Iran's Historic Bathhouses: A Dive into Ancient Hygiene and Modern Tourism
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Undoubtedly, the Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse is Iran’s most beautiful and unique historical bathhouse. Built in an area of a thousand square meters during the Seljuq dynasty, it stands as a masterpiece of Iranian architecture. An interesting note about this bathhouse is its resilience; it withstood the Kashan earthquake, remaining intact while a significant part of the city was destroyed. Its name derives from a nearby shrine. The bathhouse includes sections like the entrance, hot chamber, changing rooms, and more. The stunning blue, yellow, and white plasterwork further enhances its beauty. If you ever visit Kashan, exploring this magnificent historical bathhouse is highly recommended.
While there are many beautiful bathhouses in Kashan, one of the most significant is the Fin Bathhouse. Its importance is linked to a pivotal historical event: the assassination of Amir Kabir, one of Iran’s most distinguished prime ministers, who notably founded the Dar ul-Funun. Located within the vast Fin Garden of Kashan in its southern part, the bathhouse consists of two sections, famously known as the ‘small’ and ‘large’ baths. The smaller bath dates back to the Safavid era and was built alongside the initial establishment of the Fin Garden. It’s important to note that the enormous bath, built during the Qajar dynasty under the reign of Fath-Ali Shah, was designated for the nobles, while the smaller one was for the servants. In these baths, we see entrances, fountains, a warm room, a reservoir, a changing room, a cleaning area, water exchange channels, pools, and more. The bath walls are covered with sand, mortar, and lime. Another critical point to note about this place is that this building and Fin Garden were registered with UNESCO in 2011 as one of the nine Persian Gardens.
Undoubtedly, the Sheikh Bahai Bath is not only one of the most unusual baths in Iran but also one of the most astonishing baths in the entire world. This complex, located in Isfahan, is the product of the artistry and architecture of Sheikh Bahai. The most significant point about this place is that a single candle heats this bath. It might intrigue you to know that despite many years since its construction, scientists have still not fully unraveled how the Sheikh Bahai Bath was constantly heated using only a candle. Experts consider the heating system of this bath to be an engineering masterpiece, and many believe that Sheikh Bahai, utilizing principles of physics and chemistry, managed to maintain the warmth of this complex using only a single candle. Based on studies, some people believe a ceramic pipe system beneath the bath naturally draws gases like methane and sulfur oxides into the bath’s reservoir. Given Sheikh Bahai’s calculations and the unique design of this reservoir, this sewage became a source of methane gas, and the heat for the entire bath was maintained using a candle. Today’s health and environmental experts have made every effort to produce gas from sewage to create a new fuel source. Still, astonishingly, Sheikh Bahai kept the Isfahan bath warm using only a candle many years ago.