Kashan is a city in the Isfahan province of Iran. Kashan is the first of the large oases along the Qom-Kerman road which runs along the edge of the central deserts of Iran. Its charm is thus mainly due to the contrast between the parched immensities of the deserts and the greenery of the well-tended oasis. Archeological discoveries in the Sialk Hillocks which lie 4 km (2.5 miles) west of Kashan reveal that this region was one of the primary centers of civilization in pre-historic ages. Hence Kashan dates back to the Elamite period of Iran. The Sialk ziggurat still stands today in the suburbs of Kashan after 7000 years. After well-known Iranian historical cities such as Isfahan and Shiraz, Kashan is a common destination for foreign tourists because of its many historical sites.
Kashan is situated around 250 km south of Tehran. A bus ride from Tehran's South Terminal (Terminal-e-jonub) takes at least three hours. From Isfahan, the distance is 220 km, there are frequent buses from the Kaveh terminal, 2.5 hours.
For leaving Kashan, head to the 4 Kashan Bus Terminal.
Most historical houses and the Agha Bozorg mosque can easily be reached on foot. A taxi to the Fin Garden should not cost more than 80,000 rials (Jan 2016). For sights further outside the city, consider hiring a taxi.
- 1 Agha Bozorg Mosque. This historical mosque was built in the late 18th century by master-mimar Ustad Haj Sa'ban-ali. The mosque is not in use any more, the theological school in its basement is, however, active. It was here where Ustad Ali Maryam as a pupil started his career as a brilliant architect. Free.
- 2 Fin Garden. One of the most beautiful historical gardens of the middle-east and the world. It contains Kashan's Fin Bath, where Amir-Kabir a famous vizier of Qajarid was murdered by the King Nasereddin Shah. The garden covers 2.3 hectares with a main yard surrounded by ramparts with four circular towers. In keeping with many of the Persian gardens of this era, the Fin Garden employs a great many water features. It's one of nine world heritage Persian Gardens. 200,000 rials (foreigner price).
- 3 Kashan Bazaar. With its fantastic mudbrick architecture, it is one of the jewels of the city. Pay a small amount to one of the touts hanging around the bazaar and you will be led to the roof of the bazaar, where you can get an idea of the technical marvel of building such large structures from mudbricks and have a wonderful view over the old city.
- 4 Timcheh Amin-o-dowleh. Actually forming a part of the bazaar, this large structure was a caravanserai and has been renovated. Have a tea from the stand, take a break and look at the Iranian way of doing business here
- 5 Historical bathhouse (Hammam-e-Khan). Old hammam beautifully transformed into a tradional coffee shop where you can take a rest, drink tea or smoke a shisha. No entrance fee, 100,000 rials for a serving of tea with cookies.
- 6 Sultan Amir Bath. Beautifully restored bathhouse, with lighting installed to make the impression even more memorable. Don't forget to ask for the stairs to the roof. 150,000 rials (foreigner price).
- 7 Boroujerdi ha Residence. The house of Boroujerdi, belonging to a trading family who migrated to Kashan, was built over a hundred years ago. The construction date can still be seen on the covered inscription of the building, completion of which took 18 years of work by tens of laborers, architects and master painters. Since exceptional attention has been paid to all minute architectural details demanded by the geographical and climatic conditions of the area, the house has attracted considerable attention of architects and recognition from Iranian and foreign scientific and technical teams. 150,000 rials (foreigner price).
- 8 Tabatabaie Residence. A large house with several courtyards, which once belonged to a wealthy merchant. Experience how well the wind towers work. It consists of delightful wall paintings with elegant stained glass windows and includes other classic signatures of Traditional Persian residential architecture such as biruni and andaruni. 150,000 rials (foreigner price).
- 9 Sultan Amir Shrine (Imamzadeh-ye Sultan Mir Ahmad). Free. Women must be covered with a chador.
- 10 Ameri-Ha (Amerian) House (خانه عامری). Traditional house built in the mid-19th century during the Qajar era, the house is one of several large spectacular old houses in the central district. Like the other houses around it, it was re-built after Kashan was ravaged by a series of massive earthquakes in the 18th century. The house is now a boutique hotel.
- 11 Sialk Ziggurat. Claimed to be the world's oldest ziggurat, dating to the 3rd millennium BC.
- 12 Abbasian House (خانه عباسیان). A large traditional historical house built during the late 18th century, the house is a beautiful example of Kashani residential architecture. It is said to have been the property of a famous cleric. It has six courtyards that would fit the needs of different families. One of the chambers has a ceiling designed with mirror pieces so as to give the impression of a starry sky under the nocturnal glitter of candlelight. The house is now a public museum.
