Iran Traveling Center

Yazd

Yazd

Yazd; a desert city reconverting commercially and industrially, as well as a historical city, which regrets never having been a national capital, Yazd commemorates by unusual monuments the importance given it by scores of scientists and scholars in the past centuries. In the industrial fields, Yazdis practice carpet weaving, silk weaving, shawl making, the manufacture of the shoes known as giveh and the making of abasor cloaks. Many are engaged in agriculture, the noblest of all employment according to the Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism.
The architecture of Yazd is unique, combining a proliferation of those graceful bad-girs (wind-towers) seen in central and southern Iran: the houses are surmounted by high turrets with openings oriented toward the dominant winds; these insure the ventilation of the lower parts of the house rather like air-vents on a ship. Enormous domes starting at ground level and also surmounted by air-vents act as protective roofs for deep water-tanks six, eight or ten meters below street level, which were reached by stair-cases. Yazdis of the present day retain their sterling qualities of old. They are strongly religious, whether their faith is Islam or the “Good Religion” of ancient Iran.
The center of Yazd is Shahid Dr Beheshti Square (former Mojahedin Square). From here to the train station in the south of Yazd, or the bus station almost next to it, is about three-km. There are a couple of places to stay within walking distance of the main square, but most of them are some distance away and in various directions. Most of the main sights can be visited on foot, but it is very probable that one may get lost in the dense network of alleys and cul-de-sacs.
Yazd; a desert city reconverting commercially and industrially, as well as a historical city, which regrets never having been a national capital, Yazd commemorates by unusual monuments the importance given it by scores of scientists and scholars in the past centuries. In the industrial fields, Yazdis practice carpet weaving, silk weaving, shawl making, the manufacture of the shoes known as giveh and the making of abasor cloaks. Many are engaged in agriculture, the noblest of all employment according to the Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism.
The architecture of Yazd is unique, combining a proliferation of those graceful bad-girs (wind-towers) seen in central and southern Iran: the houses are surmounted by high turrets with openings oriented toward the dominant winds; these insure the ventilation of the lower parts of the house rather like air-vents on a ship. Enormous domes starting at ground level and also surmounted by air-vents act as protective roofs for deep water-tanks six, eight or ten meters below street level, which were reached by stair-cases. Yazdis of the present day retain their sterling qualities of old. They are strongly religious, whether their faith be Islam or the “Good Religion” of ancient Iran.
The center of Yazd is Shahid Dr Beheshti Square (former Mojahedin Square). From here to the train station in the south of Yazd, or the bus station almost next to it, is about three-km. There are a couple of places to stay within walking distance of the main square, but most of them are some distance away and in various directions. Most of the main sights can be visited on foot, but it is very probable that one may get lost in the dense network of alleys and cul-de-sacs.

City Walls:

In ancient Iran there were many types of public structures, from among which one may mention the achievement represented by city walls. The twelfth to fourteenth century walls of Yazd, which are still standing, are perhaps the most interesting, imposing and skillfully planned. In Yazd, sections of the old walls and moat remain, providing an interesting example of a medieval wall, fortified by moat, towers and barbicans, now buried deep within a town which has long since expanded beyond its old limits. These walls were begun, it is said, in 1119 and rebuilt and extended during the 14th century. In places, they were 15 meters high; being nicely decorated with ornamental devices such as those employed on unglazed pottery.

Bazaar:

The 12 historic bazaars of Yazd are worth a visit. The most important bazaars here are: Bazaar-e Khan; Goldsmiths Bazaar; and Panjeh Ali Bazaar. The many bazaars here are probably the best places in Iran to buy silk fabric, cashmere, brocades and cloth (taffeta and Yazdi shawl) all the beautiful local designs, motifs, and colors, the products which brought the town its prosperity. Try to take an Iranian guide with you. Yazd is also a good place for cakes and sweets (baghlava, qottab, pashmak), although quite a lot of the tempting tooth-rotters on display arent actually made in the town.

Amir Chakhmaq Mosque:

On no account should you miss the fourteenth-century AD Masjid-e Amir Chakhmaq or Masjid-e Jomeh (an exact contemporary of the Masjid-e Jame) next to the bazaar portal, famous for its superb portal ornamented with stucco, and the traditional four-ivan structure on a courtyard a little too small for the ivans. Originally, it was called Masjid-e Now (New Mosque). The frieze on the portal has artistically very valuable calligraphy etched on it, according to which the mosque was built by the zealous efforts of Bibi Fatemeh Khatun, wife of Yazd governor Amir Jalal od-Din Chakhmaq. A marble mihrab has been installed, around which decorative tiles and verses of the Holy Koran have been etched over stone. The mosque is very near to the Takieh-ye Mir Chakhmaq, a 19th century tiled edifice built to serve as a grandstand for the traditional passion play, or Tazieh, recording the martyrdom of the third Imam Hossein, that is acted during the mourning month of Muharram (lunar) in the Takieh, or special theater used for these performances, of which it formed part. At present, the free space in front of the monument has been turned into the central square of the town, and has acquired a new appearance as a result of trees and flowers having been planted. Actually, this represents one of the buildings of a historic complex incorporating a mosque, a public bath, a caravansary, a mausoleum, a takieh, three water reservoirs, and an imposing entrance to one of Yazd’s bazaars.

