Yazd

The city of Yazd’s first mention in historic records predate it back to around 3000 years B.C. when it was related to by the name of Ysatis, and was then part of the domain of Medes, an ancient settler of Iran.

In the course of history due to its distance from important capitals and its harsh natural surrounding, Yazd remained immune to major troops' movements and destruction from wars, therefore it kept many of its traditions, city forms and architecture until recent times.

During the invasion of Genghis Khan in the early 1200’s A.D. Yazd became a safe haven and home for many artists, intellectuals and scientists fleeing their war ravaged cities around Persia.

Yazd was visited by Marco Polo in 1272, who described it as a good and noble city and remarked its silk production. Isolated from any approach by a huge tract of monotonous desert, the vibrancy of Yard is invariably a surprise.

For a brief period, Yazd was the capital of Atabakan and Mozaffarid dynasties (14th Century A.D.). During Qajar Dynasty (18th Century A.D.) it was ruled by the Bakhtiari Khans.

The city of Yazd is located in the eastern part of central Iran situated on the high, desert plateau that forms much of the country. Amidst the immense desert, Yazd retains its sterling of old in religion, traditions and architecture. Recognized by UNESCO as holding one of the oldest architecture all over the world.

The word Yazd means, feast and worship, The city of Yazd has resisted the modern urban changes and maintained its traditional old structures. The geographical features of this region have made people developed special architectural styles. For this reason, in the older part of the city most houses are built of mud-bricks and have domed roofs. These materials served as insulation preventing heat from passing through.

The Jame Mosque (congregational Mosque) crowned by a pair of minarets, the highest in Persia, the portal's facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile work, predominantly blue in colour. Within there is a long arcaded court where, behind a deep-set south-east Ivan, is a sanctuary chamber. 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 Mosque was largely rebuilt between 1324 and 1365, and is one of the outstanding 14th century buildings in Persia. The tile work has recently been skilfully restored and a modern library built to house the mosque's valuable collection of books and manuscripts.
 
Zoroastrians have always been populous in Yazd. Even now roughly ten percent of the town's population adhere to this ancient religion, and though their Atashkadeh (Fire Temple) was turned into a mosque when Arabs invaded Iran, a dignified new fire temple was inaugurated thirteen hundred years later.

This Atashkadeh (Fire Temple) intitates meet there, but nobody apart form the Moubad (Grand Priest), a descendant of the Magi, reciting the Avesta, has access to the Moubad-e Moubadan (Saint of Saints) where for the past 3000 years a fire burns in a brazen vessel. The fire itself is a symbol for purity and eternal life.
 
The existence of special ventilation structures, called Badgirs, on the roofs is a distinctive feature of the architecture of this city. Badgir or wind tower is a high structure on the roof under which, in the interior of the building, there is a small pool which all together serve as an air conditioning system.   
Although more often described as the entrance to a now non-existent bazaar, the chief function of Amir-Chakhmagh structure known as a Tekyeh, and the square before it, was to host Ta'ziyeh - a cycle of passion plays commemorating the martyrdom of the third Imam of Shiites, Imam Hossein, which take place once a year during the mourning month of Moharram. The site dating from fifteenth century, is named after its builder, Amir Jalal Al-Din Chakhmagh, governor of Yard.
However, what remains to be seen today is this nineteenth century tiled portal, built as a grandstand from which the plays could be watched.