- 13 Al-e-Yaseen House.
- 40 Dokhtaran Fortress.
- Abu-Lu'lu'ah Shrine. Shrine of Abu-Lu'lu'ah (the assassin of Islam's second Caliph) was constructed in an eleventh century distinctive Persian-Khwarezmian dynastic architectural style, consisted of a courtyard, porch and conical dome decorated with turquoise coloured tiles, and painted ceilings.
- 14 Puppet and toy museum, No 43 Allameh Alley (signposted from Tabatabaei residence), ☎ . If you are tired of historical houses, consider this cute museum showing some Iranian puppets and toys. Workshop included. 50,000 rials (foreigner price).
- 15 Ghal'eh jalali. Walled fortress with grass field inside. Free.
- 16 Abyaneh, a famous, historic Iranian village is in Natanz County, near Kashan. With a unique reddish hue, the village is one of the oldest in Iran, attracting numerous native and foreign tourists year-round, especially during traditional feasts and ceremonies. The village has been called an entrance to Iranian history. The local clothing, for example, is in a style of great antiquity. An Abyunaki woman typically wears a white long scarf (covering the shoulders and upper trunk) which has a colourful pattern and an under-knee skirt. Even the most immediate villages' women have different dress style so that one could tell if she is from Abyaneh or not. Climb up a hill just outside the village to enjoy a fantastic view on Abyaneh. The village can be accessed on a day trip from Kashan, or you can hire a driver to take you to Abyaneh, Natanz (100,000 rial entrance), and drop you in Isfahan (US$50 per car including toll and gas).
- In the small town of 17 Niasar, you can visit the fire temple dating back to Sassanian times, a man-made cave, a Qajar palace, a waterfall, a bathhouse from the Safavid era, a water mill, and the village itself, of course. While none of the attractions is overwhelming by itself, it is a leisurely half-day trip.
- In spring, the little town of 18 Qamsar is worth visiting. It is the biggest center in the Middle East for producing rose water.
A trip to the sand dunes of the Maranjab desert, a salt lake and a caravanserai is on the list of many Kashan visitors (US$40 per car). It can be combined with a visit in the small town of Noushabad with its underground city (a shelter people dug to take refuge from the Mongolian invaders) and the mud castle and the Holy Shrine of Helal Ali in the town Aran va Bidgol. It is also possible to have an overnight stay in the caravanserai arranged, but don't expect too much comfort; also it can get pretty crowded with tourists during high season; US$30 per person including taxi ride (as of 2017).
- 19 Underground City Of Ouyi, Nooshabad city (10 km north of Kashan), ☎ . 09:00 - 17:00. Labyrinth of tunnels consisting of three underground floors. It was dug as a shelter to hide from the summer heat, but later was used as a hiding place at times of enemy invasions. Only a couple if hundred meters are accessible for the public out of total 4 km tunnel. A guide fluent in English is likely to give more information than just the room type. 200,000 rials.
- 20 Maranjab desert sand dunes (60 km from Kashan where the last 40 km is a gravel road). Several square kilometres of sand dunes.
- 21 Namak Salt Lake. Salt lake close by to Maranjab desert. The salt lake is not that attractive when it gets some water after the rain.
- 22 Holy Shrine of Helal Ali, Aran va Bidgol town.
There are a few must-dos in Kashan: make sure to visit the traditional bazaar and walk around a bit in the neighbouring streets to catch the feeling of an Iranian town on the fringe of the desert. Make sure to visit Fin garden and, if you happen to visit Kashan in the right season, the rose gardens in the suburb. And, of course, visit one or two of the historical houses.
For many travellers, Kashan is the first stop after busy and noisy Tehran. It is well worth to plan an extra day in Kashan, as its traditional hotels, the tea houses, and its gardens will inspire you to linger around, take a rest and recharge your batteries. For this purpose, the attractions are best visited without a guide.
Carpet and rose water are the two well-known products of the city. You will see numerous shops trying to sell rose water and other aromatic liquids to tourists.
The traditional hotels of Kashan all have decent restaurants where lunch and dinner are available. Apart from this, there are traditional restaurants near the sights, and several garden restaurants line on the road next to Fin Garden. All of them serve Persian food only. Fast food shops can be found in all busier streets.
- 1 Mozaffari Restaurant (سفره خانه مظفری), off Alavi Street (opposite of Tabatabaei residence.), ☎ . Traditional restaurant serving Kebabs and other Iranian dishes. Nicely decorated with carpets and a pond under a very high ceiling. Expect to pay 400,000 rials per person.
