Iran / Cities and Towns /
City in central Iran with 1.4 million inhabitants (2005 estimate) on the Zayandeh River, 400 km from the Persian Gulf on an elevation of 1,600 metres above sea level in the Zagros Mountains. It is the capital of Esfahan province with 4.4 million inhabitants (2005 estimate) and an area of 107,027 km².
The economic base for Esfahan is the surrounding area producing cotton, grain and tobacco. Traditional industries of the city include textiles like cotton, silk and wool; brocade, carpets, food and metalwork. Modern industries include steelmaking and petroleum refining.
Esfahan is connected by road and rail to Teheran 500 km north and Qom 300 km north, and road alone to Shiraz 600 km south and Yazd 400 km east.
Esfahan is well-known for its architectural wonders and public gardens. Much now lies in ruins, but still a lot is preserved or has been restored. One of several landmarks of Esfahan is the former royal mosque, now Masjid-e Imam, from the 17th century, one of the best examples of Persian architecture. Other landmarks are the 17th century bridges, unique with their arches.
642: Muslim Arabs conquer Esfahan, making it the capital of the Jibal province.
1055: Togrul Beg, the founder of the Seljuq dynasty makes Esfahan his capital.
1194: With the loss of Seljuq control over Persia, Esfahan loses its importance.
1387: Timur Lenk conquers Esfahan during his invasion of Persia. Allegedly 70,000 of the inhabitants are massacred.
1598: Shah Abbas 1 makes Esfahan his capital. He embarks on a great construction programme, giving the city many beautiful buildings.
1722: The Ghilzay Afghans conquer Esfahan after a long siege. Over the following years, they bring much destruction to the city.
1729: Esfahan is freed from the Afghan occupation.
1930's: Esfahan and its many great buildings which had fallen into rubble, begins to be rebuilt under the initiative of Reza Shah Pahlavi.
1936: Esfahan University is opened.