One of the oldest cities of Iran, with desert architecture, an important Zoroastrian center since Sassanian time, that has kept Fire Temple and Dakhmehs ( Towers of Silence) , a prosperous city standing at the cross – roads of the most important caravan routes from central Asia and India to the south and West, has the name of Yazd . Marcopolo, who came here on his way to China in 1212, called it ” The Good and Noble City of Yazd ” .
Yazd (About this sound pronunciation (help·info) [jæzd]; Persian: يزد) is the capital of Yazd Province, Iran, and a centre of Zoroastrian culture. The city is located 270 km (170 mi) southeast of Isfahan. At the 2006 census, the population was 423,006, in 114,716 families.
Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd is an architecturally unique city. It is also known in Iran for the high quality of its handicrafts, especially silk weaving, and its confectionary.
Yazd is the driest major city in Iran, with an average annual rainfall of only 60 millimetres (2.4 in), and also the hottest north of the Persian Gulf coast, with summer temperatures very frequently above 40 °C (104 °F) in blazing sunshine with no humidity. Even at night the temperatures in summer are rather uncomfortable. In the winter, the days remain mild and sunny, but in the morning the thin air and low cloudiness cause very cold temperatures that can sometimes fall well below 0 °C (32 °F).
The city has a history of over 3,000 years, dating back to the time of the Median empire, when it was known as Ysatis (or Issatis). The present city name has however been derived from Yazdegerd I, a Sassanid ruler. The city was definitely a Zoroastrian centre during Sassanid times. After the Arab Islamic conquest of Persia, many Zoroastrians fled to Yazd from neighbouring provinces. By paying a levy, Yazd remained Zoroastrian even after its conquest, and Islam only gradually became the dominant religion in the city.
Because of its remote desert location and the difficulty of approach, Yazd had remained largely immune to large battles and the destruction and ravages of war. For instance, it was a haven for those fleeing from destruction in other parts of Persia during the invasion of Genghis Khan. It was visited by Marco Polo in 1272, who remarked on the city’s fine silk-weaving industry. It briefly served as the capital of the Muzaffarid Dynasty in the fourteenth century, and was unsuccessfully besieged in 1350?1351 by the Injuids under Shaikh Abu Ishaq. The Friday (or Congregation) Mosque, arguably the city’s greatest architectural landmark, as well as other important buildings, date to this period. During the Qajar dynasty (18th Century AD) it was ruled by the Bakhtiari Khans.
Under the rule of the Safavid (16th century), some people migrated from Yazd and settled in an area which is today on the Iran-Afghanistan border. The settlement, which was named Yazdi, was located in what is now Farah city in the province of the same name in Afghanistan. Even today, people from the area speak with an accent very similar to that of the people of Yazd.
Marco Polo and Yazd
Here is Marco Polo writing about Yazd:
Yasdi also is properly in Persia; it is a good and noble city, and has a great amount of trade. They weave there quantities of a certain silk tissue known as Yasdi, which merchants carry into many quarters to dispose of. The people are worshipers of Mohammad The holy prophet of Islam .
When you leave this city to travel further, you ride for seven days over great plains, finding harbour to receive you at three places only. There are many fine woods [producing dates] upon the way, such as one can easily ride through; and in them there is great sport to be had in hunting and hawking, there being partridges and quails and abundance of other game, so that the merchants who pass that way have plenty of diversion. There are also wild asses, handsome creatures. At the end of those seven marches over the plain you come to a fine kingdom which is called Kerman.
The Travels of Marco Polo, translated by Henry Yule.
Architecture and heritage
Yazd has some of the finest examples of traditional desert Persian residential architecture.
Yazd is of foremost importance as a centre of Persian architecture. Because of its climate, it has one of the largest networks of qanats in the world, and Yazdi qanat makers are considered the most skilled in Iran. To deal with the extremely hot summers, many old buildings in Yazd have magnificent windcatchers, and large underground areas. The city is also home to prime examples of yakhchals, the latter of which were used to store ice retrieved from glaciers in the nearby mountains. Yazd is also one of the largest cities built almost entirely out of adobe.
