Freiburg and its partners all over the world
With its 2 million inhabitants, Esfahan is Freiburg’s ninth and largest twin city. The twinning between Freiburg and Esfahan is the first partnership of this sort between a German and an Iranian city.
In the Persian language, Esfahan’s beauty is immortalized in the saying: Esfahan nesf-e dschahan – Esfahan, half the world.
As early as the ninth century, Esfahan was a flourishing trade centre for cotton and silk which saw its heyday under the Seldchuks in the 12th century. Two centuries later it was conquered by the Timurids and became part of the Mongolian Empire.
Esfahan flourished again under the Safawid Shah Abbas I (1587-1629) who made it the capital of Persia. Under his rule the city developed into one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. Sha Abbas had many builders, craftsmen and artists come to Esfahan, among them around 5000 Armenian Christians from Aserbaidshan. These Armenians erected several churches of architectural importance, some of which can still be visited today in the Djolfa quarters of Esfahan. Sha Abbas I managed to turn Esfahan into a centre of art, craft, science and trade.
Thanks to its well-preserved mosques, palaces, churches and bridges, Esfahan is considered among the most beautiful cities of the Orient and has been declared a World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO.
The standard of living and the cultural life in Esfahan are above average compared with the rest of the country. Numerous museums, libraries, theatres and cinemas offer its inhabitants and visitors a rich diversity of activities and entertainment.
Economy and Tourism
Esfahan is one of Iran's most important industrial centres. Surrounded by grasslands, it is situated at the banks of the Zayandeh-Rud river, from which water is drawn for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables at the outskirts of the city.
Modern economy in Isfahan is dominated by the textile industry, petro chemistry, mechanical engineering and a great steelworks.
Its great historical monuments have turned Esfahan into one of the most important tourist attractions in Iran. It is visited by several million people each year.
The bazaar on Imam Square was and still is the centre of urban life and trade. Traditional crafts such as carpets, wooden inlay works, miniature paintings, coppersmith works, and traditionally hand-printed cotton cloths are on display.
A typical Iranian sweet called Gaz is made in Esfahan: its white substance made from the juice of the Gaz-tree is mixed with pistachios or almonds.
Esfahan has many parks and green areas which are irrigated with the help of a special system similar to the Bächle in Freiburg.
Knowledge and Learning
The world's first medical university with an integrated hospital was founded in Isfahan at the times of the Shah Abbas I. In 1950 Esfahan University was founded and today offers a wide range of subjects in science and humanities. Other teaching institutions are the Medical University, the Technical University and the Academy of the Arts. The entrance examinations are very demanding. An alternative to the state universities is the private Islamic Open University, but its fees are very high. All in all there are about 92 000 students in Esfahan, 50% of whom are women.