Isfahan is a city.
Situated almost in the centre of Iran, Isfahan is sometimes said to be its heart, with Tehran being the brain and Qom, home to the Islamic seminaries, its soul. The name evokes a vague memory of ancient Persian greatness: curvy buildings, intricately decorated with gold; scents of spices and perfume; poets and beautiful women.
The city lies at the foot of the Zagros mountains, by the Zayandeh river. It is a centre of both agricultural, industrial and handcraft production, and an important home to steelworks, oil refineries and power plants. Approximately one million people live here.
Isfahan's history goes back a long way. It started out as a provincial capital under the Sassanides, then conquered by the Muslims in 640. Later the Mongols arrived and slew about 200,000 of its people in revenge for daring to resist them. The golden age of the city started when Abbas the Great made it his capital in 1598. The previous capital of the Safavids, Tabriz, was too close to the enemy Ottoman empire for his liking, and central Isfahan near the great trade routes was the perfect choice for a new one. He restructured the city and opened his court to foreigners, so that Isfahan became a legend of splendour even far away. Shah Abbas I built a royal palace as well as the Imam Mosque. He also had many caravanserais constructed, a main street lined with trees, and a central square which was said to be the largest in the world. After hundred years of glory, the city went into a bit of a decline, and after an 18th-century invasion by the Afghans, the capital was moved away to Shiraz.
Isfahan is a province.
The central province of Iran is also called Isfahan, or Esfahan. It has both plains and mountains, and the climate is mostly temperate. Zayandeh is its most important river and Karkas is its tallest mountain. In addition to Isfahan there are many other towns, let me just list some of their lovely names: Ardestan, Falaverjan, Faridan, Feraydoon-Shahr, Golpayegan, Khonsar, Khomeyni-Shahr, Kashan, Lanjan, Na'een, Najaf-Abad, Natanz, Semirom, Shah-Reza.
Isfahan is a carpet.
Persian rugs made in the Isfahan style are usually pale, either beige or light blue. Their designs are twirling and intricate, filled with arabesques and floral work. They have broad Shah Abbas borders clearly separated from the design itself, which is either a fine repeat pattern or a central, multi-lobed medallion.
Isfahan nesfeh jahan
"Isfahan is half of the world."