Isfahan from its ancient designation Aspadana and, later, Spahan in middle Persian, rendered in English as Ispahan, is a major city in the Isfahan Province . It is located 406 kilometres (252 miles) south of Tehran and is the capital of Isfahan Province. The city has a population of approximately 1.9 million, making it the third-largest city in Iran, after Tehran and Mashhad, and the second-largest metropolitan area.
Isfahan is located at the intersection of the two principal routes that traverse Iran, north–south and east–west. Isfahan flourished between the 9th and 18th centuries. Under the Safavid dynasty, Isfahan became the capital of Persia, for the second time in its history, under Shah Abbas the Great. The city retains much of its history. It is famous for its Perso–Islamic architecture, grand boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, tiled mosques, and minarets. Isfahan also has many historical buildings, monuments, paintings, and artifacts. The fame of Isfahan led to the Persian proverb Esfahān nesf-e-jahān ast (Isfahan is half (of) the world). Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world, and UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site.