Monthly Archives: April 2016

The old city of Yazd

The old city of Yazd

With its Badgirs (wind towers or windward) poking out of a baked-brown labyrinth of lanes, the old city of Yazd emerges like a phoenix from the desert – a very old phoenix. The old city of Yazd is one of the oldest towns on earth, according to UNESCO world heritage sites, and is the perfect place to get a feel for the region’s rich history. Just about everything in the old city of Yazd is made from sun-dried mud bricks, and the resulting brown skyline is dominated by tall windward on almost every rooftop.

The residential quarters appear almost deserted because of the high walls, which shield the houses from the narrow and labyrinthine alleys crisscrossing the town.

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Wander around; you will doubtless discover simple courtyards, ornate wooden doors and some lovely adobe architecture. In the meantime, you will be discovered by countless children who will help lead you out of the maze when you are ready. Be sure to get yourself to the rooftops at some point for fine views over Yazd and into the vast brown expanses of the desert.

Many Iranians and foreign tourists like to visit the Old city of Yazd  to view the architecture typically found in desert areas,

It is known as the city of wind towers, Zoroastrians, termeh (traditional brocade), silk weaving and sweets (like Baqlava and Qotab).

A trip to Yazd will make you familiar with life in desert towns and how people cope with it. You learn about Qanat (underground water supply system, aqueduct) for which Iranians are well known.

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The water reservoirs, icehouses, wind-towers and pigeon towers make the visit to Yazd worthwhile, as tourists explore the uniqueness of this ancient city.

Traditionally, Yazd is famous for termeh, the brocades made with Iranian patterns and used in dresses, bags, footwear and interior decoration.

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The ancient caravan routes went through Yazd and linked major cities of the world. Its earlier residents were more involved in trade than agriculture.

At present, many tile and porcelain factories are operating outside Yazd, attracting laborers and producing good-quality products for domestic as well as international markets.

Saheb A Zaman Club Zurkhaneh

Saheb A Zaman Club Zurkhaneh

The Saheb A Zaman Club Zurkhaneh in Yazd is the only Zurkhaneh which permits women to watch. It is located in a beautiful old ice house (dating from 1580) with four magnificent Badgirs (Windward) inside an āb anbār (Cistern), water reservoir, gracing the roof. Certainly one of the most interesting and powerful things you could see in Iran is Saheb A Zaman Club Zurkhaneh. Of course, one can not be sure what modern personal trainers would say about their techniques but it is certainly interesting. If you have a chance, do try to get there.

Zurkhaneh is a traditional Iranian gymnasium for men. It is also called varzeshe bāstāni, ancient sport, and is often referred to as “Iranian yoga and martial arts”, which sounds like a good description. It is in the way that the men all stood in a circle, moved to the beat of the zarb, drumdid moves reminiscent of the ginga, and the fact that this sport is very much a discipline.

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Zurkhaneh is thousands of years old, having its roots in battle and warfare. These physical activities were supposed to make warriors out of ordinary men and not only prepare them for unarmed combat, but also develop their endurance, concentration, flexibility, and speed.

Practitioners of the Zurkhaneh are expected to display a sense of duty for their country and community and respect the elderly. They are expected to be chivalrous, humble, and of high ethical virtue. Overall, they should be javan mard, a Gentleman.

The circular shape of the Zurkhaneh is symbolic of the sun and unity. The entrance has a low doorway, forcing one to bow his head in acknowledgment of a higher power. Then there is the Gowd, pit, or exercise area. Being below ground level, the Gowd also reminds the practitioners of humility. In fact, when they enter the Gowd, they must first kiss the ground signifying that we are from the earth, and one day we will return to it. The Gowd faces the Sardam, the podium where the Morshed, master, sits. Historically, the Morshed would have been the most fit and highest ranking of those in the Zurkhaneh. He plays his Zarb and Zang, bell, and sings songs from Ferdowsi’s epic Shahnameh or poems from Rumi, Hafez, Sa’adi or others.

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Throughout the session, the participants use different equipment: Meel (club bell), Takhte shena (push-up board), Sang (shield), and Kabbadeh (bow and chain). They use each of these to perform their exercises along with other exercises such as stretching, squatting, aerobics, whirling, and juggling meel.

