TEHRAN (FNA)- Isfahan's Safavid era Naqsh-e Jahan Square, wherein once a vast array of precious Iranian handicrafts and artworks were offered, has turned into a park and a shopping center with shoddy Chinese handicrafts and goods, one painter lamented.
"Sometime ago, one of my friends living abroad came to visit Isfahan. He could not buy any appropriate souvenirs in the square, because the owners of many of the Iranian handicraft stores and workshops have closed their doors and others are now selling Chinese handicrafts," Tehran Times quoted Habib Derakhshani as telling the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.
"The square with such a profound history has also turned into an ordinary park, which is used by people as an evening picnic site." He added.
He described the scene "unpleasant for the tourists" coming to visit the square, which is one of Iran's first monuments to be registered on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Derakhshani also criticized the city's officials for their negligence in not placing traffic restrictions on the historical site.
"Noise pollution being created by motorcycles and cars don't let the people enjoy walking around the fascinating square," he sighed according to the Tehran Times report.
For his new capital Isfahan, Safavid king Shah Abbas the Great (1588-1629) selected an open area of ground between the older Seljuk city and the Zayandehrud River, which already had a market square.
This market place was taken as the centerpiece of the new city and Shah Abbas laid out an immense square, the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, nearly 1700 feet long -- twice the size of Red Square in Moscow, seven times the size of St. Mark's Square in Venice. Indeed, after Tiananmen Square in Beijing, it is the second largest in the world.
The perimeter of the square forms a rectangle with two long sides and two short ends. It is completely surrounded by decorated arcades and a bazaar, with the center of each side marked by a monumental building. The entrance to the Grand Bazaar and the Imam Mosque are opposite on another on the short ends, and the Ali Qapu Palace and the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque are opposite one another on either long side.