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Esfahan ( Isfahan )

Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian proverb "'Esfahan nesf-e jahan ast" (Isfahan is half of the world). The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the biggest city squares in the world and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments. PrehistoryThe history of Isfahan can be traced back to the Palaeolithic period. In recent discoveries, archaeologists have found artefacts dating back to the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages.
Elamite Empire Ancient Isfahan was part of the Elamite Empire under the name of Aspandana. It later became one of the principal towns of the Median dynasty. Subsequently the province became part of the Achaemenid Empire. After the liberation of Iran from Macedonian occupation by the Arsacids, it became part of Parthian Empire. Esfahan was the centre and capital city of a large province, which was administered by Arsacid governors. In the Sassanid era, Esfahan was governed by "Espoohrans" or the members of seven noble Iranian families who had important royal positions, and served as the residence of these noble families as well. Moreover, in this period Esfahan was a military centre with strong fortifications.

Persepolis was the capital of the Persian kingdom. Alexander described it to the Macedonians as the most hateful of the cities of Asia, and gave it over to his soldiers to plunder, all but the palaces. (2) +It was the richest city under the sun and the private houses had been furnished with every sort of wealth over the years. The Macedonians raced into it, slaughtering all the men whom they met and plundering the residences; many of the houses belonged to the common people and were abundantly supplied with furniture and wearing apparel of every kind….
Alexander held games in honor of his victories. He performed costly sacrifices to the gods and entertained his friends bountifully. While they were feasting and the drinking was far advanced, as they began to be drunken a madness took possession of the minds of the intoxicated guests. (2) At this point one of the women present, Thais by name and Attic by origin, said that for Alexander it would be the finest of all his feats in Asia if he joined them in a triumphal procession, set fire to the palaces, and permitted women's hands in a minute to extinguish the famed accomplishments of the Persians. (3) This was said to men who were still young and giddy with wine, and so, as would be expected, someone shouted out to form up and to light torches, and urged all to take vengeance for the destruction of the . (4) Others took up the cry and said that this was a deed worthy of Alexander alone. When the king had caught fire at their words, all leaped up from their couches and passed the word along to form a victory procession [epinikion komon] in honor of Dionysius.


In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to mass-migration of people from all around Iran. However it is suggested that 5 million should migrate out of the city. The city is home to many historic mosques, churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples. Contemporary Tehran is a modern city featuring many tall structures, of which the Azadi (Freedom) Tower and the have come to be symbols of Tehran itself. Internationally Tehran was in 2008, the least expensive capital in the world and only the second least expensive city globally based on Cost-of-living index, in addition to presenting the best value for money in the world. Furthermore globally it stands 19th by city population, 56th by the size of its GDP and 29th by the population of its . Due to long history of Iran, there have been many instances of capital city relocations over the ages and Tehran, currently is the 32nd national capital of Iran. The native language of the city is the Tehrani dialect of Persian, with 98% and the majority of people in Tehran identify as Persians. In pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, Tehran was called Ray which in the Avesta occurs in the form of Ragha.
Tehran historically was known as Ray which is etymologically connected to the Old Persian and Avesta Rhaga. This city was a major area of the Iranian speaking Medes and Achaemenids. In the Zoroastrian Avesta, Widewdat, i, 15, Ragha is mentioned as the twelfth sacred place created by Ahura-Mazda. In the Old Persian inscriptions, Ragha appears as a province. From Ragha, Darius the Great sent reinforcements to his father Wishtaspa when the latter was putting down the rebellion in Parthia Damavand mountain located near the city also appears in the Shahnama as the place where Freydun bounds the dragon-fiend Zahak. Damavand is important in the Persian mytho­logical and legendary events. the Zoroastrian prototype of human beings and the first king in the Shahnama, was said to have resided in Damavand. In these legends, the foundation of the city of Damavand was attributed to him. Arash, the archer who sacrificed his body by giving all his strength to the arrow that demarcated Iran and Turan; shot his shot his arrow from Mount Damavand.This Persian legend was celebrated every year in the Tiregan festival. A popular feast is reported to have been held in the city of Damavand on 7 Šawwal 1230/31 August 1815, during which the people celebrated the anniversary of Zahhaks death. In the Zoroastrian legends, the tyrant Zahak is to finally be killed by the Iranian hero Garšasp before the final days. In some Middle Persian texts, Ray (Ragha) is given as the birthplace of Zoroaster although modern historians generally place the birth of Zoraster in Greater Khorasan. In one Persian tradition, the legendary king Manucehr was born in Damavand.
During the Sassanid era, Yazdagird III in 641 issued from Rayy his last appeal to the nation before fleeing to Khurasan. The sanctuary of Bibi Shahr-Banu situated in modern Tehran spur and accessible only to women is associated with the memory of the daughter of Yazdagird who, according to tradition, became the wife of al-Husayn b. Ali, the third Shi'ite Imam. Rayy was the fief of the Persian Mihran family and Siyawakhsh the son of Mihran the son of Bahram Chubin resisted the Arab invasion. Due to this resistence, when the Arabs captured Rayy, they ordered the town to be destroyed and ordered Farrukhan b. Zaynabi b. Kula to rebuilt the town. In the 10th century, Rayy is described in detail in the work of Islamic geographers. Despite the interest of Baghdad displayed in Rayy, the number of Arabs there was insignificant, and the population consisted of Persians of all classes.The Ghuzz Turks laid Rayy to waste in 1035 and in 1042, but the city recoverd during the Saljuqid and Khwarizmid era. The Mongols laid Rayy to complete waste and according to Islamc historians of the era, virtually all of its inhabitants were massacared. The city is mentioned in later Safavid chronicles as an unimportant city.
The origin of the name Tehran is unknown. Tehran was well known as a village in the 9th century, but was less well-known than the city of Rhages (Ray) which was flourishing nearby in the early era. Najm al-Din Razi known as Dayya gives the population of Rayy as 500,000 before the Mongol invasion. In the 13th century, following the destruction of Ray by Mongols, many of its inhabitants escaped to Tehran. In some sources of the early era, the city is mentioned as "Rhages's Tehran" . The city is later mentioned in Hamdollah Mostowfi's Nuz'hat al-Qulub (written in 1340) as a famous village.
There is also a shrine there, dedicated to commemorate Princess Shahr Banu, eldest daughter of the last ruler of the Sassanid Empire. She gave birth to Ali Zayn al Abidin, the fourth holy Imam of the Shia faith. This was through her marriage to Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. A nearby mountain is also named after her. However, some sources attribute the shrine to the goddess of water and fertility, Anahita, claiming it was renamed in Islamic times to protect it from any possible harm after the conversion of Iranians to Islam.
Don Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, a Castilian ambassador, was probably the first European to visit Tehran, stopping in July 1404, while on a journey to Samarkand (now in Uzbekistan) the capital of Timur, who ruled Iran at the time. At this time, the city of Tehran was unwalled.
In the early of 18th century, Karim Khan Zand ordered a palace, and a government office to be built in Tehran, possibly to declare the city his capital, but later moved his government to Shiraz. Tehran finally became the capital of Iran in 1795, when the Qajar king Agha Mohammad Khan was crowned in the city. It remains the capital to this day.


