The Iranian hammam that survived time


Hasan looks out when he hears us go down those old stairs to which a suburb of the unknown Qazvin gave access. His face says it all, mixture of surprise and strangeness. At that time we did not know, but we were entering one of the last active hammam in Iran that remains unchanged, surviving an Islamic Revolution and the passing of time, and in which true life of the origins of this type of baths is breathed.

Qazvin is an invisible town, which goes unnoticed by the few tourist guides from a country abused by the news. However, our frustrated northward adventure has taken us here to end an adventure that today marks its twentieth day. It will be by chance. It will be by destination.

And yet, this great projection of Qazvin keeps a lot of history in its borders, as it was the ancient capital of the Persian Empire under Safavids and is still known today as the capital of calligraphy of Iran, leaving true architectural wonders like Chehel Sotun Palace, imposing large cisterns, the wonderful door of the 16th century of Ali Qapu or the veneration and pride of a people, the grave of one of the children of the Eighth Imam,Imamzadeh-ye Hossein


Azadi, heart of Persian Qazvin

Qazvin's life developed around the historic center, Azadi Square. Its bazaar generates that particular and unmistakable atmosphere that has not left us in any population of an already unrepeatable route and where the Persian feels comfortable between food and hookahs, whose use would sometimes be difficult to explain.

Here the women have left the dark chador for brightly colored veils, perhaps because of their proximity to the capital, and they are closer than ever in that Iran behind black veils of which we return in love, leaving behind the accumulation of prejudices that were disappearing from the first experiences in Tehran.

The near the Caspian makes the spice aromas that in all bazaar are not scarce, of smells so intense that I could still describe, intermingle with fresh fish Newcomer who show pride in the eyes of some foreigner.


These are the hours when the sun begins to fall when the Persian floods the streets of everyday lifeWhen the marketing of soaps in the form of rectangular pieces, worked garments of all kinds of fabric or ornate flower cakes, become the focus of attention.

Others, the most devout, seek their tranquility in one of the many mosques which, strategically located, has helped me to learn that the fervor in these places comes more from the hearts of the people than from the imposition of a cleric, and that with their families and younger children, they sit on their carpets and look for their own peace, respectfully whispering in Farsi that faith for your loved ones.

The Iranian hamman who survived an Islamic Revolution

Possibly it was that mixture of curiosity and own search for peace, which led us down those old stairs, and find Hasan's smile and a room with old lockers, damaged mirrors and cables and pipes on each tile.


It was not until the invitation to leave our shoes, before the impossibility of verbal communication, and receive a piece of soap and a towel, when we finally discovered the use of that place. !!We were at one of the last active hamman of current Iran!! A hamman who had remained hidden from the eyes of the most influential, and who had survived an Islamic Revolution that, not only had ended the modern reforms undertaken by Shah Pahlevi, but had established strong repressions that included the use of same.

Hasan, and his brother-in-law Ali, and surely his ancestors previously, make sense of that old-fashioned basement whose Intense musty smell is present in every corner, vapors that surely have not stopped in time, and that have not undergone that transformation in tea shops, restaurants or museums that we have seen these days in Isfahan, Shiraz, Kerman or Yazd.


It is also possible that our exaltation by the symbology of the site, will cloud at that time the use of our reason. And it is that such an anteroom was not going to bring you back modern Turkish baths in the purest styleSuleymaniye Hamani in Istanbul. Not even theHammah Al Malik Al Asir of the ill-fated Damascus. What behind those doors, whose cost barely exceeds 80 cents, is far from it.

He Hajmola Tachi Hammam from Qazvin City, Islamic Republic of Iran that later Hasan would try to write in our notebook, is a place that a tourist has never stepped on or stepped on, and that It takes us to the origins of the prohibitive spas so known in our time

The vaults of its upper part continue to maintain high temperature and steam in the room, but have a decaying moldy appearance. His platelets and tiles, despite Ali's persistent rubbing, will never look more like his most glorious years. About showers, rusty steel pipes and sinks, it is better not to go deeper. Even the beaker that allowed us to spray water while we rubbed and "expelled" our skin had a hole in its bottom preventing efficient use of it.


But the magic of this place, of this Iranian hammam still in use, is not in its comforting massages, nor in its water baths prepared for the visitor. The true charm of this place is at the time of leaving again through those doors. It is in that instant, and only precisely in that instant, when We understand the meaning of this place, together with the heat of a small homemade gas stove protected by a trimmed drum and supported on velvet sofas with more years than the local itself and around the fabrics and towels that are dried for future customers.

The true value of this place is not material, it is priceless. It is in this old enclosure and after twenty days of travel when we understand that history will pass, and will be written to be remembered, but it is the people who make these places their home and today we see how this improvised basement of any place from the vast country of Iran It is a meeting place for dozens of people who simply come to enjoy tea, have a bath, and have a nice chat in a good company

"Professor Reza's English" and a couple of cups of tea accompany us. It tells us about the passage of time and the life of those people, with a certain tone of reflection. It tells us about the Islamic Revolution, and the transformation that it entailed in them. He is interested in what is out there, in our lives, in our thoughts about his country. It makes us understand that the life of those people not only will not change, but that it does not have to change. The smile of Hasan will continue to receive every day to each villager, and who knows, if from a strange visitor like today we have been for them.


I do not know what will be the future and evolution of an Iran whose wonderful people have penetrated us. What I do know is that we found a climax to our adventures in a hidden basement from the less known streets of the city of Qazvin, 150 km from Tehran, where a centennial public restroom survives, with a closed, gloomy and humid appearance, whose social and meeting function is kept alive.

WANT MORE ?: Do not miss the best stages of the trip in "12 essential snapshots", the monograph "After the Iran of the black veils" or the stories of my good travel companion Sele in Sele's Corner

Isaac, from Qazvin