If there is a city that is a symbol and embodiment of humility, it is Yazd. Sturdy and durable and at the same time cultivating the seedlings of hope in its desert, is what Yazd could teach us. All these features have not made Yazd proud of itself, but on the contrary, it has humbly welcomed people from all over the world. Yazd’s name is rooted in the Persian word for God, Yazdan and it also carries the meaning of the celebration.
Yazd is located in the heart of the desert. For this reason, spring and summers are relatively hot and dry. Winters have a sudden drop in temperature at night, dry, cold, and bone burning. Also, you could expect sandstorms and Hazes in the winters of this city.
The best time to visit Yazd with a population of around 600000 (in 2016) is early spring in terms of weather. But this is exactly why many people choose to go to Yazd at this time. If, however, you are more of a crowd-avoider, choose winter. The heat does not bother you and if you wear the right clothes, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery in peace.
Yazd is historically one of the most important cities in Iran. The difficulty of accessing Yazd has always benefited its inhabitants and kept it safe from countless dangers such as attacks and invasions. This kind of security and feeling safe could still be sensed in Yazd; you can easily walk in its old texture until late at night without worrying about anything.
Yazd is geographically located almost in the center of the province and is adjacent to Ardakan, Meybod, Sandough, Taft, Mehriz, and Bafgh. If you go to one of the heights of the old houses in Yazd, you can see the mountain Shirkuh on one side and Lut plain on the other.
Yazd is full of historical and artistic attractions and most likely you will not be able to see them one by one. That’s why you need to have good planning. Yazd is the second historical city of Iran also the second historical city of the world after Venice, which is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage.
The atmosphere of Yazd accompanies you to the distant past, and wherever you look, a document emerges from the heart of history and introduces you to hard-working people who have built their city despite the harshness brought upon them by the desert. The most obvious feature of Yazd is its historical texture that you forget about the crowded city and the modern world by wandering in it for a while.
Yazd is considered one of the poles of Zoroastrianism. Many Zoroastrians live in Yazd and have their special places and sacred temples. Alongside this issue, Yazd is known as the Hussainiya of Iran. Yazidis have their style of mourning and lamentation in the special ceremonies of Tasua and Ashura (when Husayn ibn Ali was killed). Nakhl Gardani (the carved-palm-carrying ritual) is uniquely held in Amir Chakhmaq Square and many people attend the ceremony as well as to witness such a ritual.
Industries such as jewelry-making, textiles, and carpet weaving have been turning the wheel of Yazd’s economy. Historical evidence shows that the noble people of Yazd have long attracted the attention of the world and with their artistic handicrafts. Due to special geographical conditions, their style of living, and being far from the center of the country, they soon learned to make their stuff and needs. Unfortunately, with the change in people’s tastes as modernism is taking over, many of them have been forgotten over the years. The remaining handicrafts however have reached their supreme level. Carpet weaving, Zilou weaving, cashmere, night tent weaving, pottery and ceramics, tile-making are some of the famous handicrafts of Yazd that you can also use as souvenirs.
The most famous souvenir of Yazd is Termeh. Termeh is a beautiful fabric that has various uses in the production of other handicrafts in Yazd. The threads of this fabric are made of natural silk and its fabric is a combination of yarn, silk, wool, and colorful fluff. Termeh used to be woven with the fingers and that is why it is also known as finger weaving. Zoroastrians were the first to use cashmere for costumes. The best places to visit in Yazd are these sites, if you go with the order bellow you’ll find them almost close together:
Museum of Light and Mirror
The Palace of Mirrors and Lighting Museum or the Palace of Mirrors dates back to the first Pahlavi era. Apart from having valuable objects, this building is an example of art and beauty. At first, it was a private guest house, which after the Revolution, was turned into a museum. In this Museum one could find a collection of old manuscripts, books, coins, stamps, weapons, and several bronze objects. Also different types of mirrors, all kinds of matches, tallow lamps, installation lights, pendant lights, pedestal lights, hand lamps, and a beautiful collection of sash windows.
