Our destination this morning was the highlight of Isfahan, Naqsh-e Jahan Square. During the Shah’s time it was known as the Shah’s Square. Since the revolution its official name is the Imam’s Square. During the last 400 years this glorious square has seen its name changed at the whim of the regime in power at the time. I wonder if one day it might be named for the people of Iran.
This vast 22-acre space, bordered by grand mosques and palaces, is in the center of Isfahan. Built during the rule of Shah Jahan (1598-1629) the buildings display the considerable skills available to the Safavid Dynasty. It is the world’s second largest square, only exceeded by Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Compared with Tiananmen Square, which I visited in 2000, it conveys a peaceful feeling. The splashing fountains, and well-manicured trees lining the paths as well as the Isfahan Bazaar that adjoins it, give it a park-like, human-oriented feeling.
After lunch we passed by the Science Museum, which had a display of dinosaur statues before the entrance. According to our local guide in Iranian schools they teach that evolution is only a theory and that all kinds of creatures were specially created by God. I thought that sounded very familiar—a similar belief is taught in some American schools.
Our local guide wore green prayer beads wrapped around his hand and wrist. When I asked if he were very religious he answered that he wears them because he is a member of the Green Party. It is a sign of allegiance. He was amazingly frank about his views on politics. Later during our free time I walked back to the Imam’s Square by myself. On the way I ran into him with two friends. They were walking very fast and discussing something very seriously. I wondered if they were headed to a Green Party meeting.