From the Figures & Patterns of Broken Walls & Doors
(A Survey of the Urban Embellishments of Isfahan)

Architecture, Urban Planning
By: Mohammad Ali Sarami, Gholam Reza Nasrollahi

This is the English introduction of the following book:
Compiled by Isfahan Contemporary Arts Museum
Researchers: Mohammad Ali Sarami, Gholam Reza Nasrollahi
Introduction: Hosein Majlesi
Photographer: Majid Kourang Beheshti
Texts: Mahmoud Maheronnaghsh, Mohammad Rahim Okhovvat, Mahmoud Darvish, Abbas Rostamiyan, Hosein Masjedi, Akbar Mikhak, Ahmad Montazer and Mohammad Ali Sarami
Designer: Maehdi Roshanaei
Thulth calligraphy of the cover: Abbas Ghena-at
Editor: Nasrin Mehr Mohammadi
Execution Manager: Mohammad Ali Sarami
Prepress & Production: Shahriyar Graphic
Translator: Meysam Yazdi, Mohammad Ali Sarami
Publisher: Recreational and Cultural Organization of Isfahan Municipality

October 2006, Isfahan, Iran

One of the most valuable and considerable documents since the beginning of the current Islamic century that we have received from Isfahan is the map of Reza Khan, called “Dar al-Saltane (Royal District) Map of Isfahan”, which was prepared between the years of 1920 and 1923 AD. Studies on this map have shown that streets such as Chahar Bagh (Four Orchades), Hezar Jirib Chahar Bagh, Kelisa ye Maryam (Saint Mary Cathedral) and Abbas-abad were built in the Safavid dynasty. Some other streets like Donbal-e-Roudkhaneh (Riverside), Bagh Takht (The Throne Garden), Khoush, Bimarestan-e-Engilisiha (The British Hospital), Mostahlak and some others have been built around this period of time.

The study of the map and its marginal texts show that new street construction in Isfahan dates back to the current Islamic century; this is the time that cars have come to the urban culture and there is need for streets to be established. Since repairing buildings on the side of streets and renovating old edifices, especially commercial units, was done with a logical rhythm, harmonized with the entrances of houses, constructing and establishing streets was completely different in those times, compared to that of contemporary period. In fact, it had been the harmonization of a kind of continuity in an introvert urban thought that considered every element in the city as having an inner and internal part.

In addition to fulfilling the special need of driving cars in a western fashion, streets formed the continuity of bazaars, which are considered as the essence of urban passages. Therefore the streets were built by necessity, without any roofs, and instead trees were planted on the side of the streets. But, still streets were considered as an urban element and were named in a form and style of historical-urban style. Some great changes occurred in the type and form of architecture, especially as a result of European approaches toward urban architecture, but we still see the continuity of Persian architecture and its link to the great and grand Persian architectural works.

In different districts of Isfahan, there are lots of evidences for proving this claim, that among them we can point to the façade construction of houses, brick work through the rhythm of commercial shops, beautiful entrances to houses and other things such as inns, mosques, bathhouses, attics, capitals, Saqa-khaneh (Public drinking water places), porticos and beautiful protuberant flower plaster carving epigraphs. It should be added that you can see ancient Iranian and also European influences and impressions in the works of those architects, who had studied in Europe.

Studies on the elements of some of these edifices from different historical periods and even the very valuable public buildings of those times can show the continuity of this Iranian architectural period very well.

In the historical buildings of this period, including the end of Ahmad Shahi era till the end of Reza Khan era, are looked after and preserved and even in some cases repaired, restore or revived. We can be hopeful that the endmost historical and cultural values linked to the history of Iran and Isfahan architecture and urban planning, would remain for the next generations.

Renovating historical areas should be paid a special attention; it should be forbidden to build any building in these areas and the renovation plans should be scrutinized and approved by professional groups, so that they regain their historical and artistic values.


Research: Architecture
 Books: Architecture
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