Kashan and around just in 3 days
Kashan County, with a population of over 302,000 people and an area of 7,955 sq km is located north of Esfahan, east of Markazi and south of Qom Provinces. It consists of four districts Markazi, Qamsar, Niasar and Barzuk, six cities Kashan, Qamsar, Niasar, Meshkat, Josheghan, Kamo and Barzuk plus nine boroughs. The only river running through this county is Qamsar River, originating from the Karkas mountains to the northwestern side of Kashan facing south.
Mount Karkas itself is the most important summit at 3,950 m above sea level. Although one part of this county is mountainous and the other is desert, it nonetheless produces a variety of fruits along with grains and cereals. These agricultural lands grow wheat, barley, cotton, tomatoes, summer crops, vegetables, apple, and grapes. Further, red roses grown in Qamsar, allow famous perfumes and rose water to be produced. Watermelon, melon, and pomegranate thrive around Feen and Ravand. Kashan City is a hidden pearl of the central desert margin. Backed by the Karkas mountains, it covers an area of about 21 sq.km and is located at 51°27' longitude and 33°59' latitude with an average altitude of 950 m. From a geographical point of view, Kashan is on the northern side of Esfahan Province. It has an arid climate, being next to a desert, but it enjoys mild and desirable weather during the last hours of the day because of the wind flowing down from Karkas Mountain. According to the last census, the population of Kashan was estimated to be over 200,000. Kashan is as old as this ancient land with relics of one of the oldest civilizations not only of Iran but of the world, being found next to the city at Teppeh Sialk. The remnants of earthenware from this 7,000-year-old civilization are a visual treat for visitors. This city has had numerous historical monuments that have, unfortunately, been destroyed or damaged by successive earthquakes. Nevertheless, the glory and grandeur of its remaining monuments are enough to justify it being called a minor Esfahan. Sialk Teppehs (hills) are on the southwestern side of Kashan next to the Kashan-Fin road. They consist of two main hills 600 m apart. The excavations done on these hills by Roman Ghirsluman reveal that these historical hills date back to the fifth millennium BCE. The objects found in Sialk compare to those found in Susa, Mosian, Gian and Hesar Teppehs of an indication of its antiquity. In all of the history of mankind, this place is one of the oldest settlements and of the highest historical importance. It is of world significance. Excavations have been carried out in three phases, first in 1933. second in 1934 and the last one in 1937. These excavations lead to the identification of 17 cultural periods, of which the oldest dates back to the fifth millennium BCE. An interval of over 1,000 years passed, before the next settlement continued on the same site. The more central mound has two separate gravesites with more than a hundred graves belonging to tribes new to Iran, namely the Aryans and the Medes.
The Central Kavir or Great Salt Lake of Iran is the relic of a large body of water. As the water receded, some small fertile plains resulted, and on these people settled. The oldest objects found date from that period and are found at the northern site. The first homes built were made of woven reeds sealed with mud, as the earliest peoples hunted and started to cultivate crops and domesticate animals. The excavation of stone tools provides evidence of these activities. In the next period, the list mud houses appeared, shortly followed by the invention of the polter's wheel allowing pitchers and other items to be produced. People eventually traveled and life was enhanced by Carly trade. However, all of a sudden, the northern mound, for reasons unknown, was abandoned. The discovery of a layer of ash over the excavated strata is an indication of a fire, perhaps caused by invading forces, as the cause of the cessation of activities at this site. The story continues at the southern site.
Aryans settled in the central parts of the Iranian plateau and imposed their civilization on the aboriginal people. Sialk pottery nowadays is respected in many of the museums of the world and is recognized as the best example of earthenware. Metalwork, contemporary with the earthenware, made great progress and copper implements took over from the stone tools. Decorative objects such as big copper hairpins were made using agates, turquoise, lapis lazuli, jasper, and shellfish. The earliest medallions were eventually made. The invention of stone seals and their widespread use show the importance of individual ownership of property. Local trades declined and cultural and commercial exchanges with other tribes were resumed. The existence of horse and carriage prints on the pottery of the southern cemetery, as well as iron swords and harnesses prove that Sialk had been assaulted by many invaders. In the last period of Sialk civilization, we can see the evidence of a tribe called the Medes, who over 100 years later became the founders of a great epoch in the history of Iran and indeed the history of mankind. These Medes forcefully entered Sialk and abolished the old customs and habits. Medes continued to live there for two centuries and were the final occupants of Sialk.
