Naqsh-e Jahan, the World’s Second Largest Square Facing Another Catastrophe
Naqsh-e Jahan Square
(Click to enlarge)
LONDON, (CAIS) -- While the threat to the Naqsh-e Jahan Square in the ancient city of Esfahan from the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards’ building known as the Jahan-Nama Tower still remains, another catastrophe is looming to destroy the world heritage site.
A restoration project now underway as part of the square’s second floor known as Hojreh has turned into a destructive factor for the site, the Persian service of CHN reported on Monday.
Unprofessional restorers have used heavy mortar which has caused wide cracks in the ceiling, and the experts believe that catastrophic irreversible damage can be expected.
A restoration project conducted by the late Dr. Baqer Ayatollahzadeh began on the second floor about ten years ago, but shortly afterwards it was stopped and no specific reason was given for the halt.
A new restoration project started in that part, over the past year, to convert the structure into a museum.
“The new restorations are gradually resulting in a historic destruction,” member of the Esfahan Cultural Heritage Enthusiasts Society Davud Paknedzad said.
“The mortar used in the restoration has overloaded the structure and now cracks can be seen in the ceiling,” he added.
Some time ago, the Esfahan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (ECHTHO) replaced the ancient broken bricks in the ceiling in order to repair the cracks, but more have emerged in other parts, Paknedzad explained.
Experts have warned that if the overburden is not removed from the ceiling, the structure will collapse in the near future, he noted.
The 17th-century Naqsh-e Jahan Square alongside the surrounding Safavid dynastic era monuments, including the Shah[-Abbas] Mosque, the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, the Aali-Qapu Palace and the Grand Bazaar (Qeisariyeh), was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.
In 2006, UNESCO asked CHTHO to modify the Jahan-Nama Tower, a trade centre constructed by the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards near the historical square about eight years ago.
UNESCO had stated that the nine story building has spoiled the historical landscape of the Safavid historical complex.
The Naqsh-e Jahan Square (Image of the World Square) also known as the Shah Square (named after Shah Abbas the Great), was the largest city square in the world prior to the enlargement of Tian'anmen Square to its present size (four times its original size) by the Chinese government in 1958.
The square is nearly 1700 feet long and holds a polo ground in the middle. It is completely surrounded by decorated arcades and a bazaar, and the centre of each side is marked by a monumental building.
Naqsh-e Jahan Square, like many other Iranian heritage sites has suffered immensely since 1979 and the rise of the Islamic Republic to power. The latest destruction was done during the recent and ongoing national uprising against the regime.
In the aftermath of the June 12 presidential election, during the suppressing the protests, the Islamic Republic's securities and the militias caused damage to parts of the historical site.
Following the protests some 17th century stone-flowerpots were broken by the staging installed for the regime’s Friday prayer and also by various meetings by the regime at the site. Ancient tileworks and stones of some columns of the Shah Mosque have also been broken by regime's vehicles carrying the staging. In addition, since 1979 the blare of the loudspeakers installed by the regime at Naqsh-e Jahan for various ceremonies, has also caused damage to the Safavid monuments located around the square.
Ruling clerics in Iran, along with some other oppressive regimes in Africa, are amongst those who have no regards for their countries’ national heritage.