The desert city of Yazd is a maze of narrow alleys between houses made of clay plastered mud bricks, brown in brown. Some of the alleys look uninhabited and you can’t tell what pretty courtyards are hidden behind the walls. The people here have thought up a few things to make life bearable in this hot and dry region. The most striking are the wind catchers, towers that catch every tiny breeze and divert it into the houses to keep them cool. The courtyards often have water basins and there is always a pretty underground room where it is pleasantly cool. The water is piped into the city in tunnels from springs in the surrounding mountains and collected in deep reservoirs, also wind-cooled, which stand out because of their domes.
The grand mosque (Jameh Mosque) in Yazd is certainly one of the most beautiful in Iran. Two high minarets stand close together and form the entrance gate to the courtyard, at right angles to which lies the dome behind an iwan, as the large portals are called. The courtyard is brown like the rest of the city, but the minarets and the iwan are decorated with mosaics of blue tiles.
The Amir Chakhmagh looks very similar to the mosque gate, except that there is no mosque behind it. It was only built as a backdrop for a religious celebration.
We take a trip to the surroundings of Yazd, to half-ruined villages (again made of mud bricks) and to a Zoroastrian shrine. The desert landscape with high mountains is damn impressive, and we envy all the overlanders who are travelling with their own car and can take their time for something like this.
Backpacking trip Middle East and Caucasus 2008
The Ziggurat of Choga Zanbil
Persepolis and Shiraz
Kashan and Qom