18 - The Maydan-i-Shah in Isfahan, the Safavid Capital


The Safavids (1501-1732): Of an obscure origin which is most probably Sunni and Kurdish, the Safavids (named after a sufi master, Shaykh Safi) forged for themselves an illustrious genealogy that goes back to `Ali, and proceeded to forcibly change Iran into a Shiite state. In the process they shaped the modern image of the Iranian nation.

Shah Abbas I (1588-1629): The greatest Safavid monarch, he moved the capital to Isfahan in 1598, and built there a royal city that extended to the south of the old city and connected it with the Zayandeh river via a wide avenue, the Chahar Bagh (Four Gardens) Avenue. Shah Abbas's royal buildings were organized around his central Maydan or along the Chahar Bagh Avenue.

The Maydan-i-Shah: Among the largest open squares in the world (1700 by 525 ft), it was the focal point of Shah `Abbas's plan. Its four sides were lined up with shops on two levels, and each side of the Maydan had a monumental structure in its centre.

The Mosque of Shaykh Lutfallah

The Masjid-i-Shah



Printable Handouts