Yazd and Around (April 2014)

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This was my second time in Yazd, 44 years after my first visit in 1970. Yazd is definitely one of my favorite cities in Iran. It is the driest major city in Iran and it is boiling hot in the summer. But for centuries its inhabitants have mastered wind and water to deal with this harsh desert climate. As a result, Yazd is an architecturally unique city. It is also a major center of Zoroastrian culture.

 

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The most striking feature of Yazd architecture is its skyline of badgirs. A bagdir or windcatcher is a tower that catches the outside breeze and funnels it indoor (usually through some water) to provide natural air conditioning.

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Most badgirs are rectangular. Many can catch wind from four directions. Some are narrow and catch wind mostly from two directions. A few badgirs are hexagonal.

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Even some street walls have special features to reflect wind and increase air circulation.

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The magnificent Masjed-e Jameh (mosque) with its two 52m-high minarets and blue-tiled portal is visible from far away throughout the city.

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The Amir Chakhmaq Complex. (The wood structure on the right is the Nakhl. During Ashura, the commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, it is decorated with large pieces of mostly large fabrics, daggers, swords, and mirrors, and paraded through streets.)

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The so-called Alexander′s Prison (left dome) and the Tomb of the 12 Imams (right dome).

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Some old streets of Yazd.

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In the Saheb A Zaman Club Zurkhaneh. A zurkhaneh, literally ′′house of strength′′, is a place for male traditional sport in Iran.

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In Bagh-e Dolat Abad gardens. The 33m-high hexagonal bagdir is the highest in Yazd.

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The Zoroastrian Fire Temple, also called Ateshkadeh (left), and a mural depicting the fight between Good and Evil (right). The blue winged figure above the entrance of the temple is the fravahar, a symbol of Zoroastrianism.

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Fire (said to have been burning uninterrupted since AD 470, although its location has changed several times) and representation of Zarathustra in the Fire Temple.

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Zoroastrian Towers of Silence (called dakhma) on the southern outskirts of Yazd.

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In Na′in, a small town located 160km north-west of Yazd: ruins of the pre-islamic Narenj castle (left) and Jameh mosque (right), one of the oldest mosques in Iran.

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In Meybod:

- The pre-islamic Narenj castle.

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- View over Meybod from the Narenj castle toward the Zagros mountains (visible in the background): the conic building in the center-left of the photo is an ice house (see below) and the one on the right, flanked with four wind towers, is a water reservoir.

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- Ice house (also called yakhchal). During the winter, ice was collected from water pools and stored inside the ice house. The insulation provided by the ice house kept part of the ice frozen until the summer months.

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- Inside of a renovated (and no longer used) pigeon tower, with thousands of pigeon holes.

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Zein-o-din caravanserai. Located 60km south-east of Yazd on the road to Kerman this 400-year-old caravanserai is one of the only two circular caravanserais in Iran. It has been remodeled into a nice simple hotel for tourists.

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Click the following links to see photos of other parts of the trip:

- Tehran,

- Qazvin,

- Alamut Valley,

- Kashan and around,

- Abyaneh,

- Kerman and around.

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