Isfahan was considered by western travelers of the 17th and 18th century to be one of the most beautiful cities in Iran. Isfahan is Iran’s third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian proverb “Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast” (Isfahan is half of the world)
Isfahan was at its peak was under the Safavid dynasty, when it reached its golden age. The careful planning of the layout of the city still makes it easy and pleasant to visit today. A large river divides the city, and the inhabitants under the Safavids, encouraged by their ruler’s love of the city, undertook the building of mosques, palaces, gardens, and bridges, thus giving Isfahan its feast of monuments.