Trans Eurasia travel

Highlights

The fortress (Imam St) is firmly closed for military use, though a tea bazaar huddles at its eastern edge. Over the road, the covered bazaar is cruelly bisected by Enqelab St but within is the unusual 1805 Khan Hamam (9am-1pm & 3-7pm Tue-Sun). The interior has considerably restored grey-and-white floral and bird motifs, attractive tiling and remarkably lifelike 'bathers' enjoying the historic bathhouse. The easily missed door has a brass 'fist' knocker: walk one mini-block into the bazaar beside Mehmanpazir Jahan, then one block right and the museum is on your left.

Lotfolla Sheikh-al-Islam Mansion, Sanandaj, Kurdestan, IranLotfolla Sheik-al Islam Mansion

(Habibi Lane; 9am-12.30pm & 3-6.30pm) The well-renovated Lotfolla Sheikh-al-Islam Mansion houses the Regional Museum whose multi-coloured windows (orosi) were designed for practicality as well as beauty: supposedly they disoriente mosquitoes. Exhibits include some extraordinarily old pottery and met-alwork treasures but sadly the acoustically engineered fountain-cellar is generally kept locked.

Asef Mansion

(Asif Diwan; Imam St; 8.30am-12.30pm & 2.30-5pm Tue-Sun) This is another attractively restored Qajar building that is now a museum of Kurdish life. Mannequins are dressed in various distinctive tribal costumes that are still commonly worn in valleys around Kordestan. One room features Sanandaj's speciality wood-inlay crafts. A side courtyard just within the mansion's entrance leads through to a vaulted gallery (admission free) that has sporadic art exhibitions.

Jameh MosqueMasjed-e Jameh (Jameh Mosque)

(Darolesan Mosque; Imam St) In 1813 Amonulla Khan sponsored this fine construction, with tiled twin minarets and 32 interior domes. He was so pleased with the result that he reputedly had the architect blinded to prevent its repetition for any other patron. The punishment would have been more appropriate for whoever built the ugly new mosque directly behind.

Moshir Divan

(Shohoda St) Several other historic buildings in town are only partially repaired. This trefoil-topped iconic mansion is still in dire need of renovation. It's hidden in a walled garden off Shohada St: ring the speaker phone and hope.

Khosroabad buildingKhosroabad Mansion

(Khosroabad St; admission free; 10am-dusk) This formerly grand mansion has an impressive central courtyard with reflecting pools and was once the palace of Ardalan emir Amonulla Khan but is now in a fairly parlous state. It's two blocks up a quiet boulevard of plane trees from Sahar Kaveh St.

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