A clock tower with meaning
Yazd has a clock tower, too - like many othertowns and cities in the world... but this clocktower is not only telling the time - it has a special significance. It is called Markar’s clock tower, and it is meant as a sign of gratitude towards Pashotanji Markar - a follower of the Zoroastrain religion who set up many charitable funds in order to support the Zoroastrian community in Iran.
In Yazd in particular he opened an orphanage for Zarathushti boys - and later a boy's school. Then he thought that if he did not educate women, too - his efforts would be lost, so he also opened a girsl's school.
Atashkadeh - the fire temple
Atashkadeh is the Zoroastrian fire temple - this one in Yazd has had this fire burning continuously, in a brazen vessel, since 470 AD. For Zoroastrian followers, fire (Atar) - as well as clean water (Aban) - are purifying agents and representations of all what's good in the world.
This fire can be seen from behind a glass, because only the Grand Priest, reciting the Avesta, has direct access to it. When you reach the temple you will see a house with a large bird on it - it's a Zoroastrian Symbol - and a round fountain in the middle. The fire is inside the building.
Entrance to the temple is free.
Yazd water museum
Yazd water museum is one of those museums you really need to see, not only because it's very informative, but also because it is located in a very beautiful and decorated 100 years old house - Kolah-douz-ha house - so basically that's two birds in a bush.
Being a "desert city", water is very precious, and in this museum you can learn all about traditional water storage and distribution. it is also a good place to see an original qanat. Qanat were special underground irrigation systems: this house had two, but only one is still active today.
The museum is open every day from 8 AM to 7.30 PM. The webiste says that the entrance price is US dollars 1.30 - but when we visited we were told it was free.
Hazireh mosque, also known as Ruzeh-E-Muhammadeyeh, yazd most confusing mosque. Unless you look at it carefelly, you can easilt mistake it for the Majied-e Jamee, the Friday0s mosque. I used to fororientation purposes, to get out of the bazaar, only to find myself where I was not supposed to be. At that point I noticed I was looking at the wrong mosque.
Still, the entrance portal is a beautiful one, covered in blue and turquoise decorative tiles.
Amir Chakhmaq Mosque
Amir Chakhmaq is a truly stunning building... it is a mosque, too - though at a glance, you would not say so. Of all the mosques I have seen, in various countries, this is the one that looks the oddest.
Amir Chakhmaq comes from the name of the person who commissioned this building - Amir Jalaleddin Chakhmaq Shami who was a the Timurid governor of Yazd in the 15th century. Back then it was called New Mosque (Masjid-e Nou).
This mosque is also a great place to take aerial photos of Yazd, since it is possible to walk up to the upper takieh (more or less a "floor") and enjoy amazing sights of the old city, the rounded roofs below, and the wind towers.
Maghbareh-ye Davazdah Emam
Maghbareh-ye Davazdah Emamis the shrine of the Twelve Imams - a bizarre construction in a sort of octagonal shape which dates back to the 1038 - and a fine example of Seljuk architecture. It functions both as a religious shrine and funerary mosque.
An interesting fact is that the shrine of the Twelve Imams does bear inscriptions with the names of the 12 Shiite Imams, but none of those imams are actually buried there. The person who's buried there - Fakhreddin Esfajaroudi, one of the venerated Esfajaroudi Sheikhs of Fahadan from the 14th century - doesn't have any inscription.
Somehow this doesn't make quite sense.
Alexander Prison, the legend says, was built by Alexander the Great at the time of his rule over Iran. Apparently not everyone liked him, so when he passed through Yazd he was first arrested and then imprisoned in a dungeon located under the courtyard of a school.
The only correct bit is that the building that they now call a prison was indeed a school, in the 15th century - but there was obviously no dungeon, only a deep well - and it is where the suggestive cafeteria is located today.
if you visit this alleged prison, you can enjoy some horrble tea/coffee in the wonderful cafeteria, and you can also see a tiny but interesting exhibition about the old city of Yazd.