Fire Temple of Yazd
As we explained earlier, many Zoroastrians live in the city and Yazd has been influenced by the culture and customs of these people. One of the key points and occasional pilgrimage of Zoroastrians is Yazd Atash Bahram. Not because it is a fire temple, but more because of the presence of a fire that has been kept alive and bright for about 1500 years. For Zoroastrians, fire is a manifestation of the existence of Ahuramazda. Zoroastrians have three sacred fires, the most honorable of which is the fire of Bahram. The method of making the fire of Bahram is so complicated and requires the care of the Zoroastrian Magi. Usually, whenever the fire of Bahram was set up, it was not extinguished and people came to the fire temple to take a flame of it and light their fires.
The story behind this fire is very interesting and complicated. It shows how sacred this fire was and how the believers took measures to keep it alive. By the time of the Arab invasion, the fire of Bahram was sent to other places away from Yazd, it even reached India. For this reason, this fire, which is a symbol of Zoroastrian’s firm belief, is extremely respected. The fire of Bahram is the driving force of victory for the Zoroastrians, so when visiting this fire, be aware that you are in the presence of something very much sacred and divine.
Quick note: this fire temple is closed on Mondays!
This house is the best place for you to get acquainted with the religion, culture, customs, ceremonies, and rituals of Iranian Zoroastrians. This is place is a large mansion built by Mr. Pashtun Markar. The complex included a primary school, a high school, and an orphanage. At present, this mansion has been turned into a museum to represent the culture and customs of Zoroastrians.
Rituals such as occasional celebrations such as Nowruz, Sadeh, marriage ceremonies, and Zoroastrian’s age of religious responsibility celebrations. Due to Mr. Markar’s concern for raising children and allocating schools, Markar Square, where the famous Markar clock also stands, was built dedicated to him and is considered one of the squares of the traditional texture of Yazd.
Zurkhaneh is a traditional place for an ancient sport that has special customs and routines. Rituals that are taken after the legendary heroes and heroines of the epic ages of Iran take place here and teach virtue and chivalry. This ceremony has a leader called Morshed (the Master) and he sings poems about strength, magnanimity, and love accompanied by a Tombak. In Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, a special section is dedicated to heroism. Every day except Fridays, you can watch Zurkhaneh sports from 4 to 8 o’clock. Women are allowed to enter this collection.
The Silent Tower of Yazd
15 km southeast of Yazd, the ruins of a tower can be seen on a hill, which is now known as the Silent Tower or the Crypt. This crypt is a place for handing over the corpses of Zoroastrian dead so that according to their beliefs, they are rotten far from the city.
According to Zoroastrians, which we can get to know well in Markar’s house, the dead body of a person was considered impure. Once the spirit leaves the body it is no longer sacred and evil has taken over it, therefore, it must not be touched or touches anything. The special agents would take them to this tower and cover the corps with an acidic substance to decompose the dead flesh and leave only the bones. All around the tower of silence was built with stones because only the stone could prevent the impurity of the dead body from penetrating the earth.
Windcatcher is one of the inventions and innovations of people who had to make a life in deserts. To escape the heat and create cool air Persians had to come up with a brilliant idea and this idea led to the construction of the first Windcatchers in the world which is one of the main characteristics of Yazd.
Dolatabad Garden, already registered as one of the 9 Persian Gardens on the UNESCO World Heritage list, has the tallest Windcatcher in the world. The mansion in the center of the garden is simple but decorated with astonishing sash windows. Sash windows were used for decoration, no need for a curtain thin way but also it would prevent mosquitoes and flies to come inside. The power of the wind underneath this Windcatcher is really strong and it can keep its surroundings cool even on the hottest summer days.
Yazd as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The old texture of Yazd has been registered by UNESCO as a world-worth legacy. This old texture includes Amir Chakhmaq Complex, Jameh Mosque of Yazd with the tallest minarets in Iran, Fahadan neighborhood, the Water Museum, the Grand Bazaar, the Ab Anbar (water reservoir) with 6 windcatchers, Lari Traditional House, and Alexanders Prison or Ziyaee Scool which have all been distinctively discussed in our Iran’s World Heritage section of our website.