Ziyaeieh School better known as Alexander’s Prison is a monument in Yazd, which is believed to have been built at the time of Alexander’s attack on the Persian Empire. It is said that this structure was used as a prison and that it later was changed to a school. This mud brick structure has a 2-meter deep well in its courtyard which leads to a 5-meter deep basement. There is a fountain, remaining from the original building, in the center of the basement. Alexander’s Prison has mostly Mongolian architectural elements and therefore lacks any tilework.
Alexander’s Prison or Ziyaeieh School
Amir Chakhmaq Complex
The Amir ChaKhmaq Complex was built by Yazd governor Amir Jalaleddin Chakhmaq and his wife during the Timurid dynasty (15th-16th century CE). The complex consists of a square, a mosque, a public bath, a caravansary, a mausoleum, a Tekyeh (a religious place for mourning), a water well, two Timurid era water reservoirs and a confectionery. The Amir Chakhmaq structure has a three-story elaborate façade of symmetrical sunken arched alcoves. The building is lit up with orange lighting in the alcoves at night, which give it a spectacular appearance. The Amir Chakhmaq mosque has a dome with green tiles and Kufic inscriptions. Mo’arraq tiles have been used to decorate its windows and the mihrab has moqarnas and mo’arraq embellishments.
Arabzadeh House is a Qajar era (1785–1925) residence located in the old texture of Yazd. This mansion is sometimes also referred to as the Fahadan House as it is located in the historical Fahadan Neighborhood, the oldest neighborhood of Yazd city where the affluent once lived. The house is known for its unique arabesque and inscriptive stucco reliefs, ceiling woodwork decorations, stained glass windows, lattice doors and lightwells as well as its remarkable Hashti (vestibule). The door of the house is located on its southeastern side and opens to the vestibule, which features Rasmi Bandi (interlocking patterns, arches and geometric shapes) stucco decorations. There is a lightwell above the vestibule, which provides alternate lighting for the entrance of the house. The stairway on the left of the vestibule leads to the rooftop and stables, and the stairway to the right of the vestibule leads to the main courtyard of the house, which like other traditional homes has a rectangular pool directly in front of its Panjdari (five-door or –window room) living room. The Sedari (three-door or –window room) and Panjdari, which both have beautiful wood and stained glass doors, are located in the hallway leading to the main hall of the structure. Arabzadeh House has a Balakhaneh (a room on the second floor of traditional homes used to entertain guests) and a basement directly under the Panjdari room. The summer hall is flanked by two side rooms known as Goushvareh (earrings). This mansion was registered as a National Heritage Site in 2002 and since 2005 has been the location of Heydarzadeh Anthropology and Coin Museum. This museum, which is the country's only specialized coin museum, houses 4,500 ancient gold, silver, copper, brass coins from 42 historical eras. The coin displays of the museum are dated from the Achaemenid (550-330 BC) era until present day. The museum also has a paper money display from the Nasser al-Din Shah Nasser-al Din Shah era up to the present day. The museum features items of anthropological value such as more than 100 old locks, silver jewelry, amber, silver-embellished and agate prayer beads, chains, clothing irons, agate rings, weapons, cookware (stone pots, bronze pots, vats and crocks), oil lamps, kerosene lamp, fuel lanterns, candle lanterns, and trainman's lanterns. This private museum was opened by Hossein Heydarzadeh, a native of Fahadan Neighborhood. Heydarzadeh, who is a cultural heritage enthusiast, has been collecting the items showcased in the museum since 1956.
Dakhme 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. 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.
Dowlatabad Garden is one of the famous gardens of Yazd which enshrines a number of structures including a house dating back to the Afsharid (1736–1796) and Zand (1750–1794) eras and the famous Dowlatabad Wind Tower. The garden, which spans an area of 72,000 square kilometers, was originally created by Mohammad Taqi Khan also known as the Great Khan who governed Yazd in the 18th century. In order to create this heavenly garden in the midst of one of the driest cities of Iran, 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. This 200-year-old Qanat consisted of a network of five Qanats that traveled the 50-kilometer distance from the city of Mahriz to Yazd and provided water for several villages along the way before arriving at the garden. The Dowlatabad Garden is an example of Persian Paradise Gardens meaning it has a Chahar Bagh layout intended to bring to mind the four rivers of the Garden of Eden. A Chahar Bagh layout is a quadrangular/rectangular canal pattern in which waterways or pathways are used to quarter the garden. Like all Persian Gardens, the central structure is built on the highest point of the garden and there is a large pool in front of the structure to reflect the building. Irrigated by a Qanat, the garden is built on a slope to facilitate the natural flow of water. In the style of Persian Gardens, trees and flowers are planted in this garden based on their usefulness; therefore, there are more fruit trees, then shade trees and finally flowers. Dowlatabad Garden has a variety of trees like pine and cypress, rose bushes, grape vines and pomegranate trees. Mohammad Taqi Khan, who founded the Khans of Yazd Dynasty, established his residence and center of power within the garden. The garden, which is known for its beautiful network of waterways, has several buildings including a Mirror Hall, Harem House, Façade, Servants Quarter, Tehrani Monument, Summer Stables, Winter Stables, Sabbat and Administrative Building. The Dowlatabad Garden has been registered on the UNESCO World Heritage list as one of the prime examples of the Persian Garden.
