Thursday, 26 October 2017

Iran II - Yazd, a different feeling

Many people are familiar with the names of Shiraz and Esfahan in Iran - and they are really beautiful cities, and worth visiting anytime. But a visit to Yazd in central Iran ( it is situated between Shiraz and Esfahan) is a different experience. First, its antiquity - Yazd is said to be one of the oldest lived -in cities of the world, which was visited by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Second, Yazd is the centre of Zoroastrianism, with its Fire Temple that boasts of an ancestry going back to the 5th century CE. Third in significance is the architecture: it is one of the few remaining lived-in cities of the world that have houses made largely with mud-baked bricks and chopped-straw and mud daubing. It is the home of the "badgir" or the "wind-catcher" towers that dot the city. Yazd is close to the Dast-e-Kavir desert and temperatures in summer can hit 50-51 deg. C. Hence the need to "catch" the slightest breeze.

These pictures show, respectively, a typical street in Yazd, the "wind catcher" towers next to a square, and the Yazd fire-temple

There are still "qanats" or stone channels that bring water down in some areas from as far as 30-40 kilometres.  There is also the Jame Mosque with its fabulous tile-work ornamentation. But most interesting of all is the appeal of the narrow, winding lanes that lead in all directions, to squares with their carpet shops (Yazd carpets are notable for their weaving in the neighbouring desert areas and the distinctive Zoroastrian style carpets) and souvenir shops, and old homes with their strange, different door knockers for men and women - for the men, the heavier knocker and for the women a much lighter ring, so that the householder may know whom to expect.  These are civilisational aspects that one often loses sight of.

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