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Historic City of Yazd

With the great wind towers soaring above a labyrinth of adobe roofs, the historic old city of Yazd is proud to be known as the city of windcatchers in the world. The second oldest town and the first adobe city on earth are also the two significant characteristics of Yazd. These features are so alluring that they nudge us into visiting this desert city that can boost the history of Iran’s land brick by brick to the world.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, the world has considered Yazd as the owner of one of the most striking cultural heritages in different historical eras of Iran. What is specifically important in the midst of this vast volume of history is the preservation of the traditional and historical context of a significant part of Yazd, which is tied to the preservation of the culture and civilization belong to the people of this ancient land. Now, let’s dive right in the details about Yazd, the mother of Adobe cities of the world.

Yazd, a UNESCO world heritage site
Historic City of Yazd – by: Daniel Frauchiger

Yazd is a city settled in the middle of the Iranian Plateau, near the Spice and Silk Road, which is called by various names, such as the city of qanats, the city of wind catchers, the city of sweets, and the city of fire and sun. There is no doubt that during history, people in Yazd, generation after generation, got adapted to their surrounding desert. The very unique Persian architecture of Yazd is the phenomenon of this human-desert interaction. Yazd bears witness to the brilliant use of restricted resources for survival in the desert. In addition, an extraordinarily intricate construction system of earthen architecture and adaptation of living to the unfriendly environment are significant indicators of residences’ genius.

Most notably, the water system of qanats has benefited Yazd a lot. Fortunately, Yazd’s earthen architecture has resisted the modernization that demolished numerous earthen towns. Yazd has preserved its traditional districts and houses, the qanat system, and its historical attractions to respect its conditions of authenticity. There are some elements that make Yazd well known and you should consider visiting them in Yazd tours like:

  • Zoroastrian fire temples
  • Windcatchers
  • Ab Anbars (cisterns)
  • Qanats (underground channels)
  • Yakhchals (coolers), Persian handicrafts
  • Handwoven cloth (Persian termeh)
  • Silk weaving, Persian cotton candy
  • Time-honored confectioneries

To explore the significant attractions of the city, take the time to read the following parts.

Probing Yazd’s Attractions

Fahaadan Historic Neighborhood

In every corner of Yazd, an attraction awaits us to be explored. So let us start by walking in the Fahaadan historic neighborhood, where the aristocrats used to live in the past times. Exploring this authentic area is like entering an enjoyable adobe maze, where the sweet aroma of clay has filled the atmosphere. Walking in the narrow alleys, screened by imposing mud walls, will transform you back in history.

Fahaadan neighborhood offers the visitors a collection of courtyards and teahouses, historical mosques and houses, such as Lariha House, and handicraft shops to discover. The tall windcatchers and domes above the houses, courtyards, and thick earthen walls remind visitors of the beauty of Yazd’s traditional architecture. These elements altogether generate a good microclimate for the warm and dry city of Yazd, where the yellow and brown color of buildings reveals this claim.

Zoroastrian Attractions

Have you ever known that Yazd is a city that celebrates different religions, coexisting in peace, including Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism? Therefore, it provides an opportunity to visit monuments of religious, architectural, and historic importance now. The Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Yazd is our host. This is a beautiful building, with the Achaemenid architecture, sits in the center of a green yard, in front of which there is a small circular pool, and the pattern of “Forouhar” manifests on the front of the mansion. This mentioned impressive structure is home to a fire flame burning for 1500 years.

It is believed that the fire was brought from Anahita Fire Temple in Fars Province. For this reason, it has attracted special attention and respect for people as a holy place to Zoroastrians. To enter the Zoroastrian Fire Temple, everyone needs to observe special etiquette, such as wearing clean and decent clothes, having a white hat or scarf, and wearing no shoes. Zoroastrian Towers of Silence is the next attraction to visit. We need to go outside the city to see these mysterious attractions, situated on the top of a hill in the form of two large buildings. In the distant past, Zoroastrians left the corpses in towers to be eaten by birds. You might experience a mysterious feeling during your visit. It’s time to return to the city of Yazd.

Amir Chakhmaq Complex

Like any other big city, such as Shiraz, Isfahan, and Kerman that have a main ancient square, Yazd is host to a magnificent one, called Amir Chakhmaq Square. Registered in the Iran National Heritage List, the Amir Chakhmaq complex contains several old structures including a bazaar, a mosque, water storage (Ab-Anbar), and a Tekyeh that all narrate the history of this land since the Timurids dynasty.

Nowadays, this square is still shining in Yazd as the residents hold the most important religious and social ceremonies there. Near the Amir Chakhmaq Square, which serves as the symbol of Yazd, we can pay a visit to the Saheb Al-Zaman Zurkhaneh. There, we can watch the cultural and traditional sport of Zurkhaneh, which has been recorded as the world-registered ritual.

Jameh Mosque of Yazd

It’s time to visit the tallest historical monument of Yazd, known as the Jameh Mosque. This eminent architectural masterpiece holds two of the tallest minarets of Iran. The excellent use of the blue mosaic tiles and brickworks have made this mosque a great piece of art.

