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Kashan is a city in the province of Isfahan, Iran. It had an estimated population of 272,359 in 2005. The etymology of the city name comes from the Persian word Kashi, which translates into the English word tile. Kashan is the first of the large oases along the Qom-Kerman road which runs along the edge of the central deserts of Iran. Its charm is thus mainly due to the contrast between the parched immensities of the deserts and the greenery of the well-tended oasis. Archeological discoveries in the Sialk Hillocks which lie 2.5 miles (4 km) west of Kashan reveal that this region was one of the primary centers of civilization in pre-historic ages. Hence Kashan dates back to the Elamite period of Iran. The Sialk ziggurat still stands today in the suburbs of Kashan after 7000 years. The three wise men who followed the star that guided them to Bethlehem to witness the nativity of Jesus, as recounted in the Bible, reportedly came from Kashan. The artifacts uncovered at Sialk reside in the Louvre in Paris and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Iran's National Museum. Sultan Malik Shah I of the Seljukian dynasty ordered the building of a fortress in the middle of Kashan in the 11th century. The fortress walls, called Ghal'eh Jalali still stand today in central Kashan. Kashan was also a leisure vacation spot for Safavi Kings. Bagh-e Fin (Fin Garden), specifically, is one of the most famous gardens of Iran. This beautiful garden with its pool and orchards was designed for Shah Abbas I as a classical Persian vision of paradise. The original Safavid buildings have been substantially replaced and rebuilt by the Qajar dynasty although the layout of trees and marble basins is close to the original. The garden itself however, was first founded 7000 years ago alongside the Cheshmeh-ye-Soleiman. The garden is also notorious as the sight of the murder of Mirza Taghi Khan known as Amir Kabir, chancellor of Nasser-al-Din Shah, Iran's King in 1852. The earthquake of 1778 leveled the city of Kashan and all the edifices of Shah Abbas Safavi, leaving 8000 casualties. But the city started afresh however, and has today become a focal tourist attraction via the numerous large houses from the 18th and 19th centuries, illustrating the finest examples of Qajari aesthetics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashan
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