Yazd the Bride of the desert
Yazd province is surrounded by the central mountains in Iran. Shirkuh Mountainous Range with an elevation of 4075 m is the highest mountain southwest of Yazd Province but the northern and northeastern parts of the region are composed of flat lowlands and salty marshes. Yazd Province is one of the driest regions in the country and is full of barren deserts. The Province has arid and hot weather because it is too far from the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman and the damp winds blowing from them, but lofty Shirkuh Mountainous Range has moderated the climate.
Except for the Shirkuh territory, the other parts of the Province are hot deserts. Yazd Province enjoys short cold winters from October until February and long hot and dry summers from March until September. History Yazd Province was an ancient region in Iran in which one can find primate tools belonging to Elamite Period. The ancient objects left in caves show that urbanization began in Mehriz, Fahraj, Yazd, Rostaq, Meybod, and Ardekan from the 3rd millennium BC. During their passage through Yazd, the migrating from Balkh to Pars called it "The Land of Yazdan' (God's region) and since then it became a sacred province. During the Achaemenid Period, Yazd Province was connected to the other parts of the empire by highways and postal stations. Qobad, Anoushirvan, and Yazdgerd of the Sassanid Dynasty contributed much to its development.
After the Arab invasion, they conquered Yazd Province too, but the Deylam Dynasty succeeded to push the Arabs out of the region during the 10th and 11th centuries. After that many Alavi partisans moved to Yazd to escape persecution from the Sunni caliphs. During the Seljuk Period, the Atabaks (feudal governors) established friendly relations with reigning Seljuks to save the region from ruin and contributed much to its development. During the Mongol invasion, Sultan Abu Mansour pretended he obeyed them to protect Yazd from molestation. As a consequence, the Province grew twice its former size and became a bustling economic center in the country. After conquering Iran, Timur treated the peaceful inhabitants of Yazd kindly. Shahrokh, Timur's son, assigned Amir Jalaloldin as governor of Yazd. Jalaloldin treated the people kindly and built many important buildings. During the 15th century, Shah Ismaeel of the Safavid Dynasty dismissed feudal governors and brought the whole country under his rule.
Ashraf the Afghan who had defeated the last Safavid king tried to conquer Yazd but the people resisted and repelled his troops, but Mahmud, his successor, conquered the city and massacred many people. Nader Shah expelled the Afghans and appointed Enayat Sultan, his nephew, as governor of Yazd. Enayat and his descendants governed Yazd until the end of the Qajar Period and built many new buildings and contributed to the region's development. Administrative Divisions Yazd Province is divided into 11 counties namely Abarkuh, Ardakan, Bafgh, Behabad, Meybod, Mehriz, Sadough, Taft, and Yazd city.
Abarkuh Sarv e Abarkuh (EN: The Cypress of Abarkuh) also called the Zoroastrian Sarv, are a Cupressus sempervirens tree in Abarkuh and one of the oldest living things worldwide (said to be the 2nd one) It is protected by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran as a national natural monument and is indeed a major tourist attraction with a height of 25 meters and circumference of 18 meters. It is estimated to be over four millennia old (even said to be 4800) and is likely the second-oldest living thing worldwide.
Aghazadeh Mansion and its windcatcher belong to the Qajar Dynasty. This building was registered as a historical monument. Since 2015, the facade of this building has been portrayed on the 20,000 rial bills. The southern room in this mansion is shaped like a cross. There is also a central courtyard with a big stone pool in the middle. The mansion has three different facades, making it possible for the residents of the building to live in different parts of the house based on the weather conditions in various seasons of the year. The windcatcher in this mansion is one of the most original and beautiful windcatchers in Iran and all over the world. It is 18 meters high and covers an area of 18 square meters. There are 19 air-adjusting vents in the mouth of the windcatcher which are in harmony and connected with the second windcatcher. This windcatcher can do the air-adjustment even if there is no wind blowing. Unlike most windcatchers, this one is a two-story structure. The pergola in Aghazadeh Mansion has been decorated by Mogharnas to let the light get in the building easily and make it look brighter.
Gonbad-e Ali was built in the year 1056 and is an example of delicate Persian architecture. The tomb of Pire-e-Hamzehpush was built during the 12th century. The shrine is equipped with an exquisite altar and the dome is an exception from the point of beautiful ornaments, plasterwork, and Kufi scripts. Abarkuh Congregation Mosque was built during the Seljuk Period (1338 AD). The Mosque is composed of four porticoes. It is delicately decorated with plaster friezes and marble tablets. Because of its extraordinary value, the above altar has been transferred to the Iranian Ancient Museum in Tehran.
