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niedziela, 11 marca 2007 13:03
Esfahan is a jewel of Iran. With the greatest density of architectural marvels on meter square there is so much to see and do that it’s impossible to get bored. We spend three days in Esfahan, breathless and amazed, spending 18 hours a day walking from the early morning till night and sleeping short and sound in a little hostel in the center. The most obvious sight of Esfahan is the giant Imam Square, the second largest square on earth. 400 years ago, Shah Abbas I used to play polo here.

   You can see the residence of Shah Abbas I- Ali Quapu Palace on the right and the grand Imam Mosque in front of you.The Ali Qapu Palace was built at the and of 16th century. Inside:mosaiques from Qajar period.

From Ali Qapu terrace, there is a beautiful view of another marvel- the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque:

 Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was built between 1602 and 1619, during the reign of Shah Abbas I. The Mosque is unusual because it doesn't have a minaret and was never used for public prayers. It is said to have served as a worship place for the women of the Shah's harem instead.Inside:

An Efahani we met outside Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. When walking around Imam Square we were often stopped by many polyglot amateur guides who would speak with us in English, French and even some Polish.


From here, going left you arrive at the Imam Mosque from the first picture. It’s the richest of all buildings on Imam Square, currently under renovation but still used for public prayers. It’s amazing:




Going straight here, across the longer side of the square you’ll arrive at the entrance to Esfahan’s bazaar:


The whole world inside:


And on the top pf the bazzar’s roof, you can sit to have tea with a sweeping view J


Going along the maze like corridors of the bazaar for 30 minutes (including getting lost a couple of times), you’ll go out two kilometers further into the streets leading to one of the oldest mosques in Iran- the old Jameh (Friday) Mosque.

Walls made of sun-dried mud-brick and Jameh Mosque’s minaret.

 Jameh Mosque built by Seljuks in 11th century:


Jameh Mosque’s greatest treasure- the exquisite stucco mihrab (nishe inside a mosque indicating the direction of Mecca) with dense Quranic inscriptions and floral design. All carved in wood.


There will be more on Esfahan next week (yes, this is not all yet...)

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Sanandaj 16-17.01.2007

poniedziałek, 26 lutego 2007 20:27

We left Tabriz early in the morning and took a bus to Sanandaj, the capital of Iranian Kurdistan. It took the bus eight hours to get through the mountains but the views were breathtaking!



First contact with the traditional Kurdish dress: the wide trousers called shalvar and a scarf wrapped around the head. This grandpa looks absolutely cool J





We arrived in Sanandaj in the evening and quickly learnt than the region’s most hospitable town is not really that welcoming. Owners of the cheapest hotels were closing the doors at our sight… in the third one we tried, the keeper doubled the price especially for us (and probably in hope that we would let go) but since it was still only 9 dollars for a double we decided to stay and spoil his good reputation (some hotel keepers are reluctant to take foreigners and especially women as western couples don’t seem to have a good opinion in Iran and are often considered immoral). Anyway, the room turned out to be great value and had a wonderful view on the street chaos below.



In the morning we went to book our tickets for Esfahan and then had a traditional breakfast at the bust station. Here Gil with the flat bread, fresh clotted cream, honey and chai (delicious).



Later on, we headed to the Sanandaj lively bazaar where Gil bought himself a pair of shalvar and we saw the sugar lump cutters for the first time:


Sanandaj, a little chaotic town with nasty hotel keepers, still extremely chaming:

The most popular street snack: a hot beetroot. You can choose between the sweet, white one and the regular red. Both are giant and eaten as a dessert. Here ‘the beetroot boys’ (very shy):

This is the Sanandaj Mosque, a little taste for what we’re going to see later in Esfahan.




In the afternoon, we climbed the mountain over Sanandaj for a view on the city. It took as an hour to get to the top but it was worth it.

for more, visit Gil's newly reopened website on


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