Zurkhanehs are traditionally only for men, but this one in Yazd is the only one in Iran that admits women as spectators. It has workouts that are just over an hour at 6am, 6pm and 8pm.

Dolat Abad Garden

Dolat Abad Garden

Dolat Abad Garden is a famous complex of Zand Dynasty and its instruction dates back to 1160 HA, which was built by the order of Mohammad Taghi Khan Bafghi, the governor of Yazd.

This beautiful Dolat Abad garden consists of a pavilion that was built according to the original Iranian architectural style and a large garden and some other buildings.

Long pool in the shade of the tall cypress trees leads to the main entrance. On the way to the mansion, there are beautiful grape and pomegranate trees behind those tall trees.

The tallest wind tower of the pavilion inside the garden is conceivable from miles away. This traditional air-conditioning system of local houses around the desert in Iran is the essential elements at the residential structures. However, the exaggerated grand size of this wind catcher functioned perfectly well. Actually the Dolat Abad garden is also renowned for having Iran’s tallest badgir (the windward), that is standing over 33 meters; though this one was rebuilt after it collapsed in the 1960s.

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The most significant characteristics of the design of Dolat abad Garden is believed to be the attempt of the architect in selecting tactful angles for providing the best views and landscape internally.

The Dowlatabad Wind Tower (badgir), presumably the world’s tallest, is said to be 260 years old and about 33 meters high. It is surrounded by intricately hand-carved wooden lattice panels and stands atop the Dowlatabad Ab-Anbar (cistern).

Water reservoirs, or ‘Ab Anbars’ as they are nationally known, are traditional water supply systems that make urban settlements possible in the Kavir desert region of Central Iran. Ab-Anbars consist of four elements: underground reservoir, platform, dome, and wind tower.

The Dolat Abad Wind Tower

The Dolat Abad Wind Tower sits atop the Howz Khaneh (pool house) in Dolat Abad Garden and has delicate stained glass decorations. This wind tower created a cool sitting room for the residents of the garden.

Wind towers are important elements in traditional Iranian architecture, providing natural air-conditioning in hot, dry and humid climates for thousands of years. The function of the cistern found below most wind towers in warm dry regions was to help balance humidity inside the structure.

Wind towers consist of four parts: the body containing shafts, air shelves which catch hot air and prevent it from entering the structure, flaps which redirect wind circulation, and a roof covering.

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Wind travels through the shafts on top of the tower to reach the interior of the building. The airflow inside the structure travels in two directions, up and down. The temperature difference between the interior and exterior of a building causes pressure variations which result in the creation of air currents. In cities where the wind only blows from one direction, one shaft operates to receive the breeze and the other three work as air outlet passages.

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The Dolat Abad Wind Tower is located in the Dolat Abad garden and was originally created by Mohammad Taqi Khan also known as the Great Khan, who governed Yazd in the 18th century and who founded the Khan dynasty in Yazd. The Khan initially had a 65-kilometer deep Qanat (underground water management system resembling a well) dug to transfer water from Mahriz to the city of Yazd in order to create a heavenly garden in the midst of one of the driest cities of Iran and establish his center of rule.

Alexander’s Prison

Alexander’s Prison

Eskandar Prison (Alexander’s Prison) is an ancient domed structure apparently known by this name because of a reference in a Hafez poem. The complex contains a deep, circular, brick-lined pit almost 10 meters in diameter resembling an ancient dungeon found at the heart of the old. There is also a well and some nooks in the courtyard. It is alleged by some to have been built by Alexander to hold his captives during his conquest of Persia and alleged by others to have been built by the Persians to hold Alexander himself. Whatever the true story, the complete complex itself is almost certainly a later construction.
The dome of Eskandar Prison (Alexander’s Prison) is made of raw clay and is decorated with plaster works and golden and azure watercolor. The noteworthy architectural features of the dome are traceable in other domes dating to the Mongolian Era in Iran. Each side of the domed tower is almost 9 meters long and it rises almost 18 meters tall. There is little left of the inscriptions inside the dome but from what remains it appears to be kufic writings. The material used in much of the building is clay, however, it has been restored with bricks in the past few decades. Some steep stairs lead the way down into the dungeon although nowadays it is a beautiful room decorated with tables and red carpets and serves is a tea house.

