Set against its backdrop of rugged desert mountains, with a foreground of poplar trees and fruit orchards, the red-brick village of Abyaneh forms one of the signature sights of central Iran. The spread of cuboid houses, which spill in dramatic fashion down the sides of a low hill, grew up after the Arab invasions of the 8th century when Zoroastrian refugees settled here, and retains a unique feel.

Locals speak a dialect with close resemblance to ancient Persian tongues, while instead of the usual black chador, the women wear white headscarves enlivened with bright floral patterns. You’ll receive a particularly warm welcome; expect invitations to take tea in a local home as you’re walking around the narrow, cobbled streets.

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