Evidence that we have designed and built places for public interaction for 9,000 years. Our guest blogger David Jones continues his travel blog from the Middle East.
Image: our first daylight view of Iran. Kashan with the Karkas Mountains behind - a 9,000 year old place!
Posted By David Jones*
After living in the Arabian Gulf for over two years now, my wife and I have been craving culture. Not mass produced, bling dominated starsitecture but real, old and interactive culture. So we thought “why not go on a quick jaunt to Iran”. It’s only 60 kilometres away over the Arabian/Persian Gulf. Mitt Romney didn't get elected so we weren't expecting nukes to be dropped on us. I must admit, almost everyone we spoke to did think we were crazy, but we had heard how nice the Iranians were. Buying the latest Lonely Planet for Iran settled the deal: “Iranians are the most friendly people you are likely to meet…” and so they were.
We flew to Tehran from Abu Dhabi, a 2 hour flight. We had hired a guide for 5 days and he met us at the airport with flowers for the wife. Not a bad start really (despite an hour and a half flight delay). Our first thoughts on abduction occurred when his mate turned up with a beat up black sedan (the Iranian version of an ’84 Corolla) which had no seatbelts in the back. The wife was a little freaked out, however we hopped in, hoped for the best and headed off to Kashan. This is two and a half hours drive from Tehran. I am used to bad driving in this part of the world, but Iran is proud of having the highest number of road deaths per year. Having arrived at night, we did not see much along the way, glimpses of snow capped mountains, signs indicating various places of religious significance and signs everywhere saying “fasten your seatbelt”. We arrived in Kashan at about 9pm and were unsure of what to expect. A quick walk up the street had everyone we passed saying welcome. Old buildings seemed to be everywhere. A quick review of the Lonely Planet told us that Kashan was originally settled 9,000 years ago and had possibly the world’s oldest ziggurat. Our hotel was on the fringe of this early settlement, a place UNESCO is desperate to get hold of, but the government can’t afford to give up all the land.
Image: At street level of a small merchant’s house – only 5,000m²!