Yazd, The Land of Zoroastrians, Qanats, and Wind Towers

The majority of the people of Yazd are Persians, and they speak Persian with Yazdi accent different from Persian accent of Tehran; but there are also small populations of other Iranian ethnicities in the city such as Azerbaijanis and Qashqais who speak Persian as their second language.

To deal with the extremely hot summers, many old buildings in Yazd have magnificent wind towers, and large underground areas. Several other city traditions are the Muslim parades and gatherings, which are mainly processions called azadari held to commemorate the events experienced by the main Islamic martyrs and other important figures. These huge public gatherings created a series of spaces which, since most are near important urban monuments, are used at other times as hubs from which visitors can tour the main spots in the city.

Yazd’s confectioneries have a tremendous following throughout Iran and have been a source of tourism for the city. Confectioners workshops (khalifehs, or experts) keep their recipes a guarded secret, and there are many that have remained a private family business for many generations. Baklava, ghotab and pashmak are the most popular sweets made in the city.

The Congregational Mosque

This magnificent building with one of the tallest entrance portals in Iran, has traces of three distinct eras: Sassanid, Ilkhanid, Timurid. The portal is flanked by two 48-meter-high minarets and adorned with an inscription from the 15th century. The inscription of the main building dates back to Timurid era, although some believe the original building was far older, and some believe the original mosque was built over a Sassanid fire temple. The current mosque with an area over 10,000 square meter includes, an entrance portal, porticoes, court yard, praying hall, iwan, dome chambers and library. Following the tradition of 15th century architecture, the mosque is made with a square plan, imitating Kaaba. The double cased dome of the mosque is beautifully adorned from the inside. Using stucco adds to the spirituality of the place and The exquisite mosaics on the dome and mihrab creates fascinating contrast with planer parts of the mosque. The swastika symbol of the tiles is the reminder of timelessness and birth and death.

Bagh-e Dolat Abad

During Afsharid era and by the order of a local ruler, this magnificent garden was made. To water the garden, Mohammad Taghi khan had to build an aqueduct with a length of 65 km, bringing water from Mehriz to Yazd, where the garden is located and then he added other buildings to the complex. Since it was used as the residence and office of the governor, it has both public and private part. The outer garden was used for official matters, sport matches and public appearances; the inner garden was the private garden designed for governor and his family. The inner garden had a number of buildings ranging from rest area (Harem, summer palace) to service area (kitchen, stable, private water reservoir) and defense area (garret). The outer garden consisted of portal entrance, reception hall, market, and public water reservoir.

The garden is one of the 9 Persian Gardens registered by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage list. Common characteristic of a Persian garden is followed in this garden such as: the introverted architecture, walls that surround the garden, water channel, pool, shading trees, and pavilion. The pavilion of the garden is renowned for having the finest badgir or wind catcher in Iran, standing over 33m

Atashkadeh/ Fire Temple
During Sassanid dynasty, three holy fire existed that were called Three Fires of Victory since they were burning from ancient time. as the threats on Zoroastrian temples grew, the Azarfaranbagh fire, one of the three fires of victory, that was located in the fire temple of Kavian in Fars province, was relocated to Yazd; but the fire temple of Yazd was destroyed and the priests had to hide the fire in a cave for thirty years. After that for 200 years they moved the fire from one Zoroastrian village to another, protecting it from all who wanted it destroyed. Finally, in the 14th century, the fire was moved to a city that most of Zoroastrian priests had immigrated to and was kept there for 300 years. A fire temple was made in Yazd with the help of Zoroastrians of India and after years of displacement, the holy fire was nested in a beautiful fire temple. The temple is made in the tradition of Persian Fire Temples with pillars that were brought to temple from Isfahan, and the tiles that were made by Yazd Artists. The Azarfaranbagh fire has been burning for more than 1500 years and is one of the three holy fires of Zoroastrians.

 

Amir Chakhmaq Complex
A square in the city of Yazd that includes, mosque, bazar, water reservoirs, and Tekieh (Hosseinieh). Amir Jalal al-Din Chakhmaq was a brave general of Timurid era, when Shahrukh was the emperor. When he was appointed as the governor of Yazd, a complex was built by his order that consisted of many public places such as: square, public bath, caravanserai, monastery, aqueduct, cold-water well, and Hosseinieh.  The square went through serious changes during Pahlavi era. The old square was demolished to be replaced with a modern rectangular one; the caravanserai was destroyed as well to add new space to the square. Nothing was left of the complex except the Hosseinieh that was almost shattered when one of the soffeh’s collapsed, but the archeology office resisted strongly against government and by filling two of the arcades they stopped further damage to the construct.

Hosseinieh is a building made and dedicated to Imam Hossein, the third Imam of Shiites, that was martyred by the caliph. In his memory, Shiites organize rites that is the same as funeral. This Hosseinieh is famous for its three story, symmetrical sunken alcoves that are at their best around sunset, and are lit with orange lights after the sunset. Underneath the complex is a bazar where grilled liver is sold. There is also a wooden Nakhl (a huge cradle like wooden artifact) that is the centerpiece of Shiites’ procession of Ashura day, the day Imam Hossein was killed.

Alexander’s Prison / Ziaieh School
Dating back to more than 800 years ago, this school is commonly referred to as Alexander’s Prison, for the references made in Hafez poems and also the 2-meter-wide well of the yard that is 5 meters deep and connected to the cellar. The presence of such a big well itself was reason enough for initiating the tales. The common believe is that it was made and used as a prison by Alexander, which is unlikely and based on no historical proof. The building was made in two phases; the first phase coincides with Mongol attack, when it was used as a mausoleum. the second phase is 100 years later, when a building was added to the domed mausoleum and used as a school. The 18-meter dome of the building is decorated with beautiful stuccos with golden and indigo frescoes that unfortunately little is remained of. Study hall, student’s room, iwans, courtyard, and Hashti are the most common components of a school that are all part of the architecture of this place.

The Congregational Mosque

This magnificent building with one of the tallest entrance portals in Iran, has traces of three distinct eras: Sassanid, Ilkhanid, Timurid. The portal is flanked by two 48-meter-high minarets and adorned with an inscription from the 15th century. The inscription of the main building dates back to Timurid era, although some believe the original building was far older, and some believe the original mosque was built over a Sassanid fire temple. The current mosque with an area over 10,000 square meter includes, an entrance portal, porticoes, court yard, praying hall, iwan, dome chambers and library. Following the tradition of 15th century architecture, the mosque is made with a square plan, imitating Kaaba. The double cased dome of the mosque is beautifully adorned from the inside. Using stucco adds to the spirituality of the place and The exquisite mosaics on the dome and mihrab creates fascinating contrast with planer parts of the mosque. The swastika symbol of the tiles is the reminder of timelessness and birth and death.