken about 3 in the afternoon. A cluster of sweating, shawl wearing German housewives, but that was about it.

Like most religious monuments, the sheer scale throws into sharp contrast the poor living alongside.
Iran is smack in the middle of the heroin route to Europe from Afghanistan. You don't have to look far to see evidence of a growing problem.

The Mosque is immense, magnificent and the architecture, some 400 years old, a marvel.
Directly below, dead center of the main dome in the central structure, is a granite slab. When you step on it and speak out loud you hear an echo which reverberates back and forth from the walls and ceiling seven times. Step off the slab and you don't hear the echo. It's an amazing piece of sound engineering, created 400 years before modern computer design.. Standing on that spot an orator could be heard throughout the expanse of the football field sized building.
Awesome and inspiring.
In an another part of the complex, you could stand in one corner, whisper into the juncture of the sloping walls and be heard clearly 30 meters away in the opposite corner.
Wireless communication long before Nokia or T Mobile.
All around the square is a bazaar which in a tourist friendly country would have been crawling with tourists picking over tacky kitch. Here its a working marketplace selling stuff that Iranians buy. Not many though.I have tons to say about Iran, but I'm tired and a bit fed up with the grind of admin catch up at work.
Did I mention I'm tired?
I'll give you my jaded thoughts on the land of Mullahs and the people I met and watched who struggle, thrive and believe another time.
Love T
P.S. This is a press release regarding my visit to Tehran: go here

2 comments:

sarah_500 said...

A truly amazing place - the mind boggles at what it would be like at the 5am call to prayer.

kublakhan said...

I love this quote from the article about your visit: "روابط عمومی پژوهشگاه- Terence Robinson یکی از از مدیران ارشد فروش منطقه‌ای شرکت Proquest که ".
Only because my eyes were swimming trying to register the persian script, then they anchored on to the few roman letters there. I like the pic of you in the article. Although it looks like they have you and your partner backed up against a wall;-).