Compare and contrast the culture and society of the two important Muslim cities, Istanbul and Isfahan.

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Istanbul and Isfahan are incredibly important Muslim cities in both their historical context and within the modern age. Their importance, as with most of history’s influential cities, stems from their function as trading sites. Istanbul serves as Turkey’s cultural and economic hub and is the country’s most populous city. It...

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Istanbul and Isfahan are incredibly important Muslim cities in both their historical context and within the modern age. Their importance, as with most of history’s influential cities, stems from their function as trading sites. Istanbul serves as Turkey’s cultural and economic hub and is the country’s most populous city. It is situated along what was once known as the Silk Road, a trade route between Europe and Asia. Istanbul served as the linking bridge between the two continents. Isfahan has a similar history; it was once one of the largest cities in the world and still serves as an important Iranian city.

Istanbul was always culturally rich, but this label stagnated until the late twentieth century. By the 1980s, Istanbul reemerged as a culturally modern city with a focus on the arts, especially music. Artists were attracted to the city, and this continues today. Istanbul is also a great city for viewing the arts, leisure, and other forms of entertainment. It is also lucky to have many government-backed and private universities.

One of the most important parts about Isfahan’s culture is its architecture. The city is known for its beautiful Islamic architecture and is one of the most architecturally impressive cities in the Eastern world. Similarly to Istanbul, the city is known for its art; important arts here include weaving, engraving, and mosaics. Isfahan remains a modern and economically important city to the country of Iran. The city is one of the largest steel producers in the region and has several nuclear sites.

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Istanbul is actually a relatively diverse city, religiously, both currently and throughout its history.  Even though it was the seat of the Islamic Caliphate for nearly 400 years, the city always had thriving communities of non-muslims.  Due to its size and importance, Istanbul also had a great deal of history that remained influential as it was never conquered and destroyed the way that Isfahan was in the 18th century which actually caused the capital status of the city to be moved to Tehran.

Isfahan is also slightly less diverse, particularly now, perhaps because of its location within the more homogeneous region of Iran and in the midst of a non-secular culture.  The influence of Islam is huge in the city, perhaps evidenced by the massive and beautiful mosques in the city.

 

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