|Amin ol Molk Timche Roof|
One of the most fascinating sites of Kashan is its great bazaar. The first marketplace existed in the city as early as the J 3th century. It was, however, rebuilt during the Safavid rule. At that ti me, the bazaar was not only an important economic and trade center of the town, but also a place for social gatherings, public festivities, and even royal feasts.
Like many other structures in the town, the bazaar was destroyed during the earthquake of 1778 and restored Soon afterwards at the order of the Zand ruler. It was further expanded and modified throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The most notable modifications were undertaken during the rule of Fathali Shah Qajar, and the most beautiful sections of the modern bazaar date from this period. The architectural and decorative treatment of the complex is very impressive.
Its high vaults, lanterns, and ornamentation of the structures rival the best achievements of Iranian art. The bazaar stretches from Municipality Square (formerly the Dowlat Gate) to Feiz Square, opposite the Meydan Mosque, and branches off the main alley in numerous trade rows. There are more than 120 shops along the bazaar's main alley. Almost all of them are two-story and have a balcony on the upper floor. Often the alley is interrupted by spacious squares (chaharsu), which are usually surrounded by the richest shops. Much of Kashan's bazaar has suffered greatly during the laying of modern streets, and some of its trade rows, caravanserais, and depots are completely gone. Luckily, the bazaar still has many beautiful sites that make it worthy of a tourist's visit.
The most magnificent part is Amin al-Dowleh Timcheh, one of the numerous structures built at the order of Farrokh Khan Ghaffari Kashani, titled Amin al-Dowleh. The construction was completed in 1868. It is still an active trade center specializing in hand-woven carpets and rugs.
It consists of a roofed square encircled by rows of shops arranged in three stories. This timcheh is deservedly considered a marvel of architecture. Hajj Mohammad Hossein Malek al-Tojjar Timcheh is a roofed caravanserai near Amin al-Dowleh's structure. Also dating from the Qajar period, it is smaller, but equally beautiful.
Hajj Seyed Hossein Sabbaq Timcheh is located in the upper part of the bazaar. It Consists of two courtyards surrounded by three tiers of shops. Nearby is a well, built by the founder of the timcheh and bearing his name.
The Gomrok Caravanserai dates from the late Qajar period. It was built by Aqa Sharif Fadai. The facades of the travelers' rooms are decorated by strips of tile work, depicting scenes of hunting and festivities.
Other remarkable struc=tures inside the bazaar include the caravanserais of Nou, Brujerdiha, and Mirpanj; the mosques of Meydan, Bala Bazaar, and Tabriziha bathhouses of Khan and Gozar-e Nou; bazaars of coppersmiths, goldsmiths, dyers, Gozar-e Nou, Pa Nakhl, and Qeysariyeh.
The bazaar is the best place for purchasing the specialties of the Kashan region These include carpets, velvet, brocades, hand-woven zilu (pileless carpeting), rosewater and herb distillates from Qamsar and Niasar, copper vessels, sweets of Kashan, pomegranates of Fin, and dried nuts and fruits.