Backpacking in Iran: Visiting Yazd

The sky was overcast when we departed Isfahan. As the bus ventured further into the desert, dust began to combine with the haze. It took a couple of hours travel before the gloomy sky lifted to reveal the golden sand landscape of Yazd.

Few independent travellers I met in Tehran and Isfahan had plans to visit Yazd, pronounced Yazzed, and persuaded me to change route. I’m glad I stuck to my guns as Iran’s city in the desert proved to be a delight.

Yazd is approximately 310km south east of Isfahan.

For other Iran destinations, my post on Solo Female Travel in Iran gives practical information for all types of independent travellers backpacking in Iran.

YAZD ATTRACTIONS

The Amir Chakhmaq Mosque Complex was the closest of the main sites to my accommodation. The front yard is a great people-watching place. The yard’s water fountains had a cooling effect on the area. Standing beside them suffices. The main structure consists of a series of arches spread over three levels meeting two minarets in the centre. The ground floor consists of a bazaar.

Amir Chakhmaq Complex Yazd

Amir Chakhmaq Complex in Yazd, Iran

I visited the nearby Water Museum for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve never visited a water museum. Secondly, the Persian qanat system of underground water transportation by gravity to arid regions is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Engineers will love this museum with its detailed drawings, calculations and exhibitions of the tools used.

Carrying water from Qanat system Yazd

Building the qanat

Health and Safety on a Qanat building site!

I thought it was the narrow gap between the minarets of Masjed-e Jameh that gave the entrance the illusion of being high. It’s not an illusion. It actually is one of the tallest mosque entrances in the country and photographers were practically lying on the ground in order to capture the minarets’ details. Verses from the Koran are written into the tile façade. The mosque complex was built in phases with its beginnings dating back to the 11th century.

Masjed e Jameh Mosque Yazd

Masjed e Jameh Mosque in Yazd

A left turn when exiting Jameh mosque brought me to Yazd’s Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The buildings are made from dried mud blocks. The exterior is plastered in a mud-like substance which gave the walls a bouncy feel, not that I was hopping off the walls testing their firmness.

Old City Yazd

Warren of lanes in Yazd’s Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Not only did Yazd’s early inhabitants work out a system for transporting water in the desert, they also figured out how to cool their houses in this desert area. Tall multi-channel towers called badgirs placed on roofs capture wind which is cooled upon entering the building below. A gift shop and café called the Tourist Library had a rooftop viewpoint over the city.

My advice for the Old City is to wander although I recommend Café Travel for food, glorious drinks and a willingness to display prices on its menu. Like Isfahan, businesses in Yazd close in the afternoon.

Yazd Badgirs

Yazd skyline. Badgir cooling chimney to the right of the picture.

OTHER YAZD SIGHTSEEING

The religion of Zoroastrian pre-dates Islam and Yazd is known as a centre for this faith. Fire and water are key components of Zoroastrianism. Fire temples were built to facilitate prayer in the presence of fire and one such temple, Ateshkadeh, can be found in southern Yazd. I didn’t reach this site but other travellers raved about it.

BACKPACKING IN IRAN: YAZD ESSENTIALS 

WHERE TO STAY IN YAZD: I stayed at Sunny Land Guesthouse off Qiam Street. It dates back to the Qajar era and is built in the traditional Persian style. Not only were the facilities excellent but the staff were pleasant and efficient. They were able to arrange day trips and taxis.

Sunny Land Guesthouse Yazd

The courtyard at Sunny Land Guesthouse where breakfast was served.

GETTING TO YAZD: I travelled to Yazd from Isfahan by VIP bus which took approximately 6 hours. The inter-city bus station is located several kilometres outside the centre of Yazd. I ordered a Snapp taxi to take me to the centre.

GETTING AROUND YAZD: All of the above attractions are within walking distance. For longer journeys when visiting Yazd I used the Snapp app.

MOVING ONWARDS FROM YAZD: My next stop after Yazd was Shiraz. The staff at Sunny Land arranged for a private taxi transfer which stopped at Pasagadae, Naqsh-e Rostam (i.e. the necropolis) and Persepolis on the way. The cost for the whole car was €30 but as I shared with two other guests I only paid €10, an absolute bargain considering the comfort. The price excluded food and entry to the sites.

HEALTH ISSUES: Yazd, particularly the Old City, is dusty and has low humidity which may pose a difficulty to those with respiratory conditions. Admittedly, this environment made me feel unwell and slowed me down, so it took 1.5 days to see all of the attractions listed above. A dust mask would have been of benefit.

Backpacking in Iran Visiting Yazd

 

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