(Persia Digest) - Isfahan is the center of a province with the same name and is Iran's second largest city and one of the main destinations of local and foreign tourists, and its numerous historical and artistic monuments have led it to being called the second most important cultural center in the Islamic world after Mecca.
Historical monuments alongside natural scenery have also led it to being called by the people of Iran as "Isfahan, half of the world". There are twenty thousand historical monuments and works in this city of which 1850 monuments and works have been registered as national heritage sites, and four monuments have been registered as world heritage sites by UNESCO including "Naghsh-e Jahan Square" (image of the world square), "Chehel Sotun Palace" (Palace of Forty Columns), Fin Garden of Kashan, and the "Great Mosque", that are the focus of local and foreign tourists. On the other hand, Isfahan from long ago has been considered one of the greatest centers for various types of handicrafts and has been referred to as the cradle of handicrafts and fine arts.
Brickworks, tile work, stucco works, and different types of calligraphic works are seen in Isfahan's historical monuments from centuries ago to contemporary times, on the sides of the minarets and in the interior and exterior of mosques and palaces; goldwork embroideries and engravings, calico printings, cashmere works, silverworks and goldsmith works, transcription of many types of books and the Quran, and paintings and drawings, are all illustrative of Isfahan being the center of fine arts. Also, Isfahan with more than 200 types of handicrafts controls one third of the market for handicraft works in the world.
According to statistics, in the final nine months of 2017, more than 500 hundred thousand foreign tourists visited Isfahan's historical monuments, showing a growth of 25% as compared with the same period last year.
These tourists came to Isfahan from 86 countries worldwide including mainly from France, Germany, Spain, and northern European countries.
Photos by Alieh Sa`adatpour/Mehr News Agency