Kashan was an old city. It was just approximately two-and half-hour trip from Tehran by car. We traveled on Friday and it was seemingly a special day for Iranians who observe Friday much more than us, in Indonesia. I could see people offering tea and snacks by the streets -which is considered a way to respect Jum’ah. In Indonesia, Friday is just another workday, with an unofficial extended lunch break. In Iran, it was a bit different.
I liked it. It gave me some spiritual feeling.
Then we arrived at our hotel in Kashan. It was an old house and has been refurbished to a hotel. I liked everything at the hotel! The name of the hotel is Manouchehri House. It was originally built during Safavid Era. It has been renovated and became the first boutique hotel in Iran. It was even awarded Lonely Planet Top Choice in 2012. Highly recommended!
I couldn’t ask for more. The room, the food, the bathroom, the amenities, and the atmosphere were just beyond expectation. It was true that we were a bit struggling with the stairs. Given the perfect service it provided, I had no problem with that.
The excitement was not stopped there. We were then having lunch at another beautiful old house which has been converted into a restaurant. It was just a walking distance away from our hotel. Sorry, I forgot the name 🙂
With a full tummy, we were heading to Fin Garden, the oldest garden in Iran which was initially developed during Safavid Era. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 2012. As an engineer, I am impressed with the hydraulic system of the water network. I was told that since its existence back then in the 16th century, there was no single pumps installed to circulate the water through the piping and eventually out to the mini fountains across the garden. It is a very meticulous engineering design, I would say.
One tragedy took place in the garden. Amir Kabir, Chief Minister of Qajar dynasty was assassinated here during his exile period.
Tabatabaei House was our last destination on that day. The classical Persian high-class residence belonged to Tabatabaei family and was built early 1880s during the reign of Qajar dynasty. Apart from a variety type of rooms, the house is also equipped with basement, warehouse, food storage, garden, backyards and a huge central yard. The latter was used as the socialization point where the family members gathered, had tea, or simply enjoyed the weather.
One unique thing about classical Persian house is that it only has a fully closed front gate, instead of a front yard, like the modern houses. You will never be able to predict what is behind the gate and high fence, whether the house is fancy or simple. The front gates of the house might be low profile, but what stands behind is undoubtedly stunning.
For current standard, I think this Tabatabaei House is still glamour, yet elegant. Today and tomorrow, it will always stand out and untiringly tell stories about scars and joy from the past.
There are more antique houses such Tabatabaei House across the old city, often abandoned and waiting to be rejuvenated. While sometimes, they are too expensive to afford. However, I hope investors with good intention come to Kashan and bring the houses back to world’s attention.