It is worth mentioning that late excavations have raised the question that this place may have been a Ziggurat temple complex, especially the central mound, but this has not yet been proved. The skeletons of a man and a child left there from the fourth millennium BCE testify that they had been killed due to the collapse of a ceiling. Fin Garden; a spring of crystal clear water originating in the Karkas mountain range and gushes from a spring called Suleimanich supplies Fin Gardens. The people of Kashan have built many pleasant gardens near this spring since pre-Islamic times. The ruins of the former garden clearly show a long period of occupation between 10th and 16th centuries. The garden we see currently was constructed after a devastating earthquake in 1574. Shah Abbas 1 abandoned the ruined site and ordered the construction of the existing garden in the early 17th century, moving it 500 m higher and thus closer to the origin of the spring.
In creating the new Fin Garden, the designers, architects, and artists aimed to establish a rationale and logical relationship between the five senses of humankind and nature itself. The design skillfully uses the flow of water in this garden, as it descends. Shetorgelu Pavilion, built during the reign of Shah Abbas I, is located in the central part of the garden. The water enters here and flows backward and forwards through the garden. The pattern is derived from Iranian gardens, as from this point, space is divided into four sections and in each part of the garden, some smaller gardens have in tum been designed. The Shotorgelu Pavilion had a four-porch plan overlooking the four directions of the garden. There was also a strong watchtower and a citadel designed to surround the garden since it was intended to house the Safavid kings when staying in Kashan during their travels. It was in this garden in Kashan that Shah Safi, the successor of Shah Abbas I, finally passed away due to alcoholic excess. The garden fared no better than the rest of the country after the Afghans' invasion and destruction in 1722.
Karim Khan the Zand later built a specially dedicated palace in the southern part of the garden, known as the Khalvat-e-Karim Khani. Before long, another destructive earthquake occurred in 1782 and Fin Garden was abandoned again. The garden was given a new lease on life under Fat'h Ali Shah the Ohrid. Under the supervision of his prime minister, the curb façade of the Abbasid Shotorgelu Pavilion and the main avenues of the garden were started along with the renovation of the big hammam and the construction of a smaller one. In addition, a new building called the Shotorgelu-ye Fat'h Ali Shahi (named after the second Qajarid king), was constructed. This building also has a four-porch plan, three of which overlook the garden. There is a big central pond, the flowing fountain for spring water, decorated with beautiful frescos.
After the death of the king, Feen Garden's fortune declined along with its buildings. A new king came to power who caused a historic disaster, the memory of which has remained in the minds of Iranian people ever since. The fourth Qajarid king, Naser ed-Din Shah ordered the murder of Mirza Taghi Khan. Also known as, Amir Kabir, he was a great man, considered to be without equal in that period of Qajar rule. He was bled to death in the hammam of Fin Garden and since that time the Fin Garden became a place of mourning. After a shaky era under the Qajars. Fin Garden was repaired and is currently a museum and recreational place for visitors.
Masjed Jame; whose original foundation was built in the 7th century, is located in Baba Afzal Avenue in Kashan. The mosque was renovated in the Buyid era and reconstructed in the Seljuk period and from this era, there is a beautiful brick minaret remaining with Kufic inscription giving a date of 1056. The mosque has had annexations and repairs but the reconstruction of Masjed Jame ended with an earthquake in 1782 which destroyed it.
