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Isfahan

ISFAHAN

Former capital of Iran and major industrial center.

Isfahan is located in west central Iran along both banks of the Zayandeh River. Its origins date back to the Achaemenid era (c. 550330 b.c.e.), but it did not emerge as an important city until 1150, when Toghril Beg, founder of the Seljuk dynasty, chose it as his capital. The city's golden age coincided with its status as the capital of the Safavi dynasty (15981722). Shah Abbas I (r. 15871629) and several of his successors embellished the city with bridges, mosques, madrasehs, and palaces, many of which are extant and are considered among the finest examples of Islamic architecture. In 1722, an army of invading Afghans besieged Isfahan for several months before finally capturing and looting it and deposing the shah. These events ushered in more than two decades of steady economic and political decline interspersed with several brutal massacres of prominent citizens of the city.

Isfahan at the beginning of the nineteenth century was no longer a major city; it had ceased to be Iran's capital, and its population was only 25 percent of what it had been during the height of Safavi power. Its role as a regional commercial center recovered during the reign of Nasir ed-Din Shah Qajar (18481896). In the 1920s entrepreneurs began developing modern factories, especially textile mills, which by the early 1960s employed nearly 20,000 workers and produced one-half of Iran's total output of textiles. The renewed prosperity stimulated greater and more diversified industrialization, and the city became the center of the country's steel industry during the 1970s. Isfahan has experienced considerable immigration, growing at an average annual rate of 4 percent during the last seventy years of the twentieth century. In the 1996 census, its population had reached 1,266,000, making it the third-largest city in Iran. The city also remains the country's premier tourist center, drawing thousands to see such famous Safavi-era architectural landmarks as the Meydan-e Imam, Masjid-e Imam, Masjid-e Shaykh Lotfollah, and the covered bazaar.


Bibliography


Fisher, W. B. "Physical Geography." In The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 1: The Land of Iran, edited by W. B. Fisher. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1968.

farhad arshad
updated by eric hooglund

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Esfahan

Esfahan (ĕsfähän´) or Isfahan (Ĭs´fəhän), anc. Aspadana, city (1991 pop. 1,127,030), capital of Esfahan prov., central Iran, on the Zayandeh River. The city is located on a high plain at the foot of the Zagros Mts., where the nearby peaks are c.1,400 ft (430 m) high. The Zayandeh River flows from the High Zagros to water an oasis, a large fertile plain c.20 mi (32 km) wide and 40 mi (64 km) long. An ancient and picturesque city, rich in history, Esfahan has long been known for its fine carpets, hand-printed textiles, and metalwork, chiefly silver filigree. It has modern textile and steel mills and oil refineries. A noteworthy city in Sassanid times, Esfahan passed to the Arabs in the mid-7th cent. and served as a provincial capital. In the 11th cent. it was captured by the Seljuk Turks, who made it (1051) the capital of their empire. In the early 13th cent. Esfahan was taken by the Mongols. Timur conquered the city in 1388 and, after its inhabitants rebelled, slaughtered c.70,000 persons in revenge; it is said that he built a large hill with the skulls of the dead. Under Shah Abbas I, who made (1598) Esfahan his capital, the city was embellished with many fine buildings—notably the beautiful imperial mosque, one of the masterpieces of world architecture; the lovely Lutfullah mosque; and a great royal palace. Shah Abbas founded the Julfa quarter, located across the Zayandeh River, by transferring Armenians from N Persia to that section. At its zenith, under the Safavid dynasty in the 17th cent., Esfahan had a population of c.600,000, making it one of the world's great cities of the time. However, the city declined rapidly after it was captured (1723) by the Afghans, who massacred most of its inhabitants. Russian troops occupied Esfahan in 1916. The city is the site of the Univ. of Esfahan. The name also appears as Ispahan.

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"Esfahan." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Esfahan." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/esfahan

Isfahan

Isfahan (Esfahan) City in central Iran, on the Zaindeh River. The ancient city of Aspadana, it was occupied successively by Arabs, Seljuk Turks and Mongols. In the late 16th century, the Safavid dynasty made it their capital and transformed it into one of the most beautiful cities of the age. After its capture by the Afghans in 1722, the city declined. It has steel and textile industries as well as the traditional crafts of carpets and rugs, metalwork and silverware. Pop. (1996) 1,266,100.

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"Isfahan." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Isfahan." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/isfahan

Isfahan

Isfahan, Iran: see Esfahan.

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"Isfahan." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Esfahan

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Isfahan

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"Isfahan." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Isfahan." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/isfahan