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YAZD, CITY OF FIRE AND OF THE DESERT

 

Of all the cities in Iran, Yazd is without a doubt, the most fascinating. Situated in the centre of Iran, Yazd was the intersection for trading routes between Isfahan, Kerman, Shiraz, and Mashhad and, on further too central Asia, India and Irak. A crossroads for merchants and travellers alike, Yazd is also a crossing-over between two worlds. : Situated at the foot of a high mountain chain, drawing its water from Qanats (subterranean galleries), it is also bordered by the Kavir desert, a sea of sand and of salt-silt. Married to the desert, a city of solitude, Yazd was a refuge for the Zoroastrians, an asylum for the Sufis and the scholarly, and is a city of piety and faith.

 

 

 

Tekieh Amir Chaqmâq, 19th century

 

 

History

 

The ancient history of the city is not well-known: it is said to have been founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, however other opinions credit its origin to the Sassanid king Yazdegerd the 1st (399-421). For a long time, it was to be called “Alexander’s prison”: according to legend, the Greek conqueror was imprisoned by Achaemenes dignitaries who would have built the city after Alexander’s departure.  Conquered by the Arabs in 642, it became a rich merchant city, known for its textiles. Preserved by the Mongols (13th century), then later by the Tamerlane (14th century), it continued to prosper under the Safavids (16th-17th century). It has known difficult times, such as during the Afghan invasion (1722) and in the 19th and 20th centuries. The industrialization of the spinning and weaving manufacturers, the establishment of factories and the creation of rail and air links helped to restore economic vitality to the city.

 

 

 

Zoroastrian fire temple 

 

 

Main Monuments

 

Friday Mosque ; Rokn od-Din Mausoleum ; Amir Chaqmaq Mosque ; Tekiyeh Chaqmaq : Mausoleum of the 12 Imams ; Alexander’s Prison ( Zendan-e Iskander) ; Bagh-e Dowlatabad Palace ; traditional houses ; Water museum ; Shish Badgir Reservoir ; Zoroastrian cultural sites  ( fire temple, towers of silence)

 

 

 

Dowlatabad Garden, 19th century

 

 

Visit

 

One day is sufficient to see the main monuments, but an extra day would allow you to wander the streets in the old sections of the city and discover the numerous traditional houses. The region deserves several days as there are many sites well worth visiting.

 

 

 

A traditional 19th century house converted into a hotel (Fahadan)

 

 

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