Tuesday, 29 April 2008


The desert city of Yazd has been around sine the 2nd century AD and therefore the old quarter was laid out without the car in mind! The city is famous for the Bagirs or wind towers that cover the cities rooftop skyline. It’s an old fashioned air conditioning system that traps the slightest of breezes and directs it to the rooms below.

Arriving in the evening on Tuesday meant I got the short straw with regards to the room. Unlike a Victorian prison cell I don’t even have a view or a window hence the no view. The mattress is concaved but comfortable. It’s clean and safe and the courtyard’s daybeds are the place to lie back and chill out in the cool of the evening.

On my 1st full day here (Wednesday 30th…happy birthday dad, see I didn’t forget!) I was up early and bimbling.

The hotel is yazds (geddit!!!) from the Jameh or Friday mosque so I went there 1st.

The main entrance has a huge tiled frontage with two large needle like minarets shooting 48 metres skyward with a small multi angled star shaped pool at the front. Upon entering the small courtyard (well compared to the one at Esfahan it is) the tile work is reserved for the side with the dome. The other three sides have simple white painted cloisters, perfect for avoiding the heat of the sun.

I left via the right hand exit and went into the old city.

Due to the climate the main building material is adobe, or mud and straw to the common man. Each house is built around a central courtyard enclosed by high brown walls. Walking around this quarter is a lesson in the futility of direction.
The lanes and alleyways twist and turn seemingly at random and all the while the width expands and contracts with no sense of why. Occasionally you’ll walk around a ninety degree turn (with your ear always tuned to the sound of a high revving motorbike ridden by someone that treats the whole area as a racetrack) and enter a wide courtyard. There will be several paths leading off them…go ahead, pick one!

There are several buildings of note and I believe that I came across most of them by chance

Alexander’s prison

Despite the name it’s actually a 15th century school of theology. It got the name from a famous Persian poem that made reference to a deep well in the courtyard that was used by Alexander the great as a prison (some 1800 years before…yeah right?). Inside is a simple courtyard with a small dome on one of the corners. The “prison” is now a tea room.

Tomb of the 12 imams

Near the prison is a small squat building with a dome and it’s in need of some interior restoration if the truth be told. Despite the name none of the imams are buried here.
I did meet an English couple who are on a 15 day tour of Iran. For 890 euros they get guided round Iran via public transport, staying in “local” hotels and carrying there own bags. Much better way than travelling in a mini bus on mass. We had a small chat and they asked me for my blog address. Maybe I should get a publishing deal?

After leaving the tomb I visited two merchants’ houses. One had been restored and was somewhere that I could live quite happily thank you. Whilst the other was interesting because it was in the process of being restored and the interior had been stripped back exposing the construction detail.

The water museum

Why would you have a museum of water I here you ask?
The answer is Qanat! This is the 2000 year old Iranian way of getting water from where it is too where you, your house and crops are. They are basically small underground tunnels dug by hand that transport the water along a shallow gradient. At the last count there were over 50000 in the country. Here in Yazd is where the highly skilled and well paid craftsmen traditionally come from. Inside the museum (which is under a courtyard garden…so nice and cool in the midday heat, yes I’m English but there are no mad dogs in Iran) are displays of the equipment used. Like a pick, a shovel and a bucket. More interesting are the photos that show the men at work and along with the construction diagrams.

In the cool of the evening I was on a fruitless quest for a new card reader as I had foolishly broken mine earlier in the day. It was proving hard, each of the camera and computer shops said NO!
On the verge of giving up, once again a conversation started with a local who wanted to practise his English. After explaining my predicament he took me to the electrical bazaar and at the 4th shop I was able to get a new one.
To show my thanks we headed to an underground hamam that had been converted to a teashop.
He’s studying to become an English language teacher and learning new idioms will help him, or so he thinks. I think that knowing how to say “Alright geezer” and “Am I bovvered” won’t impress the examination board! As I enjoyed talking to him I agreed to meet up the following night.

Tonight Chelsea is playing Liverpool in the 2nd leg of the champions league semi final. Sitting in front of a large TV with a cold beer in my hand would be usual right about now.
Instead I am reclining in one of the daybeds in the hotel courtyard. I have a star filled sky above me; the sound of water trickling out of the fountain and the delicate perfume of my sweet tea drifting in the nearby air…wouldn’t want it any other way!

Thursday 1st of May

Today was a day for not doing much at all. This is something that I like doing the most. In the morning I drifted around the newer part of the city, where they built their houses out of brick. Bizarrely they still used mud to stick the different courses together…strange ways indeed.
Towards midday I ambled to the bank to exchange some Yankee dollars into rials. By mistake I changed more than I intended too. Looks like fate wants me to stay in a mid range hotel in Shiraz after all.
In the evening (yes I realize I haven’t mentioned the afternoon but how interesting can it be to read about my siesta) I had pizza…pepperoni pizza and the slightly charred circles of meat almost tasted like crispy bacon!

Tomorrow I need to book a bus for Saturday’s journey to Shiraz and of course a hotel for once I get there. The rest of the day will be spent lounging, drinking tea and reading my guide book to India. I think I will need to book a hotel in Mumbai within the next couple of days.

• Chelsea won and to make it better my Iranian friend supports Liverpool.

• If an Iranian asks you what your religion is don’t answer with the word “atheist”...trust me one this one!

So there you go…that was Yazd.
Pop by next week to read about the continuing adventures of Sfau in Shiraz…with wine, singing, poetry and dancing girls……………………what do you mean I’m 1400 years to late!!!!!!!!!!

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