Bogheh-ye Seyed Roknaddin
Bogheh-ye Seyed Roknaddin is the Seyed Roknaddin Mausoleum, which was built by Amir Roknaddin Mohammad Ghazi to host the remains of this reknown muslim. It's dome is the second most eye-catching monument in Yazd after the Friday mosque, which is just around the corner. The building itself is beautiful, too and covered in blue tiles.
According to my guidebook, this mausoleum is usually closed to the public - for sure it was open when I was in town during Norooz. Entrance is free - though inside it's not as beautiful as outside. Non-muslims are welcome but women must wear a chador, which is provided. Just grab one from the coat stand and follow the other women in.
Masjed-e jameh, the Jameh (Friday) Mosque, is the most beautiful in Yazd. It was built in the 14th century, apparently on the foundations of a 12th century Zoroastrian temple.
It has two distinctive 48 metres tall twin minarets to both sides of the Eastern gate - which is the main entrance. These minarets are supposed to be the highest in Iran. Once you enter the Eastern gate you find yourself in a large courtyard, lined with a single story arcade on three sides. Most of this mosque is covered in tiles in all shades of blue and turquoise, with stunning calligraphic tilework and mosaic stonework panels
Tower of Silence
Until approx. 1970 the towers were used for placing the dead on top to let their flesh be eaten by vultures, but as the city of Yazd began expanding more and more, i.e. closer to the towers, that habit was forbidden due to hygienic reasons (little fingers falling down from the sky etc. :-) ).
It's just a few meters uphill and you'll have a beautiful view of the surrounding area!
When Alexander the Great ruled over Persia some Iranian elite protested and were arrested. It is said that when Alexander passed through Yazd he imprisoned them in a dungeon, a deep well, now in the courtyard of a school from the 15th century. If this is true or not have been debated.
Anyway the building is worth a visit. It has been renovated and when I visited there was a photo exhibition in one room, and there are also a few workshops.
Entrance fee is IR 2000 (July 2006).
The building is open 7.30am - dark.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Yazd Water museum
Yazd Water Museum is an interesting museum. Its exhibitions show how qantas are built and about their importance. A qanat is a narrow water channel dug underground by hand.
The hydraulic technology of qantas has been used in the area for 2000 - 3000 years to get water supply for irrigation, drinking, washing etc. In a dry area like Yazd they have been very important and the qanat builders of Yazd are considered to have very good skills.
Yazd Water Museum is housed in an old mansion and under this house there are two Qantas (only one active). There is also a payab, which is a passage cut in the ground to get access to qanat water, which is at a depth of 10 metres here.
The museum is open between 8 - 19.30 daily.
I didn’t pay an entrance fee as there was nobody at the door when I arrived, and when I later asked for a ticket they said it was okay. But I can see on the web page that a ticket for tourists is equivalent to 1,3 UDS.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Tomb of the 12 Imams
Very near Alexander’s Prison is the Tomb of the 12 Imams. It is a building from 1038 with a brick dome (an early good example of its kind). Inside there are some fine plasterwork and inscriptions with the names of the 12 Shiite Imams, but none of them are buried here.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
The entrance to Jameh Mosque is impressive with its tiles and the 48m - high minarets. After entering you will come to a large courtyard measuring 104 x 99 metres. It is nice to stroll around the mosque a while admiring all the beautiful mosaics.
There was originally a fire temple on the site of the mosque but in the 12th century a mosque was built here. Most of today’s building is from the 14th century.
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
Towers of Silence
These two Towers of Silence till 1960'ies were used to place dead bodies of Zoroastrians. The vultures then ate the felsh till only bones were left. Actually it was not the most pleasant place I visited in Iran, but you can watch them from ground level for the least. It is not necessary to go up the hill to the towers. They are located in outskirts of Yazd, so the best way to go there is by taxi.