Bazaar Historical Complex
located at the crossing of Baba Afzal Street and Kamal ol-Molk Roundabout as far as Darvazeh Dolat, Kashan historical bazaar can be seen. It is quite logical to attribute the construction era of the bazaar to Seljuk era. However, what we see as today's bazaar is related to Safavid and Qajarid eras. Entering the Bazaar complex from the west side, one can see two caravanserais, seven saraas, three abanbaars, six mosques, two hammams, three timchehs, and two madresehs. The most beautiful of these places is Amin od-Doleh Timcheh located in the central part. This timcheh is an architectural masterpiece of Qajarid period and built by Maestro Ali Maryam in 1875. The construction was an investment of one of the famous men of the age named, as one may guess, Amin od-Doleh. This magnificent building is constructed on three floors; first floor was storage, second floor for commercial affairs and the third floor for the relaxation of merchants. Its magnificent roof of matchless height is decorated with tile and brick works.
Borujerdiha Mansion is in the Sultan Amir Ahmad Quarter in Alavi Street, the residence of a famous merchant. It was built in 1865, the owner of Khaney-e Borujerdiha named the house after Borujerd City, a place with which he did much trade. The merchants of that city were frequent visitors to the house. Maestro Ali Maryam, the architect of this magnificent beautiful house also designed Amin od-Doleh Timcheh. The entrance to the house has two doors, one for andaruni and the other for biruni and has very beautiful plasterwork and vaulted decorations. A curved sloping corridor leads to a fourseason house. Around the central yard, are the four buildings used according to the season of the year. The northern part is used in winter ho taking advantage of the sunlight to warm the rooms. There are some underground parts built to be quite cool and pleasant in the warm summers of Kashan, but the main part of the building is the south. This has parlour with a high dome bearing skillful badgirs to cool the inner space and refresh the air. At the end of parlour, there is a shahneshin reserved for special guests. This two storey vaulted room, dating from the Qajarid era, is covered in elaborate decorations called sgraffito, which could only be etched whilst the plaster was still wet.
Tabatabaieha Mansion is located near Borujerdiha House and next to Sultan Amir Ahmad Mausoleum. The owner of the house was Seyyed Jafar Tabatabaei Natanzi and for this reason, the house has been named Tabatabaciha. This house has four yards, the central yard belongs with the biruni of the house, and the two small yards with the andaruni and a fourth yard was used by the household servants. The construction of this house, covering 4,730 sq.m, was completed in 1840 by the architect Maestro Ali Maryam. The andaruni section belonged to the Tabatabaei family and consisted of several rooms around the courtyard and a large 8 m deep basement. In hot summers, the temperature was brought down to 20°C using available wind. The biruni section was used by guests and for ceremonies. Rooms included a grand hall, a shahneshin in the southern part with skylights and latticed colored windows in two layers, stuccoworks and delicate mirror work decorations. There are two symmetrical backyards with beautiful frescos flanking the shahneshin. The servant quarters consist of rooms, basement, kitchen and stable. There are five gates in this house with the main one in the vestibule allowing entrance to andaruni and biruni zones.
Abbasian Mansion is in Sultan Amir Ahmad Quarter. The house was built in 1836 for Haj Mohammad Ebrahim a respected tradesman. After the death of the owner, the house was divided into 5 separate houses with 5 courtyards and flowerbeds. This house is one of the most beautiful houses in Iran in terms of architecture and decoration such as stuccowork, murals pendentives and latticed works.
Emamzadeh Habib ibn Musa
Emamzadeh Habib ibn Musa (one of the offspring of the seventh Shiite Imam) is located in Emam Avenue and is one of the more fa mous shrines of Kashan dating back to Seljuk period. The emamzadeh's 13th-century mihrab tile work is exhibited in Tehran's Islamic Period Museum. Safavid kings claimed themselves as his successors and showed due respect to him. Shah Abbas the first stated in his will that he was to be buried at this site.
Jalali Rampart; at the end of Alavi Street, two strong high walls can be seen. They are plastered with mud and straw remnants from the Seljuk era. Several times the occupants of Kashan were protected by these walls, which proved to be unconquerable by invaders. The remnants of Jalali Fortress are adjacent to Ghaleh Jalali which was attributed to Jalal ed-Din Malikshah the Seljuk, and was Kashan's seat of government. There are two domed buildings that served asyakhchals inside the ghaleh.
