Kashan, Rosewater capital of the world

Kashan, the aromatic land of rosewater is a historical town on the edge of the central desert in Iran. The city is renowned for its opulent historical mansions, owned by established wealthy merchants from back in the day.

Kashan, Rosewater capital of the world

Kashan, the aromatic land of rosewater is a historical town on the edge of the central desert in Iran. The city is renowned for its opulent historical mansions, owned by established wealthy merchants from back in the day. Only in the past few years, most of these historic houses have been restored, renovated and turned into boutique hotels for tourists and visitors coming to Kashan.

Kashan, the aromatic land of rosewater is a historical town on the edge of the central desert in Iran. The city is renowned for its opulent historical mansions, owned by established wealthy merchants from back in the day. Only in the past few years, most of these historic houses have been restored, renovated and turned into boutique hotels for tourists and visitors coming to Kashan.

My decision to go on a short trip to the city of Kashan was merely for relaxation purposes. I had heard so much about the peacefulness of the town, and much more about the intoxicating scent of rosewater petals in spring.
The very first thing that captured my attention was a peaceful stillness prevalent across the streets of this city. Walking through narrow alleyways of Kashan’s historic residential neighbourhood, I arrived at Manouchehri Boutique Hotel. This private residence has been restored and renovated with the latest in modern amenities for guests staying over. A long corridor with high ceilings leads you to the lobby. The effective use of natural light through the brick walls and the ceiling creates a warm mood within the space. The placement of traditional hand woven rugs on the walls at either side of the corridor add to the authenticity of the dwelling. Once checked in, I make my way to the inner area of this mystical mansion, towards the back of the dwelling. The vivid distinction between public and private spaces is representative of traditional Kashan architecture.
My room is situated around a lush courtyard, common to Kashan’s style of residences. There are several other rooms at either end of the courtyard, guarded by pomegranate trees around a reflecting pool. The evident serenity and sense of privacy are main elements associated with dwellings in this city.

Numerous traditional mansions around the town have been restored and turned into public hotels for tourists and foreigners. They all share similar structural and architectural elements, unique to Kashan’s distinct style of dwelling.

The region of Kashan is famous for having some of the best rose fields, producing high quality plant extracts and elixirs. Spring is the perfect season for picking roses from orchards and making rosewater. Experts believe this flower was first grown in Iran, dating back to 2500 years ago. The first person to extract rosewater using a distillation process was the Iranian scholar, Abu Ali Sina. In months of May and June, the intoxicating scent of this flower attracts crowds of visitors to Kashan. Nowadays, there are many modern distilleries that facilitate day tours for visitors around the town. In the words of the late Sohrab Sepehri, a 20th century Kashan poet and painter ‘’we are not obliged to understand the secrets of the rose, perhaps we are obliged to become immersed in the allure of the rose.’’

Furthermore, the historic city of Kashan is famous for beautiful Persian Gardens and courtyards in the country. The Fin Garden, a UNESCO world heritage site is the oldest surviving Persian Garden in Iran. This stunning masterpiece was built during the early 16th century in Kashan and symbolises harmony between four natural elements of sky, earth, water and plants

Another iconic venue is the Sultan Amir Ahmad bathhouse. This public bathhouse was constructed in the 16th century, during the Safavid era and renovated in 1778 during the Qajar dynasty. The interior of this bathhouse is embellished with turquoise blue and gold tile-work, brickwork and artistic paintings. There are numerous private rooms around the main octagonal hall which are not in use these days. Walking up to the roof of the bathhouse, you can find an oasis of multiple domes, containing convex glasses to allow natural light through to the bathhouse, while concealing it from the outside. 

The tiny city of Kashan, despite being quite small in comparison to some other major big cities around the country has so much depth and history. The countless narrow alleyways around this historical town leading to numerous stunning dwellings resemble gates to heaven. What you get to witness behind these walls and the closed doors is surreal. The privacy of these courtyards, the oasis of lush gardens, the tranquility of the featured pools in the centre of the dwellings surrounded by divine fruit trees take you on a journey, hard to find else where in Iran.

Matin's Daily

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