Isfahan is a part of the glory of Persia. There are many historical monuments in the city, most of them were built during Safavid dynasty between the 16th to the 18th centuries. One of the most important and well-known monument in Isfahan, is si-o-se pol bridge. Beside its aesthetic aspect, the bridge somehow is the symbol of Isfahan and the area around it is a place of excursion which attracts lot’s of visitors. It is located in the middle of the city on “Zayandeh rood” river.
Si-o-se pol bridge was built during the 16th century by the order of the commander of Safavid army, Allah Verdi Khan. Some historian believe that because he was from Georgia and the Georgian alphabet has 33 letters, it has 33 spans. However, this theory is rejected and there used to be 40 spans which reduced. Some other says that the name is related to “Anahita”, the goddess of beauty, fertility and water, the number 133 is the number of Anahita. Again this theory is rejected with the same reason. The exact date of constructions is not clear, but according to some historic sources a smaller bridge or the base could be built at first then expanded. About 70 years ago a stone wall was added to the north of the bridge by the mayor of Isfahan, still the remains of that wall can be seen. In fact at that time the plan of the city was like the sketch of Persian gardens and the bridge was located exactly toward one of its axis.
What’s the name?
Si-o-se pol bridge has several names which behind each there is a story. First of all, because it was built under the command of “Shah Abas the 1st”, it is known as Abasi bridge. Moreover “Allah Verdi Khan”, the commander of Safavid army, was missioned to build the bridge, so Allah Verdi Khan bridge is another name. Also, as a result of being located near “Jolfa” neighborhood it is called as Jolfa bridge. It also called as “Zayandeh rood” bridge, related to the name of the river. As it mentioned it used to have 40 spans which is the reason of being called “Chehel Cheshmeh” bridge, meaning 40 spans bridge. But, The most well known name is “Si-o-se pol” which means 33 spans bridge.
A place for festivals
During Safavid era some special occasions were celebrated near Si-o-se pol bridge. For instance, “Ab Pashan” was a public festival which was held in July. In that festival, people poured water or rose water on each other. “Epiphany” or “Khajshuyan” is another festival celebrated near the bridge. Actually, the celebration refers to the Baptism of Christ and Armenian whom were departed to Isfahan by Shah Abas the 1st celebrated it near Si-o-se pol bridge. It was done at January 13th and Armenian exchanged some goods with other citizens but they were not allowed to cross the bridge. Also, Nowruz, the Iranian new year festival, was celebrated there.
The architect of Si-o-se pol bridge was “Hussein Bana Isfahani” whose son was also a famous architecture, he built Sheikh Lotfollah mosque. In spite of other bridges, Si-o-se pol bridge was built at the widest part of the river, because this part is more shallow, calm and has a better scene. In addition, Stone, brick and lime and gypsum mortars are the martials used in the bridge. According to experts, this kind of mortar helps the stabilization of the bridge, the more getting wet or receiving humidity the more stable it is. Based on the descriptions of Sir Percy, an English author and geographic, who visited the bridge during the 19th century, there used to be a royal paved street to the bridge and the bridge had 3 paths in 3 levels. Also, there were two corridors in both sides of the bridge. Actually they were sidewalks and in each one there were 99 niches decorated with sculptures. Si-o-se pol bridge used to have 360 M length and 40 spans, but now reduces to 33 spans, 14 M width and 290 M length. In addition there were 6 paths in the bridge:
1-The middle path which were used by horsemen and chariots.
2&3-Sidewalks were used by pedestrians and also were the place of exhibitions.
4&5-the roofs of the exhibitions were used during floods.
6-Also there was another sidewalk under the exhibitions, used during dry periods.
Now, only two sidewalks are remained. One at the top and the other at the bottom of the bridge.
Briefly, Si-o-se pol bridge is not just a historic place. It is a place of excursion, as well. If you want to have a nice shot with the bridge, during sunset is the best time. Moreover, the sidewalks are the best places for singing. You see, there are things to enjoy there….