عنوان مقاله [English]
The urban refashioning of Isfahan in the Safavid Empire appeared with the reign of Shah Abbas I. the urban imperial developments provided new ideas and concepts around urbanization of the early modern era, including recreational axes in the urban structure, Embodiment of recreation and leisure in the city and urban life was reinforced by attention of kingship. Also, the physical appearance of the city typified what has been called the early modern urbanity. The main characteristic of this type could be the emergence of promenade axes. This article follows themes related to the recreational notion in shaping this city. In so doing, we achieved insight in a manner in which the structure was conceived. Exploring the meanings attributed to that idea in this era, we trace practices of social-and courtly- life as they shaped urban configurations and were shaped by. So at the first step, we survey the recreational activities and leisure organization of the Safavid Empire in everyday life. Later, we deal with spatial order, urban structure and planning of Isfahan. To decipher this idea, two types of evidence help us and facilitated our understanding of the matter: Some contemporary studies on leisure and entertainment in Safavid era and supposedly in the urban articulation of Isfahan (historical resources and travelogues) and the other hand, main historical resources. By analyzing and tracing the leisure idea in Isfahan as the one that established new urban identity, it is possible to distinct, clearly between the old urbanization and the new in architecture history of Iran. In other words, novel modes of urban conceptualization and planning of Isfahan provided new perceptions in research and study about Isfahan urbanization. According to we can find some features of the early modern urbanity in Isfahan city plan as we can ordinarily see in other modern 18-19th cities in the world.
Keywords: Promenad, Isfahan, The School of Isfahan, Architecture, Urbanization.
Phenomenon of leisure and entertainment is not only belong to safavid era but it has been a long time. At any historically period, this phenomenon appeared in different shape. Historically, it seems entertainment in life of the people and the court during the Safavid period is so extensive and important that it has effected urban structures-and mutually been effected- and create a new urban identity. The main problem of this research is how the new recreational system effects the urban structure of Isfahan and creates such a city in which recreation and leisure specially featured from the other periods. The features apparently are less seen in the old urban planning of Iran and are one of the components of the new urban planning of the Safavid period, which is nearly related to the characteristics of modern cities. In fact, this new identity makes urban planning of safavid Isfahan comparable to the designs of new cities in the modern era and shows commonalities in concepts with modern urban planning, which we will address at the end of this article. Now, with such an idea, to achieve the goal, we first briefly list the examples of recreation and entertainment in the daily life of the people of that era, then we describe the recreational functions of Isfahan’s urban elements such as Chaharbagh, bridges, Maydan-i Naqsh-I Jahan.
In the Safavid period, recreation was not limited to court feasts and royal excursion in the imperial gardens, but during this period it became part of the social life and create a mode of interactions and social participations. According to Ishraqi, we can talk about the existence of a “recreational system” in this period (Ishraqi, 1353: 28). This system had different branches including public ceremonies and exhibitions of the Maydan, equestrian games, coffeehouses and bathes we finally see in the urban structure. It had been represented in three axes of new Isfahan’s urban planning -ordered and conceived by Abbas I- including Chaharbagh and public gardens, bridges and Maydan-i Naqsh-I Jahan.
Shah Abbas used the idea of Sepah Street -built in Qazvin under Tahmasp- to build the new city of Isfahan and expanded it on a larger scale and in a more general function. The recreational facilities of ChaharBagh like were a special place for pedestrians and riders, green spaces and seating areas, fountains, coffeehouses, teahouses, and different stores, provided a space where people could walk and spend their time regardless of their caste. Almost all European traveler, who visited Isfahan called Chaharbagh “Isfahan’s public green promenade. Allah Verdi Khan Bridge under Abbas I and Khaju Bridge under Abbas II with their special architecture, create an excursion space in urban life alongside the passage. About Maydan, we do not claim that its functions are completely new and there are no examples in the preceding periods. But according to historical narratives, we know that the main purpose of its building, at the first step, probably was to hold imperial ceremonies and entertainment. No matter what the purpose of such building, the activities carried out are a good witness to the fact that this square is a place of entertainment for the people.
When Shah Abbas I came to power in 1627, he took steps to renew the spatial configuration of the city of Isfahan compatible with the policy of the Safavid dynasty. Therefore, the old city of Isfahan was rebuilt and a new city was built in the west and southwest of the old one and outside the city walls. As Jonabadi says in Rouza-al-Safavieh, the city of Isfahan was divided into two parts, the old city and the new one. In the meantime, the expansion of the city and improvement of its facilities was priority to the Safavid kings, especially Shah Abbas I. Therefore, the beauty and splendor of the city and the comfort of the people in the urban life was results of this perspective which found a strong physically expression in the urban body especially in gardens and Charbagh, bridges and Naqsh-e-Jahan square.
The emergence of recreation in the urban structure of Safavid Isfahan was made possible by Chaharbagh Street and new public gardens, bridges, squares along with coffeehouses, pubs, shops, baths and etc. Of course, mutually, design and urban elements were also effective in increasing and promoting the idea of recreation. In this study, we sought to expand the domain of the word “recreational system” and showed that it is possible to include thoughtful urban designs in this organized system. Thus, the idea of recreation evolves in the tangible realm (urban structure) and in the intangible one (the daily life). Based on all the above, we can now say that this new idea has not been like this before the Safavid era, or at least we can say that Isfahan is one of the first examples in this sense. This makes the city look like a new city in the modern world, so it allows us to draw a line between old and new urban planning in Iran and realize that we are facing a kind of urban modernization here. Now, with such an analytical approach, we are able to study the urban planning of Isfahan once again, considering the new components.