[Iṣfahān, Esfahan; anc. Gabae; Sepahan]
City in central Iran and capital of Isfahan province. Located within the basin of the Zaindeh River, Isfahan was the capital of Iran under the Saljuq (reg 1038–1194) and Safavid (reg 1501–1732) dynasties and has preserved an almost uninterrupted series of important buildings dating from the Sasanian period to the present day.
Known since ancient times as Gabae or Sepahan, the city was connected with the Achaemenid dynasty, but the first remains date from the period of Sasanian rule (c. ad 224–651): they include the remains of a palace, erroneously called a fire temple (Pers. ātishgada), on the Garladan Hill west of the city, and the piers of the Shahristan Bridge to its south-east. When the original administrative centre of Jayy (also called Shahristan, ‘the City’) declined, Yahudiyya (‘the Jewish quarter’) became the centre of the city. A Friday Mosque (see §3, (i)...