This site is still very much work in progress. Here you’ll find what’s new on (and when I added it).

  • Wrapping up the Iran blog, I added descriptions and photos of several exquisite buildings as sub entries under Isfahan, Shiraz and Kashan (June 2017).
  • Our Feb. 2017 trip also went to Oman, and our experiences and observations can be found on the newly created Oman page (Feb. 2017).
  • A brief visit to Qatar resulted in a Qatar page, and entries on Doha and Outside Doha (Nov. 2016). A return visit added an entry on the Khor Al Adaid inland sea (Feb. 2017), and the fabulous Museum of Islamic Art (May 2017)
  • After our two months trip to Iran, I created the Iran page, including a link to the travel blog of Iran, and the Iran reading list (Nov. 2016).
  • I now completed the Myanmar page, with photo-dominated entries on Yangon and Mandalay (July 2016).
  • A Dutch-language article about our first trip in China, to Sichuan and the Three Gorges, from Summer 1997. Accompanied by scanned slides, not of the best quality anymore (July 2016).
  • A travelogue of an old trip through Tibet, in Spring 1999, made it to the site, put together from old notes and scanned slides. As we ended up in Nepal, I also created a country page with, once again, scanned slides, not much text, of Kathmandu and Patan. Ever so slowly catching up with past travels… (July 2016).
  • I finally managed to spend some time on sorting out the photos (scanned slides) of our years in India, which has so far resulted in entries on the rock paintings of the Bhimbetka Caves and on the Sanchi temple complex near Bhopal, as well as a fairly extensive report from a trip to Ladakh, in 2005 (April 2016).
  • One our favourite museums, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, had a retrospective of Dutch expressionist painter Karel Appel, which we went to see (March 2016)
  • In February 2016 we spent a couple of weeks in Argentina, where we went to Santa Fe, on the Parana River, to Tigre – the delta near Buenos Aires -, and to the Museo National de Bellas Artes, the fine arts museum in Buenos Aires, with its great Latin American modern art section (February 2016).
  • Another thing I hadn’t done yet was to include some works, mostly masks and other ethnic artefacts, from the collection of the National Museum in Jakarta, which we visited in December 2014 (February 2016).
  • Some photos of a pretty unique sculpture exhibition of Miro in the York Sculpture Park, where we were in 2012 (February 2016).
  • To complete the SE Europe section to date, I also posted some old pictures from a 3-day passing through Macedonia, in 1997. One of the humbler pages on the site, to be fair (January 2016).
  • I found a plugin that allows me to present a real world map on the home page of this site, The Map, including the possibility to link from this map to individual countries. Great plugin, except that it now becomes abundantly clear that there is still a lot of work to do on the site: many countries I have been to and have content for are not included yet! (January 2016).

the main bath area of the Sultan Mir Ahmad hamman

The Hamman-e Sultan Mir Ahmad in Kashan is one of the best examples of an Iranian bathhouse, beautifully restored

This hamman in Kashan derives its name from the nearby shrine of Sultan Amir Ahmad. It dates back to the Safavid era, some 500 years ago, but further additions came in the Qajar era, whilst the building has been extensively restored in recent times.

There are several rest areas, baths, changing rooms and cleansing rooms, all connected by tiled corridors. The main rooms are beautifully decorated with turquoise and golden tiles, stucco and several subtle, small paintings. One gets a good impression of a very comfortable area, where business could be conducted in a relaxed environment. I suspect a men-only affair.

The roof, accessible from the hamman, is another impressive construction, several domes providing light for the rooms below, but in such a way that the convex-shaped glass prevents looking inside.

The hamman is next to the Khan-e Boroujerdi , and close to the other two Kashan residences, the Khan-e Tabatabei and the Khan-e Abbasian.

a small pool, and the bath area behind

and lots of benches to relax, before or after bathing

subtle small paintings decorate the pillars

tiled corridors lead further inside

to individual bath rooms, tiled benches and small pools

more domes, glass cut in such a way that you cannot look inside

the domes on the roof provide light to the various rooms below

badgir, or wind tower, mirrored in the pool of the courtyard of Khan-e Boroujerdi


Khan-e Boroujerdi is one of the most ostentatiously decorated merchant houses in Kashan

This 3500 m2 house was reputedly built as a condition for marrying the daughter of Mr. Tabatabei, who lived nearby, to ensure that his daughter lived in a house at least as beautiful as her parental house. But it took carpet merchant Sayed Jafar Natanzi, locally known as Boroujerdi, no less than 18 years to complete the house, and the legend doesn’t say whether the daughter has waited so long.

The result is one of those fabulous houses in Kashan. Only one of the several courtyards is open to the public, and only part of the two-storey house, but the main attraction here is on the inside. In a large room the walls, arches and pillars are covered with a collection of beautiful wall paintings, either directly on to the wall, or bounded by stucco frames. Portraits, hunting scenes, buildings, all subject matter is included, much of it painted by the Royal painter of the Qajar Court, Kamal al-Molik.

Those parts not painted, are elaborately decorated with stucco, both inside as well as outside, again showing a range of items. A museum of which the treasures cannot be removed!

