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Abyaneh is a historic village in Isfahan province of Iran close to Kashan and Natanz. The village is in a long and narrow valley on the foot of Kakas Mountains, 70 kilometres southeast of Kashan. From the main road of Natanz-Kashan, there is a winding road that goes 22km deep into the mountains, passes several villages, and reaches to a valley with a historic village sitting in it. Houses in Abyaneh have a reddish colour that comes from the soil around the village containing iron oxides.
The alleys are narrow with mud-brick houses on both sides with beautiful lattice windows and small balconies looking over the alley.
Similar to other mountainous villages of Iran, Masouleh or Uraman Takht, Abyaneh has stepped structure with the roof of each house is the courtyard of the one above it.
There is no evidence to indicate the exact date of the village but historians know that it has been around since Sassanid dynasty (700 AD) for sure. The houses sit on the mountain slope facing east to receive the maximum sunlight and they are from Sassanid, Seljuks, Safavid, and Qajar eras.
Karkas Mountains and its surroundings were the hunting area for Safavid kings and Abyaneh was the destination for their summer vacation. Abyaneh’s high elevation (2222m) causes cool summer and very cold winter days.
Because of its mountainous setting, Abyaneh stayed isolated for many years and people’s customs and language is untouched and preserved. In Abyaneh people speak Farsi with a special dialect belonging to the village only. They still use some words from the Parthian era (247 BC – 224 AD).
Men wear a very loose pair of pants and the women’s traditional costume consists of a long colourful dress, along with a special pair of pants, and a white long scarf with a colorful floral design named Charghad.
Besides the charismatic beauty of the village, there are historic monuments as well. There is a Zoroastrian fire-temple dating back to the Sassanid period, three castles, a pilgrimage site, and two mosques. The most famous monument of Abyaneh is an 11th-century Jameh Mosque, with an ancient Mihrab made of walnut-wood covered with carvings of calligraphy and floral designs. The Jameh Mosque is closed and cannot be visited because of its very long and valuable history.
It is located on the northwestern slope of Mount Karkas, 40 kilometres from Natanz, in Isfahan province. It is 2,500 meters above sea-level. A road links Abyaneh to the main Kashan-Natanz highway in a region called Hanjan, which is 55 kilometres and 25 kilometres away from Kashan and Abyaneh respectively.
Abyaneh is mainly watered by Barzrud River. Set on the slope of the lofty mountain of Karkas, this village has a cold climate with numerous springs creating a favourable condition for agriculture.
Given the evidence found in Abyaneh, the village dates back to antiquity, but its golden age was during the Safavid era. The word ‘Abyaneh’ has been derived from the word ‘Viona’ meaning ‘Willow Grove’ (in the local dialect ‘vey’ means willow).
The village extends along the river. Although the village itself is situated on high grounds, in the past three castles were built to protect the people from enemy attacks. Furthermore, the configuration of Abyaneh protects it from strong wind and flood.
Abyaneh has a compact texture with narrow and steep alleys. Located on the slopes of the mountain, the houses are arranged in a stair-step shape, so that the roofs of some houses are the yards of others. Timbers, straw and clay have been used for building the roofs. The walls, built from red mud bricks are impressive. The mud bricks harden when they are exposed to rain. The houses have been built facing the east to get the maximum sunshine.
An impressive aspect of Abyaneh’s architecture is that the houses are uniform in appearance. The doors, most of which have two knockers, are wooden and built in traditional styles. There are beautiful patterns, poems and the names of the owners and mason carved on some doors. The poems demonstrate a good picture of the old Iranian culture. Many facades date back to the Safavid era. Beside the doors of many houses, there are small platforms providing places for passers-by or local residents to rest for a while.
The simplicity of Abyaneh houses presents a picture of life in rural Iran. Each room is used for various purposes. For example, a single room may be used as a dining-room, a sitting-room, a bedroom and a guest-room. To make efficient use of fuel, the rooms used in winter are architecturally different from those used in summer. To provide equal lighting for all parts of the rooms, there are several small opening in the roofs. The size of the rooms, windows and doors all indicate the simplicity of life in this old village.
Abyaneh is called an entrance to Iranian history. In some of the houses, there is earthenware belonging to a few hundred years ago. The local traditional clothes are examples of styles of great antiquity. It is said a woman of Abyaneh has inherited her wedding dress from her grandmother. The language spoken by the people is similar to the Parthian language (an Iranian language of the Parthian people who were inhabitants of an ancient country to the southeast of the Caspian Sea, now a part of northeastern Iran).
In addition to natural beauties, there are several historical monuments in Abyaneh, of which the following are of greater significance.
This mosque is magnificently impressive. Many tourists believe Abyaneh is worth visiting even if it only had this monument. The sanctuary of the mosque has a wooden mihrab — a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying — around which there are eye-catching patterns and a chapter of the Qur’an carved on the wood. According to date inscribed on the mihrab, it goes back to the 14th century. There is also a pulpit with beautiful carved decorations dating back to the Seljuq era (1038-1194).
Situated in one of the most ancient neighbourhoods of Abyaneh, this mosque has an impressive sanctuary. The date carved on the front door indicates that the mosque dates back to the 14thcentury. This is the oldest door found in Abyaneh, and its carved decorations are very similar to those of the mausoleum of Bayazid-e Bastami in Shahroud.
Located beside Mount Sakhreh Kuh, this mosque dates back to the Safavid era. Its sanctuary has pillars of wood, on which some verses of the Qur’an have been inscribed.
Ziaratgah (meaning shrine) is a magnificently impressive monument, attracting a large number of visitors each year. There are flower beds, brooks, a pool and a large veranda opening onto the vivid green valley of Abyaneh, making Ziaratgah a place worth seeing.
The other points of interest in Abyaneh are The castles of Haman; two houses of dervishes (dating back to the Safavid era and remains of two fire-temples (dating back to the Sassanian era) built in an architectural style called Chahar Taqi (four-arch style).