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Eskandar Prison is currently advertised as been built as a mosque and Ziaiyeh religious school and to have no connection to Alexander (although the reference is believed to have come from Hafez’s poetry. The original purpose of the building is unknown but it now serves as an Ethnographic Museum. Inside there is a detailed scaled model of the old city and a collection of labeled archaeological artifacts that were dug up around the city. What really brings the museum to life however is the staff of traditionally trained artisans who are on hand to show off their skills by working the old wood framed looms and throwing clay pots to demonstrate the crafts that made the city famous throughout Persia and along the old Silk Road to China.
It should me mentioned though that the museum has more gift shops than actual exhibits, selling the works of the artisans who are trained in the small school on site, which has lead this place to be dismissed by some visitors as a tacky tourist trap. In recent years, the complex has attracted an increasing number of tourists for Norooz.
In 2006 for the first time Cultural Heritage, authorities undertook an elaborate program to treat Eskandar Prison with pesticides to negate the threat of termites. Eskandar Prison is a registered Iranian National Heritage.

Amir Chakhmaq Complex

Amir Chakhmaq Complex

Amir Chakhmaq Complex is noted for its symmetrical sunken alcoves. It is a mosque located on a square by the same name. The complex also houses a caravanserai, a Tekieh (a place where religious mourning rituals are held), a public bath, a cold-water well, and a confectionery, English newspaper Iran Daily reported. At night, the building is lit up after twilight hours after sunset with orange lighting in the arched alcoves making it a spectacular sight.

During the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war against Iran, and Iraq’s confrontation with the United States, as well as Afghanistan civil war, many Iraqis and Afghanis established temporary lodgings in Yazd’s Amir Chakhmaq Square. The mosque was named after Amir Jalaleddin Chakhmaq, a governor of Yazd during the Timurid rule (15th-16th century CE). Separate lodging areas for Iraqis and Afghanis are near the mosque. The complex is situated opposite what once was the Yazd Water Museum. The prominent structure has a three-storey elaborate facade of symmetrical sunken arched alcoves. It is the largest structure in Iran. There are two very tall minarets in the center. The spiral staircase in one of the two minarets is said to give one a feeling of claustrophobia, while it provides a panoramic view of Yazd.

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The public bath of Amir Chakhmaq Complex, in the front of the building is around 600 years old. Arcades have been added recently on its flanks to provide safety from traffic. Only the first floor above the ground level is accessible. There is a shopping mall in the basement of the structure. The complex includes the three-storey tekieh, which used to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam. There is a nakhl [which symbolizes the coffin (casket) of Imam Hussein (PBUH). It is a scaffold-shaped like a tree leaf] in the corner of tekieh, described as a strong, wooden object with very large metal fixtures and studs. It was venerated to commemorate the anniversary of Ashura – the day in which Imam Hussein (PBUH), his family and supporters were martyred some 14 centuries ago. According to Vahid Vahdatzad, an architectural historian who has worked extensively on the spatial aspects of Amir Chakhmaq Square, the edifice was built in the 15th century CE by Jalaleddin Amir Chakhmaq, the governor of Yazd during the Timurid era. This square was established on the north side of an important mosque called the Old Mosque and is known today as Amir Chakhmaq Mosque. According to Vahdatzad, the mosque was also founded by Amir Chakhmaq between 1418 and 1438 CE. The same year the mosque was inaugurated, Haj Qanbar Jahanshahi, who was the subsequent governor, constructed a bazaar and caravanserai at the fringes of the square.

Many parts of the complex fell into disrepair until the 18th century during the Safavid era, when Bahador Khan Shams Yousef Meibodi renovated some sections and reconstructed the caravanserai in the same location. The complex again encountered erosion until the late 19th century when the tekieh was built by Abolqasem Rashti at the entrance of the bazaar. Most of the changes in Amir Chakhmaq Square were implemented during the rule of the first Pahlavi king, Reza Shah. The northern part of the square, which linked the street to the bazaar, was demolished. It seems the caravanserai was torn down at the same time in order to develop the square in a more orderly rectangular. Nothing remained of the old square then, except the tekieh. The municipality even tried to demolish the tekieh when one of the portico collapsed, but the archeology office resisted strongly. Instead, they filled the two arcades on both sides in 1963 to prevent further disintegration.

