On the northern side of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Qeysarie Bazaar is located. Qeysarie Bazaar is one of the greatest and oldest Bazaars in Iran. This Bazaar has many sections, including, shops, mosques, schools and caravanserais. When Shah Abbas chose a new center for Isfahan, in 1618, he ordered the construction of a bazaar that would connect the new square from its northern side to the old square or the Atiq square. In fact, Qeysarieh Bazaar is a covered and eye-catching path that connects the two new and old centers of Isfahan.
The Elements of Qeysarie Bazaar
The Bazaar consists of some main and side rows. There are several shops on either side of these rows. The walls of the rows connect together and create arches or domes in the middle. On the ceiling, there are Light wells called Hernos that allow sunlight to brighten up the Bazaar. Actually, these Hernos are designed on the domes. The height of these domes depends on the climate of the region in each city. The hotter and drier the weather, the higher the ceiling, and the colder the weather, the lower the ceiling.
Chaharsooq is the intersection of two main rows. The roof of Chaharsooq was often covered with mini-domes. In this way, Chaharsooqs had a second floor which were used as shops and also workshops. The width of Chaharsooq is greater than the main row. This place was used by the Jarchi (town’s bellman) during the day and the Darughachi (governor) at night.
Saara or Khan is also another part of the bazaar that consists of a courtyard surrounded by rooms. Saara (Khan) is connected to the bazaar by a narrow passages. The Saaras were originally designed to provide more space for the Bazaar.
The Entrance and the gate of Bazaar
On the north side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square and the entrance of Qeysarie Bazaar, a double inscription can be seen in cursive line. One line of a piece of a poem is on the right inscription and the other is on the left side of the gate.
‘’The purpose is to leave behind something immortal from our mortal selves/ in hopes that one day, a person with a warm heart shows mercy by saying prayer after our mortal and poor souls’’
This verse, which is from the famous Persian poet Saadi, indicates that these buildings were built to commemorate the architect and the designer. And, this is the only memory that have remained of them. And that also the whole world is moving towards extinction and these building will be the only thing remained.
Above the entrance of Qeysarieh Bazaar the battle between Shah Abbas the Great and the Uzbeks which ended in his victory is painted. Shah Abbas with his unique mustache is easily distinguishable in the picture. On the left side of the entrance, a hunting ground is drawn. On the right, we can see the picture of a banquet being held with the presence of European representatives and ambassadors.
Above the image of the war with the Uzbeks, there is an opening in shape of a square with an area of 4 square meters. There used to be a clock in the place of this opening during the Safavid era. This clock remained in here until the death of the English watchmaker, Festi. But with his death, contemporary to the reign of Shah Abbas II, there was no longer any specialist to take care of the clock, so the clock stopped working.
There was a bronze bell just above the clock. This bell was the booty of Shah Abbas from the war with the Portuguese in Hurmuz and was brought here from the Portuguese fort. Unfortunately, in the 1800s, the bell was melted down for making a cannon. And it was at this time that the clock also met its unknown fate.
At the top of the entrance, there is a tilework with the pattern of a man that is half lion and is shooting at his dragon tail. The design of this symbol dates back to the time of Daylamit. Rukn al-Dawlah Dailami had intentions to build a tower around Isfahan. Since the kings in the past believed in astronomy and astronomers, Rukn al-Dawlah ordered that Saadi’s estimations be considered for this purpose. Astronomers considered the month of Azar (December) suitable for this. Since then, the symbol of December, Sagittarius, was considered as the symbol of Isfahan.
Upon entering the Qeysarie Bazaar, we can see a number of shops, mostly selling silverware and decorative items. According to Chardin, the famous French traveler, the entrance to Qeysarieh Bazaar was dedicated to the gold and precious metals shops during the reign of Shah Abbas the Great. The most impressive jewelries made by Isfahani and foreign artists was sold in this very Bazaar.
The times when the Bazaar was preserved
Some days of the month were arranged by Shah Abbas for the women of the Royal Harem to shop in Qeysarie Bazaar. Since no one was allowed to cast any look upon the king’s many wives, an order was issued to close the bazaar the day before. The shopkeepers had to put a young woman in charge of the shop the next day and leave the bazaar themselves. These young women were usually the wife or the daughter of the shop owner. The king would have then entered the bazaar with his many wives. If Shah Abbas liked a girl or a woman, they (even if they were married) had to marry the king and entered the Royal Harem.
The beating heart of the city
Bazaars, in general, had and still have social, economic and even political roles. Qeysarie Bazaar was not only a place for buying and selling different kinds of goods, but also a place for public announcements and gatherings of the public for exchange of daily news among the people. This gave the Bazaars political importance. In critical situations, the shopkeepers, with the help of the people, would have protested for their rights and demanded their rights. Some examples of these protests are the protests for the Constitutional Revolution, the nationalization of the oil industry, and the Islamic Revolution. Today, the Qeysarieh Bazaar remains the beating heart of the city.
Qeysarie Bazaar FAQs
Narcis to Bazar: 1.5 km