A Survey of Recently Discovered Pictorial Documents Regarding Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Document Type : Research Article


Art University of Isfahan


Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, as one of the most significant historic sites of the city, has dramatically bore significant socio-cultural interactions between people and the governments under the economical and political context of the time since its construction. For that reason, it is essential to conserve the authenticity and integrity thereof its historical values. The current circumstances of this historic architectural complex mainly date back to seventeenth century, during the Safavid era. This is why, since then there have been historical documents published regarding the different aesthetic and architectural aspects of this place which used to be a significant political and social spot. Such documents have repeatedly been reprinted over four centuries, whereas there still are valuable pictorial documents which have remained anonymous.
On one hand, in the field of architectural conservation, one crucial issue which might considerably influence the trend of continuity and changes for the future, as well as controlling the genuineness of conservation activities in the historic cities and monument, is recognizing their historical perspective. Therefore, this article is meant to arrive at an approach for not only introducing few historic pictorial documents, but also to compare and contrast them with the pervious premises about this historical site. Moreover, these recently discovered documents contain clues which could lead to new questions about the architectural details of this site – questions that need to be answered through future researches. Some of these historic documents, for some reasons including language barriers had previously never been known in the field of Architectural Conservation. They could disclose important points regarding the era in which there was a strong rivalry between the Europeans over interests in Iran.
Hence, suggesting an analogy between these pictorial documents and with the existing situation in Naqsh-e Jahan Square is expected to be sufficient as an objective standard to trust some of these findings. Particularly, the likelihood of a staircase beside Ali Qapu palace, the pool in front of Sheikh Lutfullah Mosque, the gate to the king's interior court or Haram could be highlighted as the untold facts about this site’s architectural aspects.
Three main features could be concluded. Namely, those features which refer to what can be proved about the general appearance of the square and the changes and continuity related to its surrounding architectural elements; new findings such as a staircase beside the royal palace, Ali Qapu, and a pool in front of the Sheikh Lutfullah's mosque; and finally the untold facts highlighted in Hofsted's pictorial documents such as the gate towards Julfa and the pathways within the square's main open space, which are to be investigated in other resources and references in the future research studies. All in all, this paper contributes to upgrading the general understanding and hence verifying the historic identity of Naqsh-e Jahan Square.