Masjed-e Jameh

Masjed-e Jameh (Jame Mosque)

Dominating the old city, the magnificent building of Masjed-e Jameh (Jame Mosque) has a tiled entrance portal that is one of the tallest in Iran, flanked by two magnificent 48m-high minarets and adorned with an inscription from the 12th century. The exquisite mosaics on the dome and Mihrab (Sanctuary), and the tiles above the main western entrance to the courtyard are particularly stunning. The Gardoneh Mehr (swastika symbol) used on the tiles symbolizes infinity, timelessness, birth and death and can be found on Iranian buildings dating back as early as 5000 BC.

Masjed-e Jameh was first built under Ala’oddoleh Garshasb of the Al-e Bouyeh dynasty. The mosque was largely rebuilt between 1324 and 1365, and is one of the outstanding 14th century buildings of Iran, which is believed to have itself replaced an earlier fire temple.

In the courtyard there is a stairwell leading down to part of the Zarch Qanat (closed to the public). Roof access is barred to everyone except Muslim women, who are allowed up on Fridays only.

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The 12th-century mosque is still in use today.

The mosque is a fine specimen of the Azari style of Persian architecture. The mosque is crowned by a pair of minarets, the highest in Iran, and the portal’s facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile work, predominantly blue in color. Within is a long arcaded courtyard where, behind a deep-set southeast Iwan (Porch), is a sanctuary chamber (Shabestan). This chamber, under a squat tiled dome, is exquisitely decorated with faience mosaic: its tall faience Mihrab, dated 1365, is one of the finest of its kind in existence.

The elegant patterns of brickwork and the priceless inscription of mosaic tiles bearing angular Kufic all create a sense of beauty. The main prayer niche, the one that is located below the dome, is decorated with elegant mosaic tiles. On the two star-shaped inlaid tiles, the name of the builder and the time of construction of the prayer niche sparkle beautifully. The two towering minarets dating back to the Safavid era measure 52 meters in height and 6 meters in diameter.

Towers of Silence

Towers of Silence (Borj-e Khamushan, Dakhme Zartoshtian)

Towers of Silence (Borj-e Khamushan, Dakhme Zartoshtian) is a Zoroastrian Tower of Silence located on top of a mountain of the same name in Yazd.

Zoroastrians believe that physical and spiritual corruption go hand in hand and therefore when one draws their last breath, the body falls under the evil influence of decomposition and becomes the center of impurity. The dead body must be destroyed to prevent the spread of impurity. As a Zoroastrian must not contaminate any of the elements, the corpse cannot be burned, or given to water or buried in the ground. Instead, corpses were carried to the top of a hill or low mountain away from centers of population and sacred natural elements, and exposed to the sun in structures known as Towers of Silence.

The corpse was usually moved to the tower within one day of death and during the daylight hours. The body was carried by an even number of people, even if the deceased was a child who could easily be carried by one person.

The only people allowed to touch the corpse were those clothing it and the corpse-bearers. If by accident someone touched the corpse they were prohibited from coming into contact with other persons until they underwent a purification ritual that entailed ritualistic washing of the body.

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In the exposure procedure called ‘Khurshed nigerishn,’ which in Pahlavi means ‘beholding by the sun,’ the dead were placed on top of the tower, which has an almost flat roof divided into three concentric rings with a perimeter slightly higher than the center and is open at the top to give access to the body to birds.

The bodies of men were arranged around the outer ring, women inside the second circle, and children in the innermost ring. When the sun disintegrated the body and birds stripped it of flesh, the remaining bones were placed in the Ossuary Well.

Towers of Silence were built of mud brick, stone and stucco to protect the ground from contamination. Dakhme is located outside the city and built with precise calculations so that the wind would not carry pollutants back to the city.