Yazd’s heritage as a center of Zoroastrianism is also important. There is a Tower of Silence on the outskirts, and the city itself has a Fire Temple, which holds a fire that has been kept alight continuously since 470 AD. Presently, Zoroastrians make up a significant minority of the population, around 20,000–40,000 or 5 to 10 per cent.
Built in 12th century and still being in use, Jameh mosque of Yazd is an example of finest Persian mosaics and excellent architecture. Its minarets are the highest in the country.
Pilgrimage and other religious congregations
The Pir-e-Naraki sanctuary as one the important pilgrimage destinations for Zoroastrians to have annual congregation and frequent visits during the year is now also a famous tourist spot. The story of the last Persian prince before the arrival of Islam to come here adds to its importance. Such a transformation has occurred several times.
Pir-e-Naraki Sanctuary in Yazd
The other type of public presence which created a certain urban form is the Muslim parades and congregational events. They are mainly Processions called “Azadari” are held to commemorate and remember the events that took for main Islamic Martyrs and important figures. These events due to their huge public scene created chains of spaces which in times other than the events were also used as spaces to tour main spots in the city since most of them were juxtaposed to important urban monuments.
Historical sites in Yazd City
Interior tile work of Jame Mosque’s Dome
Roofed lane in the old city
Mullah Ismall mosque
sahl Ibn Ali Mausoleum
Sheikh Ahmad Fahadan Mausoleum
Seyed Rokn-al din Mausoleum
Seyed Shams-al din Mausoleum
Malak-al Tojjar House
Iran Shahr School
Hajj Yusef Reservoir
Shah Tahmasb mosque
Fortifications of Yazd
Zia iah school
Always known for the quality of its silk and carpets, Yazd today is one of Iran’s industrial centers for textiles. There is also a considerable ceramics and construction materials industry and unique confectionery and jewelleryindustries. A significant portion of the population is also employed in other industries including agriculture, dairy, metal works and machine manufacturing. There are a number of companies involved in the growing information technology industry, mainly manufacturing primary materials such as cables and connectors. Currently Yazd is the home of the largest manufacturer of fibre optics in Iran.
Yazd’s confectioneries have a tremendous following throughout Iran, which has been a source of tourism for the city. Workshops (experts or khalifehs) keep their recipes a guarded secret and there are many that have remained a private family business for many generations. Baghlava, ghotab and pashmak are the most popular sweets made in the city.
In 2000 the Yazd Water Museum opened; it features exhibits of water storage vessels and historical technologies related to water.
Yazd has expanded its industrial fields since the 1980s. With over 3 main industrial areas each containing over 70 different factories, Yazd has become one of the most technologically advanced cities of Iran. The most famous corporations include Yazd Steel, Shimi Plastic Yazd, and Yazd Polymer.
Mir Chakhmaq (Amir Chakhmaq) Mosque, Yazd
The same is reputedly known as the Jame‘ Nou Mosque. The mosque is a relic of the Safavid period, and was constructed by Amir Jalaleddin Chakhmaq Shami and his spouse Fatimeh Khatoon (Seti Bibi). Amir Chakhmaq was the governor of the time in Yazd, and one of the Teimoorids commanders, who was held in high esteem by the monarch Shahrokh. The mosque was completed in the year 841 AH. On the threshold of the mosque, is a carved inscription in the Naskh script, revealing a deed relevant to the endowment, on the eastern entrance of the mosque is a tiled epigraph with the Tholths scrip. Around the dome of the said structure is an inscription adorned with the cuneiform or Kufic script.
Dar Mehr Fire Temple, Yazd
The Zoroastrian fire temples come under three categories in terms of importance: Dadgah fire that is lit at residence and has no consecration ceremony. It is lit by the Zoroastrian priests, but ordinary people could light it too.