It was going to be the day for the visit of the Imam Square, the place I had read so much on the internet.
Imam Square is the second largest square in the world, after the Tiananmen Square and is larger than the Red Square from Moscow. It is surrounded by an uninterrupted bazaar, but above these shops, rise the arches and the minarets of some of the most beautiful mosques in the world. The beauty comes from the trademark art of Iran – the art of the mosaic! The huge entrance gates of the mosques but also the arches from above the premises are a delight of mosaics.
All around the square, there are two mosques and one palace – Imam Mosque, Sheikh Loftfollah Mosque and the Ali Qapu palace.
However, from a functional point of view, the square had different goals. It provided a setting and linkage for two mosques and the royal palace, a place for parades and a “private” assembly spot for both the faithful and those who wished to visit the King.
The great bazaar of Esfahan.
I was watching those people working the metal, selling their products, talking and chatting , marveling at the way Persia was slowly engulfing me and my family.
And then, all of a sudden, the call of the muezzin. That long wail, penetrating the atmosphere around us, creating an atmosphere of itself, surrounding us and making us part of a call to the Divinity.
I just could not stop from sitting down every time I was hearing it. For me it had something fascinating and reminded me of the feeling that I had when visiting the old orthodox monasteries of my country, Romania. That feeling of belonging, of being part of something very old and sacred.
In case you go to Iran, try not to miss this: The charm of Esfahan, the bazaar, the people, Persia.
After a while we went for dinner in a fancy and traditional restaurant. Once again I had the privilege of enjoying the Persian food, while all around me the symbols of this old culture were setting a perfect stage for well being and contentment.
As apparently our hosts appreciated the way we were enjoying everything, later on we were led to a place full of charm but out of reach for tourists. A teashop where people could enjoy water pipes, and all kind of sweets while being hidden from the curious eyes of the foreigners.
When we came back to Ali’s home we were filled with a feeling of wellness, but once there, we discovered that the day still had some surprises for us.
The whole family of Ali had come for a last dinner with us, in order to meet and greet us. Once again I had the feeling of belonging, sitting cross legged next to this welcoming people.
We hated having to leave but we had a bus to catch. A bus for our next adventure, Shiraz and Persepolis and later on Yazd.