Ever growing  cities and  towns that placed Towers of Silence within city limits resulted in the Zoroastrians of Iran to stop using these towers in the 1970s and to begin using new burial methods such a laying the body of the deceased in plastered graves lined with rock to prevent the contamination of the earth.

Desert in Yazd

Desert in Yazd

Among 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.

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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 until the limits of Bafq. In the route there 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 until 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.

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The desert areas of Yazd province can be divided into the following:
Ardakan Desert (Siyah Kooh), which 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 are 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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ALL ABOUT FARS

Introduction:

Fars province is known as cradle of Iran culture and civilization, due to be unique historical and cultural background. The province recorded around 3000 monuments on the national Heritage list, and ranks first in the country in terms of having cultural and historical monuments. The existence of four UNESCO world heritage sites such as: Pasargad, Persepolice, Pasargad Persian Garden (date back to Achaemenid era), Eram Garden, as well as historical cities of Anshan and Malian (Date back to Elimate era), historical cities of Istakhr, Bishapour, Goor, Sarmashhad, Darabgerd, and more than 30 Sassanid bas- relief indicates the importance of the Fars province.

The existence of two prominent poets by the name of Hafez and Saadi, having many beautiful mosques, holy shrines lead to Fars special position among other provinces that is why Shiraz, the capital of Fars Province regarded as third religious city in Islamic Republic of Iran as well as cultural capital of the country.

Having very many unique natural places in which most of them are regarded as top tourism spot; introduce Fars Province as one of the most important investment opportunities for domestic and international investors.

In addition to all above information, having different kinds of handicrafts field with presence of the best handicrafts artisans’ shows high potential of Fars Province in realm of handicrafts.

Inlaid work artisan of Fars Province introduce this art to all part of Iran and the rest of the world, moreover, authentic nomad’s art and hand-woven nomadic art cannot be found elsewhere in the world.

Fars Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts & Tourism organization has always tried to step forward to identify, protect and introduce historical, natural and religious attractions in order to accomplish its mission.

MAIN SIGHTS 

 1.Historical Sights

Pasargadae

Persepolis (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Naqshe Rostum (Necropolis)

Bishapour (Shapour’s City)

Quran Gate

Karim Khan Citadel (Arg-e Karim Khan)

2.Gardens

Eram Botanical Garden (UNESCO Word Heritage Site)

Naranjestan

Zinat al- Molk House

3.Mosques

Holy Shrine of Shah-e Cheragh

Nasir-al-Molk Mosque

Vakil Mosque

4.Mausoleums

Hafez Mausoleum

Saadi Mausoleum

5.Other

Vakil Bath

Vakil Bazaar

Handicrafts

Other Attractions of Shiraz

Other Attractions of Shiraz

Other Attractions of Shiraz can be listed as below:

1.Vakil Bath

Vakil bath is a typical traditional public bath in Shiraz. It was a part of the royal district constructed during Karim Khan Zand’s reign, which includes Arg of Karim Khan (Karim Khan Citadel), Vakil Bazaar, Vakil Mosque and many other administrative buildings.

2.Vakil Bazaar

Most tourists go shopping in Vakil bazaar. It has its own charm; you are going to explore this bazaar for shopping at reasonable prices. You will also be amazed by the fascinating high-arched ceilings of Vakil Bazaar in the southern section.

Soon after entering, you can see a dome with a junction underneath. It gives you an idea of the passageways crossing the main one offering similar items, workshops and warehouses. Proceed to the end of this passageway and you will see dozens of fabric stores selling glittering materials.

There is also a traditional caravansary located in this beautiful bazaar, that you can see the astonishing set of stores offering Iranian traditional handicrafts from carpets to enamel works and from inlaid woodworks to copper items. This colorful place, which called Saraye Moshir, is an impressive part of the bazaar and easily distinguished for its charming tile works and the pool in the middle of its courtyard. Several types of handicrafts from Fars province can be found here.

3.Handicrafts

The distinguished Handicrafts of Fars have special place in international markets. Persian carpets and rugs (Kilim, Flat tapestry-woven carpets), (Gabbe, handmade thick Persian rug), Inlaid works (Khatam) and tile work are very famous.

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Seven Colored Tile – work

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Gereh Chini (Decorative Wood Lattice)
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Embossing

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