A short walk away is the Khan-e Tabatabei itself and Khan-e Abbasian, which in turn is next to the Hamman-e Sultan Mir Ahmad.

the main reception room

part of the main painted gallery

detail of the main gallery

portrait gallery

stuccoed red soldier

one of the pillars, and is that a little devil, supporting it?

another stuccoed soldier, looking equally sombre

delicate decoration on the side

another painted scene, mythical perhaps?

hunting scene gone wrong

the colour of Delft blue, and a stuccoed and painted clock

decorated ceiling

the main facade of the Khan-e Boroujerdi, along the courtyard

detailed stucco work on the front facade

also resting place for a pigeon

the mirrors-in-mirrors in Khan-e Tabatabei

One of the bigger of the Kashan merchant houses, Khan-e Tabatabei is decorated with elaborate stained glass windows, as well as the other usual decorations

The 19th Century Kashan carpet merchant Sayed Jafar Tabatabei has this house, all 4730 m2 of it, built in 1834. The house consists of a family section, a servants section and a section to receive and entertain guests, amongst them business connections. The 40 rooms are set around four different courtyards, across two floors, all elaborately decorated with stucco and stained glass. Especially the stained glass provides a wonderful spectrum, with playful patterns on the floors, in the late afternoon light.

the main courtyard and fountain of Khan-e Tabatabei

row of doors on the courtyard, all containing stained glass

The house is crossed by two qanats, underground water channels, and the four cellars are designed to keep large quantities of food cool, helped by the badgirs, the wind-towers that caught each and every little breeze and transported them downwards into the house, as an early-day air conditioner.

Nearby are the houses Khan-e Boroujerdi, built for Tabatabei’s daughter, and Khan-e Abbasian, as well as the bathhouse Hamman-e Sultan Mir Ahmad.

exquisitely plaster-decorated balconies

more plaster decoration

sunlight colouring the floor through stained glass windows

two rows of stained glass doors and windows in one of the reception rooms, in the Khan-e Tabatabei

top row of stained glass windows

projection of stained glass windows on the floor

sunlight on the floor

series of doors in the Khan-e Abbasian

Easily the largest of the Kashan merchant houses, Khan-e Abbasian is a very impressive structure across several courtyards and multiple floors

Khan-e Abbasian is one of the older Kashan houses, dating from end 18th Century. The exact origin is not entirely clear, some say it was owned by a cleric, others claim the initiator was a rich glass merchant in town, but the result is a huge residential complex, covering a total of three floors. The lower floor contains the reception halls,  with very high ceilings; the courtyards increase in size upwards, the higher ones each more spacious than the one below.

Great place to wander around, and to get lost from one courtyard to the other, from one cellar to the next.

Nearby is the bathhouse Hamman-e Sultan Mir Ahmad, as well as two other houses, the Khan-e Tabatabei itself and the Khan-e Boroujerdi.

one of the facades around the central courtyard, including two of the badgirs

and its mirror image in the pond

stained windows in one of the tall reception rooms

another of the facades around the courtyard

look-through from one courtyard to the next

outside decorations along top floor windows

intricate plaster patterns on the outside walls

the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha

Fabulous collection, in a fabulous building

It is not only the largest collection of Islamic Art in the world – of which a small part is exquisitely displayed -, but also the building itself that makes this the main tourist attraction in Doha. The museum building, a stand-alone modern design at the end of the Corniche, is attractive from the outside, especially when lit in the evenings, but even more spectacular on the inside – even if you don’t like Islamic Art, do walk in to admire the tall dome and the lighting of the interior.




the museum is an attractive modern building

also on the inside, with a spectacular central hall

The collection comes from all over the world, from China and India to Morocco and Spain, and is partly exhibited by theme – figurative art, patterns, calligraphy, etc -, and partly by regions (Iran, Syria, Turkey, amongst others) and time. This makes for a varied and highly enjoyable exposition. The floor space is not even that large, but we spent easily two hours in between the tiles, the jars, the carpets and the golden jewellery. Below a small sample of my favourite pieces.

figure of a monkey, iran, ca 1200

bowl, afghanistan, 13th C

ewer, central asia, 10th C

mina’i bowl, iran, 13th C

tile, iran, 17th C

bronze fountain head, spain, 10th C

bronze fountain head, spain, 10th C (detail)

jug filters, egypt, syria and iraq, 9th to 14th C

jug filters, egypt, syria and iraq, 9th to 14th C

jug filters, egypt, syria and iraq, 9th to 14th C

steel and gold mask, eastern turkey or western iran, 15th C

Qavam House in the botanical garden Bagh-e Eram

The peaceful Bagh-e Eram, a garden with a Qajar place inside, is a wonderful place for an afternoon in Shiraz.

Bagh-e Eram is famous for its cypresses

Gardens are a Persian thing, and Bagh-e Eram – Eram garden – is one of the great examples in Shiraz. The present version was built in the Qajar period, mid 19th Century, but its design is probably older, maybe 18th Century Seljuk Turkish, on account of the distribution of four Persian Paradise garden elements. Some even claim that the garden is over 900 years old, as it has been mentioned in ancient poems, too.

