One of Iran’s most historic and fascinating bazaars (other notable examples are in Tehran and Tabriz), this sprawling marketplace links Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Sq with the Masjed-e Jameh, 1.7km northeast. The bazaar’s arched passageways are topped by a series of small domes, each with an aperture at its apex spilling shafts of light onto the commerce below. While the oldest parts of the bazaar (those around the mosque), are more than a thousand years old, most of what you see today was built during Shah Abbas’ aggressive expansions in the early 1600s.
The bazaar is a maze of lanes, madrasehs, khans (caravanserais) and timchehs, domed hall or arcaded centres of a single trade (eg carpet). It can be entered at dozens of points, but the main entrance is via the Qeysarieh Portal at the northern end of Naqsh-e Jahan Sq, which is decorated with beautiful tiles and recently restored frescoes by the great Reza Abbasi depicting Shah Abbas’ war with the Uzbeks as well as hunting and feasting scenes.
Industries tend to congregate in certain areas of the bazaar. Among the more prominent are the carpet sellers, off to the west. Trade is busiest in the mornings.