Check out Kashan – The Fin Gardens if you haven’t read it already.
My accommodation in Kashan, Sadeghi House, was really well located. It was very near to the Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse as well as two of the historic old houses in Kashan. These two houses and the bathhouse can all be visited on a combined ticket for 350,000 IRR, about 9€. At that price I felt it was worth visiting all 3. They soaked up a solid half day of my time in Kashan. The bathhouse was my favourite of the 3.
The bathhouse has been expertly restored and filled with well placed artificial lighting providing some really good photo opportunities. It would be lovely to be able to see it in use as a bathhouse, alas it is now merely a museum.
Perhaps my favourite part of my visit to the bathhouse, was the view from the rooftop.
In one direction you get a great view out over the city of Kashan. It gave me a really good feel for the size of the city and the architecture style typical of these smaller, edge of the desert cities. In the foreground of this shot are the sky lights used to channel sunlight in through the domed tops of the bathhouse roof to the rooms below. They are designed such that it does not matter from which angle the sun is shining, they will always capture some light to focus to the floors down below.
In the other direction the views were even nicer. There are some great views of the Emamzadeh Abu Lolo shrine and its dual minarets. Make sure to visit it after leaving the bathhouse (free entry).
Swivelling further around I was looking out towards the historic Borujerdi House with its dual wind catchers against a backdrop of the Zagros Mountains. I got very lucky with the weather, very clear blue skies. On a cloudy day I don’t think I would have seen the mountains at all.
Speaking of historic houses in Kashan, the combined ticket to the bathhouse also included a ticket to both the Tabatabaei House and House of the Abbasid. Both are excellent examples of historic Persian architecture.
I spent a few hours wandering around these houses, admiring the intricacy of the reliefs carved into the walls and vaulted ceilings. Walking around these houses I got a big dose of Prince of Persia nostalgia, a computer game I played a lot as a kid.
My final stop in Kashan before I needed to head to my bus to Isfahan, was the Bazaar of Kashan. Wikipedia tells me that the bazaar may be up to 1000 years old and contains over 3km of hallways and corridors. The long hallways are topped with domes built of brick and are packed with small vendors spilling out into the centre walkway. There is plenty to see as you walk the corridors and thankfully the vendors are not particularly pushy. A completely different experience to the one you might have in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul.
The centrepiece of the bazaar of Kashan, and that which makes it a must-see, is the Aminoddole Caravanserai at its centre. As you enter the caravanserai, the corridors suddenly open out into a masterpiece of Persian architecture.
What I liked most about this space, is that it is not a mosque, it is not a museum or a historical house that requires a fee to enter. It is just a space within a bazaar where people sell carpets and drink tea.
No one bothers you while you are here, and there are no tourists. You are free to walk around and admire the walls and ceilings. It’s very easy to take your time, take some photos and try to capture the light coming through the sun roof, playing on the walls, in the most photogenic way.
That’s a wrap for Kashan. Next stop is Isfahan. A city famed for its Persian–Islamic architecture, beautiful tree-lined boulevards and parks, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets.