The bazaar of Kashan was a pleasant and unexpected surprise, even after the impressive antiquity of the Tabriz Bazaar and the huge size of the Tehran Bazaar.
Not too big that becomes confusing and tiring, nor too small that it becomes boring, the Kashan Bazaar shows easy orientation, not too busy in terms of visitors but never too quiet to make a visit boring. Here is possible to find a wide range of products, many traditional from Iran; not only the traditional and ever present carpets but also gold and jewellery, perfumes, wool, blacksmith, wood carving, cooper, religious articles… apart from all the products needed for daily life of who lives here, highlighting clothing and fabrics, scarves and chadors.
Spices, dried fruits and nuts are the most attractive products to a visitor; not only by the scents and colours of the piles of spices, teas, and herbs, but especially by the variety of nuts, almonds, pistachios, sunflowers seeds… as also plums, figs, apricots and the delicious dates that in Iran are the “queens” of dry fruits with stores selling exclusively these product, that have a special place in iranian diet.
Dairy products play also an important role in iranian diet, specially cheese, butter and yoghurt. In the street of the bazaar there are specialised stores selling these products, were the smell of fermented milk and the cold lights that illuminate coolers makes them easy to identify.
Other food stores are selling salt, sugar, honey, sweets, rice, lentils, beans and general groceries, with the trade organized and divided by type of product through the various streets that make up the bazaar.
Here and there appear courtyards that in the center are almost always a dry fountain, sometimes open air other covered; that were old caravanserais, where merchants gathering to make business with conditions to stay overnight and store goods, including space for animals, horses and camels. Currently they are used as commercial spaces, shops, offices and warehouses and are a nice place to rest or even drink a tea, away from the movement of the mains areas of the bazaar.
But between stores, located one after each other, almost all open to the corridors of the bazaar, you can also find sometimes mosques or even hamams, that are public bath places, with sauna and massage that are still popular between locals.
Time passes slowly and smoothly in this bazaar, where traders wait patiently for the arrival of customers, sitting at the entrance or inside the stores, shops or offices, where photography of ancestors prove the antiquity of these family businesses, many specialized in carpets.
But in terms of architecture this bazaar stands up towards ay others. Wandering thought the streets full of shops we come to one of the many caravanserais, but immediately we realize that this place has something special. The Khan Amin al-Dowleh Timche, formed a covered hall, which is accessed by three entrances, presents spacious, high ceiling decorated with a geometric pattern complex, that with the natural light that enter through the skylight in the center of the ceiling, produces a fantastic effect seeming to raise the place up into the sky, leaving us in the ground.
But this bazaar yet keeps another surprise: the visit the terrace. With the intention of having a view over the city I asked a trader how to access the terrace, which in this type of desert architecture is always flat and accessible. I was referred for a narrow stairs and conducted over almost the entire bazaar rooftop, walking on winding paths, up and down ramps, winning steps and gaps, skirting vaults and always walking towards the sun, that was driving behind the mountains.
Through the holes made for light and ventilation, sounds of radios, voices, music and fragmented conversations in a foreign language were coming up to the roof top… while resting pigeons in the upper parts of several vaults seem indifferent to the commercial bustle that dominates the bazaar corridors and the surrounding streets, that with at the evening reached the maximum agitation.