D - 1. Brief history
Generally bazaars are divided into three categories based on the period of usage: permanent, periodical and short time markets. The main market of Isfahan is a permanent bazaar, but it is necessary to know that based on historical documents sometimes there were some short time markets in Naghsh-e-Jahan square (close to the main Bazaar) until the 18th century. While holding these temporary markets, the traders who were mostly foreigners filled all of the space of the square to sell their products.
Figure 2: Bazaar of Isfahan
The first evidence of a bazaar in Isfahan is based on "Hamze Isfahani", who wrote that in the bazaar of the city, which is closed to Yahoudiye there are some squares for businessmen, craftsmen and workers. (750 A.D.) After him "Moghadasi", a famous historian in the tenth century, described it into a long street with some roofed quarters and some non-roofed quarters.
Figure 3: Periodically-held markets in Naghsh-e-Jahan Square
More precise information about this bazaar is available in the texts of Nasir Khusru, the famous Persian poet, which were written during his travels in Iran and Arabic countries. He illustrates one branch of the Bazaar, which is the place of more than 200 bankers. Also he explains that only in this part of the bazaar, named Kutaraz, there were fifty caravanserais. This shows the vastness of the market and the developed trade through Isfahan in the 12th century.
Figure 4: City and Bazaar in 11th Century
The Bazaar of Isfahan consisted of two parts, the old section, which started from the old square, close to the Friday mosque, and the new section, which started from Naghsh-e-Jahan square and connected to the old section.
Figure 5: City and Bazaar in 14th Century
By the 11th century, after selecting Isfahan as the capital of Saljuqid era, the old square had become the center of the city. It had a castle, a drum house, a qaiseria and shops selling silk, brocade, materials, previous stones, ivory and many other goods. There were some peripheral markets along the main streets radiating from the old square from at least that time. The 1.5 Km (1,650-yard) shopping street is still the main street in the bazaar, the longest vaulted bazaar street in the world.
The ancient Isfahan was divided into two areas, named Jey and Yahoudiye. Yahoudiye was the settlement of the Jewish in Isfahan. Being close to Yahoudiye shows the important role of Jewish minority in the economy of the Bazaar.
Hosein Soltanzade, Iranian Bazaars, Cultural Research Bureau Publication, 2001: 106.
Naaser Khosru, Safar Naame, revised by Nader Vazinpour, Amirkabir Publications, Tehran, 1978: 120.
Naghsh - e- Jahan (Shah square), with its measurements of 512x129 m (1680x523 ft), is perhaps the largest piazza in the world. (Robert Hillenbrand, Islamic art and architecture, Thames and Hudson, 1999: 230)
Some like, Bazaar Dardasht and the Bazaar Majlesi are still working as local markets.
Walter M. Weiss, Kurt Michel Westermann, The Bazaar, Markets and Merchants of the Islamic World, Thames and Hudson Publications, 1998: 231.