Wander through the historical red mud village of Abyaneh where local women still wear their traditional colourful costume.
Make every effort to visit Abyaneh in the hills, some 70km southeast of Kashan, close to Natanz. A small 13th-century fortress (panoramic pictures of the village are best taken from the remains of this fortress) safeguarded this picturesque Zoroastrian village until Safavid sectarian intolerance drove many of the vommunity to India; even today the official tourist pamphlet omits any reference to Zoroastrianism. A ruined but extensive fire temple built in three stages, perhaps dating from the 3rd century ce, lies in the centre of the village, and nearby is the Masjed-e Jame with a Safavid entry portal and vestibule, with a Seljuk minbar and a 14th-century mihrab inside the prayer hall. However, the real joy is the vernacular architecture of red mud-brick houses with wooden balconies and decorated doors, in narrow alleyways. There are no buses going this way and you will need to hire a taxi from Kashan. The return journey costs approximately 700,000 rials. Alternatively, you can visit the village by taxi from Natanz as intercity Esfahan–Kashan buses should stop here (but do enquire at the bus station in advance). You can also stay overnight in Abyaneh if you wish to explore the area a little bit more.
(Photo: Abyaneh residents in traditional clothes © Maria Oleinik)