A Day in Kashan
Kashan is a beautiful oasis city in the Isfahan province of Iran. It is only a 2 and a half hour drive from Tehran and Isfahan both. I made sure not to miss this beautiful town on the way from Tehran to Isfahan because Kashan is famous throughout Iran for its amazing architecture, rose water, carpets and the famous Kashan style décor.
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Because of its location, it makes the perfect 1-day trip to break the boring desert journey between Tehran and Isfahan besides the amazing spots it offers to visitors. I do want to mention though that most of these spots were in pretty poor condition due to years of neglect. Some of them were simply crumbling and without proper care, they will be lost sooner or later, I really hope the Iranian government does something about it.
Getting to Kashan
I drove from Tehran to Isfahan, the drive was quite swift. I left quite early in the morning to give plenty of time to explore the beautiful city and by 10 am I was in Kashan, parking is quite easy to find.
If you are using public transport, you can take the bus from Tehran or Isfahan but the bus journeys take longer.
There is also a train service from Yazd and Qom but this is quite slow and timings are not very convenient.
Note: Do not take Isfahan or Tehran bus when leaving from Tehran or Isfahan respectively. You will be dropped outside the city on the main highway and will have to get a taxi from there, it is miles away.
I left around 6:30 am to give myself enough time to arrive in Isfahan not too late. The road was great and again the drive was swift.
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One Day itinerary for Kashan
Like I mentioned it is quite easy to explore Kashan in a day, the first spot I hit was the Fin Garden.
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Note: Like everywhere in Iran, the tickets for foreigners are much more expensive than the same ticket for locals. I was quite lucky because I looked Iranian, I got away with it a couple of times which was amazing, just remember how to say x people like ‘yek nafs’ for one person.
Fin Garden – Bagh e Fin
Most of the places in Kashan are located within close proximity of each other except Fin Garden. I decided to get done with it first before heading to the town. It was around 11 am when I landed at the door. I was lucky with a local friend and she purchased my ticket at the local rate.
The garden is nothing special if you have a superficial look but it is historically very important. It was one of the first gardens in the Middle East and still retains the title of the most beautiful historical garden of the Middle East.
The entrance gives way to a garden with a small domed building with many fountains and waterways. Towards the back is archway that continues with the waterways and small fountains.
The entire garden is surrounded by ramparts with four round towers at each corner.
On the left-hand side was the bathhouse. The legend has it that an important person from Persian history (Amir-Kabir; a famous Qajarid era vizier with a lot of influence) was murdered here by the King (Naseredin Shah). The story is part of Persian folklore. The bathhouse is in quite a bit of disrepair but worth a visit.
I spent about an hour there and with the garden getting busier with people, I grabbed my bag and headed to the town to visit the Old Bazaar of Kashan and grab some food. It was a good idea to visit in the morning.
A 20 minutes drive and I arrived at the Old Bazaar of Kashan. Most people see the famous Aminoddole Caravanserai and think of this place as a small market and an architectural wonder. There are a few things you must know about this place.
- It is still an active market with multiple markets in small alleys.
- Most of the streets and alleys are quite narrow and not very well developed.
- It is in quite bad shape and desperately needs restoration and refurbishment.
Despite an entry arch, there are multiple small alleys that lead to the centre of the market and out. Google map is a total fail in this maze and you have to smile and ask for directions from locals who are incredibly helpful. An older gentleman escorted us all the way to the Caravanserai and pointed us to a good restaurant for food.
Unlike many souks in the touristy spots, the Bazaar doesn’t have a specific entry and exit but in the truly Middle Eastern fashion, there are multiple small alleys that lead to the centre of the market and out.
Note: You will come across some people who will offer to take you to the roof of the market, I am not sure how safe this is so I didn’t go up. You will get the same view later from the bathhouse.
We arrived at the centre after some simple food and sat down near a small tea store to enjoy the beauty of this incredibly beautiful place. It was incredibly stunning even in this state. The light coming through the central oculus accentuates the tiles and highlights the contrast of yellow and blue.
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Agha Bozorg Mosque
The walk from Bazaar to the Agha Bozorg Mosque was barely 5 minutes. The mosque is of great significance historically and architecturally. It is based on two levels. The lower level was designated for the religious school and the students that lived there. I am not sure how active the school is, although I did see signs of someone living there.
Note: You won’t be able to enter during prayer times so prepare your visit accordingly, although prayers do not last more than 15-20 minutes.
The mosque was almost empty and we got enough time to explore this surprisingly grand mosque. From the entrance it felt like, it would be a small place. It has been a centre of education in this region and has produced some great architects since its opening in the late eighteenth century.
I barely had time to visit the last 2 spots on my list; it was a tough choice because in a small area there are three beautiful houses and a bathhouse but visiting all of them was not possible due to time restriction and it would be costly as well. I chose Tabatabaie House and the Sultan Amir Bath House.
Tabatabaie House is the stuff of dreams. I was almost shocked when I entered and found myself in the central courtyard. Because Kashan is located in the desert and it gets pretty hot here, a lot of houses are built below street level to keep the interior cool in summers. The stairs down lead to this beautiful house with a central courtyard and multiple small courtyards.
The house belonged to a rich merchant and showed off the tremendous wealth in a very tasteful way. The decor throughout the interior is beyond exquisite, detailed and intricate.
The fountain in the centre of the main courtyard and the ceiling of the veranda just took my breath away. My visit to Kashan seemed totally worth the hassle seriously.
Sultan Amir Bath
I felt a tinge of sadness when I left Tabatabaie house like I was leaving my own home for the first time, it felt like an amazing place even if I was there for an hour and shared it with lots of other people. I grabbed some rose tea on the way to the bathhouse.
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We arrived and this time we weren’t so lucky. The guy at the entrance wanted to talk to me (It is common for guys to take the lead in Iran and they usually pay as a sign of respect when they are with women especially). I had to get a full ticket but he was nice enough to let us go up to the roof afterwards without any extra money.
The bathhouse is made in Turkish style and it is in disuse now. The tiles show sign of water seeping through despite the disuse, there were some badly crafted puppets to depict the use of bathhouse in older times, they looked funny.
It took barely 10 minutes and we headed to the roof of the bathhouse. Walking between different size domes, we enjoyed the view of the city line of this beautiful mud-coloured city with patches of colourful tiles. The sun had started to go down and the sky changed its colour to softer tones.
A million photos later, we headed back to our car to avoid driving at night.
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Note: Within the same vicinity there a couple more interesting houses that show the beauty of Kashan style architecture, if you get a chance do check out Amerian and Abbasian Houses as well.
Kashan is a beautiful gem located between two giant cities; the former and the current capital but it has its own distinct presence and elegance.
Have you visited Kashan, do tell me in the comments below what you liked the most about this beautiful city.
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