Agha Bozorg Mosque and Madreseh
Agha Bozorg Mosque and Madreseh; the tall brick dome visible from Naraghi Street, was built during the 1830s as part of the complex in brick with geometrical patter decorations, haft-rang tile work and stucco inscriptions. Two prayer halls around the lower courtyard form the madreseh with rooms for religious scholars. Its two-layer dome is one of the architectural masterworks of Qajarid period.
Atashkadeh Niasar: 30 km to the west of Kashan on the road to Ardahal and enjoys a moder ate climate in a mountainous area. Since the fields were once covered with reeds, it was called Neysareh (Ney meaning reed). The 14-meter high Sassanid structure, built with stone and mortar, is believed by André Godard, to be the first atashkadeh built for Ardeshir Babakan the founder of the Sassanid dynasty (224 CE). The atashkadeh was built on the Zoroastrian model prevalent in Iran. It
a good example of a Sassanid Chahartaghi and its beauty results from the harmony and balance of its structure. The neighboring Eskandarieh spring may have influenced its location.
Niasar Dastkand Cave
Niasar Dastkand Cave has four entrances and two separate parts and was constructed in a stony hillside wall overlooking Niasar. At its centre, there is a complex of seven rooms on different levels connected to the lower parts through underground corridors and walls. Another part of this handmade cave is a long sloping corridor connected to the garden. There is a surprising system of natural air conditioning which allows one to enjoy fresh air all through the cave. Its length is 780 m and 45 walls 18 m high join the different levels to each other. Its entrance is in the mountain and after passing through a 5 m long thin corridor one reaches a small room with five walls in it. It dates back to Sassanids or maybe Arsacids, and belonged to a religious sect.
Next to some pictographs from an early-unknown era are some inscriptions in the Sassanid Pahlavi language. They were carved out of the Karkas Mountains at a height of 1.800 m and record a short visit by the last Sassanid king, Yazdgerd III. Mashad-e Ardahal is 42 km west of Kashan. In this village, the tombstone of Imam Mohammad Bagher's offspring is an important focus not only from the artistic and historical point of view but also because a special ritual is held there. The foundations date back to a Seljuk period but three courtyards and an abanbaar plus the hammam were added during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The ritual is called Ghalishuyan during which one of the carpets of the shrine is carried to the spring and after being washed is brought back to the shrine with special excitements. They pretend this carpet to be the body of the Imam since it is said on his martyrdom, that people carried his body in a wrapped shroud to the spring for washing.
Chal Nakhjir Cave
Where is Chal Nakhjir Cave?
The Chal Nakhjir Cave is located near the Mashhad Ardehal a holy village close to Kashan and Niasar (10 Km)and also near the village of Naraq. The word of Chal Nakhjir means the hunting ground area. You can get to this cave through Salafchegan and Save high-way or Kashan road. But the best way is the same path as Salafchegan. To use this route, you must take the Isfahan highway to the town of Delijan and then enter the Naraq road. After about 15 km you can see the cave sign, and then you will arrive at the entrance to the cave.
Why is it special?
- It belongs to about 70 million years.
- It is a calcareous natural cave.
- Chalenakhjir is one of the most amazing natural attractions in the world.
- Crystal prisms and sponges, coral gardens, corridors, open-air corridors, terraces, and numerous ponds have provided a unique beauty to the cave.
- One of the most fascinating features of this cave is its viability, that is, if it is destroyed or cracked somewhere, it will be restored itself.
Of course, this repair will take many years.
- Air conditioning inside the cave is another feature of it.
-The Chal Nakhjir Cave is registered in the national heritage of the country.
There are different halls and corridors inside the cave, they called Brides, Tablecloths of brides, Angel wings, Horse, Chehelcheragh, Macaroni and football players. Also along the way, you will see very interesting shapes of the crystals and the base of the crystals. These sedimentary phenomena are similar to different creatures, such as eagles, turtles, deer, humans, pigeons, and so on. Most of these statues are made of lime.
The Abchakan Hall is another spectacular part of the Chal Nakhjir cave. In this room, the humidity of the air increases due to the drop of water droplets from the ceiling and walls, and there are almost no levels of dryness in the cave. But the most beautiful part is Chehelsoton(40 columns). At the end of the route, there is a roundabout of crystal cressets. Due to different circumstances, this section has a more cresset growth and the crystals seem much more transparent than the other parts of the cave.
