After driving through a barren and brown landscape for hours, we arrive at the small town of Fin, just outside Kashan. As soon as we step through the gate in a thick defensive wall, we step into paradise. An expansive garden opens up before our eyes: under a canopy of branches full of green leaves, we see and hear water running through narrow canals. Looking back, the walls surrounding and protecting Fin Garden look as brown and barren as the landscape surrounding Kashan, but inside, we seem to be in a totally different environment. Fin Garden is a classical example of a Persian garden, laid out according to the four Zoroastrian elements earth, sky, water, and plants. The waterways divide the garden in four equal parts. It is a design that has been used for more than 2,500 years. Later, Muslims recognized the Garden of Eden, or the four gardens of paradise. Given its importance as a model Persian garden, Fin Garden now is a World Heritage site.
We start exploring the gardens by walking down one of the central canals, which brings us to the shotor gelous, the central pavilion, a two-storey building with a rectangular pool in front. Inside, we appreciate the fresh air. Right in the middle of the pavilion, a deep, square pool, with crystal clear water, which looks so inviting we almost jump in straight away to cool off. While the outside of the pavilion has blue and green tile-work to decorate the arches, the interior of the pavilion is much more austere, with only fine lines to give the high vaults an elegant look. After resisting the temptation to jump into the deep pool, we walk along another jub, or canal, to the rear of the garden. Here, we find a pool with 180 holes: half of them take water in, and the other half push water out, to find its way into the canals in the garden. The source of this water lies in the barren hills behind the garden walls.
We follow a canal to another pavilion nearby. Here, the artists of the Qajar period, in the late Middle Ages, have done a remarkable job. First, we see paintings of royals on the walls, with serious faces, or even without faces at all. Then, we look up, and see brilliantly decorated ceilings above us, with complex geometric designs: circles, stars, triangles, with paintings in blue and white. Behind the arches, we see the green trees, and below, water running through. Surely a garden of which Shah Abbas I would have been very content. After enjoying this recreational pavilion, we head to the adjacent hammam, where nationalist Mirza Taqi Khan met his end in the halfway 19th century. Compared to the richly decorated pavilion we have just seen, the hammam looks rather austere and dark. Once out in the relentless sunshine, we have a last look at the lush gardens, and when we step through the gate into the arid streets, it really feels like leaving paradise behind.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Fin Garden (Iran). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Fin Garden. Read more about this site.