To me and to many others, nothing is comparable with spending a night under the shallow ceiling of desert’s sky whose all shining stars seem reachable. Imagine you witness this beautiful scene in a quiet night of a very old city made out of clay, which can not easily get rid of the warmth the sun has granted during the day.
With one third of Iran covered with deserts, having such a delightful night is not a hard work. One of the oldest, largest and most charming desert cities, lies somewhere in the middle of Iran, in the middle of ancient silk road. It is so beautiful that people call it “the pearl of desert”.
The whole city is made out of clay and adobe; it seems that it has risen out of sand. Yazd’s architecture is unique. During its long history, Yazd and Yazdies have adapted themselves to the desert surrounding. It is also called, the city of “Badgirs”. Badgirs are that chimney like structures raised on the roofs of Yazdies’ houses. Of course they are not chimneys; they are kind of ancient and still working ventilation systems. They gather the even faintest breezes of the desert and channel them into the building below.
In the interior of the building there is usually a small pool and a central courtyard with old trees which through a narrow corridor finds its way out to a narrow alley. Still you may find some heavy wooden doors with male and female knockers. Walking through these winding narrow alleys in the evening would leave you an unforgettable memory. It seems that time has stopped.
People are still living in their Old Persian traditions. Some times when passing the houses, you may smell a delicious Yazdi food which would make you feel hungry. Yazdies are also great experts of making confectionary and sweet which have a long background and are famous in the country. Yazd’s handicrafts such as rug, small carpets, Kilim, Termeh (a gorgeous hand-made silk tapestry), pottery, earthenware and ceramic are also famous. In order to find them all you need to call on bazaar.
Domed twisting lane of small shops makes up one of the main symbols of Persian tradition. Bazaar twists and turns and eventually leads to Friday Mosque, one of the finest in Iran. The portal’s facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling blue tiles.
Like her sisters, Yazd is granted with great Islamic architecture and culture, but unlike them Yazd is unique in its Zoroastrian culture. Yazd is the holiest city for Zoroastrians. They hold their rituals on different occasions and every year, Zoroastrians from all over the world come here to see the sacred fire that has been burning without interruption for 1500 years. In the outlying southern suburbs of town are Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, where the bodies of believers were once left to the vultures after death.
Despite the unmerciful adversities, desert’s mysterious silence and unforgettable nights has endless fascination for nature lovers. Moreover, for the ones who adore people, culture, tradition, history and architecture, we cannot think of any other city that preserves so much of the traditional atmosphere better than “Bride of Desert”.
- Alexander’s Prison
- The Mausoleum of Seyed Roknaddin
- The Fire- temple of Chak Chak
- The Towers of Silence (Dakhmeh or Qal’eh-ye Khamushan)
- Friday Mosque
- Atashkadeh (Fire Temple)
This 15th century prison is generally believed to have been built by Alexander the Great to detain the Iranian elite. Even the city was known with this same name during the first century after the advent of Islam. The once-dungeon edifice lies in the heart of the old city of Yazd. It has a domed roof which is very interesting. There is also a well and some nooks in the courtyard.
The Mausoleum of Seyed Roknaddin
The 33-meter high wind-tower of this mausoleum is indeed the most prominent part. The beautiful portal of the monument is another noteworthy characteristic of the monument. Yet, what is even more substantial is the dome of the edifice. This fine cupola is covered with enameled blue tiles, while brick-work decorates the inside of the cupola. Lattice doors and windows with stained glass patterns impart a pleasing sight to the complex. In the interior you can find epigraphs in Kuffic calligraphy on the plasterworks. There is also a water stream inside the edifice. Formerly the draft of air coming through the wind-tower cooled the interior through the action of the flowing water. This great monument lies in garden and dates back to the 14th century.
The Fire- temple of Chak Chak
The name of this fire-temple originates in the water dripping from the stone-cut mountains. This important Zoroastrian fire-temple is located on a hill 52 km to the north-northeast of Yazd. Every year thousands of pilgrims gather in this place for an annual festival, which lasts for ten days from the beginning of the third Iranian month. There is sufficient accommodation for the pilgrims. If willing to visit it, first you ought to get permission from the religious authorities at Atashkade in Yazd.
The Towers of Silence (Dakhmeh or Qal’eh-ye Khamushan)
You can reach the place only on a taxi or in your private car. These three impressive buildings lie on hilltops outside in the immediate vicinity of the city. They do overlook an impressive desert scenery and mountain landscape. There are several types of brickwork and it is impossible to determine when they have been constructed.
You should not be surprised if come across remains and broken parts of human bone. Formerly the Zoroastrians used these towers in order to expose the corpse of the believers to birds, vultures and crows in particular. For this purpose they laid the dead on the flat stones in the tower. As a matter of fact you should know that fire is a divine element in Zoroastrianism and shouldn’t be contaminated by the corpse or any other things. The ritual has been mentioned by Herodotus of Halicarnassus.
The Friday, or Grand, Mosque of Yazd city is an awesome blend of grandeur and finesse. The monument dates back to the 14th century and is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the central Iran.
This place, called also Friday Mosque, lies in the heart of Yazd. It was once the focus of a complex of buildings and a Sassanid fire temple originally existed in its site.The lofty entrance portal of the mosque is completely unique with its two towering minarets which are the tallest in Iran.
The portal’s facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile-work, predominantly blue in color. You can also see decorating inscriptions from the holy Quran. In the spacious, airy, and arcaded courtyard you can find a stairway through which you may climb up and have a beautiful view of the old city and especially of the scenery of the desert. In part of the courtyard lies the sanctuary chamber (shabestan), where decorative brickwork laid in epigrams cover most wall surfaces.
The sanctuary has a dome and a magnificent prayer-niche (mihrab) which counts among the finest ones existing. It is sheathed with naturalistic floral designs rendered in remarkable faience mosaic. The squat tiled dome is decorated with turquoise and white geometric tiles on an unglazed buff background which feels quite serene and soothing.
The rectangular winter prayer halls are painted white to contrast with the vibrant multi-colored sanctuary. The early and substantial use of transverse vaulting in these chambers is another considerable attribute of the mosque. The technique used for lightening this mosque is indeed very noteworthy in its own right, too.
They have planned it so that the light which is reflected from the plastered walls illuminates the whole place. Close by the mosque, there is a modern library which is a treasury in itself, housing priceless manuscripts of the Holy Qurans.
Atashkadeh (Fire Temple)
The sacred flame of the temple, which is considered to be the symbol of the God of Light, has been burning for the past 3000 years, which makes the place one of the most important fire temples for the Zoroastrians, so that the believers from the whole world come to venerate the sacred and eternal fire.
This fire temple is located on a hill in a small garden and is surrounded by evergreen trees. There is also a large round pool in the courtyard, which offers a vivid reflection of the temple for artistic photography. A couple of paintings, including the Zoroaster’s, can be pointed out as another attraction of the place.
The initiated meet at the fire, but nobody apart form the Grand Priest, who is a descendant of the Magi, has access to the Saint of Saints. There exists a winged figure atop the facade as well. This figure is the visual representation of the supreme god in Zoroastrianism.