Our tour of Iran is taking us at the gates of the desert in Yazd.
Read the first part here (Tehran & Shiraz)
3. YAZD (2 nights)
I think this is the city that I loved most. I was immediately fascinated by its color recalling the desert it overlooks and by the view on the roofs surmounted by domes and wind towers, which in ancient times were used to cool water in cisterns.
The city centre is charming and has been recognized as a UNESCO site. We stayed here in mid-August with about 37 degrees celsius. It was very hot especially in the sun, but being very dry it was bearable.
The Friday mosque (Jameh) is gorgeous, with beautiful blue nuances typical of Iran. The Amir Chaghmagh complex has a beautiful facade and the hidden mosque on the right side of the square is worth a visit.The square overlooks various shops selling tarmehs, beautiful small silk tapestries used to cover furniture. The quality rises with the increase in the percentage of silk and the number of colors. At the bazaar for a few euros you can buy some low-quality ones in polyester.
Just nearby you can’t miss is the demonstration of Zurkaneh in the building behind the left side of the square. It is an ancient sport that resembles a series of gymnastic exercises with or without tools (clubs and cymbals), all guided by a master of ceremonies in a “console” playing drum and reciting religious verses.
In short, an exercise for body and soul, which lasts about 45 minutes inside the circular room. One evening there was a sort of celebration in the square with live music on a stage and with hundreds of men dancing with the club.
If you have the time, take a chance for a quicìk stop at Dolat-Abad garden for the peaceful view on the pavilion with Iran’s largest wind tower and a pool; perfect for enjoying a little cool in the evening.
A unique attraction of this region is the buldings of the Zoroastrians, who follow the ancient monotheistic religion of the Persian empire, whose prophet Zoroaster (or Zaratustra) lived around a thousand years before Christ. After centuries of oppression, today they officially have freedom of worship, but I didn’t feel that it was completely so.
The museum is interesting in order to understand their culture (take a look at the Markat clock tower nearby). The most striking things are the temples dedicated to the 4 elements – the Fire temple being the most important in Yazd – and the famous towers of silence, used in the past for the dead.
That’s an incredible story: since for the Zoroastrians the dead bodies would make the soil impure, bodies were exposed in a stone tower for the vultures to eat them, while the bones were dissolved in a hole with acids.
4. VARZANEH (1 night)
It’s just a village, the reason to go there is to make a tour in the desert, which is the most accessible in Iran. If you want, you can also go and buy carpets (which cost half price than in Isfahan, they told us).
We could say we were in the country by the the fact that women all wore a white chador – a traditional color only here -. The small mosque has a “not-touristy” charm and there is little else to see.
The attraction is the 4-hour desert tour organized by the guesthouse. We made the afternoon option, which included stops at the remains of a Zoroastrian water temple (there was a pond where boys bathed) and a salt pan in the middle of the local dead sea.On the way back we had a great fun sand boarding on the dunes at sunset and having a quick look at the starry sky.
In the evening we dined at the Guesthouse (there was no alternative, anyway), where they entertained us with a small concert by a tambourine player / singer and an improvised dance by the staff. No doubt, one of Iran’s most authentic folk performances!
Getting to Varzaneh by public transport is not easy so we took a taxi, on the other hand we left to Isfahan with a local bus.
Check the next stage in Isfahan, Kashan and Qom