It is the largest mud city in the world, also known as the bride of the desert or city of the wind towers. In terms of population, it is the fifteenth city in Iran and the eighth in terms of area. This beautiful city preserves an impressive architecture, which combats the high temperatures in the area. It is also the place where the small Zoroastrian community that remains in Iran is concentrated. Despite some finds dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries, the history of this city dates back much earlier, that is, the year 3000 BC. In the era of the Sassanids, Yazgerd built the city and gave it to his daughter.
For many centuries Yazd was the last stop for the caravans, at the same time that it was the first safe oasis at the western end of the desert on their return from China and India, via the Silk Road. Most of its development took place during the Kakoui dynasty, which led to the construction of numerous mosques, schools, and qanats (underground canals). On the other hand, the Safavids promoted trade through fabrics made of silk and gold. Yazd is considered the first adobe city and the second most historic after Venice in the world. The name Yazd means praise and worship of the Lord, as well as the city of God. In this city, wind towers stand out on top of the roofs, towers with an ingenious structure that collects air and refreshes the interiors of houses and water tanks. Some of the important monuments of the city are linked to the cult of Zarathustra. The recommended places to visit in the area are: Jomeh Mosque, Narin Qaleh, Dolat Abad Garden, Comolejo de Amir Chakhmaq, Towers of Silence and Zoroaster Fire Temple.
Among the souvenirs and crafts of Yazd we can name a variety of sweets such as qottab and baklava, handmade rugs, cashmere and ceramic tiles. Due to its spectacular architecture, historical structure and beauty, Yazd was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Ancient monuments of Yazd
Fahadan Historic Center and Old District
Yazd’s fame is indebted to the architecture of the old town, built entirely of adobe. However, the most important monuments in the historic center are the “wind catchers” (Badgir), perceptible from afar. For this reason, Yazd is also known under the name of the “city of the wind towers”. As there are not many windows to the outside in Yazd’s houses, these towers serve to provide the necessary ventilation through cooling inside the buildings. This system takes advantage of two environmental conditions in the region: the variation in air pressure and temperature.
A masterpiece of Iranian Islamic architecture with towering minarets and magnificent mosaics that took a century to build in the heart of the city during 3 dynasties: the Ilkhanates, the Timuris and the Seljuks. The majestic entrance portico is the highest and most beautiful in Iran, covered in colorful tiles with all geometric shapes and calligraphic inscriptions hanging from the vaulted ceiling. The two 48-meter-high minarets, being the tallest in Iran, were built during the Safavid era. Inside, you can see inscriptions with Kufic writing. Having a square shape, the mosque is said to be inspired by the Kaaba.
Hammam Abu Maali
Transformed into a restaurant-theater where people smoke hookah sitting on the cushions. Its large rooms with vaulted ceilings, semi-covered walls with turquoise terracotta tiles and recessed with pointed arches have created a fascinating atmosphere.
Café and Library with panoramic views
The only tourist library in the world, dating back more than two centuries, is located in the heart of the city of Yazd. This library is considered the only fixed in the world since the others similar to it are found on a train in Japan and a ship in Italy. In this place there are many books and visual and auditory sources about the culture, architecture, art and civilization of Iran, available in different languages. The library consists of five rooms and the building, called “Bam-e Yazd”, is the old Rafian house, dating from the Zand and Qajar periods. The best time to visit is before sunset and go up to the roof of the house to enjoy the views of the city, highlighted by the wind towers creating a unique profile throughout the country.
In Iran, especially in desert areas like Yazd, there was an underground irrigation system that supplied the oases with fresh water from the underlying aquifers, through a canal system up to 20 kilometers long. Also, there were vertically dug wells along the canals to guarantee access to the underground tunnel, both for water extraction and to facilitate maintenance. The channels, known as Kariz or Qanat in Persian, transported the waters of the aquifers to the cultivated land or inhabited center. It is worth mentioning that this system not only reduced the loss of water through evaporation to a minimum, but also avoided its contamination. The Water Museum gives us the opportunity to know the details of this thousand-year-old work.
