Bazzar-e Bozorg (The Great Bazaar)
The Bazaar of Isfahan, the heritage of the Saljuqid and Safavid era is one of the oldest and largest bazaars of the Middle East. It stretches between Imam Sq and the Jameh Mosque several kilometers away.
The bazaar can be entered at dozens of points along its winding route, but the main entrance is via the Qeysarieh Portal at the northern end of Imam Sq. the high gateway is decorated with tiles and, higher up, frescoes by great Reza Abbasi, depicting Shah Abass' war with the Uzbeks.
Like most Iranian bazaars, Bazaar-e Bozorg is loosely divided into several interconnected corridors, each specializing in a particular trade or product, with carpet dealers, goldsmiths, samovar-makers, shoe makers, dyers, all having their own quarters.
You can also find several mosques, tea shops, bathhouses, and even gardens. Small apertures in the vaulted roof let in sufficient light yet kept out the intense heat of summer and retained warmth in winter.
The name Bazaar is very old and has its roots in the old Persian language. This Persian word followed the trade roots and was borrowed by many European and Asian languages. In Iran, the earliest reference to the word" bazaar" dates back to the 8th millennium BC.
Since the early Islamic period the bazaar has not been only a place where trade is concentrated. In fact, it has constituted the formal point of most city activities. People gathered in the bazaar not only to purchase but also to communicate, to listen to the decrees announced by royal heralds and to participate in festivals or mourning processions.
The bazaar has always had an important social power. The merchants and artisans stated a walkout in objection to the governmental deeds and all the life in the country came to a stop. In all towns, the bazaar is a covered street, or series of streets and alleyways lined with small shops grouped by service or product. In larger cities, the bazaar is a warren of streets that contains warehouses, restaurants, baths, mosques, and madresehs and lots of shops.
A bazaar usually consists of Raste Asli, a main street that, in its simplest form, is a road lined on either side by shops. In large bazaars, Raste ye Fari, the auxiliary lanes, branch of the main road. The intersection of two major bazaar lanes is called Chahar-Su. Usually the richest shops surrounded this point. Meydan, the square, most often precedes the entrance to any bazaar. The Esfahan bazaar is confined between the Old Square at its northern end and Naqshe-e-Jahan square at its southern end.
Hojreh is a small shop specializing in particular goods. Carvanserai is usually the most decorated area inside any bazaar. It consists of an open courtyard surrounded on its four sides by rooms for travelers and warehouses for goods. Timcheh was originally a small Carvanserai.
Esfahan boasts one of the richest bazaars in Iran. The entrance to the bazaar, fronting on the central square was built in 1619 and is called Qeysaiyeh.