The bomb of Hassan ibne Keykhosrow belongs to Ilkhanid Period. Part of it has been destroyed but it is a very pretty building from the point of view of decorations, tablets, and Kufi scripts. The dome is 25 m above the ground and its face is coated by azure tiles. The ceiling and the walls are ornamented with plaster friezes, floral designs, and several tablets.
Pir-e Sabz Temple (aka Chak Chak) is a famous Zoroastrian pilgrimage site, with a green and old nature located at the heart of the desert. Every year the Zoroastrians from around the world visit the temple and perform their rites. The temple is 48km away from the road connecting Yazd to Arakan. Besides Pir-e Sabz Temple there is the Pir-e Harish temple which is held sacred by Zoroastrians as well as Pars Banoo Temple. According to Zoroastrians the wife of Kind Yazdgerd III who was escaping from the Arab army sought refuge in this place and disappeared. After that, a temple was built and a sacred fire was kindled. Each year on the 18th day of the Iranian Near year the Zoroastrians visit the temple and hold feasts. Eshkaft Yazdan Cave is another sacred Zoroastrian on a hilltop cave that is visited by Indian Zoroastrian every year from August 22 until 26. The entrance to the cave is very difficult. The cave is big enough to house several thousand pilgrims.
Archaeologists have discovered stone engravings over a rock on Mount Arnan dating back to 12000 years ago. The engravings show two separate hunting scenes. The scene on the right displays a big picture of a beast and a man standing in front of it. The other image shows the man piercing the body of the beast with his spear.
Mehrpadin Castle is another historical site in Mehriz. Archaeologists have discovered ancient objects belonging to Sassanid and Islamic periods near Mehrpadin Castle which was built during the Safavid Period. Pir-e Anaraki is an important Zoroastrian temple in Iran located 15 km away from Mehriz over Anaraki Mountain. According to the Zoroastrians, this was the place where Nazbanoo, the daughter of King Yazdgerd III, sought refuge as she was being chased by Arab warriors. Each year in the summer the Zoroastrians visit the sacred temple to celebrate the event. Pahlavanpour Orchard contains a tower, a central palace, a kitchen, and a bath. The tower and other buildings were constructed during the end of the Qajar Period. Pahlavanpour Orchard has been registered by UNESCO as a world heritage.
Narin Castle is a giant mudbrick castle that is believed to belong to the Sassanid Period. This is one of the few buildings in the country which displays Sassanid architecture. Structures like these constituted the government stronghold in some of the older (pre-Islamic) towns of central Iran. Some of these castles incorporate mud bricks of the Medes period and of the Achaemenid and Sassanid dynasties. The ruins of the structure stand 40meters (130 ft) high from its base. Although built some 2000 years ago, it contains what seems to be a type of plumbing system made out of mortar ("sārooj”) built into its massive walls. It is also peculiarly similar in design to Ali Qapu palace of Isfahan; it has a terrace high on top of the structure whose circulation is provided by two helical stairwells (whose walls have caved in, making it inaccessible). The structure also has a large underground chamber (filled now by rubble), possibly a prison. Four towers surround the entire compound and a large gate furnishes access to a large courtyard. The structure seems to have been the victim of numerous earthquakes throughout the ages. Rock images at Nadooshan Mountain lie near an extinct spring over a mountain and display a beast and a hunter in different symbolic forms as well as Kufi and Persian scripts.
Other monuments in Meybod consist of a pigeon tower, several shrines, castles, water reservoirs, inns, and mills. Robat e Shah Abbasi Caravansary and Kolar water reservoir are the most famous among them.
Oqab (EN: Eagle) Mountain is located 30 km off Yazd-Shiraz road. It is a single high mountain. With a height of 2,000 meters, it looks like a sitting eagle. To climb the mountain, one has to travel from the west of Eslamieh Touristic Village, which is located 10 km from Taft. Eslamieh has an old plane tree and a tourist-attracting historical context. Shah Vali Mosque was constructed in the year 1301 (1922). What is remarkable about the mosque is its dome and altar which was built for the first time and was an innovation. In fact the dome of Kabud Mosque in Tabriz and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan has been imitated from Shah Vali Mosque at Taft.
