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Yazd

Yazd

05/21/13

Geography and History

The province of Yazd with an area of 129,285 sq.km., is located in the center of Iran, and according to latest divisions of the country, it is divided into seven townships. These townships are Maybod, Mehreez, Taft, Ardakan, Bafq, Abar Kooh and Yazd. According to the 2006 census, Yazd province had a population of about  990,818 of which 79.71% were urban dwellers and 20.28% were in the rural areas. The city of Yazd is the provincial capital and therefore the most heavily populated.This province is situated in the central mountainous area of Iran which is significant for its several hills, slopes, plains, deserts, and sandy hills. There are two distinctive mountain chains in this province, the first crosses from the northwest towards the southeast, that is, also crossing the center of Iran. It is known as the Central Mountain Chain. The second chain includes those located in the center, northern, and eastern parts of the province. The Shir Kooh chain is like a wall separating the central areas from the western areas of the province. The peak of this mountain is always covered with snow and ice and the snow of this chain supplies the water requirements of the cities of Yazd, Taft, and Mehreez.

Climate

The province of Yazd is dry for two basic reasons, firstly Yazd is located on the arid belt of the world, and secondly it is very far from the Oman Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Iranian lakes, as well as the humid currents of the sea. One of the important factors which makes the weather moderate and also suitable for living, is being surrounded by high mountains, which affect the weather.Therefore, areas within the province with more than 2,500 meters in height enjoy moderate and humid weather. The average temperature of the province is 18.9° C, whilst the maximum temperature in July is 43° C, and the minimum in January is -7.2° C. Except for the Shir Kooh mountainous area, the rest of the areas of the province of yazd are generally hot and dry and it becomes drier and warmer from the west and southwest towards the north-east and east.

History and Culture

The Yazd province houses some of the most valuable and the greatest cultural heritage from various periods of history of civilization of Iran. The history of human settlements in this land dates back to the 3rd millennium BC., and according to the Iranian myths, in the Peeshdadian period, tribes who traveled from Balkh to Pars, named this land Yazdan, and from that time onwards Yazd became a place of worship. The main and initial settlements of the province were in Mehrpadyan (Mehreez), Fahrashan, Pahreh (Fahraj), Khormeesh, Ard (Ardakan), Shevaz, Qelaz Mobadan (Maybod), Taranj, Aqda and Ashkzar.The city of Yazd was known as a holy and a pure place, and it was considered to be the most important city. The beautiful green valleys, wonderful country side, springs, peaks and hill sides, caves, protected wildlife areas and specially the desert views are some of the attractive specifications of the nature of Yazd. Most of them are known as the recreational areas of the province. The cultural attractions of the province are also remarkable. From the viewpoint of cultural behavior, the rich legacy of the people’s culture shows like able and old traditions of the Zoroastrians. The native Zoroastrians of the province, according to a tradition hold their rituals on different occasions every year, and from the tourism viewpoint, it is interesting and attractive, even for the Muslims and followers of other religions.

Yazd Townships

Abar Kooh, Ardakan, Bafq, Maybod, Mehreez, Tabas, Taft, Yazd.

Abar Kooh

The town of Abar Kooh is located in the southwest of the province. In decades back, this town was a part of Abadeh in Fars province, and after joining Yazd province this section changed to a city. Abar Kooh is an area in a desert which has a very warm climate. The economy of this region is based on agriculture, laboring, carpet weaving. The agricultural products of Abar Kooh are wheat, barley, sugar beet, cotton, oil seeds etc. The fruit trees are mulberry, grapes, apples, and apricots. Many years ago, Abar Kooh was called Abarqoyeh and Barqoyeh and in 1975, its name was changed from Abarqoyeh to Abar Kooh.
Abar Kooh is a very ancient and was a florishing city, situated on the way of Silk Road. The name of Abar Kooh is mentioned in the books of Islamic geographers like Fars Nameh of Ebne Balkhi, Nazhate-Al-Qolub, Haft Eqlim, and Fars Nameh of Naseri, etc.

Ardakan

The city of Ardakan is located in the north of the province. That is to the north and west of Esfahan province. To the south is the township of Yazd and to the east is the province of Khorassan. Ardakan is the largest city of Yazd province. Ardakan is located on the road between Tehran and Bandar Abbas . The name of Ardakan is combination of two terms, “Ard” which means holy and “Kan” means mine or place. In past, Ardakan was located in a place known as Zardak, and parts of its walls still remain.

