There are two groups of the people in the world, the people that know about the city of Esfahan, and the those that do not. Esfahan? It used to be the capital of Persian Empire, one of the biggest global powers, and an important industrial city of contemporary Islamic Republic of Iran. The city has one of the highest historical values in the world. Not many people outside of the Middle East know about the city for a simple reason: the Islamic Republic of Iran is still the rebellious destination for the brave. Visitors to Iran have to look past the negative stereotypes of the area to see it for the beautiful destination that it is.
Where to Visit in Esfahan
Situated in the centre of the city, Naqsh-e-Jahan is a stunning must-see square-garden. Locals spend time chilling, while tourists, among many are professional photographers, lower their bodies to the ground to capture the next big shot of the Shah Mosque with sunset.
Chehel Sotoun (40th Column Palace)
Chehel Sotoun, the old palace where the great Shah Abbas welcomed ambassadors, still shines bright today. Inside of the palace, there were vivid wall paintings of wars and peace. Visitors can see the grand wars against the Indians and the luxurious parties hosted with the Ottoman heirs. Many Ottoman heirs who had fled their own empire due to cruel power fight took refuge at Chehel Sotoun with Shah Abbas.
Khaju Bridge, the old royal bridge, has opened its path to the pedestrians. One of the iconic two bridges, in parallel to Shi-o-She Po, Khaju Bridge used to allow high-status people to walk above and pedestrians below. At the two sides of the bridge, visitors can see two lion eyes reflecting the lights from the other side. Ballads and singers tend to group together and chant through the night.
Where to Eat in Esfahan
Safavid House is a reconstructed piece from an old residential house of Safavid Empire, the strongest dynasty Persians ever had. The historical house is perfect for a winter date. They have a pleasant garden, where visitors and diners can look at the stars, eat authentic Persian food, and warm up their hands with the fireplace / in their lovers palms.
Where to Stay in Esfahan
Rag Rug Hostel, viewable on ragrughostel.com, is one of the most renowned hostels in Iran. It is hard to believe that Rag Rug was an empty building with a few bricks and plain walls just a few months ago. Now, Rag Rug has welcomed and enchanted many tourists from all over the world. Rag Rug is both a home for travelers and an inspiration symbol for the entrepreneurial spirit and the never-give-up attitude.
This picture came from my second day on my first expedition to Esfahan. The picture features my travel style, which is modest with quiet chicness. I later learned that Persian girls rarely wrap their whole head in the scarf. Instead, they always put hijab on the sides of the shoulder. Similarly, I have also explored more of Persian fashion, which is topped with luxury items and fresh color, on later expeditions, shopping, and Instagram following of prominent Persian fashion leaders. Persian fashion style is itself a blend of modern boho and pursuit of class.
Before venturing into Iran, I was scared for I had heard too many bad things about the country. Even though I had gathered enough traveling experiences and lived in various places, I had barely heard any good news about this mysterious country. After the expeditions, my world expanded dramatically. Years of segregation from the world allows Iran to manage its own fashion, food, cultures, ideas, and philosophy. In a way, it is one of the last countries with relatively modern facility yet such distinctive stories from the worlds we are used to live, whether it is the democratic Western ideal or the attractive Eastern destinations.
Watch my video on Esfahan here: https://youtu.be/isEg0N2Gbn4
Zhu is a fashion and travel YouTuber and influencer based in New York. She talks about elegant styles and under-discovered cultures. Born in the East and educated in the West, she dissects the profound stories in simple vlog and image form.