A charming, traditional village with a long history...
Abyaneh Village in Iran is known as the Red Village and it's pretty obvious why. It's red (well, a dusty orange version of red). The village is built on a red hillside and the surrounding hills are red, and this is where the raw material for the clay bricks used to construct Abyaneh's buildings comes from.
Peaceful Abyaneh village tumbles down a hillside that is quite steep in places. The houses seem a real mixture of old and new(ish) and were constructed using traditional methods and materials. They tend to be small and rectangular (and red). Some of them have decorated wooden balconies and windows, but nothing too elaborate. Some of them have little brick seats outside their doors. Many have two door knockers on their front door, one for men and one for women (so that women inside know whether it's a man or woman at the door and can therefore decide whether to cover their head before answering). It's all very charming and peaceful.
When I visited Abyaneh, there were very few people about - a man on a bicycle, a woman opening a door, a dog or two lying in the sun. In fact, there seemed to be far more houses than people and it felt as though this was an Almost Deserted Village (a very pleasant, sunny Almost Deserted Village, mind you).
The little undulating streets and steps and alleyways that run between the houses are too narrow and uneven for cars but very good for Aimless Wandering, an activity I encourage all travellers to engage in. However, there does not seem to be a lot discover here, other than more quiet alleyways and more red houses - there is no one site that is essential to visit, it's the general ambiance and tradition of the village that draws visitors. Abyaneh's tradition is the reason that Iran hopes the village will one day achieve Unesco World Heritage status.
There's a great view of the village from the other side of the valley, where there are the remains of a fort on top of the hill. The fort is rather dilapidated now, its mud brick walls partly fallen down or washed away, and there's not much to see inside it. Nature is slowly reclaiming it. But looking back at Abyaneh you get a sense that the view probably hasn't changed very much in the last thousand years (yes, this village has a long history).
The sense of unchanging history is greater when you see Abyaneh from the distance of the fort compared to walking round its streets because those persistent modern weeds of technology - telegraph poles and electrical wires - are largely hidden. The village feels as though its been here long enough to qualify as part of the landscape, rather than having been imposed up it. It's dips and rises match those of the hill it stands on.
Abyaneh is not grand. It was not built as a showpiece. It was not built to impress anyone. And for me, this is the reason to visit Abyaneh: it is somewhere where ordinary folk have lived their lives in surroundings that have barely changed for hundreds of years. It is has charm.
Have you been to Abyaneh village in Iran? What did you think of it? If someone asked you why they should include a trip to Abyaneh when they visit Iran, what reasons would you give them?
Rob has visited more than 50 countries. He's travelled with organised groups and independently. His travel photos have appeared in many publications and on many websites. He likes apricot jam. And apricots. And jam.