Yazd, city of the desert… After spending a night camping in the desert of Varzaneh, we finally arrive in this magical town that seems to have grown out of sand.
Yazd, sand city
Our first impressions about Yazd (persian : یزد) are made by night. We just dropped our backpacks when we start to discover the ambiance of the evening in that give life to the streets and restaurants illuminated by the glow of the neon signs and the street lamps. Here like in most places in Iran people live when the day is down…
The most pleasant yet exotic thing to do in Yazd is simply to wander in its narrow ochre streets battered by sunlight. We could have lost our way in this labyrinth if not for the wonderful cupolas popping from time to time at a corner like giant colorful mushrooms in an earth-brown universe.
Anytime we encounter sairways going up on our way, we try to get on the rooftops. From there, we can relax while enjoying an extended view on the cupolas, goldastes (or minarets) and numerous bâdgirs which are trying to catch any whiff of wind from the sky. Bâdgirs, or wind catchers, are an absolute necessity for a city like Yazd which would otherwise roast alive. To avoid such a tragic end, engineers from good old times (aka several thousand years ago) created these inventive wind towers which have been keeping valiantly the inner walls of the city fresh and sane ever since.
As usual, we try to focus our cameras on the human face of the yellow streets. We take pictures of women in chadors and their kids, a solitary rider, a few men unloading a truck of watermelon, an old woman selling tomatoes at the market, a young and pretty student, two friends smoking together on a bench…
We never get bored to observe the everyday life of the people living there, giving its soul to this special city. If it’s true that Yazd is a touristic place, it is also true that the city feels very much alive, very far from the open historic museum we were expecting.
Of course, if you want to now Yazd a bit better, you shoul not hesitate to step into its womb. Indeed, because of the unbearable heat of the day and many sandstorms, many streets of Yazd would actually better be called tunnels, in which a light fresh breeze travels non-stop, thanks to the prodigious bâdgirs ! The bazar of Yazd has extended its tentacles in those endless corridors making them noisy with activity until 2 p.m. at which time all the yazdi people have decided to call for a nap-time. The heat of the afternoon encourages us to do the same. Around 5 p.m. the shops progressively start to reopen and street activity resonates until late at night.
The Jameh mosque (in persian : مسجد جامع یزد, Masjid-e-Jāmeh Yazd), also called Friday mosque, has the reputation of being one magnificent exemple of 14th century persian art. It is framed by the highest minarets of Iran which look like they have been painted blue by the sky itself. This place is filled with harmony and, despite being a bit less remarkable than what we visited in Isfahan, it feels more lively and more inhabited by the religious spirit.
Red carpets cover the floor, waiting for pious people and praying hours. It feels so nice to wander bare foot on this soft material! We understand why so many iranian people love spending quiet hours here, praying, reading or simply relaxing. What fascinates us the most in the Jameh mosque is the gigantic and wonderfully adorned mihrab, a semi-circular niche facing the mecca and a very privileged place to pray for faithful muslims.
Amir Chakhmaq complex
The Amir Chakhmaq (in persian : مجموعه مید ان امیرچقمامیدان امیرچقماق یزد ماق – Majmūʿa Meydân Amir Čaqmaq) complex is a large square in the center of Yazd, and stand as the symbol of the city. Very photogenic, especially at night and during the golden hour when all the little alcoves are lighten up, the complex is an animated and very pleasant place. Surrounding the mosque, you can find public baths, various shops and little kabab restaurants and also a very famous confectionery shop where all the iranian tourists make sure to stop and buy huge present boxes to offer to their entire families.
As we were wandering around the streets, visiting more mosques and more alleys, a strong strom raised clouds of dusts forcing us to take cover inside the tunnels of the bazar that we didn’t visited yet during opening time. Another world is happening in the long corridors where light enters only by skylights in the celling and ligthbulbs on the shops. Here craftmen produce a local speciality : Termeh (perse : ترمه), handwoven cloth made of wool. Just amazing !
This quick discovery tour of Yazd was way too short for us, as we are aware many wonders are still waiting for us to see. Unfortunately we can’t stay around any longer, for we absolutely have to go back to Tehran to extend our visas. Story is that before we left France the iranian embassy in Paris granted us 10 days less than what our plane tickets required… How convenient, uh ? We must now solve this administrative problem before being allowed to continue our journey north, up to a place known as the Assassins’ Castle, in Alamut valley, a mountainous area full of wolves where we intend to hike.