The bazaar of Isfahan is a vault and non-linear, two kilometer long street that links the old city, the Friday mosque and the old square (maidan) with Shah Abbas' new maidan to its southwest. It was built and expanded over many centuries beginning as early as the 10th century. The most important recorded extension was during the reign of Shah Abbas I, between 1617 and 1619. This portion of the bazaar is referred to as the Royal Bazaar, or Qaysariya. The Qaysariya also refers specifically to the large portal that faces onto the new maidan. This portal serves as one of the four iwans of the rectangular maidan and is mirrored on the southern side by the iwan of the Shah Mosque.
The iwan of the Qaysariya portal is flanked by galleries and crowned with a mosaic tile panel with the Sagittarius motif. The portal gives access to the Royal Bazaar, the Royal Mint and the Royal Caravanserai, beyond which begins the major artery of the bazaar. Mosques, hamams and khans are located off this main street, much of which is lit by circular openings cut into the brick vaults, creating shafts of light dotting the passage at certain times of the day. The largest of the vaults crowns the Qaysariya portal. The bazaar splits into various smaller bazaars towards the older section to the north, where each alley is dedicated to a specific trade.
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