In 1963 Shiraz University was appointed custodian, and they have turned the garden in a Botanical Garden, with a great variety of plants and trees, as well as a nursery and glass house. On the other end of the garden is the Kakh-e Eram, Eram palace, a Qajar house with a pool, a portico and paintings, as well as tiled mosaics. Except for a small section for the souvenir shop, the building is closed.

as a botanical garden, it contains rare flowers

and more, colourful additions

the nursery in the back has its specifics, too

This is a great place to wander around on a lost afternoon, even a Friday afternoon, when the mostly young Iranian public flocks to the garden, too. Opera singers and narcissist selfie-takers intermingle with unmarried couples trying to find a place out of sight from their families.

turtles in the pond, or outside the pond, in this case

Eram House, a Qajar construction

here, too, tiled mosaic decoration

Eram House, and pond leading up to its terrace: vintage Persian

courtyard of the Mashed-e Nasir-al-Molk

The Masjed-e Nasir al-Molk, or Pink Mosque, of Shiraz provides not only beautifully mosaiced decoration of iwans and ceilings, but also spectacular colours through its stained-glass windows.

the central courtyard of the Mashed-e Nasir al-Molk

the upper part of one of the arches

mosaics in the porches

inside one of the prayer halls

vaulted mosaic

Another end-19th Century construction in Shiraz is the Masjed-e Nasir al-Molk, the mosque with the colourful windows – its most appealing characteristic. In the northern prayer hall, adorned with carpets, stone pillars and a brilliantly mosaiced ceiling, one wall contains a series of large stained-glass windows, which, with sunlight, provide a beautiful coloured pattern on the floor. Just sit here, and watch, and forget the time!

Nasir al-Molk was a Qajar ruler, who had the mosque built between 1876 and 1888. It is a traditional mosque, with several iwans around a large central courtyard and pool. Not only the prayer room, but also many of the niches and arches have been decorated with mosaics, the dominant colour of which has given the mosque its popular name, the Pink Mosque.

one of the many stained-glass windows

and this is how the light plays inside

the northern prayer hall with the stained-glass windows – and where the Pink Mosque comes from

terrace of Kahn-e Zinat-ol-Molk

Khan-e Zinat ol-Molk is another Qajar-era Shiraz home, full of mirrors and stained glass.

the stuccoed portico of Khan-e Zinat ol-Molk

Zinat ol-Molk is the private part of the large mansion that the wealthy Qavam family built in Shiraz, the public reception area being the Naranjestan-e Qavam. I presume it was built at the same time, end 19th Century, also for Mohammed Ali Khan Qavam ol-Molk. Zinat was his daughter (or granddaughter?).

Zinat ol-Molk is much smaller than the the Naranjestan-e Qavam, but similarly set up, with a mirrored portico supported by wooden columns, and richly decorated inside. The usual stucco and paintings, as well as carpet-like tiled floors, adorn the rooms, of which there are 20 (according to the description – they are not all open, I think).

stucco wall and wooden ceiling

detail of painted wooden ceiling

wooden ceiling

the pool and the garden mirrored in the portico

colourful stained-glass window

and the effect it has on the whole room

the smaller of two porticos

detail of the decorated portico wall

Narenjestan mansion and garden

Naranjestan-e Qavam is one of those fabulous, lavishly decorated Qajar-era houses.

The Naranjestan-e Qavam, or Orange Grove of Qavam, is a wealthy merchant’s house built at the end of the 19th Century for one Mohammed Ali Khan Qavam ol-Molk. The Qavam family came originally from Qazvin, but settled in Shiraz during the Zand dynasty. Qavam House, as the building became known, was constructed much later, between 1879 and 1886, which is already Qajar dynasty – although I have also seen an earlier construction date, 1836-1846.

the Royal emblem of the Lion and the Sun

Qavam House was the public reception area of the family home, which was connected by underground passage – closed to the public – to the private quarters Khan-e Zinat ol-Molk.

outside decoration, an armed soldier

The pavilion across from the entrance is the main building, with a spectacular mirrored portico and stuccoed ceiling, obviously the place to receive visitors. In the front façade one recognises the Lion and Sun motif, the Qajar Royal emblem. The house is set in its beautiful garden, which at the time was full of date palms and flowering plants – and perhaps also oranges, what’s in a name?

the mirrored portico from above

the mirrored portico, with wooden doors

same portico, showing the ceiling

another view of the ceiling

inside rooms are also decorated with huge mirrors

and with equally dazzling ceilings

Wooden inlaid doors lead to various richly decorated rooms, some with stained-glass windows and others with delicately painted ceilings, with European motifs: there are Alpine scenes complete with leder-hose and winter scenes with sledges on frozen ponds, as well as distinctly European looking women.

first floor roof, individually painted beams

Alpine scene on one of the beams

Other buildings, located around the large garden courtyard, also support wooden ceilings and tiled mosaics, as well as floors that have a carpet motif: altogether a wonderful complex.

wooden ceiling decoration, very European looking