Dolat Abad Garden
Built under Mohammad Taqi Khan during the reign of Afshar, similar to other gardens in Iran, it features a specific mansion, a large pond in the middle of the courtyard, and fruit trees. In addition, the tallest and most peculiar wind towers, considering their structure, are placed in this garden with more than 180 years built in the Zand era. There are six octagonal shaped wind towers, 3 of which are recently built about 34 meters high. The garden has three mansions and a hall of mirrors, where Karim Khan’s residence in Yazd used to be. This garden is one of the nine gardens that appear in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is the seat of the Zoroastrians in Yazd and the most important center for the followers of this belief, adopted as the official religion by the Achaemenids and Sassanids, in Iran. The architectural aspect is a simple building with a porch to access the interior, where the sacred fire is kept on an altar. The flames have burned without interruption since the 5th century. Some characteristics of this temple are its simplicity, the existence of a pool of water in front of the building and the presence of openings and holes in the roof, due to the belief of Zoroastrians that they can take lots of energy from the sun. There is also a huge tree that according to the faithful grew from a cane. Inside, there are paintings and inscriptions from Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrians, carved on the walls. This temple is inspired by the architecture of the fire temples in India and Persepolis. To enter the temple, certain customs must be respected such as: both men and women must be totally clean, and men must wear a white hat and women a white scarf looking at the fire behind the glass. Regarding the latter, Zoroastrians believe that the breath of humans infects fire.
Amir Chakhmaq Complex
The most important historical square in Yazd, built by Haj Qanbar Jahanshahi, the ruler of this city. The complex contains an attractive mosque covered by a green dome and a three-story building with an impressive façade, used during the rituals to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, a bazaar whose oldest part was built in the 14th century and a water tank . The Amir Chakhmaq Mosque is the second most important religious monument in Yazd after the Jomeh Mosque, and it took five years to complete. During the reign of Shah Abbas Safavida, some modifications were made to the building. At the top of the mosque you can see inscriptions and beautiful tiles. Sweets, carpets, fabrics and gold are sold in the bazaar.
Prison of Alexander
A Koranic school built by Ziaeddin Hossein Razi in the 13th century. Given the ruin of part of the school and the emergence of a 3 meter deep hole, it has led to think that Alejando Magno himself has built a prison here and is subsequently called Alexander’s Prison. This school was the place of discussion among academics for more than 7 centuries. The building is made of raw clay and there are no signs of tile and stone in its architecture. The dome of the building consists of four 9-meter-high walls. Despite its simplicity, we are drawn to its sheer beauty and original art.
Seyed Rokn Addin Mausoleum
Built in the 14th century in honor of one of the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, the mausoleum has a magnificent dome with geometric motifs. The painted stucco inside and its ceramic tiles have made it one of the most attractive places in the city.
One of the oldest constructions in Iran found in Meybod. According to archeologists, this castle dates back to 3000 BC. and is considered the second largest brick building after the Citadel of Bam in the world. This castle on top of a hill offers us incredible views of Meybod from its terrace and from the outside its brick walls and a restored tower stand out. It has several floors that can be reached by stairs and its underground part has a labyrinthine shape of interconnected channels. In addition, it had defense towers, which have been destroyed over time. The bricks used in the castle in different sizes attest to the long-term construction of the castle.
The place where everything stops. It contains a cemetery that was used until about 70 years ago, very different from the common ones because it is a sacred place for Zoroastrians. The deceased were taken to the top of the tower by some servants called “Salar”, the only ones who had the right to touch the dead. The corpses were left inside circular buildings and there, thanks to atmospheric agents and vultures, they turned into bones and were later transferred to the well in the middle of the tower, where they would find a perpetual rest. Because Zoroastrians consider the four elements of nature – air, water, fire, and earth – sacred, they did not pollute the earth with burial of the dead and there was no cremation for the same reason. The dominant silence in this place is deafening, deep and only softened by the voice of the wind.
Zurkhane (House of Strength)
Traditional gymnasiums dedicated to the exercises of Varzesh-e Bastaní (ancient sports). Its origin comes from a method of training soldiers during ancient Persia.
Haj Khalifeh Pastry
Next to Amir Chakhmaq square where it offers sweets both to take away and to eat. Don’t forget to visit the shop, even if you don’t intend to buy cakes and sweets as you can try all of Yazd’s specialties: baklava, qottab and loze nargil (made with almond, rice or chickpea flour, along with pistachio , coconut and rose water).