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The Gift of Natanz

The town of Natanz in Iran has always lived under the shadow of its much more famous neighbour Kashan. Until a few years ago, the commonly used expression ‘a gift from Natanz’, which apparently refers to its sweet juicy pears, was all that came to mind when its name was mentioned. More recently though, Natanz has become synonymous with nuclear power, due to its controversial nuclear facility which has been at the centre of an ongoing dispute with the West in the last few years.

But Natanz, although treated as a poor relation to Kashan, is a wonderful town in its own right. A combination of natural beauty and its historical sites makes it a great place to visit. Thanks to its location high above sea level, plentiful rainfall and numerous natural springs, Natanz has such an abundance of trees that the whole town resembles a huge garden. What particularly strikes the eye on entering the town is the great number of plane trees, some of them more than a hundred years old.

There are also many historical monuments and relics including a fire temple going as far back as the Sassanid period, and many mosques and holy shrines. At the town centre stands the splendid shrine and monastery of an early 14th century mystic, with its magnificent arched entrance which embodies some of the best examples of Persian fine art in a single work. The intricate carved doors of the ancient Great Mosque and the Vaqef shrine, as well as the magnificent carved altar of the Mir Mosque, are amongst the finest examples of this exquisite art.  

In this multimedia report, we visit these and many more attractive sites of this charming old town.

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