Kashan is a strange city, in a good and maybe bad way. Full of unique architectural wonders and such nobility that waves in the air. Kashan is an old city with a civilization of several thousand years. Apart from the famous Tepe Sialk and Fin Garden, which is one of the nine famous Persian Gardens on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Kashan is also one of the black tourist destinations in Iran. In the contemporary period, alongside the great tyranny of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, only one man with insight and deep caring stood up and made continuous efforts to build a better Iran. Mirza Taghi Khan Farahani famously known as Amir Kabir was murdered in this beautiful and pleasant garden.
While such a horror that lies within pages of Kashan’s history, years later this city gave birth to a romantic poet and painter with a deep aesthetic sense. Although Sohrab Sepehri is not buried in Kashan, his famous poem begins with this: “I come from Kashan, my season is not that bad, whatever I need to live, is enough. I have a corpuscle of wisdom, just as much taste, and a God who lives nearby.”
This is written on his tombstone in Mashhad Ardehal 30 Km away from Kashan as a reflection of his sensitive aesthetic taste and tenderness of his understanding relations between people and the world “If you seek me, come near but very slow and softly, lest shatters my tender china of loneliness.”
The people who settled in Kashan were cultured people who started the very core of Kashan. It is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world is based upon Tepe Sialk’s excavations. This specific part of Kashan is more than seven thousand years old. Kashan is the 28th most populous city in Iran.
Iranian geographers have mentioned Kashan as a small city but It had -and still has- every element a city needed, a rich history, good smooth weather away from industry’s pollution, prosperous, and was located in the heart of main trading roads. Many of the Persian’s well-known figures were born in Kashan.
Kashan was once destroyed when the Mongols invaded Iran but were rebuilt shortly afterward. When it was the Safavid’s turn to rule, Kashan became a pearl in their eyes and was often visited by them.
When Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar took the throne Kashan never had the slightest idea that its soil would be a shambles to a man greater than time and be damned long enough to get a bad reputation. History kept going forward and though it marked Kashan it also drew a line between those who stand for what’s right and see the bigger picture and those who back up evil and think only of themselves, thereby, Kashan gained its pearly white face back and shined again.
The hospitality of the people of Kashan makes you wonder how all this kindness and sincerity can be gathered in the veins and blood of these people. Maybe through time and what they learned from Amir Kabir, they now love unconditionally.
Kashan (Damasks) Rose Picking Ceremony
It has been said that Iranians were the first to extract Damasks rose by distillation. Avicenna dedicated parts of his researches to know and study the properties of Damask rose, its extract, and the water as the last step of distillation it.
In April, many people go to Kashan to attend or even participate in the rose picking ceremony. That is the first step. The rode gardens in April are so beautiful. All showing off cute pink roses as if Kashan’s cheeks have blushed, like how a little girl suddenly turns into a young lady. Rose’s fragrant scent could be smelled from everywhere and spreads peaceful sensations and your breath deeper and calmer, consequently.
Women and men, old and young, altogether, pick damask rose flowers, gather them in baskets and send some of them off to the distillation section. The water could be used for therapeutic purposes or to be used in several dishes and sweets. The rest will be dried to use in tea, yogurt, herbal drinks, and even potpourri.
Tepe Sialk of Kashan
One of the features of this ancient hill is that archaeologists have found several thousand years old pottery fragments. Thereby, Kashan is also known as the origin of pottery.
The discovery of weaving materials indicates that people who lived in Sialk were familiar with the weaving industry in one millennium BC. The inhabitants of Tepe Sialk knew how to craft tools for themselves by melting metals, as well.
However, we must know at the very beginning, Sialk dwellers lived in small rooms covered with tree leaves to keep them safe from the heat or cold. Later on, they learned how to build clay houses. The remains of cow and sheep bones are clear evidence of the attention these people gave to the breeding of such animals.
They were familiar with elementary kilns. Therefore, their ability to craft more advanced pottery improved to such a high level that no other civilization before them had ever reached. Pottery and weaving textile became their source of income and turned Sialk into a fine prosperous industrialized civilization.
Birth and death, as philosophical ideas, always hovered around early civilizations. As so, the inhabitants of Tepe Sialk did engage themselves with such issues. From what we learn of their remaining graves, they considered death to be another birth. Thus, they buried the dead in the form in which the child is in its mother’s womb with the legs and arms folded over the chest. The idea was so that they could enter another world as they were born.
Inside the grave, which was considered to be the house of the Hereafter, stones and clay tablets were placed in the form of a gable. Giving us a picture that once, they lived in rainy lands before migrating to Tepe Sialk. They build their houses in vertical triangular shapes and continued this tradition in building the graves.
Tepe Sialk was a Ziggurat. The excavations did prove that. A large city with Multiple divisions and it is more than eight thousand years old.
Let us first say that Kashan is like a huge treasury. If pink Damasks roses are considered jewels so are the traditional houses of Kashan.
Borujerdi House is now a historical site to visit. This House was built by Haj Sayyid Hassan Natanzi -a merchant- in the second half of the 13th century AH during the Qajar dynasty.
Like many Persian traditional houses, it consists of 2 external and internal parts, 2 main and secondary entrances, a porch, corridor, courtyard, summer residence, winter residence, kitchen, covered courtyards, and a large basement. The Borujerdi House has two floors and a three-story crypt in the southern part.
