The city walls of Isfahan are thought to have been constructed during the reign of the Buyid amirs during the tenth century, when the growing city was partially walled and a citadel constructed in its southwest corner. The historical sources suggest that amir Rukn al-Dawla constructed the walls.1While the date of the walls is unknown, the Arab geographer al-Muqaddasi described the city as "having twelve gates," and thus being walled in his account written in the year 985.2
Only fragmentary evidence remains of this early phase of urban development, but archaeological traces as well as the patterns of streets and local toponyms have allowed scholars to reconstruct the approximate course of the city walls and thus the shape and borders of the Buyid city. The city appears to have been roughly ovoid in form and encompassed an area "between 15,000 and 20,000 paces around."3It occupied the section of the city east of the Safavid Chahar-Bagh (today's Khiyaban-i Chahar Bagh, Khiyaban-i Shuhada' and Buluvar-i Kavah) and included the area around the Friday Mosque of Isfahan and its markets and old maydan (no longer extant), all the way down to the area just south of the Maydan-i Imam.
The city was divided into four major quarters: in the northwestern quadrant was the Dardasht quarter; in the northeastern quadrant, the Jubarah quarter; in the southeast quadrant, the Kara'an quarter, and in the southwest quadrant, the Kushk quarter. Large mud-brick structures that appear to be traces of this original wall were documented by the Isfahan Urban History Project in the Dardasht quarter in the area west of the hospital during the 1974 survey of the old city.
Muqaddasi, Best Divisions, 345.
Golombek, "Urban Patterns," 25.
Golombek, "Urban Patterns," 26.
Lisa Golombek. "Urban Patterns in Pre-Safavid Isfahan." Iranian Studies 7, No. 1/2 (Winter-Spring 1974): 18-40.
Muqaddasi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad. Ahsan al-taqasim fi ma'rifat al-aqalim. Translated by Basil Anthony Collins as The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions. Reading: Garnet, 1994.