ISPAHAN, e'spa-han'. The former capital and one of the largest cities of Persia, situated on the river Zendeh Bud, over 200 miles south of Teheran, the present capital (Map: Persia, D 4). The surrounding country is of remarkable natural beauty, and presents a striking contrast to the half-ruined city. The ancient walls of Ispahan have a length of about 23 miles, but only a small part of the area inclosed is in habited, the remainder being a succession of ruined castles, mosques. and schools, which tes tify to the former splendor of the city. The centre of the city is occupied by a magnificent plaza laid out by Shah Abbas, and formerly surrounded by fine structures. Of the few build ings which have survived the ravages of time, the palace of Shah Abbas, known as Chehel Situn, or Hall of Many Columns, is probably the finest. A row of twenty graceful columns extends along the front portal. supporting a mag nificently ornamented roof. Behind the columns is a spacious hall with mirror-covered walls and a fountain in the centre. Besides this hall there is a large room containing six large oil paint ings depicting scenes from the life of Shah Abbas. On the southeastern side of the plaza stands the great mosque. Mesjid-i-Shah, erected in the beginning of the seventeenth century. and presenting, even in its ruined state, a fine ex ample of Eastern architecture. On the western side of the royal grounds is situated a magnifi cent palace known under the name of Haslit Behesht, or 'Eight Paradises,' built by Shah Suleiman at the end of the seventeenth century. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens orna mented with fountains. On the western side is the mosque of Sheikh-Lutfallah, with its dome of enameled tiles, and at the northwestern end is the entrance to the extensive covered bazaars of the city, which have a total length of over two miles.
The Zendeh Rud, on which the town is situat ed. is crossed by five bridges, of which that of Ali Verdi Khan is especially remarkable, both for its size and for its architectural beauty. Industrially Ispahan is still a town of some im portance. Its chief products are silk, woolen, and cotton roods, jewelry, arms, leather goods, and footwear. The town derives also consider able commercial importance from its position on the main route from Abushehr to Teheran. A little way south of Ispahan is situated the Ar menian settlement of Julfa, which contains the entire European colony of Ispahan. It was founded in the beginning of the seventeenth cen tury, and at one time had an Armenian popula tion of 30,000. which was reduced through perse cution to about 2000. It has a number of Chris tian churches and several schools. The popula tion of Ispahan is estimated at from 60,000 to S0,000. Ispahan is said by Persian writers to have been founded by some of the Jews who were led into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. It was a trad ing town of importance, and the capital of Irak, under the caliphs of Bagdad. It was taken by Timur in 1392, when 70,000 of the inhabitants are said to have been massacred. During the seven teenth century, under Shah Abbas the Great, it be came the capital of Persia, and reached the climax of its prosperity. It is said to have had between 600,000 and 1,000,000 inhabitants. It was then the emporium of the Asiatic world; the mer chandise of all nations enriched its bazaars, and ambassadors from Europe and the East crowded its Court. In 1722 it was devastated by the Afghans, and some time afterwards the seat of government was transferred to Teheran (q.v.).