Abyaneh: The Red City That Isn’t All That Red


Abyaneh (pronounced ab-bye-ah-nay) is a teeny tiny town located about an hours drive South of Kashan. This extremely old city is home to just over 300 residents and is well known (at least to Iranians) for the distinct colouring on the many houses located within the town itself.


This distinct colouring is an unusual shade of red! This shade of red is due to all of these houses being made out of mud coming from a particular mountain range – which naturally produces mud that is a lot less brown than one would normally expect.


Abyaneh can be easily visited as a half day trip from Kashan. The cost of the driver for the trip will be around $30 USD – and when split between four people that works out to roughly $7.50 each – not bad for a half day adventure!


Alternatively, if you are travelling between Esfahan and Tehran, you could stop hire a driver for the entire day and make a stop at Kashan en route to your destination city. However, be aware that the cost of hiring a driver for this route could cost as much as $100-$150 USD – so unless you are extremely pressed for time, this is probably not the best option.


I had seen pictures of Abyaneh when researching Iran, and I have gotta be honest, although it was a day well spent, it was probably the most underwhelming place I visited during my entire time in Iran.


I had seen stunning pictures of bright red buildings and heard exciting stories of it being abandoned (like Kharanaq had been) but the reality was somewhat different.


While the red brick houses were beautiful, they also weren’t anywhere near as red as I had expected. In fact, to get my camera to even pick up the redness took quite a bit of handiwork. In reality, the place just looked a little dull.


Also, the place was FAR from being deserted! There was a very visible population of residents, and unfortunately, they all seemed more interested in spruiking cheap goods and wares than anything else, which just kinda cheapened the entire experience for me.

Photo courtesy of Hayden from backtrackerpack.com | Edited by Ellen Burne

However, just because I didn’t fall head over heels in love with Abyaneh like I did in other Iranian towns. didn’t mean that the day I spent there didn’t have some redeeming moments!


I was determined to try and get away from the spruikers and the annoying tourists who kept insisting that these locals be in their selfies, so I made my way through back alleys and up hills until I came out at the top of the village, and it was so well worth the climb!

Photo courtesy of Hayden from backtrackerpack.com | Edited by Ellen Burne


The views from this hill were particularly pretty, and the snow-capped mountains made me happy that I had made the trip.


After risking life and limb (I am possibly being a little dramatic) getting back down the slippery and muddy slopes, the crowds had thinned a little and I had a bit more time left before we would need to get on the road back to Kashan, so a little more exploring was in order!


After admiring this incredible entryway (pictured above) it wasn’t long before I did what I always seem to do, and came across a little local critter!

This little kitty was a bit suspect when I first approached her, but it didn’t take too long for her to warm up and start letting me pat her.

Photo courtesy of Hayden from backtrackerpack.com | Edited by Ellen Burne

In fact, after a while she started climbing all over me and basically demanding pats!

Photo courtesy of Hayden from backtrackerpack.com | Edited by Ellen Burne

My Iran travel buddy Hayden and I decided that she needed a name, and due to her absolute non-stop and incessant meowing, we named her Meowju.

abayaneh-iran-travel-blog-red-city-kashan-backpacking-soloAfter a little while it was time to say goodbye to Abyaneh. While I may not have fallen in love with Abyaneh itself, I was still happy that I went, especially because it meant meeting this sweet feline!

Photo courtesy of Hayden from backtrackerpack.com | Edited by Ellen Burne


Getting to Kashan: Kashan is well connected to Esfahan and Tehran via bus, but is only connected to Yazd via train
Sadeghi House: A cheap hotel with a few mixed dorms, expect to pay around $15/night
Abyaneh: A day trip to the red city is best shared between a group of 4
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Remember: Kashan is the only place I visited in Iran where I was bothered by mosquitoes – bring insect repellent!

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

27 thoughts on “Abyaneh: The Red City That Isn’t All That Red

  1. You approach cities and towns much the same way I do. Going through alleys and off-track neighbourhoods is the best way to get a well-rounded feel for a place. The red dirt reminds me of Arizona’s scenic, and much-visited, town of Sedona.

  2. Love the selfie above the others. I struggle with them and just come out looking weird. The dilapidation of the place does detract from their “thing” of being the Red City.

    Do you know there’s a town in Spain – Júzcar, Málaga – which in 2011 was painted blue for the launch of a Smurf film. Smurf blue. Going off the photos it looked a bit more spectacular even if it was for a horrible commercial reason. The town was normally whitewash white and Sony planned to put it back how they found it…however as the blue town their tourism rose from 300 to 80,000 tourists a year and apparently the locals decided to keep it.

    1. I possibly have way too much practice in the art of taking selfies haha!

      I have actually heard of this town! But for some reason I thought it was in Portugal – so thank you for the information! Sounds like an interesting place to visit.

      1. Oh don’t knock it. I’ve been blaming my auto-focus beam, or the anti-redeye beam, on my cheaper camera for years. I look horrible. It maybe just self-loathing, but I don’t think so.

        We will all look forward to seeing you in Smurf town someday.

    1. It certainly does. It may have been underwhelming, but I am still very glad I went, I think I was just too spoiled in Iran and the bar had been set too high!

  3. It’s funny how some places just don’t appeal to us, even though everyone seems to supposedly follow the crowd and think otherwise isn’t it? I have never liked Queenstown in NZ, for example, it is in a gorgeous location but has just become a haven for the types of people and activities that I’m just not interested in as a rule. Such is life.

      1. Have been around most of the country since we got here. There is nothing better than getting into nature really I feel, as the historical human angle is rather limited at times given the comparative newness of man’s arrival. Within Auckland city though, assuming you base yourself in the centre, I would suggest going to Tiritiri Matangi Island, Mount Eden, Rangitoto Island, Devonport, Piha (out on west coast)…the city itself has a decent museum and art gallery…Sky Tower is also an option.

  4. Just read through all your posts on Iran and have definitely added it to my bucket list – it seems like such an underrated gem of a destination. Totally inspiring.

  5. love reading your posts! Opens my eyes to new locations, like this one so different from my own culture but still looks amazing, thanks for the clarification on how to pronounce it though haha 😉

    1. I was butchering the pronunciation the entire time I was there! Took me ages to work out how to say it, so I thought I’d try to make it easier for others haha

      1. Nowhere as exciting as you I’m sure! I’ll be traveling within the US this summer. And you?

  6. Wonderful and candid post, Ellen. You look lovely. I am glad you found something worthwhile after climbing the hills because travel is, at the end of the day, what we make of it. The photographs are actually beautiful!

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