Foreign Investors Eying Old Kashan Mansions
Italian and Swedish investors have expressed readiness to fund the restoration of historical houses in Kashan, Isfahan province, according to a senior city official.
One such an investor is Ian Newbery, a Swedish sculptor. While conducting a workshop in Kashan last October, he was attracted to the city's historical fabric and ancient architecture, and decided to contribute to restoration efforts.
"He's already leading a restoration project at one of the mansions here," Morteza Valizadeh, head of Kashan Municipality's District 1, told travel news website Safar.
Valizadeh, whose district is home to the city's famed historical texture, added that restoration of ancient houses is an integral part of plans to develop tourism infrastructure and plays a key role in drawing tourists.
Although the municipality has taken steps toward the city's revitalization, financial pressures have hampered progress. The municipality's plans to develop infrastructure have also failed to advance due to a lack of funds. However, a government initiative to bring on private investors to renovate old mansions is paying off.
"About 100 historical houses have already been restored and are ready to accept tourists, while work is being done on another 250 mansions," Valizadeh said, noting that private investors are obliged to repurpose these houses to lodging facilities or museums.
Kashan is home to many historical houses, such as Heshmatollah, Banikazemi, Hosseini, Ehsan, Tabatabaei, Boroujerdi, Ameriha and Abbasiha, all of which are named after the people who either built or lived in them. The houses form a large portion of the city's ancient texture.
Kashan Bazaar—considered one of the best in Iran—and Agha Bozorg Mosque complex, famous for its symmetrical design, are also located in Kashan's historical texture.
Kashan is an oasis city on the edge of Dasht-e-Kavir desert and has a population of 253,500. The city, which is a three-hour drive south of Tehran, boasts some of the oldest remains of places of worship (dated 6,000 or more years) and traditional gardens that were the playground of Persian royals. The city has been claimed by some as the home of the Biblical three wise men.