Kashan, roughly midway between Tehran and Isfahan, makes a delightful stop on the journey across Iran’s central plateau. Long renowned as a carpet weaving centre (visits to workshops are possible), it is equally famous for its crop of grand 19th-century residences (known in Farsi as ‘khanehs’), built in a style perfectly adapted to the hot, arid local climate. The city is also the home of Iran’s finest Persian garden, the Bagh-e Fin, which was laid out in the late 16th century, featuring char-bagh-style crossed rills fed with water supplied from the nearby mountains by an ancient qanat system of underground pipes. The garden was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
Kashan’s surrounding villages are the centre of one of a particularly fragrant industry: the production of rose water. In late spring, truckloads of petals are harvested to make bottles of the Islamic world’s favourite perfume, attracting admirers from across the country and forming the object of several festivals. You can sample and purchase the full gamut of local rose products at shops in the lanes around the town’s khaneh mansions.
Another good reason to overnight in the town is Morshedi House, an absolute gem of a heritage boutique property occupying a 250-year-old house. Its focal point is a central courtyard with small circular pond surrounded by pomegranate trees, where you can laze with a book in the sunshine – a true haven of peace and quiet.