Yazd Old Town, Iran – photo essay and tourist information (+VIDEO)

Tomb of 12 imams, Yazd, Iran - header

Yazd Old Town

Losing yourself in the maze of mud bricked kuches (lanes) of the ancient city of Yazd is one of the highlights of any trip to Iran.

Yazd, Iran (48) - Jon

The narrow winding alleys hide many of the city’s premier attractions and provide the best possible protection against the relentless summer sun. Although the joy is not necessarily searching out the mosques and sights, although they are splendid, but exploring the simple courtyards, covered walkways and ornately carved wooden doors that are so plentiful.

The defining feature of the old town are the slender upright badgirs that sit upon almost every house. Badgirs (wind-catchers) are an ancient (and still effective) form of air conditioning as they funnel the scant cool air into the abodes below.

For a great views of the city, be sure to clamber up onto the rooftops and enjoy the unique scene of chimney like shapes and the endless desert rolling into the distance.

Yazd, Iran (59) - old town from above

Yazd top sights

The key sights to seek out include the Masjid-e Jameh (Friday Mosque), which dates back to the 14th century, and is made up of some wonderful Persian mosaics and excellent architecture. The two soaring minarets are the tallest in Iran and blue dominated facade of the mosque proudly overlooks the long arcaded courtyard below. Interesting features include the sanctuary chamber in the south-east iwan which is decorated with faience mosiacs which are some of the finest anywhere on earth and date back to 1365.

Gallery (click to enlarge)

The Amir Chakhmaq Complex comprises of an elaborate three-storey façade of arched alcoves. The complex consists of a caravanserai, a tekyeh (a place for Muslims to mourn the death of Imam Ali), a bathhouse, a cold water well, and a confectionery although today only the first floor is accessible. Note the huge wooden palm-shaped nakhl in front of the structure which is used for the observance of the Shiite Ashura celebrations. Underneath the complex there is a bazaar stuffed with cheap eateries specialising in jigar (grilled liver), shashliks and dizi.

Also check out Alexander’s prison, which quite beautifully was neither built by Alexander the Great nor a prison, but instead was a 15th century domed madrasa and the deteriorating Tomb of the 12 Imams which was built in the early 11th century, and bears the names of the twelve Shiite Imams.

Yazd is one of the oldest cities in the world and was once an important stop on the silk road. Marco Polo once stopped by describing the town as ‘a very fine and splendid city and a centre of commerce.’ Today, life still revolved around the bazaar and the region is known for its textile industry.

Chadors on sale, Yazd, Iran

A walk through the Yazd old town


Yazd old town

written by: Jon

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