Kashan was my last stop in Iran, before heading back to the airport and leaving the country after amazing 10 days of discovering Persia. To be honest I didn’t have big expectations, I thought by then I’ve seen all top places in Iran that could have impressed me a lot and there was no way something would still surprise me. Big mistake! Kashan enchanted me, a lot, and I enjoyed every single moment there, falling in love with the beautiful old houses and laid-back atmosphere. While many tourists don’t bother with visiting Kashan for me it was one of two favorite places in Iran!
One of my highlights in Iran
The road from Isfahan to Kashan was rather boring, leading through the desert. I was supposed to take yet another bus between the cities but friends of my awesome CouchSurfing hosts in Isfahan were heading to Tehran and kindly offered me a ride as Kashan was on their way. Even if they barely could speak English the language barrier wasn’t that much of a problem, we both tried really hard to communicate and it was just fine. Some 2 hours later we were in Kashan, after saying good byes I took a taxi to the hotel recommended by Lonely Planet – Ehsan Guest House.
It was one of the highlights of my stay in Iran, really! Usually I don’t follow LP’s recommendations but in Iran it was a different story – both places that I stayed at (the other one was in Yazd) were so beautiful and charming, like from “One Thousand and One Nights”. Since I still had pretty much money left (and I had to spend them all, that’s how Iran works) my last night in Iran was pretty luxury, but I’m not complaining!
Beautiful mosque in Kashan, Iran
The best thing about the hotel was the location. I was exactly in the middle of the town and between all major attractions of Kashan. It was only few steps to Agha Bozorg Mosque – a stunning, 18th century building. Of all the mosques I’ve seen in Iran this one was the most empty one, during my visit there were maybe three other people around. It was amazing to have the place all to myself, I was able to carefully admire every single detail and focus on its beauty. It was just stunning! For sure it wasn’t the most breathtaking mosque in Iran but this very moment did the trick for me and made me like the place much more than I expected!
Traditional houses – the biggest attraction of Kashan
But the biggest attraction of Kashan are the traditional houses, a perfect example of fine Persian architecture. In 18th and 19th century the town was a favorite holiday destination for rich and famous, many of them have built their vacation houses in Kashan. These days it’s possible to visit some of them and even if at first I was a little bit reluctant now I can confirm they live up to the hype.
I’ve been to two of them – I expected them to be similar but I couldn’t have been any more mistaken! Both Khan-e Boroujerdi and Khan-e Tabatabai looked like nothing special from the outside but stepping inside is like moving into another world, the fairy tale one. The house is focused around the courtyard with the little pond in the middle but what impressed me the most was the decoration, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!
Mirrors, stained glass work, frescoes – it was all there! I spent pretty much time in each house, just enjoying the incredible beauty and vibe of the place. Being there was like moving back in time, it was easy to imagine how the life in the golden times used to look like, when those houses were full of people and vibrant atmosphere. Before going to Iran I was looking forward to seeing all the incredible mosques but as it turned out those traditional houses in Kashan impressed me the most.
Best place to eat out in Kashan
For lunch I headed to probably the most popular (at least among tourists) restaurant in Kashan – Abbasi Teahouse. It was pretty busy, the whole families were sitting on the carpets in special boxes and enjoying their time together. I was lucky to find a seat for myself, next to a lovely older Australian couple and their Iranian guide with whom I’ve chatted through the whole meal.
To be honest I wasn’t such a big fan of the Persian cuisine (maybe except of breakfast, I loved those!) and so lunch in Kashan also was just fine. But I didn’t go to this restaurant for the food, more for the whole experience and I got exactly what I was hoping for. The place was truly magical, again, probably the best one I’ve eaten out at in Iran!
Kashan bazaar – the best bazaar in Iran
There was one more reason why I found the city so extraordinary – Kashan bazaar. In every city I’ve visited in Iran bazaars were on my agenda yet the one in Kashan was the most authentic one I’ve seen. And the most beautiful one too! All the ornaments and decorations were incredible, you just need to look carefully around to see them all. The bazaar also hides miracles such as teahouses, mosques or hammams. It was also the only bazaar where I got lost for a while but it was a pure pleasure. Since it was my last day I did my Iran shopping there: spices, nuts, the best tea I’ve ever had or freshly baked bread, still too hot to eat it! Everything was a bargain and shopping was such a cool experience! Funny (or not!) thing is, I somehow deleted my pics from the last day in Iran so I don’t have a single one from the bazaar! Fortunately my friend Monika of Amused Observer visited Iran recently and was kind enough to let me use her pictures here so you can see what a beauty it is. Also read Yomadic’s post on Kashan bazaar.
Kashan – a perfect place to end the Iran trip
No matter how much I enjoyed the city, the majority of my time in Kashan was spent in the hotel and for the first time ever I was more than fine with that. It was yet another typical Persian house, with beautiful courtyard and a pond in the middle. Around there were standing numerous beds with massive pillows and I did a very good use of them.
I spent so much time there, just lying, reading a book (that’s where I found out about Chernivtsi, Ukraine for the first time, in the book by Anne Applebaum!) and napping. The water was hissing quietly, birds were chirping, sun was shining and it was just perfect. A well deserved and needed relax after 3.5 weeks in Georgia, Armenia (where dreams came true) and Iran. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending of my epic trip!