Yazd (Persian: یزد [jæzd] pronunciation (help·info)) is the capital of Yazd Province, Iran. The city is located 270 km (170 mi) southeast of Esfahan. At the 2011 census, the population was 1,074,428 in 270٬575 families.
Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd has a unique Persian architecture. It is nicknamed the city of windcatchers (Persian: شهر بادگیرها Shahr-e Badgirha) because of its ancient Persian windcatchers. It is also very well known for its Zoroastrian fire temples, ab anbars, qanats, yakhchals, Persian handicrafts, silk weaving, and its high quality Yazdi confectionery.
Yazd is the driest major city in Iran, with an average annual rainfall of only 60 millimetres (2.4 in), and also the hottest north of the Persian Gulf coast, with summer temperatures very frequently above 40 °C (104 °F) in blazing sunshine with no humidity. Even at night the temperatures in summer are rather uncomfortable. In the winter, the days remain mild and sunny, but in the morning the thin air and low cloudiness cause very cold temperatures that can sometimes fall well below 0 °C (32 °F).
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Yazd has a history of over 5,000 years, dating back to the time of the Median empire, when it was known as “Ysatis” (or “Issatis”). The present city name, however, is derived from Yazdegerd I, a Sassanid ruler of Persia. The city was definitely a Zoroastrian center during Sassanid times. After the Arab conquest of Iran, many Zoroastrians migrated to Yazd from neighboring provinces. By paying a levy, Yazd was allowed to remain Zoroastrian even after its conquest, and Islam only gradually became the dominant religion in the city.
Because of its remote desert location and the difficulty of access, Yazd remained largely immune to large battles and the destruction and ravages of war. For instance, it was a haven for those fleeing from destruction in other parts of Persian Empire during the Mongol invasion. In 1272 it was visited by Marco Polo, who remarked on the city’s fine silk-weaving industry. In the book The Travels of Marco Polo, he described Yazd in the following way:
It is a good and noble city, and has a great amount of trade. They weave there quantities of a certain silk tissue known as Yasdi, which merchants carry into many quarters to dispose of. When you leave this city to travel further, you ride for seven days over great plains, finding harbour to receive you at three places only. There are many fine woods producing dates upon the way, such as one can easily ride through; and in them there is great sport to be had in hunting and hawking, there being partridges and quails and abundance of other game, so that the merchants who pass that way have plenty of diversion. There are also wild asses, handsome creatures. At the end of those seven marches over the plain, you come to a fine kingdom which is called Kerman.
Yazd briefly served as the capital of the Muzaffarid Dynasty in the fourteenth century, and was unsuccessfully besieged in 1350–1351 by the Injuids under Shaikh Abu Ishaq. The Friday (or Congregation) Mosque, arguably the city’s greatest architectural landmark, as well as other important buildings, date to this period. During the Qajar dynasty (18th Century AD) it was ruled by the Bakhtiari Khans.
Under the rule of the Safavid (16th century), some people migrated from Yazd and settled in an area that is today on the Iran-Afghanistan border. The settlement, which was named Yazdi, was located in what is now Farah City in the province of the same name in Afghanistan. Even today, people from this area speak with an accent very similar to that of the people of Yazd.
One of the notable things about Yazd is its family-centered culture. According to official statistics from Iran’s National Organization for Civil Registration, Yazd is among the three cities with the lowest divorce rates in Iran.
Language and ethnic groups
The majority of the people of Yazd are Persians, and they speak Persian with Yazdi accent different from Persian accent of Tehran; but there are also small populations of other Iranian ethnicities in the city such as Azerbaijanis and Qashqais who speak Persian as their second language.
The Majority people in Yazd are Shia Muslims. There is also a sizeable population Zoroastrians in the city. There was once a relatively large Jewish-Yazdi community, however, after the creation of Israel, many have moved there for varying reasons.
According to the Iranian Census of 2011 the population of Yazd is 582,682 people from 168,528 families, which includes 297,546 men and 285,136 women.
Architecture and heritage
Ceiling of a vault in the Bazaar of Yazd
Under the windcatcher of Dowlat Abad Garden
Yazd is an important centre of Persian architecture. Because of its climate, it has one of the largest networks of qanats in the world, and Yazdi qanat makers are considered the most skilled in Iran.
To deal with the extremely hot summers, many old buildings in Yazd have magnificent windcatchers, and large underground areas.
The city is also home to prime examples of yakhchals, which were used to store ice retrieved from glaciers in the nearby mountains. Yazd is also one of the largest cities built almost entirely out of adobe.