Shoaz Castle is the most important mountainous castle in Yazd Province which covers an area of 5000 m2. The castle has been built 100m above the ground over solid rocks. The main walls are coated by stone slabs from outside and by mudbrick from inside. Tooran Posht Hotspring is one of the prewarm springs in the country. Hot water gushes from the depth of earth and since the water issues slowly it emits plaster and lime sedimentations which gradually grow into the mound. When the mouth of the spring is blocked by the mineral sediments hot water starts gushing from another spring near the former one. Tooranposht Spring is located 80 km away from Taft.
Yazd city, the capital city of Yazd Province, is located in a big valley between Shirkuh Mountain Range and Kharanagh Mountain and has an arid, dry, and desert climate. The temperature changes sharply during summer and winter in the daytime and nighttime. Actually, Yazd has a warm-season starting from March until September and a short winter starting from October until February. The city has a history of over 3,000 years, dating back to the Median Empire when it was known as Ysatis (or Issatis). The city was a Zoroastrianpopulated hub during Sassanid Period. After the Arab invasion, many Zoroastrians fled to Yazd from the neighboring provinces and Yazd remained Zoroastrian by paying levy even after the Arab Conquest. But gradually Islam became the dominant religion in the city.
Because of its remote desert location, Yazd remained largely immune to big battles and war ravages. For instance, it was a haven for those fleeing from destruction in other parts of Persia during the invasion of Changiz Khan. Marco Polo visited Yazd in 1272 and speaks highly about the city's fine silk-weaving industry. Yazd briefly served as the capital of the Muzaffarid Dynasty during the fourteenth century. Under Safavid rule in the 16th century, some people migrated from Yazd and settled in an area as Yazdi at Farah town, Farah Province, in Afghanistan Even today the Yazdis Farah town speak with an accent very similar to the citizens of Yazd. During the Qajar Dynasty Yazd was governed by the Bakhtiari Khans. According to historians, the city was built by Yazdgerd the First of the Sassanid Empire. The term 'Yazd stems from 'yazesh' which means 'adoration and prayer in Old Persian. By this denomination, Yazdgerd meant that Yazd was the abode of sacred, pure and noble people.
Dowlatabad Orchard was constructed in the year 1747 and contains an octagonal building, a tall wind trap, several lovely halls, and two portals. The orchard is irrigated by Dowlatabad qanat. The black marble stones used in the building south of the water reservoir are from Maragheh and Tabriz. The elevation of the wind trap is 33 m from the ground. Amir Kabir Mosque was constructed during the 14th century over the ruins of an older mosque which some historians believe to have been a Sassanid fire temple. The Mosque is composed of a rectangular courtyard 104 x 99 m in size and a portico facing the qiblah with two Shabestans at the two sides of the portico. The portal on which two minarets are standing has been repeatedly repaired but still preserves its 14th-century style. The ceilings of the Shabestans have been decorated with fine inlaid tiles.
The dome, the altar and the other parts of the Mosque is a masterpiece in beauty. The attar is made of a single marble slab which is unique in workmanship Yazd like most of the historical cities of Iran boasts some beautiful old bazaars. Fabrics, pastes, gold, and rugs are major items traded in the old bazaars of Yazd. Qeysariye Bazaar between Khan Square and Khan Seminary in which fabrics are sold is very pretty and distinguished compared to other bazaars in the metropolis. The oldest bazaar is Amir Chaqmaq Bazaar which was constructed during the 15th century AD. The goldsmiths' bazaar is another popular market in Yazd.
Varahram Fire Temple was built in the year 1934 in the middle of a large courtyard full of pines and cypress trees. In a big round pond at the south image of Fravahar and the capitals of the columns of the oppose building are reflected in a beautiful Manner. The temple resembles Parsi fire temples in India. It is said that the fire which is burning in Varahram Temple was burning in Nahid-e Pars Fire Temple 1500 years ago and has remained alive until today. Most of the Zoroastrians in Yazd perform their religious rites in this temple.
