The visit to Esfahan was brief but intense. We did manage to visit a lot of the sights but it feels as though we did not have the time to take it all in properly. But not to worry, we already know that we will be coming back someday. Saeed and Azadeh however are very keen to show us around their hometown Yazd.
It’s a four hour drive from Esfahan to Yazd but Saeed has planned a few small detours along the way. Just riding through the desert is already quite an experience, although one with mixed feelings. On the one hand it’s a comfortable ride in a nice airconditioned car. But we also feel a bit trapped in the metal box.
Our first stop is to visit a Zoroastrian temple. The area around Yazd is the center of the Zoroastrian faith in Iran and there are a few very interesting sights around. The temple we visit is away from the main highway up into the mountains. It is a beautiful and quiet setting.
The temple is not so big and we are allowed to take a look inside. It’s quite a sober place with only a table in the center of the second room that serves as an altar. It carries the typical eternal flame. On the outside the dome of the temple boasts some nice zoroastrian symbols.
The next stop is Narin Qal’eh, a mud brick citadel in Meybod. The castle was built about 2000 years ago and it is a really impressive structure.
We walk all the way to the top and around the big building. From the top we can see all of the surrounding countryside. It’s pretty obvious why they chose this place to build a stronghold.
The next day, Saeed takes us into the city center. Yazd is famous for it’s ingenious cooling systems. Being set in the desert, ovee the centuries people became very resourceful in developing a cooling system called ‘Badgir’. Its main feature is a wind catcher: a large tower that is open at the sides at the top so that the wind can blow in. At the bottom of the tower is always some sort of water feature, usually a well, a fountain or a small pond. When the hot desert wind is caught in the big tower, it is directed down where the water cools it, creating a natural air conditioning.
First we visit a small park with a large and an equally large badgir. It used to be a home, but has now been turned into a restaurant.
Inside the restaurant we spot this little prayer. Sounds very fitting for our current situation…
Next stop is the large Zoroastrian Fire Temple. For the Zoroastrian faith it’s an important place of worship since it houses the ‘Atash Bahram’, the victorious fire continually kept burning since 470AD.
After our visit to the temple, Saeed guides us through some more authentic parts of town to the Amir Chakhmaq Complex and a stroll through the bazaar..
The highlight of the morning definitely is the visit to the Jame mosque. As all the mosques we have seen so far, it is a beautiful building with intricate patterns in all shades of blue. This mosque however is the first we see that looks like it is actually being used.
Later that afternoon, Saeed and Azadeh take us out of town to Saeed’s Garden, his house in the hills. By the time we leave it’s already getting close to 40° but the further we get out of town, the cooler it gets. By the time we reach Saeed’s mountain home, it’s a comfortable 26°!
In the evening, we go and explore the hills. There’s a lot of flower blossom distilleries in the area and we stop at one to have a look.
Later that night, we enjoy a nice meal under the stars.
The next morning, we take it slow. I help Azadeh with picking cherries. They are in full season and the fruits are just delicious. The trees are packed with them as well to the point where the branches are ready to snap. So it’s really easy picking them. Wherever you look, there are cherries!
After lunch, we head back to Yazd and on the way over we stop at a Zoroastrian sacred burial ground. The sight looks more like the setting of a Tatooine village in Star Wars.
On Sunday, Saeed suggests to take a tour along some nice hotels around the city. They all have beautifully restored Badgirs and cool gardens with waterworks and ponds.
In one hotel we are taken to the roof, through the dining room, cellar and into the kitchen where the stairs are located. Up on the roof, we get a real close look at the badgir. The roof itself is also really interesting, made out of mud bricks with the typical domed rooftops.
This is our last afternoon with Saeed and Azadeh. They have been so kind taking us in and showing us around Esfahan and Yazd. To repay them at least a little bit, we cook them a typical Belgian dish for dinner. They made us feel so welcome, but now we have to return back to Tehran where we hope to receive some good news on the engine.