Dowlatabad Wind Tower
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 Dowlatabad Wind Tower sits atop the Howz Khaneh (pool house) in Dowlatabad 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. Wind travels through the shafts on top of the tower to reach the interior of the building. The air flow 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. The Dowlatabad Wind Tower is located within the 72,000 square-kilometer garden of the same name 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.
Khan Bath in Yazd was built in 1798 by the then governor of Yazd Mohammad Taqi Khan Bafqi. The bathhouse includes a changing room (sarbineh), a hot chamber (garm khaneh) and a pool located next to the garm khaneh. There are elevated platforms around the sarbineh and shelves to store shoes and clothes. A beautiful skylight guides daylight into the changing room. There are traces of Qajar era (1781–1925) wall paintings on the walls of the bath. The bath has been converted into a traditional restaurant.
The Lari House of Yazd is a Qajar era (1785–1925) mansion located in the historical Fahadan Neighborhood. Fahadan is the oldest neighborhood in the city of Yazd where the affluent once lived. Lari House has been built in a 1,700-square-meter area and consists of six separate houses with desert architecture that take up 1,200 square meters. The northern part of the house was used as winter quarters and the southern part, which has a spacious hall and wind tower was used as the summer quarters. The eastern wing of the house was used as autumn quarters and the western quarter was the wing used in spring. A common feature of traditional homes in desert areas is that their basements are designed to perfectly adapt to the warm and dry climate of these cities. With the help of the wind towers raised above these houses, these basement areas had natural air conditioning and remained cool during the warmer months of the year when they were used as sitting rooms. The rooms of Lari House are situated around the main courtyard, which has a large pool (howz) in the center and is modestly filled with plants and trees. There is a wooden platform with lattice decorations above the pool which can be reached with three steps. The owners of the house once sat on this platform in the afternoons, enjoyed dinner and spent time with the family. The house features traditional Persian residential architectural features such as an Andarouni (interior), which was the private quarters used by women and servants, and a Birouni (exterior) which was the public quarters mostly used by men. The ceilings of this house have been embellished with mirrorwork and paintings with European and Qajar themes. The paintings branch out and expand outward from around the central chandelier and even band around the top of walls in rooms. Mirrorwork in the form of flower and arabesque motifs have been used to frame these paintings. Most Qajar mansions have a Hall of Mirrors, which was a room designed as an artistic space. The Hall of Mirrors in Lari House is about a century old. The stained glass and latticed doors of the house combined with its mirrored rooms and wall paintings make this house an exquisite example of residential homes belonging to the affluent during the Qajar era. Lari House was registered as a National Heritage Site in 1997.
Sabat is a unique architectural feature of Iranian desert cities and particularly Yazd. With their vaulted ceilings, these passages combine light and shade to create warmth and coolness in the passageways, helped the uniformity of monuments and solidified the city’s old fabric. Often the doors of a few homes open into a Sabat, which is an important socio-cultural factor as it creates a gathering place for residents, giving them a sense of community and belonging.
Shesh Badgir Ab Anbar
The Shesh Badgir Anbar (Six-wind towered cistern) was built in 1834 during the Qajar era (1781–1925). 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 dome of this Ab Anbar is egg shaped and the wind towers are octagonal shaped.
Wind Towers (Badgir) are important elements in traditional Iranian architecture, providing natural air-conditioning in hot, dry and humid climates for thousands of years. The first historical evidence of wind towers in Iran dates back to the fourth millennium BC and since then wind towers have been an inseparable part of the architecture of central and southern Iran, namely in Yazd, Kashan, Bam and the villages along the Persian Gulf coast. The function of wind towers was to provide occupants with constant comfort in harshly variable desert climates. Wind towers were built with a four-directional orientation to catch and guide wind into the house from all directions. Wind towers consist of four parts: the body which contains shafts, air shelves which catch hot air and prevent it from entering the structure, flaps which redirect wind circulation, and a roof covering. Wind travels through the shafts on top of the tower to reach the interior of the building. The air flow inside the structure travels in two directions, up and down. The temperature difference between the interior and exterior of a building causes pressure variations that 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. There are three types of wind towers: The basic wind tower built over cellars and underground Ab-Anbars (water cisterns), which keeps food refrigerated and also provided a cool sitting room. The second type transfers the flow into the basement where upon hitting damp walls its humidity increases while its temperature decreases. The flow could be directed into other rooms using valves. The third type of wind tower is taller and was mainly used in multi-roomed one-story buildings. A dome-roofed hall under the tower helped ventilation. The function of the cistern found below most wind towers in warm dry regions is to balance humidity inside the structure. These towers rise not only above ordinary houses but also on top of Ab-Anbars and mosques. The city of Yazd which has come to be known as the ‘City of Wind Towers’ is famous for its use of these traditional air conditioning systems. With today's growing emphasis on reducing energy consumption, modern architecture can make use of traditional Iranian methods to utilize air currents and evaporation in cooling and air-conditioning living quarters. Iran has submitted a file on its age-old wind towers to UNESCO for inscription on the World Heritage List.