Bafq

This city is located in the east of the province. To its north is Ardakan and to its west is Mehreez. Bafq is situated at the north of the province of Kerman and in the west of Khorassan province. Bafq is located at 120 km. distance from the southeast of Yazd. The biggest salt marshes of Yazd province which are created by the salty waters of the Shoor River, is called the desert of Daranjeer, and is located in the north of Bafq. The climate of Bafq is more dry-hot in summer and moderate in winter than the other regions of province.
To the east of the township of Bafq, there are two parallel mountain ranges which elongate from northwest to southeast. The highest peak of which is mount Banlakht with an elevation of 3,002 m. which is located to the south of Behabad. The current industry of the town is carpet weaving. The mining activity is one of the main attractive factors in increasing the population of the town.

Maybod

Many years ago, Maybod was part of Ardakan and recently it has turned to a township. Maybod is located in the northwest of the province, to its south is Yazd, to its west is Esfahan and to its north is Ardakan. Maybod is near the road between Tehran and Bandar Abbas, and it is located at a proximity to the Tehran – Kerman railway. Maybod is a word of middle persian diction which was given to this town during the Sassanide era. This name was repeatedly mentioned in the historical and geographical books of the early Islamic century.
The town of Maybod is considered to be one of the rare unique examples of archaeological cities of Iran. Although the traditional structure of this town has been influenced and demolished, many of buildings and elements of the old town like the ancient roads, old castles and the remnants of ancient city are left to be seen. The most ancient document of urbanization of the territory of Yazd is the old building complex of Narenj (Narin) castle of Maybod. This ancient castle like a silent senile reveals a part of the long history of the people who lived here.

Mehreez

The city of Mehreez is located 35 km. to the south of Yazd city.It is surrounded by Bafq in east, by Yazd in north, by Taft in west and by the province of Fars in southeast and the province of Kerman in the south west.Mehreez is the place where previously there used to be a group of villages, known as Mehrijerd. This name was attributed to Mehr Negar the daughter of Anushirvan. About 16 centuries ago, during the end of Sassanide era, Mehreez was under interest due to pleasent natural environment and climate. At that time Mehr Negar the daughter of Anushirvan ordered for the construction of some subterranean wells (qanats) and after flourishing it was reputedly known as Mehrgard. As the time passed the name of Mehrgard was changed to Mehrijerd and now it is called Mehreez.

Tabas

Tabas lies in a desert like terrain to the northwest of the province. In the higher regions it experiences a temperate climate, whereas in the plains it is hot. Tabas is 1,345 km. from Tehran. It has been subjected to upheavals and attacks such as the Ottomans and then was occupied by the Esmailieh (a religious sect). During the reign of the Saljuqian, the Esmailieh fortresses were attacked. In the time of Shah Abbas I this city was ruined by the Ozbaks. Many of the historical features remaining there relate to the 5th and 9th century AH.

Taft

The township of Taft is located in the southwest of the province. To its west is Fars province. One of the most important mountains of the province named as Shir Kooh, with an elevation of 4,075 m. is located here. The weather of Taft is moderate and many kinds of fruits are planted there. The name of Taft is mentioned in many historical and mystical books of the 9th century AH., Along with the name of Shah Nematollah-e-Vali.

Yazd

The city of Yazd is located to the north of Ardestan, to the south of Taft in the east of Bafq and to the west of Esfahan province. Yazd is the center of the province and is located 689 kilometer from Tehran. It is located in an extensive valley facing the desert. Consequently, its weather is hot and arid in summer and cold in winter, which are some specifications of the weather of this territory. In the 5th century AH.coinciding with the settlement of the sons of Abu-Jafar Kakoo in Yazd, the development of this city began, and the walls of Yazd were constructed. The Atabakans, took an interest in development of the city of Yazd constructed many schools and mosques.During the Al-Mozaffar era many villages and underground canals were constructed. During the Mongol invasion many scholars and artists of the 7th and 8th century settled in this city for more protection. They chose this city as a center for their scientific and artistic activities. At that time many mosques and schools were built.
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.

Historical Monuments

Chak Chakoo Fire Temple, Yazd

It is a place located amongst the mountains of Ardakan and Anjireh (on the way to Tabas) which is at a distance of 46 kilometers from Yazd. Chak Chakoo has its name for the water dripping from the stone-cut mountains. This vicinity has suitable accommodation for pilgrims.