Dowlat Abad Garden

The architectural jewel of Yazd, the Dowlat Abad Persian Garden, welcomes its guests in a way that deserves the visitors of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As soon as you enter the garden, you need to follow the long pool that passes through tall pine trees, to reach a fascinating mansion, which is home to the tallest windcatcher in the world. The mansion is wearing light color clothes that prevent the absorption of sunlight in this arid land.

Inside the mansion, you will see the flourished arts and techniques of the old Iran like wood-works and stained-glass windows that won’t fail to surprise you. Due to its extraordinary lighting, Dowlat Abad Garden is one of the eye-catching attractions of Yazd at night, which will make a memorable night for you.

Dowlat Abad Persian Garden, Yazd
Dowlat Abad Persian Garden, Yazd

Windcatchers

When people took refuge in their homes from the constant sunshine and the heat of the city, sitting in the shade alone or washing the face was not enough to escape the heat. So, people started constructing a structure called a windcatcher, that after years, it has become a symbol of the architecture of hot and dry climates. Acting as a natural ventilator in many desert cities of Iran, windcatcher, or badgir, as Iranian call, is a high, chimney-like structure jutting from the roofs of old houses.

Windcatchers catch the cool breezes, deflect them down, create airflow, and cool the interior of the house. In some cases, it was more effective, when windcatcher and qanat were both used together. In this situation, the air was redirected to the qanat tunnel and reach the cooler earth and the cold water. Lastly, depending on the climate conditions of the area, windcatchers come in a variety of designs, including uni-directional, bi-directional, and multi-directional.

Yazd Climate

Being located beside the central mountains far from the sea, adjacent to the Dasht-e Kavir Desert, Yazd has a climate that mostly resembles a dry desert climate. Little rain along with high water evaporation, relatively low dampness heat, and great temperature changes are among the factors making this province one of the driest parts of Iran. With the exception of the mountainous region of Shir-Koh with mild temperature.

Souvenirs

Yazd is famous for the quality of its silks and carpets. In addition, it is one of Iran’s industrial centers for textiles. Besides, there is a considerable ceramics and construction material in Yazd as well as jewelry industries and unique confectioneries. Also, a significant portion of the population is employed in other industries including agriculture, dairy, metal works, and machine manufacturing. Currently, Yazd is the home of the largest manufacturer of fiber optics in Iran.

As mentioned earlier, Yazd is the city of sweets and candy. Thus, it can offer you a bunch of delicious and colorful choices in trying, tasting, and buying divine sweets. You can sweeten up your mouth by having Baklava, Yazdi cupcake, Haji Badam, Rosette, Qottab, Cotton candy, etc., and take some for your friends. Termeh is an unparalleled example of the art of the people of this city that you can see various samples of it everywhere in the bazaar. Termeh is perhaps the best choice to have a souvenir from Yazd.

Termeh, Yazd
Termeh, Yazd – by Soroosh Motahar

General information in a Nutshell:

Yazd Religious Attractions

Most important religious attractions in different cities of Yazd province are:

  • Ardakan: Old mosques of Zirdeh, Haji Rajab, Zardak, Muhammad Hossein, Kharanegh, and Jame Mosque
  • Taft: Old mosques of Shodeh, Islamiyah, Bida Khoyed, Tarazjan, Khanqah (monastery)
  • The holy shrine of Tabas
  • Jame Mosques of Mehriz, and Mehr Padin, Holy shrines of Khadijeh Khatoon in Mehriz
  • Jame Mosque of Meybod
  • Yazd: Mir Chomagh Mollah Ismail, Zaviyeh, Sabat, Four Minaret (Menar), Mausoleum, of Abu Jafar, Seyed Khalil, Twelve Imam, Shah Reza, Seyed Gol Sorkh, Rokn Aldin, Shams Aldin, and Zoroastrians holy shrines.

Yazd Natural Attractions

Here is a list of the most amazing and beautiful natural attractions in Yazd province:

  • Caves of Hamaneh, Ashkoft, and Abolghasem Rashti are in Ardakan.
  • Caves of Frashah and B’ad Maesom are in Taft.
  • Natural spring of Gharbalabiz, Gardens of Golkar, Akrami and Sarasiab  in Mehriz.
  • Old Glacier is in Maybod.
  • Gardens of Dowlat Abad (a Persian garden), Khan, Kolah Farangi, and Moshir are in Yazd.
  • Ancient 4000 years old cypress tree

Yazd Historical Attractions

  • Jame Mosque of Yazd
  • Historical Neighborhood of Yazd or the Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage)
  • Kharanaq Village
  • Saryazd Castle
  • Historical Cistern
  • Ziyaieh Traditional School
  • Historical House of Lari
  • Historical House of Aghabozorg
  • Narin Castle of Meybod
  • Meybod Ice House

Last Word

Yazd is the first city of Iran that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. What is mentioned in this article is only a small part of the history left in this land. A trip to Yazd is not just a trip to one of the most important cities in Iran, but a trip to a significant part of the ancient history of this region. Speaking and reading alone is not enough, Yazd must be seen. Thus, we offer you the following tours to visit the adobe city of Yazd.


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