Yazd - the oldest city in the world

IMG_4023 We cycled along way across the desert to get to Yazd and it has definitely been worth it. It’s an oasis town in the middle of the desert and breaks up our journey to Persepolis and Shiraz perfectly….plus we’re knackered from riding for 10 days and need a rest and to eat lots.

We’re staying in a fantastic hotel; the Silk Road Hotel with it’s massive buffet breakfasts (ideal for cyclists), and huge internal courtyard and great views of the city from the roof. You can see it in the photo on the right:
The whole city is made out of mud bricks and the only things of any colour are the domed roofs of the mosques and the doorways.

Time is a little different here, everything is open from 8am-1pm, then everyone has a sleep and everything re-opens between 5pm and 10pm.


The only thing that spoils it for us is the number of women in Chadors (translates as Tent) which is absolute insanity in this heat. Men wander around in t-shirts and anything they want to wear, whereas nearly all the women have a black shroud over them. 

We understand that it’s probably easier to wrap it on top of their normal clothes when they go out rather than wear a nice manteau and a very brief head scarf all day, but it just represents the unfairness of this society. 

The women here may well be the most highly educated women in the world with 55% of the university population but they still have to hide behind the daft black sheet.

It is gradually changing but women still live in fear of being persecuted for having too much hair showing, so many just use the chador and avoid the possible risk. Inside the home, clothes are completely normal (to a European or North American mind)

Little boys run around in shorts yet girls are wrapped from head to toe in cloth while the mercury hovers around 35 degrees. We hope it changes soon because these people are so lovely and anybody who thinks that all women must be hidden, obviously has some sort of problem.

The city itself exists behind mud brick walls and under beautiful arches which let in loads of natural light but thanks to the mud brick construction keep out nearly all the heat. It feels positively cool everywhere apart from in the sun.

IMG_4088 There is an elaborate system of towers all over the roof tops which allow hot air to escape and cool air to fall, they’re called Badgirs and some of them are gigantic, upto 20m high with incredible structures to redirect air flow to keep the inner courtyards and rooms cool. They catch even the slightest wind and create quite strong down draughts of cool air which shoot through the bazaars and houses underneath them.

IMG_3978 The city has been occupied continuously for the last 7000 years and claims to be the oldest inhabited city in the world. Water is collected from the mountains and flows down small (1m x 0.5m) tunnels called Qanats, deep underground, to the city, where it is pumped up to the surface or wells allow access.

The guys who make and service these tunnels have a job for life if they want it and the Water Museum here is an excellent introduction to this incredible world. There are rooms up to 50m below the surface with pools and flowing water where people go on really hot days in the middle of summer.
7000 years of occupation gives people a good chance to make life work and in Yazd it really seems to work well.

The food is interesting too, spaghetti sandwiches, loads of sweet iced puddings, kebabs of every sort and lots of stews (khorosht) with delicious ingredients….we love Fesenjan - the most amazing meatball dish made with a pomegranites and walnuts, it makes you lick your lips just writing about it. Persian food is fantastic and so little known outside the middle east.
Here’s a slideshow of some other views of Yazd:

1 comment :

  1. Hi guys, love the photos of Yazd- the colours of all the mudbrick & Tile work are surreal. I must say you are a better woman than me Isa! I'd be getting mighty pizzed off that Simon is swanning round in shorts and t-shirt in front of you ;-) xxoo Briar