Yazd’s heritage as a center of Zoroastrianism is also important. There is a Tower of Silence on the outskirts, and the city itself has a Fire Temple which holds a fire that has been kept alight continuously since 470 AD. Presently, Zoroastrians make up a significant minority of the population, around 20,000–40,000 or 5 to 10 percent.
Built in 12th century and still in use, Jame Mosque of Yazd is an example of the finest Persian mosaics and excellent architecture. Its minarets are the highest in the country.
Pilgrimage and other religious congregations
A window inside the structure under the windcatcher of Dowlat Abad Garden
The Pir-e-Naraki sanctuary is one the important pilgrimage destinations for Zoroastrians where an annual congregation is held and frequent visits are made during the year; it is now also a famous tourist spot.
The story of the last Persian prince to come to Yazd before the arrival of Islam adds to its importance. Such a transformation has occurred several times.
Several other city traditions are the Muslim parades and gatherings, which are mainly processions called azadari held to commemorate the events experienced by the main Islamic martyrs and other important figures. These huge public gatherings created a series of spaces which, since most are near important urban monuments, are used at other times as hubs from which visitors can tour the main spots in the city .
- Fort Mosque
- Fortifications of Yazd
- Haj Yousef Reservoir
- House of Arab’ha
- House of Larry
- House of Malek al Tojjar
- House of Rasoulian
- Iran Shahr School
- Jame Mosque of Yazd (Grand Mosque of Yazd)
- Khan Bazaar
- Mausoleum of Sahl Ibn Ali
- Mausoleum of Seyed Rokn al Din
- Mausoleum of Seyed Shams al Din
- Mullah Ismail Mosque
- Masoudi Reservoir
- Rig Mosque
- Sheikh Ahmad Fahadan Mausoleum
- Shah Tahmasb Mosque
- Zargari Bazzar
- Ziaiah school
Always known for the quality of its silk and carpets, Yazd today is one of Iran’s industrial centers for textiles. There is also a considerable ceramics and construction materials industry and unique confectionery and jewellery industries. A significant portion of the population is also employed in other industries including agriculture, dairy, metal works, and machine manufacturing. There are a number of companies involved in the growing information technology industry, mainly manufacturing primary materials such as cables and connectors. Currently Yazd is the home of the largest manufacturer of fibre optics in Iran.
Yazd’s confectioneries have a tremendous following throughout Iran and have been a source of tourism for the city. Confectioners workshops (khalifehs, or experts) keep their recipes a guarded secret, and there are many that have remained a private family business for many generations. Baklava, ghotab and pashmak are the most popular sweets made in the city.
In 2000 the Yazd Water Museum opened; it features exhibits of water storage vessels and historical technologies related to water.
Yazd has expanded its industrial fields since the 1980s. With at least three main industrial areas each containing over 70 different factories, Yazd has become one of the most technologically advanced cities of Iran. The most famous corporations include Yazd Steel, Shimi Plastic of Yazd, and Yazd Polymer.
In addition to its connection with major Iranian cities via Iranian Railways, Yazd is served by the Shahid Sadooghi Airport.
- Mohammad Ali Jafari, The commander of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution of Iran
- Mohammad Khatami, Former president of Iran; born in Yazd
- Mohammad Reza Aref, Vice President of Iran from 2001 to 2005
- Mirza Mohammad Farrokhi Yazdi, Poet and politician
- Vahshi Bafghi, Poet
- Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, Iranian dissident murdered in 1998
- Moshe Katsav, Former president of Israel, born in Yazd
- Habibollah Bitaraf, Former Minister of Energy
- Seyyed Ziya-e-ddin Tabatabai, Iranian prime minister 21 Feb 1921–04 Jun 1921
- Mohammad-Ali Eslami Nodooshan, Iranian author
- Mehdi Azar Yazdi, Famous author of children’s stories
The University of Yazd was established in 1988. It has a college of Architecture specializing in traditional Persian Art and Architecture. Yazd and its nearby towns contain the following institutes of higher education:
- Yazd Science and Research
- University of Yazd
- Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences and Health Services
- Payam e Nour University of Yazd
- Yazd Institute of Higher Education (ACECR)
- Islamic Azad University of Bafq
- Islamic Azad University of Maybod
- Islamic Azad University of Yazd
- Yazd Sampad Information Center
- Yazd Science and Technology Park
- Applied Science University of Yazd
- Imam Java University College
- Barazande muqadam highschool (Tizhushan)
- Shahid Sadoughi High school (Tizhushan)
- Shahid Sadoughi Middle school (Tizhushan)
- Farzanegan Middle school (Tizhushan)
- Bahadori High school
- Farzanegan High school (Tizhushan)
- Iranshahr High School
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