The Naghsh-e Jahan Square (meydan) translated as "Image of the World Square"), also known as Imam Square, formerly known as Shah Square, is a square situated at the center of Isfahan city, Iran. Constructed between 1598 and 1629, it is now an important historical site, and one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. It is 160 meters wide by 508 meters long. The square is surrounded by buildings from the Safavid era. The Shah Mosque is situated on the south side of this square. On the west side is the Alighapoo Palace. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is situated on the eastern side of this square and the northern side opens into the Isfahan Grand Bazaar. In 1598, when Shah Abbas decided to move the capital of his Persian empire from the north-western city of Qazvin to the central city of Isfahan, he initiated complete remaking of a city. By choosing the central city of Isfahan, fertilized by the Zayanderood, lying as an oasis of intense cultivation in the midst of a vast area of arid landscape, he both distanced his capital from any future assaults by the Ottomans, and at the same time gained more control over the Persian Gulf, which had recently become an important trading route for the Dutch and British East India Company.The Chief architect of this colossal task of urban planning was Sheikh Bahayi who focused on two key features of Shah Abbas' master plan: the Chaharbagh avenue, flanked at either side by all the prominent institutions of the city, such as the residences of all foreign dignitaries, and the Naghshejahan Square. Prior to the Shah's ascent to power, Persia had a decentralized power-structure, in which different institutions battled for power, including both the military (the Kizilbash) and governors of the different provinces making up the empire. Shah Abbas wanted to undermine this political structure, and the recreation of Isfahan, as a Grand capital of Persia, was an important step in centralizing the power. The ingenuity of the square was that, by building it, Shah Abbas would gather the three main components of power in Persia in his own backyard; the power of the clergy, represented by the Masjed-e Shah, the power of the merchants, represented by the Grand Bazaar, and of course, the power of the Shah himself, residing in the Alighapoo Palace.
Tags:Alighapoo, Bazaar, British, Chaharbagh, Dutch, East India Company, Imam, India, Iran, Isfahan, Kizilbash, Naghshejahan, Persia, Persian, Persian Gulf, Qazvin, Safavid, Shah, Shah Abbas, Shah Mosque, Sheikh, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, UNESCO, Zayanderood