It is hard to believe that a city surrounded by parched deserts is known for one of Iran’s most iconic products. The city of Kashan, steeped in history, produces a highly prised rosewater, valued for its clarity and depth of fragrance. With its special place in the heart of Iranians, not only for its distinct sweet scent but as an aromatic embellishment to sweet dishes and refreshing drinks, Kashan’s rosewater distilling season is eagerly awaited by us all.
The short season spanning only a few days (from 8th to 15th May) brings visitors and buyers to the city and its famous rosewater producing districts of Neyasar and Ghamsar in droves. Almost all Kashanis get involved in harvesting the delicate petals of the special rose, named in honour of the prophet Mohammad (ص), the Mohammadi flower, and delivering it to the traditional distillation centres using age old essence extraction techniques. The copper distillation kettles of various sizes are rolled out all over the city with the scent of roses filling the air in the old quarters. Those lucky enough to be in Kashan in this period will not easily forget its intoxicating effect.
Whether it’s because of the allure and smell of its roses or the historic, artistic and unique climatic character, this ancient city has been a tourist magnet for many centuries. Shah Abbas I, the all-powerful Safavid King (1575 to 1629 AD) liked the city almost as much as his magnificent capital Isfahan, visiting and staying frequently and it is reputed that he wanted to be buried in the magnificent Fin Garden.
Visitors still come to this historic city today. There is much on offer here, remarkable courtyard houses, magnificent mosques, the beautiful and unique Fin Garden and pavilion and the colourful bustling bazaar offering goods, ancient and modern. The world famous and exquisite Kashan carpets are prime examples. Kashan is now one of a group of Iranian cities which have become a must for tourists.
The Sialk Hill
The proud Kashanis have restored and maintained their typical courtyard houses. Many have been transformed into hotels and guest houses, making Kashan a perfect base for visiting any number of attractions in and around the city. The Sialk Hill not far from the city centre has remnants of one of the oldest of human settlements anywhere in the world. Its weather-beaten ziggurat dates from 3000 BC and archaeologists have found artefacts which are even older (6000 BC).
A visit to Abyaneh, a short drive away, will bring visitors face to face with one of the most unspoilt of our ancient villages, where the built environment, local costumes and customs make for a unique experience.