Anyone with the good fortune to visit Iran must include Yazd on the itinerary. Located in southeast Iran between the Kavir and Lut deserts, the city was a major stop on the caravan routes (Marco Polo called it “a good and noble city”). Yazd’s location and aridity spared it from the Mongol invasion preserved its traditional architecture.
This photo gives a little perspective of the enormity of Yazd’s 14th century Masjid-e-Jāmeh or Congregational Mosque: its impressive minarets are the tallest in Iran (52 meters in height and 6 meters in diameter). Note: Shiite mosques have two minarets, while Sunni mosques have only one.
I had to keep on reminding myself that this amazing structure was completed in 1364 CE. The geometric designs are actually inscriptions written in Kufic script with quotations from the Koran.
Close-up of one of a squinch – an architectural feature devised in Iran to join a square structure to its dome. (The earliest extant example is at the Palace of Ardashir and dates to 225 AD.)
Above, more of the art and students we saw through our trip. Lucky for everyone that I have a camera, since my drawing skills are rudimentary at best!
The old section of Yazd adjoins the mosque. Traditional houses had two knockers with different sounds so the women in the house would know whether the visitor was male or female and could prepare herself accordingly (male family members would use both simultaneously).
This dome covers a traditional water reservoir or Ab anbar where water is stored 20 feet or more below ground and kept fresh and cool via four wind catchers (bagdir), even during the extreme summer heat. Bagdir are prevalent throughout Yazd for good reason. Temperatures can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before leaving, be sure to sample some of the sweets for which Yazd is famous. Conveniently located on Amir Chaghmaq Square, adjacent to the Water Museum, Haj Kahlifeh Ali Rahbar will celebrate its centennial in 2016 and is justifiably renowned for its amazing pastries.