Yazd, the land of magnificent windcatchers
Yazd, the land of magnificent windcatchers (Part 1)
Sepideh Afshar Rezaee
Translated by Shiva Shakib
Yazd is a land full of hills and is the second city built primarily with sunbaked bricks and one of the historical cities in the world. Yazd is called "the city of windcatchers and qanats", which are water canals in other words. It is the central city of the Yazd Province and lies 667 Km away from southeast of Tehran. It is a part of Iran’s Central Plateau, as well. Yazd is located among ridges of Shrikooh and Kharaneq Mountains within a vast valley. Yazd is considered as one of the most ancient cities of Iran. Among the towns and cities of the Yazd Province, Yazd, Ardakan, Taft, Mehriz, Bafq, Meibod, Abarkooh, Khatam, Sadoq and Tabas can be enumerated. Meanwhile, Yazd has 23 cities, 20 districts and also 51 rural districts, each of which possessing several ancient monuments. The area of Yazd is 130,000 Km2 and is limited in the northwest by Semnan Province, Isfahan in the west side, Fars in the southwest, Southern Khorasan from the eastern sided, Khorasan Razavi from the northeast, Kerman in the east and southeast.
The population of Yazd is approximately about 960,000, and most part of the city is covered with deserts; therefore, the climate is dry and hot like most deserts, while the other parts are moderate and similar to mountainside areas. The temperature varies quite a lot in summer and winter; and even during one day and the following night. Therefore, one can say that Yazd has mostly two seasons; the long hot season (which endures usually from mid-March to October) and the short cold season (which endures from November to end of February). This province has quite a dry climate. There is no real river in Yazd and the water resources are provided and supplied by water wells and deep wells, mostly supplied through underground waters. There are vast dunes in Yazd, and since rarely rains are seen there, the weather is dry and permanent winds are in motion, this province is poor in forests, meadows and greeneries in general. There are several water reservoirs, windcatchers, friendly and peace-making alleys and mills seen in Yazd.
According to historical resources, this city was constructed a few millennium before emergence of Islam, and was considered a sacred city to the ancient Zoroastrians and pilgrimage for Parsians of several regions.
The reasons behind the name Yazd are controversial. Some of the Islamic historians believe that the initial construction of the city of Yazd relates to the Alexander Maqedoni. They say he had built a prison in this part to imprison the great Iranians, hence, during the early Islamic eras the beautiful city of Yazd was known as “Alexander’s Prison”. There are others who attribute the construction of Yazd to Yazdgerd I, a king of the Sassanid dynasty. But in truth, the first founder of Yazd, as a city, was Ardeshir Babakan, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty.
Meaning of "Yazd"
The word has roots in Persian language, meaning worship, praise and prayer and relates to something pure, chaste, blessed and auspicious. They say that as the name bears, this city is a sacred land and the city of God.
To be continued….
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