Kashan is much smaller and more conservative than Tehran. It's a place where wealthy Iranians buy beautiful courtyard houses and restore them to their former glory, for use as cool weekend houses. Complete with walled gardens, private pools, fountains and Iranian antiques, all decorated in turquoise, terracotta, pine green and teal, these sprawling mansions are slowly installing the city with its former allure. Winters are cold and summers scorching, so the best time to visit Kashan is early spring.
The Perfect Day
Buy a small packet of popular street snack chaghale badoom (raw almonds) for sustenance and begin with a walk around Bagh-e Fin, a lush historical Persian garden. If it's not too busy, queue for a hammam at the house complex - the very place where Iranian nationalist hero Amir Kabir was murdered in 1852. Head back to central Kashan and mingle with locals over a traditional lunch at Abbasi House restaurant, before leaving this so-called 'modest' quarter and following signs to other Kashani Houses. The many historical courtyard residences - lots of which now operate as museums and galleries - are clustered together, so pop in and out as you please. Tabatabaei House, Borujerdis House and Abbasi House are among our favourites. You must also make a pit stop at Manouchehri House to gorge on delicious cardamom and rosewater-flavoured cakes and rice-flour biscuits, washed down with sweet tea.
There are also lots of lavish hammams here, such as the Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse, adorned with turquoise and gold mosaic. Go for a walk around the Kashan Bazaar, where you can stock up on more nuts, tea and spices. Be sure to buy some freshly ground turmeric - the colour and smell is sensational. Unwind and enjoy the coolness of the breeze brought by sunset, before getting ready for an unforgettable dinner at the stunning Saraye Ameriha restaurant.