- 2 Manouchehri House, No 49, 7th Emarat Alley, Sabet Alley, Mohtasham Street, Kashan (There are foolproof signs from Mohtasham street.), ☎ , fax: . This little restaurant is part of the Manouchehri boutique hotel. It overlooks the inner courtyard with the fountain and is tastefully decorated. The menu changes daily and contains Iranian dishes with culinary ambitions. It is a good place if you are tired of the standard Iranian fare. Expect better service and higher prices than elsewhere. Expect to pay 500,000 rials per person.
- 3 Abbasi Tea House & Traditional Restaurant, off Alavi Street , Fazel Naraghi Street (It is part of the Abbasi traditional house), ☎ . Traditional restaurant serving Kebabs and other Iranian dishes. Nicely decorated with carpets and a pond. Don't forget to admire the intricate woodwork of the ceiling. Some of the items on the menu don't carry prices, inquire or risk to be grossly overcharged. Expect to pay 500,000 rials per person.
Kashan is a small town where the tourism infrastructure is not yet fully developed. Accommodation should be reserved well in advance if you travel in the tourism season. In the high season, locals offer private rooms.
- 1 Noghli House, No 20, Ab anbar-e-Khaan Passage, Paamenar Alley, Molla Habibollah-e-Sharif St. (Walk around the Agha Bozorg Mosque), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Traditional house around a courtyard. Double en-suite 1,500,000 rials, double shared bathroom 1,100,000 rials.
- 2 Sayyah Hotel, Abazar street. Double room quoted 1,600,000/1,300,000 rials with/without shower in the room, both including breakfast.
- 3 Hostel Green House, Gozar-e Agha Alley, Behind Al-e Yasin (Melal) Historic House, Emam Khomeini St, Emam Khomeini Sq, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twin room US$40, dorm $15.
- 4 Golchehregan Guesthouse, Motahhari Square (50 m of the Bazaar's Eastern Entrance). Extremely small rooms with concrete floor. Double 500,000 rials.
- 5 Ehsan House, near Kamal-ol-Molk Square (Walk west along Fazele Naraji Street from Kamal-ol-Molk Square. When you see the street leading to Agha Bozorg Mosque on your left, turn right into the alley. It's a few meters into the structure), ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. It's Kashan's first traditional house that was converted into a hotel, with a beautiful courtyard and free Wifi and breakfast. They have traditional rooms where you sleep on the floor, and rooms with bed. It is highly recommended to get a traditional room. Also ask one of the friendly staff to order traditional Iranian food (100,000-150,000 rial without rice). Be sure to book at least a day in advance as this place is very popular! Dorm US$15, double rooms between 2,500,000-3,100,000 rials.
- 6 Manouchehri House, No 49, 7th Emarat Alley, Sabet Alley, Mohtasham Street (There are foolproof signs from Mohtasham street.), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Traditional (or boutique) hotel with very nice and atmospheric interior located very close to the Bazaar. The inner courtyard with a water basin invites for relaxation in the afternoon. This house was renovated in a long process, pictures from the works are on display in the corridor. It is owned by an Iranian-Swiss lady who supposedly invested US$2 million into the hotel, and who ensures a European level of quality. It is popular and often booked out, reserve ahead. Double rooms start from 2,300,000 rials.
- 7 Amir Kabir Hotel, ☎ . From 2,500,000 rials.
- 8 Mahinestan Raheb Traditional Hotel, ☎ , e-mail: Info@MsrHotel.ir. Traditional house remodelled to be a premium hotel. 3,500,000 rials.
- 9 Iranian House Hotel (Kane Irani), No 8, Fifth Bastan Alley (Kooshk-e-safi), Alavi St., Fazel Naraqi Ave., Kamal-ul-molk Sq., ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Boutique hotel. 4,800,000 rials.
- Kashan can be your last stop in Iran before flying home. It is possible to bargain with taxi drivers for a trip to Imam Khomeini airport of Tehran, expect to pay less than 1 million rials (in January 2016). Alternatively, driver-guides can take you to the airport with a stopover in Qom to visit Iran's second holiest place, the Shrine of Fatima-al-Massumeh. If you choose this option, be sure to dress as conservatively as you can.
- Na'in is another desert city, to the south. It's a small and quiet town at the edge of desert. A perfect pattern of a desert town. Everything you like to see in a desert town you can find there. Take the buses to Yazd or Kerman or Zahedan and ask the driver to let you off in Na'in. There is an easier way; be on "Avarezi" check point to get the Tehran-Na'in buses which cross there at 13:00 and 20:00.
- Mashhad Ardehal