Khaju Bridge is located in the east part of the Si O Se Pol Bridge in Isfahan. Khaju or Royal Bridge was built over of the foundations of the Hasan Abad Bridge in 15th century, in Timurid period. The architectural characteristics of this bridge like decorations and tile works make it more special between other bridges in Isfahan. The existing Khaju Bridge was built by order of shah Abbas II in 1650 and in Safavid era. The Safavid Empire at the beginning had sufi religious which goes back to Safi al-din (1252-1334) but he converted to Shi’ism that is very similar to today’s Iranian religious. It is the only bridge in Iran with tile decoration. Khaju is derived from the word “Khajeh” which is a title for courtiers and those close to the royal family and since they lived near this bridge itself are called Khaju. It is a double decker bridge. The top part was used for caravans to pass over with covered corridors for pedestrians on both sides and the lower part was especially for pedestrians only and a place for leisure and recreation.
This bridge is a multifunctional structure. Obstructing the lower sluices caused the water level to rise upstream allowing it to be used as a lake for boating during festivals. Fireworks were also enjoyed at this bridge with the reflections enhancing the spectacle. Khaju Bridge has 137m long and 12m wide. Its 21 sluices had stone grooves and could regulated water flow by placing wooden panels in these grooves. When closed, the water level would rise on the western side of the bridge which could also fill the underground reservoirs saving essential water for the hot seasons. There are two alcoves called “Shah-neshin” in the middle of the eastern and western side of the top part. Each has a large room overlooking three balconies. The rooms and balconies are decorated with mural paintings mostly from the Qajarid period (19th century) over painting those from the 17th century Safavid period. Looking down on the stone foundations and the flowing water gives the impression of being on a moving boat. During a flood, these conical shaped structures on the upper and lower parts help water to pass through the bridge and avoiding damage to the bridge itself.
There are two stone lions on the north and south parts of bridge which people on that time believed that lines can keep the country safe and can remove bad waves. The mausoleum of Arthur Pope and his wife Phyllis Ackerman also is situated nearby. In words of Arthur Pope and Jean Chardin, Khaju is “the culminating monument of Persian bridge architecture and one of the most interesting bridges extant … where the whole has rhythm and dignity and combines in the happiest consistency, utility, beauty, and recreation”. Arthur Pope was an American expert on Iranian art and the editor of the “Survey of Persian Art”. He was also a university professor of philosophy and aesthetics, archaeologist, photographer, political activist, museum director and planner, pianist, interior designer, and founder of an international scholarly organization. This bridge linked two Zoroastrian quarters and north banks, through the river Zayandeh Rud. The bridge is constructed with multi-purposes, not only used for transportation but also as weir. The primary function of this bridge was for public meeting or as a tea-house.