 

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Dowlat Abad Garden, Yazd

This garden has an aggregate of different buildings which were designed and constructed during the time of Mohammad Taqi Khan in the Zandieh era. It was the residence of Khan and his government and officials. The wind trapper of this garden is 33 meters high and is considered an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of the Yazdi architects’ genius, mental ability, talent and art. The most significant characteristics of the design of this building is believed to be the attempt of the architect in selecting tactful angles for providing the best views and landscape internally. The Dowlat Abad garden is regarded as one of the sites worth visiting due to verdant gardening skill in landscape architecture, irrigation method, and in the richness of architectural design. It is for this reason that the same has been recorded as a historic building.

 

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Wind Trapper of Dolat Abad Garden

 

Narenj (Narin) Castle, Maybod

This building, which in colloquial language is called Narenj Castle, is one of the most important relics of the province dating back to the period before the advent of Islam to Iran, and has been recorded as one of the national buildings. This ancient castle has been constructed on the top of Galeen hill and overlooks the city. It seems that upper floors of the building have been reconstructed and belong to the Islamic era.

 

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Tabas Citadel, Tabas

This is one of the ancient citadels of this township. But unfortunately it is nearly depleted. This structure most probably belongs to pre-Islamic period, and was used during the same era. Other historic castles of the province are as follows: Shewaz in Taft, Khormiz and Saryazd in Mehreez, Barjin and Rokn Abad in Maybod, Ebrahim Abad, Zarach and Qez Abad in Rastaq, Khidak, Kafer Qaleh and Fahraj in Bafq, and the historic castle of Nadooshan.

 

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Yazd Old Castle

 

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Old Gate of Maybod, Maybod

 

Water Reservoirs, Yazd

The natural and climatic characteristics in addition to the expanse of Yazd’s deserts have given rise to the construction of various reservoirs all over the province. At present the number of these reservoirs are about 100. Most of which have been built at the center of the localities of the cities and include four main elements such as: Khazineh or hot bath, dome, the foot or faucet and a wind trapper. The reservoirs of the bath have been designed in the form of cylinder inside the ground in order to give a vantage point to the water of subterranean canal and also to keep the water temperature low. The dome was built in a semi-circular shape over the reservoir in order to prevent water from environmental pollution and keeps it cool. The foot of faucet has got a stair-like corridor or passageway for taking water from the reservoir and the wind trapper was a means of air circulation in order to prevent the water rotting or becoming putrid. Important water reservoirs of Yazd province are:Seyed Va Sahra, Shesh Badgir, Masoudi, Hadji Ali Akbari, Khajeh, Golshan, Rostam, Geev, Kolah doozha (hat makers), Malekotojar and Mirza Shafi’ reservoirs in Yazd, Hassan Abad reservoir in Maybod, Jaddeh Deh Balla and Barelnasuyeh Reservoirs in Taft and Kesht Khan reservoir in Rastaq.

 

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Shesh Badgir Water Reservoir, Yazd

 

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Abar Kooh water Reservoir , Abar Kooh

 

Mir Chakhmaq (Amir Chakhmaq) Square, Yazd

Amir Chakhmaq Shami and his wife, Seti Fatimeh built this square, in the 9th century AH. Hadji Qanbar Bazaar on the east side of the square was one of the buildings constructed by Nezameddin Hadj Qanbar Jahanshahi. The famous Mir Chakhmaq Mosque and theater for passion plays are located on the north of the square.

 

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Wind Trappers (Ventilation hafts), Yazd

One of the distinctive features of the cities of Yazd province which discriminate it from other cities, is the existence of various wind trappers. Most of them belong to old residential houses. On the other hand majority of urban reservoirs and mosques also have wind trapper. In other words the same are considered as respiratory tracts of the city. They are towers that, in respect to the special form of building, direct the natural air current to different sections of the building. Regardless of its utility, these constructions used to represent the owner’s distinction and social standing. It could be judged by the height and adornments of these wind trappers.

 

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Wind Trapper of Dolat Abad Garden

 

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The Old Texture of Yazd

 

Religious Monuments

Kabir Jame’ Mosque, Yazd

This archaic and extremely valuable structure is a collection of shimmering tiles, tall minarets, beautiful plaster work, spacious and airy courtyards, nocturnal areas for use in the winter season, and the turquoise colored dome which reflects quiet serene. These factors intermingle, bringing about a glorious masterpiece and an important remnant of Yazd.

 

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The glorious Vaziri Library exists near this mosque which in itself is a treasury of priceless Holy Qorans and other hand writen books.

 

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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.

