Yazd was one the Iranian cities that attracted me the most. In the middle of the desert, with interesting buildings and one of the oldest water canalization system in the world … I couldn’t leave Iran without visiting this city.
Javi had just visited Yazd 2 weeks before so that let me (with his lonely planet in my pocket), lots of freedom to visit everything I wanted at my speed.
The first thing I did was to walk around the old city. Anyway, most of the tourist attractions are in here, so before going to any I decided to just wander around without any fixed destination. It was great! Most of the streets are too narrow for cars, so apart from the occasional motorbike, it’s incredibly peaceful. It’s a great break from any other cities´ crazy traffic and noise.
The Badgirs are the most characteristic view of the city. Basically from any spot of the old town you can see these tower like looking constructions on top of most houses. They look a bit strange, and even more when you learn that they collect the wind and cool down the houses. But you have to understand that in summer it can be up to 45°C!
In the rest of Iran these “wind collectors” can get the wind from one or two directions, but in Yazd the most common ones can get from four – and the fanciest ones can get from up to 12 (!) – directions. It’s really interesting, and even if you can’t feel the slightest breeze when you stand under one of these, you will start getting cold!
In the old town there are several houses open to be visited like Alexander’s prison or Khan-e Lari, but to be honest they are a waste of time. They are nice, but expensive and if you are hosted in the old town (where the cheapest and best hotels are), your hotel will be at least as nice!
In the old town the Masjed-e Jame is interesting, even if you have already seen a hundred mosques before in Iran. One of the things they tell you to look for is the swastikas, reminding you that it’s an ancient symbol not at all in connection with the Nazis. Of course I looked for them, like most of the tourists, but I don’t get the morbid curiosity.
I went to the Bag-e dolat Abab, some UNESCO listed gardens, but I guess it was not the right season, because there were no plants, apart from some gloomy looking trees. The fountain is empty, so you can stand in the middle and take a nice picture of the main building. So I guess unless you go there in summer there is nothing to see.
A bit further away from the center there are some Zoroastrian things worth to see:
The Ateshkadeh (the Zoroastrian fire temple) where supposedly Zoroaster himself lit a fire several thousand years ago, though originally in another place and it has been transported there.
The Dakhmeh-ye Zartoshtiyun (the Towers of silence) is the place where the Zoroastrians left their dead to be eaten by wild animals. They believe in not polluting the earth or the air as they would with burials or cremations.
Without any doubt the most interesting things you can find here are the Qanat, the ancient underground tunnels that carried water from the dwells though the whole city. The water museum explains how they built the Qanat and how it worked and definitely worth a visit!
In case your visa will expire soon and you want to stay a bit longer in Iran, you should go to the immigration office. I don,t know why the Lonely Planet says that it’s not a friendly place to get visa extensions. We didn´t have any problems and got our extensions really quickly, as there was nobody waiting.
The more I learn about Iran the more I like it and more fascinated I get about the history and culture, and Yazd is a city that should not be missed!