If you’ve ever been captivated by the beauty of Persian carpets you’ll find travelling around Iran like looking over the inventory of a hand knotted rug shop. Place names such as the biggies – Shiraz, Isfahan and Tabriz – stand out, but scattered across the map are so many other familiar names. A road trip will take you past places such as Hamadan, Ardabil, Marshad, Kerman and Na’in, all famous in their own right.
Bringing the name to life can be revealing and surprising, Na’in being a case in point. A minor dot on the map between Yazd and Isfahan this world-recognised fine silk carpet hub is surprisingly unassuming for such a reputation. The main reason to make a stop in this quiet town of around 25,000 citizens is to admire one of the first mosques ever built in Iran, the roughly 1000-year-old Masjed-e Jameh (Friday Mosque). This weathered old house of worship, still very much in use today is, unlike many others in Iran, characterised by its austere appearance, adorned by decorative stuccowork rather than colourful ceramic mosaics or frescos. Built to cope with the same trying climatic conditions as Yazd the mosque has winter and summer accommodation, the latter underground offering significantly cooler temperatures in summer and warmer in winter.
Beautifully austere stuccowork at the Masjed-e Jameh mosque.
The air conditioned sections of the mosque, with ventilation.
Another attraction, in the old part of Na’in – well, even older than the 1000-year-old mosque – are the imposing ruins of the Sassanid-era Narin Citadel which is at least 2000 years old. There is some suggestion it may be include the remains of a Zoroastrian fire temple, many of which are scattered across the region.
Laneways in the old(er) section of Na’in.
Sassanid-era Narin Citadel