Magnificent Bridges - Isfahan - 8th Stop of Iran

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– 2014 Getting away to Middle East Dubai Iran 1 Month Trip

I have a friend who went to Iran before and knew a local at Isfahan. The local's name is Amin and he always goes to China for business. It is good to have local friend accompanied at any countries. So I contacted him before I arrived to Isfahan and see if he was available to guide us in the city. He was ok to hang out with us. However, as he lived with his family, it is inconvenient to stay at his home. So we stayed at a hostel (Amir Kabir Hostel), IRR$200,000 per night. We stayed in a 3 bedroom dormitory and only 2 of us were in the room. It is good to have a local walking together in a city as we will know more about the culture and history of there.

From Kermanshah, the bus departed at 9pm and arrived at Isfahan at 7am. In the bus we borrowed a man’s mobile to call our friend Amin. He was so nice that he helped us call again 15 mins before we arrived at Isfahan. After arriving at the bus stop, he even waited until Amin came. He needed to catch another bus to Shiraz after that. Persians are really nice.

As Amin has car, he drove us to the tourist spots. Within one day we already went to a lot of places, including several famous bridge – Si-o-Seh Bridge, Chubi Bridge, Khaju Bridge, Shahrestan Bridge (The oldest bridge). The most spectacular one is Khaju Bridge, people gather near the bridge and sing while others enjoy the song. Also, the lion’s eye will glint at night if you stand opposite across the bridge. Si-o-she means number 33 in Persian, as it has 33 arches. Because it was winter, there was no water. If there is, it will be much more beautiful.

Si-o-Seh Bridge

On the Si-o-Seh Bridge

Khaju Bridge, people gather and enjoy people at the center singing

Khaju Bridge, people like to gather under the bridge and sit on the stone

Khaju Bridge, lion with glittering eyes that will be brighten at night

Even at night, people are still gathering under the bridge

Nigh view of Khaju Bridge

Shahrestan Bridge

Amin also brought us to a park where there were many families enjoying their day barbecuing. They brought the whole gas tin and cook chicken, corn there. They smelled so good. Of course they also brought their favorite tea and some brought shisha also. Sitting on the rug together and chat is relaxing. (The weather was cold actually). While we were walking they asked us do we want to try some of the food, we tried some of the fried chicken, delicious!

Family picnic in the park
Then we went to Monar Jonban. It is a shaking mosque. Before people were allowed to get to the top and rang the bell. However, due to preservation, now people are prohibited to get to the top and only qualified staff can ring the bell at specific time for demonstration. But I think we missed that time, we could not see how it worked. Basically if we could not see the demonstration this mosque is just the same as others.

Monar Jonban, from the appearance it is the same as other mosques
At night, Amin brought us to Sofeh Mountain Park. If we don’t know the local, we won’t come to here to see the night view of Isfahan. We walked to the top, the scenery was good. Many locals walked to the top too. You can also take a cable to the top if you don't like to walk.

 Sofeh Mountain

Seeing the night view of Isfahan from Sofeh Mountain Park

The second day we went to the Naqsh-e Jahan Square and visited Imam Mosque (IRR$100,000), Ali Qapu Palace (IRR$150,000) and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque (IRR$100,000).

Naqsh-e Jahan Square
 As most mosques in different cities are similar, for us Imam Mosque is mundane. But there is a spot inside that you can hear loud echo even just flicking money notes while you are standing there.
Imam Square main square

Imam Square, gorgeous ceiling

 Imam Mosque, the symmetry, the color, the simplicity, love it
For Ali Qapu palace you can see lot of hollow music instruments’ shapes everywhere. It was old as it was 400 years old. It worth a visit.

 Wall of Ali Qapu Palace

Wall of Ali Qapu Palace

You can know how old Ali Qapu Palace is when looking at the ceiling

For Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, it is a mosque especially for female. It was simple, visitors came here mainly to look at the peacock’s light at the ceiling. If there is sunlight coming through, you can see peacock’s at the center of the ceiling getting golden feathers.

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, peacock at the center on the ceiling, with golden feathers.

Corner of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

At the bazaar we bought some table covers, the patterns were great and I love them very much. Using different hand carved wood stamp, they put color on and pressured them on the cloth one by one. You can also buy the bluish-green/blue decorated plates here, but middle size costed you about HKD$65, I thought it is too much so I didn’t buy it.
Block printing using hand carved wooden stamp
Beautiful bluish-green/blue decorated plates
Amin also brought us to a prestigious pistachio nougat shop where many locals go there and line up and buy. As there is no preservative, the freshness period is short. This box of nougat is way more expensive than the one I bought in Yazd. It costed IRR$170,000. But while biting it you will feel the difference.  Also, there is a famous shop selling Feneri, milk pudding with dates syrup. The shop is called Fereni Hafez, it is near to the main square. Must eat item here as it is really tasty!

Feneri, milk pudding with dates syrup

If you want to know more some delicious food of Iran, go to Clothing, Food, Living and Transportation of Iran

Then we went to another area called Jolfa to visit Vank Cathedral (IRR$150,000). The architecture combined the idea of Iran, Europe and Armenia. Although it is a cathedral it is dome shaped. It looks the same as a mosque from outside, the only difference is the top which there is a cross on it. Inside it is spectacular. There are lots of drawings of Christianity, while underneath it still keeps the classic form of mosque using common color and pattern in the tiles.

Vank Cathedral, a cross on the top.
Alter, the color combination here is in harmony yet a little bit messy

Full of drawings on the wall of Vank Cathedral
Special design of the ceiling of Vank Cathedral
The third day it was so cold and it was snowing. All the streets are covered with snow. Staying outside is not a good idea. The mountains were covered with a layer of white color.

Sofeh Mountain is covered with a layer of snow

The morning we saw a shop selling sugar - the saffron sugar, with white sugar at the outside. Super sweet. We bought some for souvenir.

He was pouring the hot sugar into the tray with white sugar. They will become biscuit shaped saffron sugar with white sugar outside

The woman was buying box of box of saffron sugar
Next stop is Shiraz, and it is also the last stop of the Iran trip.

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My Itinerary:
Dubai (1 day)-> Sharjah (Where the ferry was) -> 1. Bandar Abbas (1 day) -> 2. Kerman (1 day) -> 3. Bam (0.5 day) -> Kerman (1 day) -> 4. Yazd (2.5 days)-> 5. Kashan (Abyaneh , Maranjab) (3 days) -> 6. Tehran (2 days) -> 7. Sanandaj (Palangan) (2 days)-> 8. Kermanshah (2 days) -> 9. Isfahan (3 days) -> 10. Shiraz (3 days) -> 11. Bandar Abbas (2 days) -> Sharjah (Where we took the ferry)-> Dubai (0.5 day)

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