If I had to summarize our trip to Yazd, Iran, it would be the following. Firstly, It was incredibly hot, but that’s what you get when you visit Iran in July. Secondly, I was immensely grateful for the roofed Yazd bazaar, because this was the coolest place in the city. And thirdly, Yazd is made for wandering as it is a fairytale-like destination. You’ll come across gold-yellow alleyways, striking wind towers, and tall blue mosques. This city offers a totally different experience than other Iranian destinations. It is not a place that you visit for the big highlights, but you come here for the laid-back atmosphere. In this blog post, I will share 7 reasons why you should visit Yazd during your Iran trip.
7 reasons why you should visit Yazd, Iran
1. It has an ancient history: more than 5000 years old
Yazd is a perfect destination for culture and history lovers. This actually applies to almost every Iranian city, with the exception of Tehran perhaps. But Yazd tops them all when it comes to history. This 5000+ years old city is one of the oldest inhabited places on earth. Many centuries ago Yazd was the center of Zoroastrism, the ancient religion of the Persian region before Islam was introduced. There are still a few ten thousand Zoroastrian groups active in Iran and India. Moreover, Yazd was also an important stop on the silk road. The city even impressed the well-known explorer Marco Polo. Polo came to Yazd in 1272 and was intrigued by the local silk trade.
2. The city looks like an Aladdin story
In addition to an interesting long ancient history, Yazd is also a very photogenic place to visit. The city seems to be untouched by modern times. It could easily be a filming location for an Aladdin and Yasmine love story. The mudbrick alleys, traditional houses, and blue mosques are all places that are a joy to capture with a camera.
3. This is the city of badgirs (wind catchers)
Yazd is sandwiched between the Dasht-e-Lut and the Dasht-e-Kavir. These are the two largest deserts of Iran. This isolated location used to offer some advantages. For instance, the city was not as heavily attacked as other Iranian places. However, the desert location also meant a great deal of sun. Yazd was forced to come up with some kind of solution to still offer a habitable city for its people. These were the badgirs, the upside-down chimneys that catch the wind. This ancient air-conditioning created a nice breeze in the houses. When traveling through Iran, you will also see badgirs in other Iranian cities. But in Yazd, I noticed them more, because there were so many.
4. Also the city of the tall pishtaqs
Yazd is not only the city of wind catchers, but the Yazd mosques also have an interesting architectural style. I’m talking about the tall and narrow pishtaq. This is the name for the entrance gate of the mosque. Normally, these gates are quite broad, but in Yazd many gates are narrow and tall. A good example of this is the 14th-century Jameh Mosque (Friday mosque). The gate is so tall that in the 15th century it almost collapsed and a buttress had to be added. Also don’t forget to take a look at the Amir Chakhmaq mosque. The narrow gateway here is extended with a sunken arched wall. I recommend visiting these two mosques during the day and night. After sundown, they are nicely lit up.
5. Yazd Old Town is perfect for wandering
Yazd Old Town was definitely the highlight for me. Of course, Yazd also has plenty of beautiful mosques. But when traveling around in Iran, you will see a lot of mosques. Yazd Old Town however was something new. The gold labyrinth of mudbrick alleys and arches was something I had not seen before in Iran. Yazd is also known as the world’s first mudbrick city with a Unesco status. Mudbrick is a local natural product that does well in hot and dry climates.
When wandering around in Yazd Old Town, I also recommend taking a stroll through the Yazd bazaar. These marketplaces are great for escaping the Iranian summer heat and talking with locals. There’s always someone who wants to have a chat. I also recommend stopping for a cup of coffee at Chaharsoogh Cafe. It is one of the few places in Yazd that is open in the morning (from 10 am). The woman running it is the sweetest.
6. You can also view this city from above (rooftop terraces!)
Yazd Old Town is a picturesque place to visit. Not only from street level but also viewed from above. Dotted around the Old Town there are a few rooftop terraces, often part of a hotel or restaurant. My favorite rooftop terrace was the one at Yazd Art House (also known as Malekzadeh House). You can get a fine lunch here too. Other great rooftops are the Orient Traditional Hotel and the Tourist Library View Point.
7. It’s different than other Iranian cities: laid-back and quiet
My final reason why Yazd is such a great place to visit is that it was laid-back and quiet. Tehran, Shiraz, and Mashhad are very busy, chaotic, and loud places with constant traffic and people. Yazd is different. There are only a few cars and motorbikes driving around in the city center. Moreover, during the day there’s almost no one in the streets. Locals take it easy during the hot hours of the day and stay mostly inside.
More things to do in and around Yazd:
- Saheb A Zaman Zurkhaneh (close to Amir Chakhmaq square). This interesting sporting center is located in an old water reservoir and specializes in the traditional sport called zurkhaneh (=house of strengths). It is an ancient exercise routine in which men train their muscles in a rhythmic manner with wooden clubs. As a tourist, you can visit shows three times a day to see what the sport is like. Performances are scheduled at 17.00, 18.30, and 20.00. The entrance fee is 100,000 IR.
- Fire temple & towers of silence: Zoroastrianism used to play a very big role in Yazd and fire was an important element in this ancient religion. It symbolized pureness. That is why they built special temples for the fire to keep burning. One of the most important ones is located in Yazd. According to the stories, the fire has been burning here since 470 AD. The entrance fee for this temple is 80,000 IR. In addition to the fire temple, you can also visit the towers of silence just outside the city. This is the place where Zoroastrians got their air funeral. This sounds more poetic than it really is because it means that birds will eat the bodies. Zoroastrians believe that deceased bodies pollute the earth.
How to get to Yazd?
Despite the desert location, Yazd is actually quite easy to reach these days. From Isfahan, you can take a 3-hour bus ride (ticket is 230,000 IR) and from Shiraz, the bus will take 5 to 6 hours (ticket for VIP bus is 500,000 IR). Yazd also has a train station, but you have to book train tickets in advance. This is not needed with bus tickets.
You can check the bus schedules on the website of 1stQuest. Also the website of Hipersia is very handy when it comes to bus information. I always purchased my bus tickets at the station and never had any problems with this. As for the train schedule, you can check this useful page on Caravanistan.
Where to stay in Yazd?
Just like Kashan, Yazd also has a number of grand traditional houses. Most of them are now used as hotels. We stayed at Tarooneh Traditional Hotel and I liked it very much. The courtyard and the rooms were beautiful, great breakfast and it is located next to two old (but working) badgirs. Moreover, it is right on the edge of Old Town so everything is within walking distance.
Good to know:
- Cafes and restaurants often open late in the morning or early afternoon. So finding a place for breakfast in Yazd is quite difficult. Luckily, in Iran this is often included in your room.
- In the afternoon most places in Yazd close for a couple of hours. Those are the hottest hours of the day and in Iran it is very common to head home for a quick nap.
- One final tip: summers are hot in Iran, especially in a desert city like Yazd. If you have the option to travel in spring or fall, I would recommend doing so.
And that was it: 7 reasons why you should visit Yazd during your Iran trip, plus things to do when you’re there. Do you want to visit this city?
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