Isfahan, from its ancient designation Aspadana and later Spahan in middle Persian, rendered in English as Ispahan, is a major city in Iran, Greater Isfahan Region. It is located 406 kilometres (252 miles) south of Tehran and is the capital of Isfahan Province. Isfahan has a population of approximately 1.5 million, making it the third-largest city in Iran after Mashhad and Tehran, and second largest metropolitan area after Tehran.
Isfahan is an important city, as it is located at the intersection of the two principal north–south and east–west routes that traverse Iran. Isfahan flourished from 1050 to 1722, and particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Safavid dynasty when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history under Shah Abbas the Great. Even today the city retains much of its past glory.
It is famous for its Perso–Islamic architecture, grand boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, tiled mosques and minarets. Isfahan also has many historical buildings, monuments, paintings, and artifacts. The fame of Isfahan led to the Persian proverb "Esfahān nesf-e-jahān ast": Isfahan is half (of) the world. The Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world. UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site.