Silent Tower, constructed over a relatively high hill, is a circular tower without a ceiling in which the Zoroastrians are buried. The dead bodies are laid in the dungeons inside the tower to be eaten by vultures. When every impurity disappears their bones are buried in a deep well. Amir Chaqmaq Mosque is famous for its elevated portal, giant dome, and terrace. It was built by the wife of Amir Chaqmaq, a Timurid governor, in Yazd. Amir Chaqmaq Tekiye was constructed in 1427 but its glorious portal and false arches were built during the 19th century. The Congregation Mosque of Yazd (Masjed Jāmeh) which is depicted on the obverse of the Iranian 200 rials banknote, dates back to the 12th century but is still in use today. It was first built under Ala'oddoleh Garshasb of the Al-e Bouyeh dynasty. The mosque was largely rebuilt between 1324 and 1365 and is one of the outstanding 14th-century buildings of Iran. The mosque is crowned by a pair of minarets, the highest in Iran, and the portal's facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile work, predominantly blue in color. Within is a long arcaded courtyard where, behind a deep-set south-east iwan, is a sanctuary chamber (Shabestan). This chamber, under a squat tiled dome, is exquisitely decorated with faience mosaic: its tall faience Mihrab, dated 1365, is one of the finest of its kind in existence.
Ziyaiyee Seminary with its high dome is decorated with fine plaster friezes and golden and azure paintings. Construction of Shah Kamaliye Seminary began in 1234 and was completed in 1305. Its dome is coated with bricks and the interior is decorated with golden and azure paintings. The Tomb of Seyed Roknedin, located in Masjed Jame Kabir avenue, with a beautiful dome and fine tiling is registered as a national heritage. Twelve Imam Mausoleum is a typical Seljuk monument built during the 11th century and is distinguished by its ancient brick dome. Inside the dome is decorated with Kufi scripts.
Yazd has been twined with Jászberény in Hungary, Jakarta in Indonesia and Homs in Syria.
People and Culture
The inhabitants of Yazd Province are from Aryan stock. During ancient times Arabs, Turks, Christians, and Jews came to Yazd and settled there. The people in Yazd speak Persian with Yazdi dialect and have retained many old terms and sweet combinations of that language. With its unfrequented and winding streets, high walls, domes, and wind traps the architects of this desert town are faithful to their traditional style. The town has the pure yellow color of the desert, shining green trees, earnest people, and a moderate climate. Yazdis are kind and sympathetic industrialists and artists. Yazd has succeeded to preserve its peculiar desert architecture. The wind traps in the traditional houses in the town catch the warm desert wind, let it pass through ponds, and blow cool wind into the rooms. Its architecture well suits their arid and dry climate and the houses conform to the climate and culture of the region. In the older section of the town, Yazd still preserves its public baths, marketplace, water reservoirs, mosques, small workshops, and rivulets leading to qanats.
A traveling touring Yazd may purchase different types of shawls, mats, pottery, rugs, cotton shoes and ceramics, and various sorts of pastes and sweetmeats. Yazd is also well-known for its varied confectionery.
|Museum of Light|
Ancient objects and items related to anthropology are being exhibited in Ardekan Museum. Mehriz Museum of Anthropologychas been built in an old underground bath at the beginning of the Qajar Period. The roof of the bath is level with the surrounding homes. The holes and the colored glasses over the room reflect the sunbeams in the bath in a very beautiful manner. For this reason, the bath has been converted into a museum in which over 600 historical items such as farming tools, army weapons, traditional costumes, glass vessels, and poetry are being displayed. The Museum of Mats is set at a Safavid caravansary in Meybod and displays a large number of mats used in mosques and other historical buildings. The oldest Ziloo (mat) belongs to the 15th century. Several mat weaving workshops have been set in the Museum in which the masters of the craft teach mat weaving Museum of Mirrors and Lighting in Yazd city has been built in a lovely orchard covering 7656 m2 area and is the only expertise museum in the country which is dedicated to lighting. The Museum contains various types of mirrors, candlesticks, tallow burners, candles, kerosene lamps, matchboxes, and electrical lighting appliances. The lighting equipment in the Museum is made of earthenware, glass, brass, bronze, and copper. The museum is decorated with plaster, mirrors, perforated wooden doors, and lovely paintings. Water Museum in Yazd city displays various sorts of tools used to dig qanats, water measuring tools, lighting equipment used in qanats, and documents related to the distribution of water, water containers, and other precious items. The Museum of Natural Sciences at Iranshahr High School in Yaz covers an area of 1000 m2 and is divided into botany, geology, zoology, and human anatomy.
The shortest distance from Yazd to Tehran is 575 km. Airplanes fly from Yazd Airport to Tehran and Bandar Abbas. Moreover, Yazd is connected to Tehran, Kerman, and Bandar Abbas by the national railway grid.
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