Official website of the 15th Asian Games Doha 20061-15 December 2006
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Torch Relay

The Journey

Mashad -> Esfahan, Iran - Wed 8 Nov

Flame visits cultural capital of Islamic World

Day 32 of the 15th Asian Games Torch Relay and the Doha 2006 Flame left the Holy City of Mashad, IR Iran, for the 2006 Cultural Capital of the Islamic world, the ancient Iranian city of Esfahan.

A bright and clear, sunny day greeted the Flame Plane as it touched down at Esfahan Shahid Beheshti International Airport at 08:30 this morning, 8 November.

HE Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the 15th Asian Games Torch Relay ambassador, was welcomed by five girls and boys dressed in brightly coloured traditional outfits as he walked down the steps from the aircraft.

There on the tarmac to greet Sheikh Joaan were dignitaries from the province of Esfahan, Governor, Dr. Mourteza Saghaian Nejad; Mayor, Dr. Sayaid Morteza Saghaiannejari; together with the Secretary General of Physical Education, Mr. Behrouz Momtakhabi and representatives from the Iranian Olympic Committee; President Dr Reza Gharakhanlou and Secretary General Mr. Ali Kafashian.

Leaving the airport, the Torch Relay started it’s day with a reading from the Koran at Monar-e-Jonban, the Shaking Minarets.

First Torchbearer, the city Mayor, Mr. Bakhtiari, stood under the famous minarets which both shake in harmony if one is vibrated by someone inside. Once the shaking began, the Relay was off on its six hour, 40km route through the city.

Mr Bakhtiari ran across a small footpath then exchanged the Flame with Mr. Momtakhabi. The Relay continued on along the Atashgah Boulevard before crossing the 186m Marnan Bridge, built in 1636CE by the Armenian administrator, Khaje Sarfaraz.

After a loop up to Sofeh Park, taking in the beautiful Armenian Vank Church, the Torch Route hugged the banks of the Ziyande River:

Three more bridges were crossed, the Khagou Bridge, built during the Safavid Dynasty; the Sharestan Bridge, the oldest bridge in Esfahan and the Siospol Bridge, a unique construction with 33 spectacular arches.

Some of the alternative modes of transport used in the Esfahan leg of the Relay included grass skiers, a first for the 2006 Relay, kayaks on the Ziyande River – the kayaks escorting the Flame showing their commitment to the day by capsizing to show the Torch Relay logo emblazoned on their bottoms – and a horse and carriage along Charbagh Street.

As dusk fell on the city, the Flame arrived on horseback at the UNESCO World Heritage Site and second largest city square in the world, the Naghsh-I Jahan Square.

Overlooked by the breathtaking Shah and Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosques on the southern and eastern sides of the square, the Flame was handed to Ahmad Reza Kiani and Ali Malekpour who were joined by taekwondo world champion and Athens 2004 gold medallist, Hadi Saee.

Saee, Malekpour and Kiani walked along 76 metres of beautiful, hand-woven Persian carpet to the Torch Relay celebration site. Together they ignited the cauldron which initiated the performance of a traditional Iranian song sung in three languages; Arabic, English and Farsi, and a performance from a twirling dance troupe.

Tomorrow, the Flame travels to its last stop in IR Iran, the capital city Tehran, host to the 1974 Asian Games.

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