Population: 2 million
One of the most important historical cities in Iran, it is the country’s third largest city and dates back over 2700 years to a Jewish settlement.
It was sacked by the Muslim armies in 640, again by the Mongols in 1241 and then by Timur.
Isfahan’s glory came when it was reconstructed by the Safavid monarch Shah Abbas I who moved his capital here in 1591. The monuments from this period include palaces, grand mosques, caravanserais and bridges – many of which are considered masterpieces of Islamic art.
After the overthrow of the Safavid the city fell into decadence as the Qajar moved the capital to Tehran.
Isfahan has long been noted for its fine carpets and silver filigree. Its stunning architecture, tree-lined boulevards and relaxed pace make it the undisputed highlight of Iran's cities.