By Afshin Majlesi

Khan-e Tabatabaei: another superb mansion of amazing harmony, architecture

November 20, 2020 - 21:3

Built for a famous Iranian merchant of the 19th century, this elegant house is composed of several sections each decorated with various types of art and architectural features, such as stucco, mirrorwork, tilework, woodwork, and stained glass. The fully restored house is now open to the public.

Khan-e (the house of) Tabatabaei is named after the late affluent merchant Seyyed Jafar Tabatabaei and his family. Built specifically according to the desert climatic and conditions, the house is located in the ancient city of Kashan. To find this house, walk south past the Khan-e Borujerdi towards a distinctive blue conical tower. The tower belongs to a shrine that neighbors the Hammam-e Sultan Mir Ahmad. Turn right after the tower and the entrance to the house is on the left.

Having some 40 rooms, four yards and basements, three Badgir (wind-catchers), and two qanats and water reservoirs, the house may fascinate you for hours. The main structure overlooks a large central courtyard with several secondary courtyards, accessed through passageways off of the central courtyard and its adjoining rooms. The result of this plan is that most rooms open onto more than one courtyard.

The hall on the northwestern side of the courtyard is a single-story room that opens onto a raised platform flanked by two galleries. The hall on the southeastern side is fronted by a portico rising two stories and opening onto the courtyard through three arches. The facade of the portico is ornately decorated with carving.

Each of the covered halls at its end of the courtyard is flanked by two smaller "back" or "secondary" courtyards. On the northwestern side, the hall opens onto two rectangular courtyards. The large hall on the southeastern side opens to two square courtyards that are covered by a partial ceiling in the form of a zone of transition with a large round opening in the center where one would expect a dome.

A large, rectangular pool oriented northwest to southeast takes the center of the courtyard. And a smaller rectangular one oriented perpendicular to the larger central pool marks the southeastern end of this assemblage.

The best time to visit the mansion may be the mid-afternoon when sunlight and stained glass combine to soak some rooms in brilliant color.

Many travelers opt to pass Kashan on their journeys between Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, and Yazd, because this delightful oasis city on the edge of the Dasht-e Kavir, is one of Iran’s most alluring destinations. Kashan not only boasts a cluster of architectural wonders, an atmospheric covered bazaar, and a UNESCO-recognized garden, but it also offers some of central Iran’s best traditional hotels.

Under travelers’ eyes

Here is a select of comments that visitors to the historical mansion have posted to TripAdvisor, one of the most popular travel websites in the world:

“Worth spending time here”

From the outside, it is just a house and I was not so much interested in it before entering the house, but inside, yes it is worth spending time here with guide explanation. Especially around the time of sunset is beautiful and recommended. (Junojules from Braunschweig, Germany)


The architecture is stunning. This is a fine example of how the Persian aristocracy lived. The ability to wander freely around the premises is a nice option. (DL2Some from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota)


If you have to make a choice: go to Tabatabaee house. It is perfect harmony. It was of the father in law of the other house in Kashan, Burujerdi house, which is more decorated, but in my opinion too much. (kathleenghequiere from Ghent, Belgium)

“Impressive mansion/house with lots of interesting details”

One of the most important houses or rather mansions in Kashan is The Tabatabaei house. Owned by one of Kashan wealthy carpet merchants, it is around 240 years old and has some amazing and fascinating details. The architecture is incredible! Much like all the famous houses… (chiquidv from Dubai, United Arab Emirates)


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