Iran: Kashan

Kashan lies 3 hours by bus south of Tehran and after the hustle and bustle of a capital city, this was a town in which we could take a breath. Buses leave Tehran via Qom regularly and there’s no need to book, except if you’re travelling on Iran’s Holy Day which is Friday. On Friday, buses are loaded with Iranians heading for Qom, the second most holiest city in Iran after Mashaad. We must have been lucky when we arrived at Tehran bus terminal, because a VIP bus was heading to Kashan immediately. And I mean immediately. Within two minutes of our taxi pulling up, our luggage was stowed underneath, we were herded into our seats and the bus took off.

It was an easy journey and we spent our time taking in the desert landscape scenes.

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On arrival in Kashan, we jumped in a taxi owned by Hossien for the short trip to our hotel. Along the way, we teed him up to drive us to Isfahan in two days time. We are finding it very easy to organise transport in this country. It can be done on the spot, it is reliable, inexpensive and we feel well looked after.

Kashan is famous for its traditional houses which belonged to wealthy merchants from the 1800s who enjoyed a thriving trade in textiles, carpets and copper. Our hotel, Ehsan House, was once a traditional house dating from this era and its pretty courtyards, gardens and rectangular pools were cool and relaxing. We scored the room at the top – great rooftop views, but the stairs tested the calf muscles.

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Our room at the top. We had to walk outside to the bathroom!

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Other restored traditional houses, also dating from the 1800s are quite elaborate with their high mud brick walls, sheer size, coloured glass, mirrors, frescoes, wood panelling and subterranean courtyards. The following photos are of Khan-e Tabatabaei and Khan-e Abbasian.

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Manouchehri House is simply beautiful after its 3 year restoration, but with only 9 rooms, it is often solidly booked out. Since we couldn’t stay here, we booked into their restaurant for a wonderful dinner.

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Masjed-e Agha Borzog is a decommissioned 19th century mosque and visitors have free licence to roam around it. It’s impressive with its tiled minarets and Quran verses inscribed throughout. Clerics in training live on the lower floor and give the mosque a lived in feel.

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Nearby is Hammam-e Sultan Mir Ahmad, a 500 year old Iranian hammam – a bath house which is stunning. It’s not operational today unfortunately. Quite a lot of money has been spent on its restoration which revealed the plaster made of milk, egg white, soy flour and lime was stronger than cement! Coloured glass domes on top of the hammam let in much needed light.

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I quite liked this message inside the hammam regarding the wearing of the hijab.

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Of course, we enjoyed a few cups of the obligatory national drink; chai. Iranians have a lot of sugar in their tea in different forms; cubes, granules and saffron crystals. Coming from a country that has declared sugar a poison, it puts us in a bit of a dilemma since the tea tastes fantastic with sugar.

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Lots of different breads on offer, made and eaten fresh on the day!

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We found our way to this cafe which is run by a group of hardworking young people. They have taken a run down house in an area where many of the houses are in a sad state, and transformed it by rebuilding the mud brick and wheat walls and making modern changes inside. Their coffee and fresh fruit juices were very good. Got to admire youth initiative!

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We really liked Kashan and the two days we spent here gave us enough time to see the sights.

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