One of the towns we liked the most in Iran was, as is often the case, one of which we had barely no idea that it existed at the beginning of the journey.
Although it is quite internationally well known lately, it got us a little by surprise since we arrived without having any kind of expectation. Moreover, we arrived in full Nowruz, the new Persian year, so its streets were full with locals on holidays visiting Abyaneh.
The town of Abyaneh
Abyaneh is a small village located in the center of the country about 40 km away from the highway that goes from Kashan to Isfahan, making it very easy to reach it.
It is situated between the lateral and the feet of the Karkas mountain and it is fascinating to pass by its dozens of alleys, all of them unpaved evidently, that take you by small houses that have been constructed since 2,500 years ago, when the town was founded.
All the houses and buildings of Abyaneh are built with clay and mud bricks, and their color ends up being very similar to the mountains that surround it. A reddish color due to the iron oxide of those lands, so you end up confusing the city with the nature of the place.
Like any Iranian town or city, it has a Jameh mosque. This was built almost 1,000 years ago and although it is quite small it has a lot of charm, even more because its beautiful and detailed wooden roof.
Tourism in Iran is growing and so does the price of tourist activities so although before the entrance to the city was free, now when you get to the village you will see a barrier and if you are a foreigner you will have to pay an entrance fee. It costs 100,000 Rs (2.5€) and comes with a booklet with short explanations of the most important constructions of the town and a map to locate yourself.
Own traditions still preserved
Finding itself lost in the mountains many miles from other villages, this town had and preserves a very different kind of dressings and a Persian dialect of its own, which maintains some characteristics of the language of the Sassanid empire, the Pahlavi.
Women are usually dressed in clothing and hijab much more colorful than in the rest of the country, typically with a floral patterns. Their hijab is a little longer and commonly covers the shoulders, back and chest, and they also wear a skirt that long until below the knees. On the other hand, men usually wear very wide trousers.
Although the presence of the different mosques will make you think that its inhabitants are, as in big part of the country, Muslims, the truth is they are rather Zoroastrian. When the Arab invasion occurred, many followers of Zoroastrianism took refuge in Abyaneh and with the time past, one can see that they did not lose it. You can notice its religious origins in the same temple of fire, which is the only building of the whole town built with stones, and you will surely find it on your way through the city as it is on the main street.
Nowadays, it is estimated that there is only about 150 people living in the village, since a large part of its inhabitants have gradually left their village to work in large cities of the country.
The wonderful nature that surrounds you
Abyaneh has a lot of charm, indeed, but much of it comes from its location.
This village is surrounded by big mountains that make you see the village even smaller than it is. To the south of Abyaneh, there is a mountain with a Sassanid fortification called Palahamoona, from where you will have the best view of the town you can wish for. Being in Abyaneh is very nice, but seeing it from the distance of this ancient fortification, amazing.
If you have time and you like nature, you should do some trekking through the mountains of the area, which you will also love.
And since you are there, check Natanz and Hanjan out
If you are going to visit Abyaneh on the way to Isfahan or Kashan, you can take advantage to pass through this couple of villages that are nearby.
Natanz is quite known for its beautiful mosque in the center of the village, but that was not what we remember the most, but the so-called ‘Natanz Old Bazaar’. Although it may seem like a shop from the outside, this is a kind of museum of miniatures all created by hand by the same man, which show you different situations of life in ancient Persia. From houses, bazaars, games, kinds of transport, etc, all of them created with much details and affection during several years of work.
In the case of Hanjan, it is not at all known but we decided to stop when passing by, we saw a semi-destroyed fortification at the top of a precipice. The fortification is totally open and you can go from one side to another at your whim. And the people of the village, who are not used at all to local or foreign tourists, will all come to ask what you do there, if you got lost on your way to Abyaneh and if they can take a picture with you to remember that moment.
In short, every day more and more people on their route around the country include Abyaneh, and they do so rightly. It will not be one of those places where you find a mega-building of a mosque or something similar, but it is one of those towns that you fall in love from the first moment and leave you with a great memory, not only for what you have seen but for what you have felt.