Towers of Silence
The Towers of Silence are actually two mountains with circular walls on their peaks. This is where the Zoroastrians used to carry their dead, to be eaten by vultures.
This practice has been stopped by the authorities since the Islamic Revolution.
It's quite a steep climb to the top.
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Yazd Bazaar is a fascinating place. It is a subterranean maze of alleyways, lined with every type of store. At night it is packed with thousands of people. Once you enter, it may take you hours to find your way out again.
Inside the bazaar, you will find everything, from gold to spices. Remember, Yazd is possibly the cheapest city in Iran to buy things in.
- Budget Travel
Zoroastrians' Fire Temple
The Yazd province is home to the largest population of Zoroastrians in Iran. Zoroast was the ancient prophet of Persians, who had brought a religion, Zoroastrism, based on humanity and goodwill, which is still very alive.
These constructions are very important to the Zoroastrians, and normally include a building and beautiful gardens. They house the Holy Fire, which is cherished by Zoroastrians, and have been alight for over 1500 years. The Fire is kept in a case higher than the ground, far from sunshine. There are rooms for rituals around the monuments.
After all if you come to Yazd you should visit this place which helps you understand Persian culture more and more.
- Museum Visits
The fourteenth century, Friday Mosque or Masjid-e Jame is one of the two biggest and most beautiful in Yazd.
The mosque was built on the site of a Zoroastrian fire temple from 1324 onwards. It has a giant gateway and two towering minarets. Like the Amir Chakhmagh mosque, it is decorated with mosaic tiles.
- Budget Travel
Walking from Jame Mosque to Alexander Prison
One of the greatest places you can see in Yazd is its Jame Mosque with the enormous gate and dome and its nice combination of colors-navy and khaki-all under the absolute blue sky.
If you want to go from Jame Mosque to Alexander Prison by cab it might take you a long time, but walking through narrow alleys is a cheaper and more comforting alternative.
Alleys mostly are roofed in traditional way and if it wasn't covered by Asphalts you would feel you're in the dynasty of Qhajars or Safavid or even further.
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
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.
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.
Several monasteries (praying sites of the Sufis,
Several monasteries (praying sites of the Sufis) in the city reveals that this region was considered to be a shelter for Sufis and Gnostics. Some of the monasteries like those of Sheikh Ali Soleiman in Bidakhid, the monastery and mosque of Sheikh Dada in Bonder Abad and the monastery of Sheikh Ahmad Fahadan in Yazd are still present today. Furthermore, the city of Yazd has various historical sites in charming deserted areas worth visiting.
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.
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.
Moments with Arthur Upham Pope & Phyllis Ackerman
One of the merits of the Great city of Esfahan is the river passing through, called "Zayandeh-Rood". So there are lots of bridges built on the river some historical some new, the name of one of the ancient rivers is "Khajou" bridge. I don't want to talk about it but in the East side of the bridge there is small building containing Professor Arthur Upham Pope and his wife Phyllis Ackerman's Tomb, I am sure lots of people go to see the bridge but never explore what a great person resting near "Zayande Rood" river bank.
Arthur Upham Pope (1881-1969), was an American archaeologist and historian of Persian art. He married fellow Persian art historian, Phyllis Ackerman, in 1920. In 1923, Pope was appointed director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. They were pioneers in the study of the Persian art, history, heritage and culture, and its interrelations.
In 1964, during a state visit to Iran, They were formally invited to move The Asia Institute in Shiraz as an independent research center of publication and study, which would be housed in the Narenjestan Garden [ I will Talk about this garden that now is a museum in my shiraz Travel guide] . They accepted this generous offer and following months of planning, packing and organization, they returned permanently to Iran in 1966.
They spent their final days in Iran and upon their death, they were provided with a magnificent mausoleum built in Professor Pope Park on the banks of the Zayandeh River in their beloved city of Isfahan
- Arts and Culture
Zoroastrians Fire Temple,
First time, the of this temple was brought to Aqda of Yazd province from Karian, Pars and it was kept there for 700 years, then it was moved to Turkabad of Ardakan and it was kept there for 300 years. At last it was brought to this fire temple in Yazd and it has been lit since for 60 years ( quoted from the signboard of the fire temple )
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.
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.