What should you take with yourself?
Since the cave has an almost flat path, you will not need special caving equipment. But the surface of the cave is usually humid and slippery, then a proper shoe is mandatory.
If you are going to this area in a cooler season, have a warm coat. Photography is allowed in the cave, but you cannot use the flash. Facilities and amenities are available in the outside of the cave.
Ghamsar country land is 25 km southwest of Kashan where beautiful Damascus roses are used to produce rose water each May. The Damascus rose is a flower adapted to arid and semi-arid regions since it does not need water during the year but only in spring at blossom time. Pink blossoms are picked early in the morning and then boiled in 15 to 30 kg batches in big pots with some outlets like a pressure cooker. These outlets are connected through pipes to cooled jugs were the steam condenses as rose water. They produce different kind of herbal distillates from mint, dill and many other plants.
Aran-o-Bidgol County is spread out over an area of 2,939 sq.km with a population of 90,000 people. It is located to the south of the Salt Lake of Qom and Semnan Provinces and to the northwest of Natanz and to the north of Kashan and 195 km to the north of Esfahan. The center of the county is a city of the same name, with a population of 58,000 people. It is nearly 910 m above sea level. Due to the arid climate, roughly 80% of the population lives in Aran-o-Bidgol City. Most of the populated areas are located in the southern and western strip of the county whilst a vast area of the county is dry plain. Sefidab, Abrizan and Latif Mountains are the highpoints of the county. The climate is arid and the temperature varies from -5°C in winter to 50°C in the summertime. Natural and historical attractions of the county; One of the exquisite attractions is Maranjab district, a fertile spot right in the middle of nowhere. It is located in a remote area at 810 m above sea level, next to a very famous sand desert area called Band-e Rig. Maranjab is irrigated by two qanats with salty and fresh water. Maranjab is surrounded by Siahkuh Mountains in the northwest and to the northeast by Band-e Rig and Chahdastkan areas. Five kilometers to the west of Maranjab is found the unique phenomenon of the Salt Lake. Maranjab drew a lot of attention when Farah Abad in Mazandaran Province (south of Caspian Sea) was decreed the second Safavid capital. It was ideally located beside the stone-paved royal road which ran from Naqsh-e Jahan Square to Farah Abad in the north of the country. There were caravanserais for the caravans to stay overnight. The remnants of many bridges still can be found. Flocks of Iranian zebra, antelope, and other animals can be seen near Maranjab. The construction of such a road was not only for the caravans but also gave access to the hunting potential of the region. In 1692, the last year of Shah Abbas the Great's reign, a road was built from the Maranjab! Caravanserai to the hunting lodge in Sefidab. A palace was built next! to the hunters' building. The palace was 86 m by 47 m with two huge courtyards. The southern courtyard was reserved for the king and the hunting crew but the northern courtyard was maintained for the royal family.
The Aran-o-Bidgol to Maranjab road was the junction of some major roads giving access to important cities. It connected Esfahan to Kashan, Mashad, Garmsar, and Varamin on one side and to Ardestan and Yazd on the other. The major roads were important because they were connected to the Silk Road. There are a few caravanserais in the Maranjab area for which the construction dates are not clear but they were built before the Safavid era. Chahdastkan is one of these caravanserais, with the appearance of a stronghold. Two other caravanserais to the west and southeast predate the one in Maranjab. Maranjab Caravanserai was built upon the order of Shah Abbas the Great and is located 50 km from Aran-o-Bidgol City and 60 km from Kashan. The entrance faces east and leads to a brilliant hashti at the end of the four-iwan courtyard. The rooms for the caravan members are around the main courtyard. Stables with vaulted ceilings and a platform to unload the goods and the luggage are behind the courtyard rooms. In the four corners of the caravanserai are four watchtowers for security. The entrances to the watchtowers are in the stables and on the roofs of the chambers. A massive water pool outside the gate (supplied by qanat) makes the atmosphere very pleasant.
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