Yazd the City of wind towers is located in the middle of the Iranian plateau, 270 km southeast of Isfahan, close to the Spice and Silk Roads. It bears living testimony to the use of limited resources for survival in the desert. Water is supplied to the city through a qanat system developed to draw underground water. The earthen architecture of Yazd has escaped the modernization that destroyed many traditional earthen towns, retaining its traditional districts, the qanat system, traditional houses, bazars, hammams, mosques, synagogues and Zoroastrian temples. The urban structure of Yazd has been acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Literally, Yazd means holy and sacred. The city of Yazd has taken its name from Sassanid ruler “Yazdgerd the 1st”. During Sassanid dynasty, Zoroastrianism was the dominant creed of Yazd people. Today, there are some Zoroastrian attractions in Yazd such as Zoroastrian fire temple (Atashkadeh) that is believed to have a fire burning since 470 AD, and towers of silence (Zoroastrian’s Dakhmeh). Towers of silence are located out of the city of Yazd and they are not in use today; however, once these two circular structures on the top of two adjacent hills were places to leave the dead bodies for scavenger birds to pick at.
The economy of this city depends on handicrafts such as Terme, Daraei, earthenware and ceramic, tiles, carpet, Glim and Zilu, Sweets and big industries such as Setare Kavir Yazd Carpet, steel alloy, Chadormalo industrial complex, rolled steel manufactures, cable and optical fiber factory, tile, ceramic and mosaic industry, food industry, textile factories as well as the big mines. Yazd Goldsmith and jewelry are of the most famous industries in Iran.
Yazd, wind towers City, is an important center of Persian architecture. In view of its climate, it has one of the largest networks of aqueducts in the world, and Yazdi aqueduct makers are considered the most skilled in Iran. To deal with the extremely hot summers, many old buildings in Yazd have magnificent wind towers, and expansive underground areas.The city is also home to prime examples of yakhchal (icehouse), 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.
Built in 12th century CE and still in use, Jame’ Mosque of Yazd is an example of the finest Persian mosaics and excellent architecture. Its minarets are the highest in the country.
As in all the towns of the region, buildings in Yazd are traditionally made of brick and clay and have either flat or domed roofs, on top of which are low rectangular towers, the walls of which are pierced at intervals to catch the wind. These are the wind towers, a very efficient ventilation system which allows air to circulate within the houses. These ancient systems of natural air-conditioning are designed to catch even the lightest breeze and direct it to the rooms below.
Traditionally, the most important room in the house was the coolest one, a covered patio with a fountain in the center. The entrance to the house often led directly onto this room, and from there one had access to the bedrooms, a communal room and the terrace. The wind tower, placed above the water basin, created a draught, which maintained a comfortable temperature in the room.
Iranian wind towers are divided into three common types: Ardakani, which captures wind from only one direction; Kermani, which captures wind from two directions; and Yazdi, which captures wind from four directions. Other variations can capture wind from up to eight directions. All have a structure that contains the shafts, air shelves that are used to catch some of the hot air and prevent it from entering the house, flaps to redirect the circulation of the wind and a roof covering. The currents that enter the house often do so above a pool of cool water, thus cooling the air, while the warm air continues its circular course, redirected upwards and out of the house through a different shaft.
The wind towers serve not only as ventilation shafts in the houses but also to cool water. Yazd has been built at the foot of Shirkouh Mountain Range. The town’s water has been brought down from these foothills by a complex system of aqueducts for centuries.
Large brick domes ― flanked by two wind towers ― in the desert around the town, indicate the presence of an underground reservoir, some of which are very deep, in which the water is cooled by the draft created between the towers.
Once a feature of Iranian architecture, the wind tower is unfortunately disappearing gradually. Old, eroded towers are no longer systematically replaced or repaired as more highly-priced, electrically-operated methods of cooling and ventilation are slowly reaching even the smallest villages. Because of its remote desert location and the difficulty of access, Yazd remained largely immune to large battles and the destruction and ravages of war. In 1272 it was visited by Marco Polo, who remarked on the city’s fine silk-weaving industry.
The historic city of Yazd is not just famous for its plethora of ancient attractions; it also has some of the most iconic sweets in Iran. The variety of Yazd sweets is impressive. Whatever taste and preference you have when it comes to sweets, Yazd is sure to have something for you!
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