To best understand Iranand its people, one must first attempt to acquire an understanding of its culture.
Iranians were not only open to other cultures, but freely adapted to all they found useful. Thus an eclectic cultural elasticity has been said to be one of the key defining characteristics of the Persian spirit and a clue to its historic longevity. Furthermore, Iran's culture has manifested itself in several facets throughout the history of Iranas well as that of Central Asia
Iranian art has gone through numerous phases of evolution. The unique aestheticsof Iran is evident from the Achaemenidreliefs in Persepolisto the mosaic paintings of BishapurThe Islamic era drastically brought changes to the styles and practice of the arts, each dynasty with its own particular foci. The Qajarid era was the last stage of classical Persian art, before modernismwas imported and suffused into elements of traditionalist schools of aesthetics.
There are several languages spoken in different parts of Iran. Mainly Persianin central Iran, Azerbaijaniin northwest and central Iran, Kurdishin west part, Arabicin south west, Balochiin east and Turkmenmainly in north of Iran. Among these, the Turkish language's subsets is the largest group comparing others which covers all the northwest, main part of central and north east part of Iran. This is of course the effect of the multiethnic culture of Iran due to the extension of the previous Aryan (Iranian) empires. This is because Iranians by tradition are culturally tolerant (e.g. The Cyrus Cylinder) being described since the time of Herodotus as internalizing the best traits of outsiders. A reason for the Turkmen qualitative dominance among Iranian ethnic minorities is a result of the great Turkmen migration from the Altay which led to the coming of e.g. The Seljuq Empire, The Mongolian Empire, The Ottoman Empire to mention a few.
Ancient literature and historical records (with the exception of archaeological observations) are poorly preserved (e.g. the first national epos of Iran was first written by Ferdowsi in the First Millennium A.D. Over 1,500 years after the founding of the Hakhamaniyan Empire by Cyrus the Great the first Zoroastrian empire). This is an effect of the Arabian expansion which began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. While the Mongols are often blamed for the destruction of Persian cultural dominance in the area, the Arabs and their allies were known to have destroyed libraries, historical sources, Zoroastrian fire temples and sculptures. These actions were a result of efforts to bring about the Arabification of Greater Iran, arguably doing more damage to Persian cultural integrity than the Mongol invasions.
Persian literature inspired Goethe, Ralph Waldo Emersonand many others, and it has been often dubbed as a most worthy language to serve as a conduit for poetry. Dialects of Persian are sporadically spoken throughout the region from China to Syria, though mainly in Iranian PlateauTwo important dialects of Persian serving as languages are Tajikiand respectively spoken in Tajikistanand Afghanistanas official languages.

Contemporary Iranian literature is influenced by classical Persian poetry, but also reflects the particularities of modern day Iran, through writers such as Houshang Moradi-Kermani, the most translated modern Iranian author, and poet Ahmad Shamlou.

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