The historic city of Yazd, enlisted on UNESCO world heritage site and protected under the Law for Protection of National Heritage (1930) in Iran, is an ancient land located in the deserts of Iran. Alexander The Great is set to have marched into this city on his way to India.
The historic city of Yazd, enlisted on UNESCO world heritage site and protected under the Law for Protection of National Heritage (1930) in Iran, is an ancient land located in the deserts of Iran. Alexander The Great is set to have marched into this city on his way to India. Marco Polo became mesmerised by Yazd’s unique architecture not seen anywhere else. The thick mud-brick walls separating private residential dwellings from narrow public alleyways in the old town, the clusters of tall wind catchers across the city rooftops, the oasis of water reservoirs and the ancient Zoroastrian Fire Temple have all been kept intact. Yazd, as one of the oldest towns in the world, has retained its ancient structure and traditions alive to this day.
The ancient Persians believed that four vital elements in nature formed this world. Wind, water, fire and earth symbolise movement, flow, purity and rebirth. The arid conditions in the desert were overcome by innovative management and use of the limited resources available. The Qanat (underground water reservoirs), earthen buildings, distinctive wind catchers across the city skyline and the eternal flames of the Zoroastrian Fire Temple vouch for the genius incorporation and application of organic elements in architecture and planning of Yazd.
‘’When the wind blows, one should expect change’’ says a local resident who explains the rational behind the design of the ancient wind catchers in Yazd city. The organic use of a natural element such as wind in structural design of these towers is mind blowing. Wind is the essence of movement and dynamism of creation. These mud wind towers have been effectively keeping residents of Yazd cool in the hot climate of desert for centuries.
The highest wind tower in the world is located inside the Dolatabad Garden. This 34 meter high mud wind tower stands tall and proud at the east end of this historic garden. The luscious estate is divided into two parts. The garden is a paradise with pomegranate and grape trees. The veranda is covered with mirrors. The facade of the building is very inviting and humbling. Dolatabad Garden proves to be an opulent example of Zand Dynasty.
As locals in the city believe, water is awareness to hidden knowledge. It symbolises divinity and purity. The oldest water aqueduct is believed to be found in the city of Yazd. The Persian architectural genius created a network of aqueducts for transferring water from nearby mountains to farms. Water is stored underground, through channels in an oasis. The water is then kept cool in these water reservoirs during hot climate of the desert.
Yazd is the home of the ancient monolithic Zoroastrian religion, dating back to 3500 years ago. In the villages out of the city lie Towers of Silence. Towers of Silence are one of the most significant places for the Zoroastrian religion in Iran. Until about 50 years ago, Zoroastrians used to carry and bring the dead bodies of women, men and children to this spot. There is a pit where they laid the bodies and waited for the vultures to come and pick the bones clean. This was sort of an ancient burial ritual. Another interesting Zoroastrian site is the Fire Temple. The Fire Temple has been allegedly burning since the 5th century. Today, the temple remains as one of the few significant sites for the ancient Persian Zoroastrian faith and a symbol of light for all Zoroastrians.
A walk through the old town of Yazd takes you back in time. Yazd is regarded as one of the best preserved mud-brick cities in the world, known as adobe style brick. The labyrinth of narrow alleyways and interconnected passages of this vast and vital city, The colourful bazaars, the organic earthen walls and domes of dwellings and mosques, the abundance of hundreds of wind towers across the city panorama have witnessed the passage of history over centuries.
Traveling to the ancient city of Yazd is like being transported back in time. An entire city built on mud, the clever structural design of this land is admirable. The round domes of the buildings, the vaults, the scripts and the geometric shapes have created an awe inspiring landscape that draws many visitors to this city. Biting into a delicate sweet treat, the aromatic scents of cardamom, rose water and Persian pistachio take me back to Yazd, and the unforgettable memories of this exotic land along the Silk Road.