 

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Mir Chakhmaq (Amir Chakhmaq) Mosque

 

Sheikh Ali Benyamin Monastery, Yazd

The same is located in Bida Khid in Yazd. It comprises of a mausoleum, monastery and mosque that are regarded as valuable relics of the region. Within the mausoleum there are three tombs, one of which belongs to the reputable Gnostic Sheikh Ali Benyamin. This monument, in terms of inscription and other historical and artistic works, is of great cultural importance. The wooden inscription above the front door of the mausoleum in ‘Naskh’ script shows that this monument was built in 826 AH.

 

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Sheikh Ali Benyamin Monastery


Natural Attractions

Desert Attractions, Yazd Province

Amongst the natural features pertaining to tourism in Iran, are desert characteristics. Taking a stroll is these vast spaces, watching the wonders of the moving sands, the burning and dry salt marshes, historical monuments, brick colored buildings of simple and harsh styles, shadows of scattered villages, as well as the old ancient inns and caravansaries are charming and worth visiting for every tourist. Two routes can be considered in the desert region of Yazd. One is the Yazd – Bafq route, running along the ancient Fahraj Mosque on the fringes of the desert, continuing till the limits of Bafq. En route are the tamarisk forests, and the beautiful Ahan Shahr Park, extending over 20 hectares which appears at the end of this route.

 

 

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The other route is of Yazd – Khanaraq – Bayazeh and continues till Khoor and Biyabanek. Along which are dome-shaped sandy hills, covered by desert bushes. All through the route there are ancient and beautiful inns with arched windows and unique architecture. Out of which worth mentioning is the military castle of Bayazeh which is placed beside the beautiful gardens of Khoor Biabanak village. Another site to visit is the ancient olive tree which is over a thousand years old. The desert areas of Yazd province can be divided into the following:Ardakan Desert (Siyah Kooh), that lies between the two mountains of Hoosh at an elevation of 1,939 m. to the south, and Siyah Kooh at a height of 2,050 m. to the north.Abar Kooh Desert, This is a circular area resting between two mountains which is at close proximity to Taqestan desert.Daranjir Desert area, extending over 1,500 square kilometers, to the east of Yazd.Other Desert: Herat and Merosat : Approximately 500 square kilometers and almost humid.Behesht Abad: Between Anar and Rafsanjan, in a north western to southeastern direction.Bahadoran : In southeast of Mehreez and from a north western to a south eastern direction.Saqand, Haji Abad and Zarrin Abad Deserts.

 

 

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Culture and Art

Natural Science Museum, Yazd

A literate group in Yazd attempted to find the same in a period of two years. It has been erected in a part of the Iran Shahr High School of Yazd with a 1,000 square meters hall. The following are on display here, subjects such as botany, geology, zoology, human and animal anatomy sections.

Qasr-e-Ayeneh (Mirror Palace) Museum, Yazd

The building of Mirror Place museum has a foundation of 837 square meters and is located in a garden 8,174 square meters in area. The museum building was formerly belonging to a wealthy personality of Yazd. After the Islamic revolution, it has been converted into the museum. In this museum, calligraphic collections, guns, coins, books, stamps, locks, a bridle (of the second millennium BC.), samples of Lurestan’s bronze, endowed works of the deceased Seyed Hossein Heidari (a Yazdi collector) and some other articles are displayed. This museum is located in Kashani Yazdi street opposite Yazd’s Haft-e-Tir Park.

Universities

The Governmental universities in Yazd province

University of Yazd, Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Yazd Institute of Higher Education.

The Islamic Azad universities in Yazd province

Islamic Azad University of Bafgh, Islamic Azad University of Mehreez, Islamic Azad University of Ardakan, Islamic Azad University of Maybod, Islamic Azad University of Taft, Islamic Azad University of Yazd.

Handicrafts and Souvenirs, Yazd

Termeh or a type of woven cashmere, brocade and velvet weaving, a type of pile-less rug, blanket weaving, Jajeems (or a coarse kind of carpet), giveh making or (local foot ware), handkerchiefs, table cloths, bed-wrappers, felt making, earthenware, ceramics, glass ware, molded copper ware and other metals, tile and leather works.

Local and Regional Foods, Yazd

In the various urban and rural areas of Yazd province, an array of dishes are prepared. These consists of kinds of soups, (or the traditional Aash) side dishes and curies. Besides the above a wide selection of sweets pertaining to this region are available such as Baqlava, qottab, pashmak, naan berenji, haj badam, haj pesteh, haj garden, goosh-e-fil.