Yazd Fire Temple
The Yazd Fire Temple is one of the most sacred Zoroastrian places of worship in Iran. The holy fire in this Atash Behram (Fire of Victory) Temple has been burning for 1,500 years. An Atash Behram is the highest grade of Zoroastrian fire gathered from 16 different sources. Each of the 16 fires is subjected to a purification ritual and 32 priests are required for the consecration ceremony, which can take up to a year to complete. This fire temple, the only temple with an Atash Behram fire in Iran, was built in 1934 during the reign of Reza Shah (1878-1944), the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, and has been designed to resemble Achaemenid (550–330 BC) monuments. Its fire is believed to have originated from the Adur Farnbag temple, which was one of the three main Sassanid (224–651 BC) places of worship. This fire was brought to Yazd in 1947. Located in the middle of a large courtyard, the building of the fire temple rises 21 meters in height and is surrounded by pine, cedar and cypress trees. As fire temples must be located near water, there is a round pool (howz) in front of the building, where visitors and worshipers throw coins and make wishes in accordance with an old tradition. There is a Faravahar Symbol, a winged disk with a male upper body which has become the symbol of Zoroastrianism, above the entrance of the building. Each part of the Faravahar signifies an idea or a philosophy: The male upper body represents the wisdom of age, the hand pointing upwards is a reminder that the path of righteousness is the only one to choose, the hand holding the Zoroastrian covenant ring urges man to hold true to promises, the ring in the center symbolizes the eternity of the universe or the eternal nature of the soul, the two streamers extending outward from the central disc symbolize the choices between good or evil, the three-layered wings symbolize "good thoughts, good words, and good deeds," and the lower part of the Faravahar consists of three parts representing "bad reflection, bad words and bad deeds," which cause misery and misfortune for man. The fire burns inside a bronze vessel in the innermost sanctum, where only Zoroastrian priests are allowed. Visitors can see the fire from behind a glass panel. Yazd Fire Temple was registered as a National Heritage Site in 1999.
Yazd Jame Mosque
The Yazd Jame Mosque was originally built in the 12th century. This masterpiece of Iranian and Islamic architecture was built on the ruins of an ancient Sassanid (224–651 BC) fire temple. The current single-iwan mosque is the product of three stages of expansion and additions over a period of 100 years and has the Azeri style of Persian architecture. The Jame Mosque has garnered fame for the delicate nature of its stucco decorations, tilework, rectangular Shabistan (inner sanctum), courtyard and minarets, and attracts scores of tourists every year. A magnificent double-shell dome decorated with turquoise and white geometric tiles crowns the mosque. The high entrance of the mosque is decorated with Quranic verses, slates outlining government orders and laws, endowment deeds, and reports of repair work on the structure. The inscriptions on the entrance, which is 24 meters high, are in Kufic and Thuluth calligraphy hands on Persian blue mo’arraq tiles. The Jame Mosque has two 52-meter minarets, considered the tallest in Iran. These minarets were added to the mosque in the Safavid era (1501-1736) and are covered in exquisite tiles. The minarets, which once fell in 1935 and were reconstructed, each have an eight-meter- wide base and decrease in girth as they go higher. Only one of these minarets has a staircase and can be climbed. The Mihrab (prayer niche) of the mosque is sheathed with floral designs rendered in remarkable faience mosaic. The name of the architect and the date of the mosque’s construction have been inscribed on two star-shaped tiles installed above the Mihrab. The Mihrab is also said to have a small globe-shaped patch of tilework in which all the colors used in the tiles adorning the mosque have been used. Decorative brickwork laid in epigrams cover most wall surfaces within the sanctuary, above a turquoise tile dado with mosaic medallions that continue into the Jame Mosque’s iwan (a vaulted hall, walled on three sides and open on one side). With their flower and arabesque motifs, girih and mo’arraq tiles, this iwan and the dome chamber are two of the most outstanding sections of this exquisite mosque. No iron has been used in the structure of the Jame Mosque and it has been entirely constructed of mud-bricks and stucco. The tilework used in this mosque is predominantly blue. The Yazd Jame Mosque is an example of the finest Persian mosaics and architectural excellence and has been registered as a National Heritage Site.