Yazd Old Town


Yazd Old Town

Yazd old town is the first city and the second most historic city in the world, with its historical texture, a heritage and a unique attraction. Due to the historic architecture and intact texture on July 18, 1369 Yazd was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The historic city of Yazd has the largest residential area with an area of 700,000 hectares in Iran. Almost 200 hectares of the city’s 2,270-hectare historical texture now boast world heritage status. The works and monuments discovered in Yazd reflect the dates of the second and third centuries of the Hijra, although the history of human settlements in this land has exceeded the third millennium. During the Pesadadian era, the tribes that were moving from Balkh to Pars called the land of Yazd as Yazdan, and since then Yazd was placed in the place of worship. The Yazd province dates back to the pre-Islamic period, besides having the oldest brickwork, the clock field and the wooden palm of the world, has the tallest wind farms and minarets in Iran, the longest Iranian aqueduct, the largest number of caves, the only water reservoir of six winds of the world, Iran’s only circular caravanserai and the world’s first safe deposit box.

Historical texture of Yazd is an Equivalent and balanced mix of old alleys, houses, houses and adobe buildings, which have all the features of individual and social life, and has led to the globalization of Yazd. Not only more than 1700 historical works of Yazd, but the entire traditional Yazd texture, its geographic location, north of Dowlat Abad Street, south to Kashani Street, east to Fahadan neighborhood, and west to Motahari Street, on the date March 16, 2005 with the registration number 15000 as a national record in Iran has been registered. Some features of Yazd’s historical texture include a very compact texture, fully enclosed urban spaces, narrow, irregularly enclosed alleys, interconnected buildings and distances, the placement of biological complexes based on the direction of sunlight and wind, and … In the beauty and attractiveness of Yazd’s historical texture, in addition to the inner conditions, its attractions such as the desert sky, the desert areas of the river, the sand and the historical texture of the city of Yazd, are also effective, each of which has its own special features worth historic texture Yazd added.

Old City of Yazd
Overview of Jame mosque and old parts of Yazd

Ab Anbar

“Ab” refers to water and “Anbar” to the storage facilities of these splendid surreal structures that were purposed to keep drinking waters clean for ages. The ab-anbar was one of the constructions developed in Iran as part of a water management system in areas reliant on permanent (springs, qanats) or on seasonal (rain) water. A settlement capacity for storing water ensured its survival over the hot, dry season when even the permanent water supply would diminish. These uniquely built water containers usually have their storage below the ground. It is also intriguing that all the constructions are earthquake resilient, bearing in mind that many Iranian cities are situated in realms that have been affected by harsh earthquakes in the past. Ab anbars are built with the help of special mortar that is made of a variety of materials including sand, clay, ash, as well egg whites, lime, and goat hair. Such mixture was considered to be entirely water impermeable. The walls of these ancient storages are often as 6.5 feet thick. Also, special bricks are used in the composition, known as “Ajor Ab Anbari.” The bottom of the reservoir was often filled with metallic materials. In general, designs can be cylindrical or rectangular, and a portion of these structures may also have an arched roof. As far as their location is concerned, they can be found virtually everywhere, even in mosques. Some storage spaces were built exceptionally spacious.

Old City of Yazd
A typical water cistern (Ab Anbar)

The construction of the dome on these water storages was certainly not an easy job, neither for architects nor the construction workers. Some accounts suggest that firstly the storage space was built. Once completed, the interior was supposedly filled with hay and straws all the way up to where workers could initiate work on the dome. When the dome was completed, the straws would be diminished with fire, clearing out the inside space. On the other hand, there are many visible holes in the walls which show the usage of scaffoldings during constructions. Inside the reservoirs, some constructions also incorporate columns. The Seyed Esmaeil ab anbar in Tehran is noted for having 40 columns. The “Sardar” is the distinctive arched entrance of the ab anbar. From there, people were able to descend the reservoir and reach the faucets. Each Sardar contains small platform for resting after ascending the stairway. Inscriptions of poetry and the date of the ab anbar construction are the usual decorations at the entrance.

The ab anbars of Iran used up to six wind catchers. Unlike the common usage of the wind catcher in other parts of the world, here, they were purposed for moving the wind at the top of the buildings. This helped the whole design of the storage building to keep lower temperatures inside, similarly to a cave. The ventilating effects of the wind catchers further prevented any humidity or contamination of the water inside.

Wind Catchers

A wind catcher is an architectural device used for many centuries to create natural ventilation in buildings. The wind catchers have given the people of the Middle East a form of “air conditioning” for thousands of years. Examples of wind catchers can be found in traditional Persian-influenced architecture throughout the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is not known who first invented the wind catcher, although some claim it originated in Iran. Since the early 19th century, residents of Yazd, the desert metropolis that is the oldest inhabited city in Iran, have been using the wind as an alternative energy source to cool their homes on warm summer days. Centuries of improvements and adaptations to survive extreme climatic conditions led the builders of the city to create shapes and structures that look simply amazing.

Wind catchers come in various designs, such as the uni-directional, bi-directional, and multi-directional. The original wind catchers in Iran are normally multi-directional with two to eight openings at the top to catch the breeze from any direction. Most wind catchers belong to old residential houses. On the other hand, the majority of urban reservoirs and mosques also have wind catchers. By facing wind catchers away from the wind, dust and sand blowing in from the desert can also be kept away from buildings.

Old City of Yazd
Badgir of Dowlatabad garden in Yazd

Central Iran has a very large day-night temperature difference, ranging from cool to extremely hot, and the air tends to be very dry all day long. Many traditional water reservoirs are built with wind catchers that are capable of storing water at near freezing temperatures during summer months. wind catchers can also act in reverse. By closing all ports but the one facing away from the incoming wind, air is drawn upwards using the Coanda effect, similar to how opening the one facing the wind would push air down the shaft.

This architectural feature remains popular among eastern cultures, but there is also an increasing awareness of the application of natural ventilation and passive cooling in western countries. A wind catcher has been developed in the modern wooden building where it functions without plugs or the use of mechanical devices in order to regulate temperature.

Friendship Alley

These narrow alleys made by adobe. Narrow alleys in Yazd are known as friendship alleys. The work of these alleys is to bring people closer and eliminate the turmoil between them.

Old Town of Yazd
A narrow alley of Yazd old town


Sabat is a kind of desert architecture used and scattered all over the city of Yazd. One of its uses is to bring shadows and make a cool path for pedestrians in hot days. In general, due to its special kind of structure, Sabats make the neighborhood area much cooler in summer time and warmer in winters.



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