WHAT TO DO IN KASHAN, IRAN
This is such a long overdue blog post! When I came back from Iran I was so excited about the 5 days I spent there, I couldn’t wait to write about it. Yet, I got majorly side-tracked and it is only now that I take the time to do a little post about the beautiful town of Kashan and the top thing to do there. If you are looking for more information about travelling trough Iran, you can find al my posts here.
When planning for 5 days in Iran, Esfahan was the most important part, yet I felt 5 days there was too much, so I really wanted to add a second destination. Time being of the essence, it had to be easily accessible by either road or train, and so we decided on Kashan. I had never heard about it before, but after reading up a couple of blog posts, I thought it looked interesting … and I was very right!
From Esfahan bus station, we took a morning bus and in 2.30 h we were in Kashan. If I remember well we paid around 3 EUR for the trip. Once you arrive in Kashan station, there is a line up of taxis waiting to take us to our hotel.
Here are the main things I recommend you to do in Kashan:
1. Historical Houses.
2. Kashan Bazaar
3. Hammam-e Sultan Mir Ahmad
4. Bagh-e Fin
5. Kashan Old Walls
6. Agha Bozorg Mosque
1. Historical Houses
Back in the 11th to 13th century, Kashan was a important commercial city, especially known for the trade of fabric and ceramics. Rich merchants built stunning houses, which are today the main attraction of the city. These houses have been beautifully restored and display impressive Persian architecture.
The most famous houses to visit are listed below, but you can find more as you walk through the city center of Kashan.
– Khan-e Tabatabei
– Khan-e Abbasian
– Khan-e Boroujerdi
You can buy a single pass that will let you in Khan-e Tabatabei, Khan-e Abbasian and Hammam-e sultan Mir Ahmad. Entry passes are available at any of those houses.
2. Kashan Bazaar
The Kashan bazaar is my favorite compared to Esfahan. It feels very authentic, with food, decoration and no Chinese crap like you can find in bigger bazaars. The architecture is really amazing, with some beautiful caravanserais. My favourite place of the bazar is Timche-ye Amin Dowleh, a 19th century caravanserai with gorgeous ceiling decoration and a lot of shops selling antiques, art and carpets. There, I finally got the chance to fulfil my all time dream of purchasing a true Persian rug and I couldn’t be happier! (More details about this at the bottom of this post)
3. Hammam -e sultan Mir Ahmad
This hammam is a great example of traditional Iranian hammam architecture, with gorgeous arches, wall paintings and mosaics. There is also an access to the roof that gives a great view over the city.
Hammam-e sultan Mir Ahmad
4. Bagh-e Fin
Just outside of town, you find the beautiful garden of Bagh-e fin . Quite a typical Iranian garden architecture, with water canals and fountains, it would have been absolutely stunning if it wasn’t so busy with visitors !
5. Kashan Old Walls
I discovered Kashan’s old walls thanks to the manager of our hotel who gave us an insider tour of Kashan! There is at least one way up the old walls of the city that give you a great view over the city, some old abandoned houses, some farming fields and an old “fridge”. Under the massive dome (that you can see on the right side of the picture below) farmers used to collect water. In the winter, when the temperature dropped and the water froze, they would put a layer of straws on top of the frozen water, then pour more water over it and let it freeze again. This way they were creating layers and layers of ice, that could be used to preserve food during the hotter months. Smart right ?!!
I can’t really explain how to get there, but I can pin it on a map herefor you !
Kashan Old Walls
6. Agha Bozorg Mosque
Last but not least, you shouldn’t miss the Agha Bozorg Mosque, the most important islamic monument in Kashan. I won’t go into the architectural details of the mosque (because frankly I am not that good at it), but I will just say that I loved it. Of course it doesn’t have the spectacular impact of Esfahan’s mosque, but the perfect symmetry, the beautiful blue decorations on the sandy stones, the central courtyard, all of this was really beautiful!
Did you know ? : On the main wooden gate, there is as many metal nails as there is verses in the Koran. Now you know !
Agha Bozorg Mosque
Where to stay, eat and shop in Kashan ?
– Saraye Ameriha Boutique Hotel: We were lucky to stay at this amazing historical house. The rooms are vast and comfortable, the service is attentive and the whole place is an architectural wonder. It is also ideally located to visit all the main Kashan attractions.
Food is very good and the 2 restaurants are open to non staying guests. You should probably consider making a reservation ahead.
Take a look at their carpet shop in the basement whilst you are there
– Mr. Coffee is a mini coffee shop just next to Saraye Ameriha Boutique hotel. Ideal to grab a coffee, a fresh orange juice and a piece of home made cake.
– Cafe Kargah: We stumbled upon this underground cafe by accident before opening hour. The owner let us take a look and I really loved the edgy decoration, inspired by the textile industry. We didn’t get a chance to try the food / coffee, but I would still recommend to take a look. It is probably the trendiest thing you will find in an otherwise very traditional town. I can’t find it on Google Map, but here is the exact address No55 Golcheghane All, Farhang13 All, Fazel Naraghi St. If you find it and like it, add it into Google Map.
– Zhee Showroom: I bought my carpet from this art gallery in the bazaar. I am not a very good bargainer, so I was very happy to find a shop with fixed prices. They also sell visuals arts, ceramics and jewellery and can arrange a delivery to your hotel or to the airport directly. You can also pay them through wire transfer to an account abroad, but cash is preferred.
– Bazaar: In the bazaar we bought some delicious coconut macarons, one of Kashan speciality. In one of the main alley, look for a narrow shop, with layers of cookies and candies displayed in the window and a range of colourful neons above the store front. They have very very good stuff!
More to do in and around Kashan
– Rose fields : If you are luck enough to be in Kashan in April, go visit some rose fields and don’t forget to bring home some rose water.
– Abyaneh : 80km from Kashan this village of ocher houses and winding lanes offers a beautiful view over the surrounding valley.
– Bazaar rooftop : Apparently it is possible to find a way to the roof of the Bazaar! If you find it please let me know!!!
– Weaving workshops : Kashan traditional weaving industry was once thriving, but declined dramatically after the introduction of industrial weaving processes. Yet with the help of a local, it is still possible to find a few workshops in the city. I visited an underground workshop near Cafe Kargah, and it was very impressive. As usual, the man at the workshop was the kindest person you can imagine.
I hope you got inspired to visit Kashan. If you need more info about what to wear in Iran or how to get a tourist visa or things to do in Esfahan, you can find a lot of information here.