Isfahan, or Esfahan, Iran, one of the nation's largest cities and the capital of Isfahan province. It is in west-central Iran near the Zagros Mountains at an elevation of about 5,200 feet (1,585 m).
Isfahan has long been known for its fine handmade goods, especially rugs, textiles, and metalwares. The city also produces a diversity of goods in modern factories. Because of its central location, the city is also a center of transportation. Landmarks include magnificent mosques and palaces and many parks and gardens. Most notable is the Masjid-i-Imam, or Royal Mosque, built in the early 17th century by Shah Abbas I. The University of Isfahan is the city's main institution of higher learning.
Isfahan is an ancient city, probably dating to the sixth century B.C.It was conquered by the Arabs in 642 A.D.and later by Seljuk Turks, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane. The city reached its greatest splendor as Persia's capital during the Safavid dynasty (1502–1732). A long period of decline followed, until reversed in the 20th century by industrialization initiated by Riza Shah Pahlavi.