Yazd in Iran: the desert city that caught the wind

Yazd Iran
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Yazd, the metropolis in Iran that grew in the middle of the desert, is a very special place in an incredibly interesting and welcoming country. Centuries of improvements and adaptation to survive extreme climatic conditions, led the builders of the city to provide shapes and structures that look, to the eyes of an alien like me, out of this world.

Tall walls to project more shadow in narrow alleys, windows and apertures placed strategically to avoid the sun, and the fascinating windcatchers or Bagdirs standing above the roofs and domes in the horizon.

Windcatchers are nothing less than natural air conditioning without plugs or the use of mechanical devices, apparently invented by the old Persians several millennia ago. These imposing air cooling systems are especially big and varied in Yazd:

Persian Windcatchers
"A Windcatcher is an engineering architectural masterpiece to deal with the unbearable heat of the central Iranian plateau." (Mehdi Pirhayati, Azad University). These refrigerating devices have a specific size, orientation and number of apertures depending on the side from the wind that is blowing at different locations where they are built.

Zoom off. Go out to the street during the day in summer, and you'll melt at near 40ºC (104ºF). However, you'll have almost all the city only for you, while everyone is hidden, as nocturnal creatures, in their shelters in the shade.

The monumental symbol of Yazd and... a Peugeot 405 o Pars (they are everywhere), glowing in the sunset light.

Wind towers
Try to find a place to go up to the top of a roof to enjoy a skyline of wind catchers, minarets and cupolas in all its glory. Image by Ninara

Wind towers Iran
Don't forget to look up from time to time. One of these giants may be over your head.

According to Wikipedia, "The construction of a windcatcher depends on the direction of airflow at that specific location: if the wind tends to blow from only one side, it is built with only one downwind opening."

Water reservoir in Iran
This is the dome of a traditional water reservoir (called Ab anbar), that can store water at near freezing temperatures during summer months. Windcatchers also provide ventilation to prevent water from rotting.
Image by Terry Feuerborn

Persian water reservoir
To access the water, people had to go down a long staircase that could be around 20 meters deep.

Bagh-e Dolat
Bagh-e Dowlat is a residential palace from an old Persian ruler, that features the tallest wind tower (33 meters, 108 feet) in Iran. Image by Matt Werner

Bagdir Yazd
The same bagdir from inside below. This is a reconstruction after the original tower collapsed, due to an earthquake in the 1960s. Image by Reibai

Old town Yazd
The old town of Yazd is a great place to get lost wondering its labyrinthine plan. You'll find rewarding surprises at every corner. Image by Matt Werner

Golden lion
Like this curious monument with a golden lion. The wood structure at the right has a religious function unknown to me. Do you have a more accurate idea about what this is for? Any Persian or Muslim in the room?

Bath house
This is another curious architectural element that you may find exploring the old town: the roof of a nice restaurant, that used to be a bathhouse.

Under a crossroads inside the bazaar, there is this spectacular design, featured in our list of the 40 top ceilings from around the world. Image by Fulvio Spada

Mosque Yazd
Also you can visit a nice collection of mosques, a Zoroastrian Temple of Fire and the intriguing Tower of silence, where the dead were left to be picked clean by the vultures!

Iranian family on a motorbike
Yazd and Iran in overall, are a total eye candy for the photographer.

Yazd is located between two other interesting destinations, Isfahan and Kerman. Buses are quite cheap and take around 3-4 hours. To cover the 625 kilometres (388 miles) by bus from the capital Tehran, it takes about 6 hours.
Also there are trains connecting Yazd with Teheran, Bandar Abbas and Mashhad.
From Yazd airport you can also fly to these three cities.

View the city of Yazd in a larger map

  1. The structure in picture #13 is a "nakhl." It is used in Shia ceremonies associated with Ashura.


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