Isfahan - May 16th to 18th 2017

Shah Mosque Isfahan Iran
The Shah Mosque in Isfahan

We expected a lot from Isfahan as we had been told it is the most stunning place in Iran. We’ll tell you our impressions in a few minutes, but first let’s tell you the story of how we left Yazd. Really that story made our day!

We left Yazd in the morning. We didn’t know which buses we took when we arrived. As there was no direct bus to go to the city centre, we had jumped into a few buses but didn’t remember their numbers. So we started to waive at buses and ask them if they were going in the right direction. But nobody spoke English. At the same time, we started to ask taxis for the price to go to the bus terminal, a few kilometers away. Taxi drivers tried to make us pay five times the normal price. No way! Then a car which was not a taxi stopped in front of us. The driver was a man with his wife and a little boy on the passenger seat. He asked us in a rather poor English if we needed some help and offered to drive us to the bus terminal. When we asked him how much money he wanted, he said “for free!” We were not sure we had understood but we got in his car. He started to drive. He asked us a few questions in English. He said he was happy to speak English with us. Then he asked us: “You’re not scared of me?”. Alex and I looked at each other. Should we be scared? He added “You look quite relaxed in the car of a total stranger”. We told him we had no reason to be afraid of him and that we saw he was a good man. And he answered “when you have a good heart, you see good people”. He told us that lots of tourists don’t want to speak with him because they are scared of him. He was curious and happy about our overconfidence in him. He also asked us if we thought Iranian people were terrorists. That’s a question we heard a few times during our stay in Iran. People are sad to have a bad image of them conveyed by the medias. When he dropped us at the bus station, he warmly shook hands with Alex and wished us a good trip. We also realized that with all these random encounters we have made we have never felt threatened in any way. That day, thanks to this man, we realized that medias only want to show how the world is super dangerous, but really most people in the world are good people.

After four hours of bus from Yazd, we finally arrived in Isfahan. We had been told Isfahan is the beauty of Iran so we were eager to discover it! The bus terminal was quite far from the city centre. When we arrived next to the city centre, we realized Isfahan is a big city. Actually, Isfahan is one of the three biggest cities of Iran, with Tehran and Mashad. We were a bit disappointed because Yazd looked like a much laid-back place to stay!

We looked for a place to sleep and ended up in Mihan Hostel which was quite close to the main attractions of Isfahan but with very basic rooms. It was already time for sunset, so we went for a walk to Naqsh-e Jahan Square, the big square of Isfahan, a few minutes away. The views were beautiful. Families were gathered, picnicking on the grass. We had a delicious Saffron ice cream while looking at the sunset. On the square, stands the stunning Shah Mosque. I think it’s the most beautiful mosque we saw in Iran. Built in 1611, nobody can stay indifferent to its colourful mosaic tiles.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square Isfahan Iran
Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Shah Mosque Naqsh-e Jahan Square Isfahan Iran
The Shah Mosque on Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Shah Mosque Isfahan Iran
Shah Mosque Isfahan Iran
Inside the Shah Mosque

The next day, we discovered Masjid Jameh, one of the oldest mosques in Iran. Its style was a bit different from the other mosques we had visited. It was less colourful but very big and impressive. Then we walked in the bazaar from the mosque to the square. Kilometers of covered streets, a true labyrinth.

Masjid Jameh Isfahan Masjid Jameh Isfahan Masjid Jameh Isfahan Masjid Jameh Isfahan
Bazaar Isfahan
The Bazaar

We took the afternoon to explore Julfa, the Armenian district, famous for its beautiful churches and its laid-back little cafes. The most beautiful church we visited was Vank Cathedral. Inside the church, there are stunning frescoes depicting biblical stories. Next to the cathedral is a museum showing artifacts and historical displays about the Armenian history and genocide. It was a moving visit and our first contact during this trip with Armenian culture and terrible history.

Armenian quarter Isfahan
The Armenian Quarter
Vank Cathedral Isfahan
Vank Cathedral
Vank Cathedral Isfahan Vank Cathedral Isfahan

To end our day, we walked along the river to discover the beautiful bridges of Isfahan. They are the places where young Iranian people and families gather at night. We saw on a bridge a few young men singing and playing the guitar as if we were on one bridge in Paris. But it didn’t make us forget that in Iran it is prohibited for women to dance and sing.

Bridge Isfahan Bridge Isfahan

Surely Isfahan is a beautiful city but we didn’t feel the nice atmosphere we had in Yazd, maybe because Isfahan was bigger. Anyway Isfahan stays an essential city to visit in Iran. There, we visited the most beautiful mosques we would see in Iran and we could see that life in the city can be laid-back and happy.

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