Meybod is one of the main desert cities in Yazd province, Iran. It is an ancient city dating back to pre-Islamic times, so it is home to many ancient landmarks. The historic town of Meybod is on the provisional list to be declared on the World Heritage List.
Meybod was the capital of Iran during the Mozarabic period. The Mozaffari dynasty originates from Meybod, where the first king of this dynasty that bears the same name was born. One of the oldest castles in Iran is Narin Qaleh, in Meybod.
Antiquities of Meybod
Narin Qaleh (Castle of Narín)
The building known as “Narenj” castle, in common parlance, is one of the most important pre-Islamic historical monuments in Yazd province. This old castle was built with adobe and mud and its architecture is stratified. The oldest part of the building includes spaces excavated in the heart of the earth called “Boken” by the locals. During the Sassanid period, the more recent parts were added using the original material from the castle. The castle roof offers a panoramic view of the entire city of Meybod and the surrounding mountains, making it worth climbing up and imagining the hustle and bustle of ancient times.
Meybod ice house
This teal-shaped construction was used mainly to conserve ice during the summer. Ice production took place during the winter in the outdoor pools located in front of the ice house. With its conical shape, it protected the inner tank containing ice from the sun. The diameter of the inner tank -which corresponds to the level of the entrance door- also reaches 13 meters and gradually decreases to about 6 meters. Its internal height from the lowest point to the highest was 21 meters. At the bottom of the interior tank there was an orifice attached to a kind of pipe that evacuated the accumulated water at the bottom and thus prevented a new flow. The ice house had a guard who distributed the ice.
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Chaparkhané (Post Office)
The word Chaparkhané in Persian is composed of Chapar and Khane, the first term means the four hooves or “horse” and the second means “house”. Along the roads between the provinces, there were what were called Chaparkhane or post offices where it was possible to change horses to facilitate and ensure the transmission of messages and letters destined to reach the governors of the empire. Chaparkhane’s task was to maintain and care for horses and messengers to quickly move important letters and trustworthy goods. Thus, Chaparkhane was built in the form of castles so that it could be protected. This importance is clearly visible in its tall towers and walls, as well as in the surveillance holes.
Xenophon, an Athenian historian and mercenary, attributes the creation of the post offices to Cyrus the Great. According to him, to determine the distance between post offices, they experimented with the distance a horse could travel per day without getting tired and thus measured the appropriate distance between one post office and the next. Once the rider arrived, the message was transmitted to another messenger, setting off on another horse. The king’s message thus crossed the Persian Empire, from one satrapy to another, without interruption.
During the reign of the Parthians and Sassanids and after Islam, printing presses were very important to the government. The Chaparkhane were, therefore, the government’s news centers, in addition to carrying correspondence and transmitting various news to the center from different places. The Chaparkhane were made of clay and mud, but for some reason there are only a few left, and one of them is the one next to the Meybod caravanserai. These buildings have a central courtyard and the rooms are located around the courtyard. The Chaparkhane of Meybod dates from the Qajar period and used to be one of the main post offices, established on the old King-Kerman road through Meybod.
Borj-e Kabutar (the Dovecote)
Towers called dovecotes were built in different parts of Iran. Dovecotes used to be built in the shape of a cylinder. In the past, people used this building to collect the droppings of pigeons, pigeons and other birds. Compost from these birds is one of the best fertilizers for agriculture, especially in seemingly desert regions like Meybod and Yazd. However, agriculture was not the only use. These fertilizers were used in other industries such as tanning, leather treatment and even gunpowder production. Therefore, perhaps for all the benefits and high productive value of the loft, Shah Abbas imposed relatively high taxes. The Meybod loft, 8 meters high, had a capacity of 4,000 pigeon nests. It is obvious that each nest could house more than one pigeon and the number of pigeons in this tower could reach 25000. The tower has a hexagonal dome covered with plaster. The tower was closed at the bottom – there was only one door that was well sealed and closed after leaving – so the birds entered and exited through the holes above the tower.