Yazd: The Pure City


Yazd Province


May 26, 2022


The historical city of Yazd was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd has a unique Persian architecture.  It is nicknamed the "City of Windcatchers."  It is also very well known for its Zoroastrian fire temples, cisterns, underground channels, water coolers, Persian handicrafts, handwoven cloth, silk weaving, Persian cotton candy, and its time-honored confectioneries.

The Amir Chakhmaq Complex is a prominent structure in Yazd.  It is noted for its symmetrical sunken alcoves and a mosque.  It also contains a caravanserai, monastery, bathhouse, cold water well, and confectionery.  During the Iran–Iraq War and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with the United States, many Iraqis and Afghanis came to inhabit the Amir Chakhmaq Square.

The Fire Temple of Yazd is a Zoroastrian temple.  It enshrines the Atash Bahram, meaning “Victorious Fire”, dated to 470 CE. It is one of the nine Atash Bahrams, the only one of the highest-grade fire in ancient Iran where Zoroastrians have practiced their religion since 400 BCE.  The other eight Atash Bahrams are in India.  The Yazd Atash Bahram was opened to non-Zoroastrian visitors in the 1960s.

Veneration of fire has its roots in the older practice of keeping a hearth fire going especially in the cold winters on the steppes of Central Asia when the Indo Europeans led a nomadic life, and fire was a source of warmth, light and comfort. The Iranians began calling fire the Atas Yazata (divinity) and began giving it offerings in return for its constant help.

The Yazd Tower of Silence or the Yazd Dakhma  is a Zoroastrian tower of silence located 15 kilometers to the south east of the city of Yazd, Iran.

Zoroastrians believe that earth, fire, and water are all holy elements, and thus do not pollute them by burying, burning or giving their dead to the water. Instead, they place their dead bodies on in a tower of silence, letting vultures consume the corpses. In the middle of the tower exists a pit known as Ostudan where the remaining bones are placed after they are stripped of flesh.

This practice has been banned in Iran since 1966-1967, and ever since no body has been placed in this tower of silence.

Dowlat Abad Garden is an historical garden in Yazd, Iran. Its 33.8 meters tall windcatcher (111 ft)  is the tallest adobe-made windcatcher in the world. It was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2011, as part of the Persian gardens. It is also listed in UNESCO as a part of the historical city of Yazd in 2017.

The Great Friday Mosque

Situated adjacent to the center of the town of Yazd, the complex of the Great Friday Mosque of Yazd was founded in the Twelfth Century.  However, what stands on the site today is the new mosque (masjid-i jadid) built in the Fourteenth Century. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the mosque underwent further developments that added to its medieval nucleus.

The 14th-century mosque is still in use today. The mosque was largely rebuilt between 1324 and 1365 and is one of the outstanding 14th century buildings of Iran.

Three important aspects distinguish the Friday Mosque of Yazd: its structural innovation, its remarkable decoration, and its being the earliest mosque upon which later Fifteenth Century mosques in the Yazd region were modeled.

The mosque is a fine specimen of the Azari style of Persian architecture. The entrance to the mosque is crowned by a pair of minarets, the highest in Iran, dating back to the Safavid era and measuring 52 meters in height (173 ft – 16 stories) and 6 meters in diameter (20 ft).

The entrance is decorated from top to bottom in tile work. Within is a long-arcaded courtyard.  The chamber, under a squat tiled dome, is exquisitely decorated with tile mosaic: its tall tiled Mihrab, dated 1365, is one of the finest of its kind in existence. On two star-shaped sgraffito tiles are the name of the craftsman and the date of construction of the Mihrab.

One of the amazing attributes of the Friday Mosque is that the lighting system is obtained indirectly by the reflection of light from the white plaster of the dome and the walls.

One of the greatest features of the mansion is the square shape of the mosque which makes it look like Kaaba. Kaaba is a holy construction in the Islamic world and is a prominent symbol in Islamic Architecture.




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