Kashan is the first of the large oases along the Qom-Kerman road which runs along the edge of the Great Desert. Its charm is therefore mainly due to the contrast between the parched immensities of the Kavir region and the greenery of the well-tended oasis. Kashan is located in the north of the province of Esfahan and is to the south of Qom. To the west of Kashan is the Markazi Province, to the east lies the city of Ardestan and to the south it is within the limits of Natanz and Esfahan. Kashan has been overshadowed by Esfahan; however, it can be accounted as one of the archaic cities of Iran. Archeological discoveries in the Siyalk Hillocks which lie 4 km west of Kashan reveal that this region was one of the primary centers of civilization in the pre-historic ages.
Kashan flourished during the Sassanid dynasty; but, it was demolished during the Arab invasion with the exception of a few ancient buildings remaining. Kashan became prosperous again during Seljuq times and is known for its ceramics since then. Kashan once again was destroyed during Mongols invasion but it became an important town in the Safavid periods, and was the capital during the reign of Shah Abbas Safavid II. Some Safavid rulers preferred to live in Kashan rather than in the capital, Esfahan. A local historian wrote that Kashan's name is derived from "Key Ashian" which means place of rulers.
Kashan has long been known as flourishing center of arts and a cradle of Iranian artists. The cultivated, talented and dynamic people of this historic city have been particularly famous as manufacturers of excellent glazed vessels and tiles, weavers of fine brocades, velvets and silk fabrics, creators of superb carpets and rugs, and producers of various handicrafts, consistently being ranked as outstanding exponents of these arts and crafts.
Agha Bozorg Mosque
This mosque and theological school (Madreseh Agha Bozorg) is located in the center of Kashan. The mosque consisted of two large "eivan", one in front of the "mehrab" and the other by the entrance. The courtyard has a second court in the middle which comprised of a garden with trees and a fountain. Surrounding the courtyard are arcades. The eivan in front of mehrab has two minarets with a brick dome. The colors of arcades and eivan are restricted to blue, red, or yellow against a brick ground.
This is used to be a private home but now is open to public as a museum. This house was built in the early 19th century and consisted of a beautiful courtyard; delightful wall paintings and very unusual wind towers which help cool the house.
Bagh-e Fin is located a few kilometers southwest of Kashan, in the small village of Fin. This is one of the most famous gardens of Iran. This beautiful garden with its pool and orchards was designed for Shah Abbas I as a classical Persian vision of paradise. The original Safavid buildings have been substantially replaced and rebuilt by Qajar dynasty although the layout of trees and marble basins is close to the original.
This gorgeous garden with remains of its two story palace is a pleasant spot to relax in the shade. This palace is also notorious as the sight of the murder of Mirza Taghi Khan known as Amir Kabir, chancelor of Naser o-Din Shah of Qajar in 1852.
Friday Mosque or Masjed-e Jomeh with its 11th century "mehrab" was built during Seljuq period and has been restored several times since then. This mosque also dates back to Timurid Dynasty (15th century) and has a minaret with some ancient inscriptions.
This house was built in the 19th century and consisted of a charming courtyard and beautiful windows with color glass panes. This is used to be a private home but now is open to public as a museum.
The richest archaeological site in central Iran is the mound of the Tappeh-ye Sialk. This site was excavated by Ghirshman in the 1930s. The excavations revealed that the site is more than 7000 years old.
Sialk was occupied from the fourth millennium BCE until the 8th century BCE. Probably, one of the most interesting findings is inscribed clay tablets dating back to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BCE. There are also some records showing immigrants and conquerors passing through this region and settling near Bagh-e Fin.
The artifacts uncovered reside in the Louvre Museum in Paris and the archaeological museum in Tehran. There is not much to do or see there today unless you are an archaeologist.