This merchant falls in love with the daughter of yet another wealthy carpet merchant (Sayyid Jafar Tabatabai). As the father lived in a beautiful masterpiece of architecture, he wanted her daughter’s house to be the same and so, Sayyid Hassan Natanzi erected his version of architectural art.
The historical Borujerdi House of Kashan was announced as the top choice of UNESCO in 2015 and 2016 in terms of the popularity of tourist attractions.
As mentioned above, Borujerdi House was to be a replica or as equally beautiful as Tabatabai House. Sayyid Jafar Tabatabai raised the bar higher than usual because his beautiful house is now known as the bride of Persian Houses.
Tabatabai House in Kashan has an area of 4730 square meters. Its special architectural style and the use of arches, columns, stunning and pleasant decorations, have made it famous. A perfect place to visit and be for hours, get a little lost maybe and let the house amaze you. This House is also a perfect case study for students who follow architecture at academic levels.
The exterior of Tabatabai House includes the frontal porch in the center with attractive skylights and colorful lattice windows. The side windows in this section are double glazed and -as other sash windows are- open and close vertically. There are very interesting decorations in this room, interesting paintings and mirror decorations, and plastering, including gypsum lattice windows that look like delicate lace fabric.
Abbasi House has greatness thrust upon it in terms of architecture and decoration. Hardly one could find a Persian traditional house within such magnitude and beauty.
Mohammad Ibrahim Abbasi, a famous china and crystal merchant in Kashan, constructed this house for 20 years.
Manifestations of original Persian architecture are reflected in the original designs and all kinds of decorations. Its beauty is so spectacular that it was considered as one of the candidates running for the award of the most beautiful Iranian-Islamic residential buildings and won.
This unique historical house with its stunning landscapes has been used as a location in the film-making industry. Many historical series have been filmed there.
Fin Garden of Kashan
Finally, let’s turn to black tourism. We have seen that Kashan has the potential to bewitch you with its splendor, traditional, and very loving people. However, this special site holds both horror and beauty.
To set these two aspects apart, first we warm your heart with Fin garden’s gorgeous aspects. This garden is considered one of 9 Persian Gardens registered on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It has all elements a Persian Garden needs.
Fin Garden of Kashan dates back to the Safavid dynasty. The garden covers an area of 23000 square meters. It has a central courtyard surrounded by walls, fortifications, and cylindrical towers. Compared to many similar Persian gardens, Fin Garden is supplied with significant water.
The most basic element of Fin Garden, visible almost at the first glance, has been water. The water is either stagnant like in the pool in front of the Safavid mansion pool, flowing (in streams and canals in between trees), erupting from the fountains or it emerges from regular holes in the bottom of a pool.
Each of the various forms of water in this garden evokes a special concept. The paradox, however, is that abundant water flows in turquoise tiled streams, in an environment where water is scarce. Giving life to trees that bestow wide shade while the arid desert and unkind nature lie behind the walls of Fin Garden.
The water comes from the Soleymaniyeh spring. Firstly, the water is directed into a pool behind the garden. Then by the difference in the height of this pool with the surface of the streams, creating fountains that throw water upwards has been possible.
Jamshid al-Kashi, a famous mathematician and astronomer of the late 14th century AC, invented a water supplying system for Fin Garden. When? Two hundred years before Pascal sat his Law. Jamshid al-Kashi used the law of difference in level and took advantage of the natural slope of the earth.
Beneath all the streams and around all the basins, at a depth of one meter, there are water pipes (pottery pipes called Tanbusheh), which are connected to the main basins on one side and blocked on the other side at the end of the stream.
So, water enters from one side and because the end of the pipe is blocked, water erupts out of the fountains. Because the ground surface has a slope, the diameter of the pipe has been changed to distribute the pressure. The beginning of the pipe is thicker than the end, so the pressure is divided and water comes out of the fountain at an equal rate.
All these beautiful elements, greenery, smooth weather, water, and a mansion with astonishing paintings know of the dark unhuman murder, happened in the Bath.
Amir Kabir began his chief minister during the reign of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar. He was also the husband of the Shah’s sister.
All he wanted was justice. He eliminated the middlemen who were making a lot of money without any trouble. The Qajar princes, or anyone who received a title from the court, took salaries from the treasury. Amir put an end to such things. He also paid great attention to Iran’s economy at the time and education.
He founded the first university of Iran and believed that if the people were aware, they would not be subjected to so much oppression and dictatorship. His efforts did not seem to agree with the princes because they were deprived of that former prosperity. Of course, Britain and Russia were not satisfied with Amir Kabir’s decisions either. Amir considered their interventions as one of the main reasons for Iran’s lag in all aspects.
In any case, the alliance of the princes and the foreigners, and even the mother of Nasser al-Din Shah, conspired against him. One fine night, they made Nasser al-Din so drunk that he signed a paper with the direct order of murdering Amir. In the morning, when he woke up, he regretted what he had done and sent a courier to reject his previous order. But death was faster and the courier arrived in Kashan when Amir had bled out in the bath of Fin garden. Iran was deprived of his safe and prudent embrace and mourned.