This day was dedicated to the Safavid period (16th Century) when Isfahan became the capital of Persia. After a lovely breakfast in a beautiful setting, we met in the lobby and walked with Saeed to the palace Kakh-Chehel Sotun (which means 40 pillars), built from 1604 - 1639. You enter via an elegant terrace with 20 columns reflected in the pond which makes it 40, an important number to describe something grand. The palace lies in a beautiful garden where we had tea.
Then we walked to the heart of Isfahan, the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, a big open space with a large pool where kids play in the evening. It’s dominated by two big mosques in turquoise colors and surrounded by a touristic bazaar that includes ancient caravan serails, nice coffee shops, restaurants and antique shops. First we visited the Sheikh Lotfullah mosque, built by the architect Ali A. Esfahani between 1602 - 1619 during the reign of Shah Abbas I the great.
After a delicious meal offered by the ladies from the Teheran agency who came to meet Claudia we visited Majed-e Jameh. Religious activities date back to the Sassanid Zoroastrians, 11th Century. It’s a large complex which is widely under renovation.
We had a talk with a Mullah, acting as a communicator for Iran to visiting tourist, with words far away from the ones the radical Iranian Islam revolutionary leaders. The contrast between the people we meet and the messages from the leaders is such, that there is hope, that one day, the conservatism and extremism of some people of power might be substituted by the friendliness and the curiosity of the Iranian people we meet daily.
We then went to the Kalb Ali Qapu. The six story palace was built as Shah Abbas I residence in the 16th Century. The highlight of this palace is the music room on the upper floor with a distinctive stucco ceiling.
We had dinner in a well hidden Aza Degan tea-house/restaurant in the bazaar that is decorated with old lamps, looking like a antique shop rather than like a culinary attraction. The setting was extremely original, the food was OK. In this original restaurant, but it is a widespread feeling within the group, we observed in Iran, there is a huge space for improvement the quality of service.