Jame Mosque:

Masjid-e Jame, also known as the Friday Mosque, like so many important mosques, was the focus of a complex of buildings of various periods and styles in various states of conservation. The site of a Sassanian fire temple, its major features, however, were begun in 1324 and continuously developed for forty years. There is no more impressive gateway in Iran than this great soaring 14th century edifice. Crowned by a pair of minarets, the highest in Iran, the portals facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile work, predominantly blue in color. Inside there is a long arcaded court where, behind a deep-set southeast ivan, is a sanctuary chamber which, 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. The tile work has recently been skillfully restored and a modern library built to house the mosques valuable collection of books and manuscripts. By the side of the Masjid-e Jame, along a side street to the right was the Vaqt va Saat (Time and Hour) complex, now reduced to the Shrine of Rokn ad-Din, who was responsible for building the complex. The observatory (which gave its name), a library, and a madraseh, have all vanished.

Twelve Imams Shrine:

Further from the center can be found the splendid early 12th century Shrine of the Twelve Imams (maghbareh-ye Davazdah Emam) properly described as a funerary mosque. It is almost next door to the Zendan-e Eskandar (Alexanders Prison, a deep, circular, brick-lined pit about 10 m in diameter) and has a fine three line Kuffic inscription inside, with the names of each of the Shiite Imams, none of whom is buried here. Although the mausoleum is small, dusty and forgotten, it is nonetheless a well-preserved building of the period. There some interesting plaster moldings on the mihrab, and the brick dome is a good early example of its kind. The Maghbareh is locked, but the door-keeper at Zendan-e Eskandar next door will take you in. Dont forget to give him a tip of at least 500 Rials. It would be also good to have a guide or taxi driver with you.

Towers of Silence:

Dakhmeh or Qaleh-ye Khamushan (Towers of Silence): These are three impressive buildings remaining from several other similar structures on hilltops outside and in the immediate vicinity of the town (about 15 km to the south-west) where the bodies of the dead Zoroastrians would be brought to the foot of the tower so that a ritual ceremony could be held in presence of the relatives and friends of the deceased. The body was then carried by the priests into the tower where it was laid on the flat stones on the ground thus avoiding that earth, water, and fire, the divine elements be contaminated, the soul of the defunct person having already been by Ahura Mazda. In a short time the body would be torn apart by passing vultures and crows. The bones were then thrown into a circular pit in the center of the tower. At the foot of the towers stand the remains of the buildings, which once served for the funerary ceremonies. When the towers were still used for Zoroastrian burials, only the priests were allowed into them. Nowadays, however, some of them have been opened to the public. Beneath the hill there are several other disused Zoroastrian buildings including a defunct well, two small bad-girs, a kitchen and a lavatory. The custom of exposing corpses in a tower of silence largely disappeared throughout the Zoroastrian world around 50 years ago, at about the same time that the eternal flame was transferred to the newly constructed Atashkadeh in the center of Yazd. As a matter of fact, the towers was used until 1978, after which all Zoroastrian dead were buried in the cemetery at the foot of the towers. The site can be reached only by taxi or private car.

Chak Chak:

This important Zoroastrian fire-temple is on a hill 52 km to the north-northeast of Yazd. It attracts thousands of pilgrims for an annual festival, which lasts for ten day from the beginning of the third month after Now Ruz. To visit, it is best to get the permission of the religious authorities at the Atashkadeh in Yazd. The return trip, by a difficult stretch of road off the main route to Tababs, will cost around 10,000 to 12,000 Rials by hired taxi.

Bagh-e Dowlat Historic Complex:
This is a complex built according to the original Iranian architectural style and consists of a large garden and some buildings. Being watered by a qanat, until the very recent past it was used for the residence of the provincial governor. The most impressive part of the complex is a 33-meter high bad-gir (wind-tower) on the roof and a water stream in the interior. The air was conducted into the interior and cooled through the action of the flowing water. Lattice doors and windows with stained glass patterns impart a pleasing sight to the complex.

Henna:

An ancient Iranian Herbal Substance with Modern Application, Henna is an orange red dye that yields varied colors depending on the surface to which it is applied. It comes from the leaves of a small shrub that grows in Iran, India, and the African coasts of the Mediterranean, and is used in cosmetics, perfumery, and medicine. By distilling henna flowers, an intensely fragrant boiling henna powder, a yellowish brown color is gained which turns into brilliant red when mixed with an alkaline matter. Henna stems are used in dyeing industry to obtain the red color. Using henna for coloring hair, hands and feet considered a traditional beauty ritual has a long history. Fresh henna powder was made into a paste by adding other materials, in order to produce an attractive orange color. The mixture could then be used as mascara for eyelashes. The color lasts three or four weeks.
According to Avicenna (908-1038), boiled henna leaves are effective in treating inflammations and burns caused by fire, mouth and gum sores, and prevention of nervous disorders as well as healing of bone fractures. In regions where sun shines directly and intensely, coloring of the scalp with henna is recommended. In Europe hennas has been used for curing rheumatism and helping skin regeneration in wounds. Boiled henna leaves mixed with peach leaves were used for treatment of eczema.
To obtain violet, the amount of supplementary colors in the mixture is increased. If henna is mixed, with verjuice or lemon juice, its effect will be enhanced and a better color obtained. To change hair color to blonde, one portion of rhubarb flower and two portions of henna are mixed.
Henna has traditionally been growing in the provinces of Kerman, Sistan va Baluchistan, and Yazd where it is considered a native plant. Henna mills can be visited around Yazd.

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