Prior to selection of this city as the capital of Safavid Dynasty, a huge orchard was located in this square. During the rule of Shah Abbas Safavi, this orchard was expanded. The most famous and attractive historical monuments of Isfahan are situated in the surroundings of this square. For instance, in the northern and southern corners of this square, the market and Imam Khomeini Mosque are located; while in the western and eastern corners of the square there are Aali Gaapou Building and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. The length of this square stands at 500 meters, while its width is almost 165 meters.
During the 17th Century, this square was among the biggest squares in the world. During the reign of Shah Abbas Safavi, and his successors, this venue turned into a place for the game of polo, and the army’s march. The famous European tourists that have visited the Iranian Capital in the Safavid era, such as the French tourist, Chardin, Tavernier, Pietro Dellavalle, and Engelbert Kampfer have described this square in detail. The famous French tourist, Chardin, in his travel book has highly admired the city of Isfahan and has elaborated on this square. He has pointed out that: “This Square is oblong-shaped and is one of the most beautiful squares in the world. In its surrounding there is a river and the square’s pavement is located a foot higher than this stream. The width of the pavement is such that four pedestrians can walk it alongside each other. A 20-feet space separates the stream from the surrounding chambers. In the surrounding of the square there are 200 chambers, with the same size and architectural style and in two floors. The ground floor’s chambers each comprise of four smaller rooms, two of which face the square and two of which are located behind the square. The rooms facing the square have balconies and fences and are uniquely beautiful. Each of these rooms has paths heading toward the market, which are very cool in summertime.
Chardin went on to claim in his travel book that he knows Isfahan better than London.
Note that today Imam Khomeini Square of Isfahan is highly attractive. In the surroundings of this square there are workshops of Isfahan’s artists, who create unique works for those passengers, who want to take home souvenirs. These workshops render handicrafts such as marquetry, and chiseled works, while also displaying the terms of production of these handicrafts to the visitors.
A large pond is located in the middle of this square and wagons transport passengers from one side to the other side of the square, creating a beautiful memory in the minds of those, who have the chance to visit this tourist attraction site. Following the victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, this square also turned into a venue for observing Friday Prayer, and for staging political gatherings.
In the eastern corner of Imam Khomeini Square, in front of the Aali Gaapou Building, there is Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, which is one of the most attractive historical monuments of the city of Isfahan. It is another feat of architecture and tiling of the 17th Century, which has been built during the reign of Shah Abbas Safavi within 18 years. This mosque has differences to other mosques in Isfahan. It doesn’t have a minaret or a courtyard, which other ancient mosques usually have a large courtyard and minarets. This mosque is also relatively small. It is covered with beautiful tiles, coupled with unique calligraphy by renowned artists of the Safavid era.
The patterns and colors used in the tilling of the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque are some of the most beautiful existing tilling in Iran’s architecture. The light rays enter the mosque after passing through the meshed windows located on the dome. These light rays, upon entry, also create a spiritual atmosphere in this mosque.
The famous American Iranologist, Arthur Upham Pope, has pointed out that architecture-wise, the sizes are highly appropriate in the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and its design is beautiful.