Yazd has a history of over 5000 years and is a don’t miss destination in Iran. It has unique Persian architecture, the world’s oldest air conditioners- wind catchers and is home to the Zoroastrian faith.
It is a 4 hour bus trip from Isfahan to Yazd and again we found the bus very comfortable, on time (if a bit early) and easy to catch.
As we only had two days in Yazd to explore after settling in to our accomodation at The Orient Hotel, we headed out to discover the city. It is a much smaller, less frantic city than Shiraz and Isfahan, making it easy to relax in the quiet of the mud brick buildings and winding alleyways.
Yazd has a well sign posted tourist walking route that leads to the major tourist attractions and we started out following the signs but before long we wandering wherever the alleys led and found The Yazd Tourist Library which is located in a 250 year old house near the Alexander Prison. We were welcomed by a friendly, clearly well educated, English speaking young man who introduced us to the impressive collection, gave us a tour of the house and explained the map collection which documents the history of ancient Persia through to modern day Iran. The libraries collection contains works in multiple languages including English, French and German covering topics including Iranian art, history, architecture and culture. Whilst we were there we learnt a pretty amazing fact about the mosaic tiling that is present on the mosques in the Yazd region, it is know as faience mosaic and it is not simply pretty design but representations of the words of Allah contained in the Quran and dates from 1365 A.D.
After the library we eventually found our way past the famous wind catchers, ancient air conditioning units developed centuries ago to keep the desert heat at bay, to Alexanders Prison and the qanat located within the Ja meh Mosque square. The Ja meh Mosque has the highest minarets in Iran and is one of the most beautifully decorated, in our opinion. As we were walking we observed artisans weaving carpet and silks in the traditional way and workmen repairing mud brick walls in the way it has been done for centuries, if not millennia.
There are many rooftop coffee and teahouses in the old city, they provide a great spot to view the domed roofs and interconnected alleys as well as making tasty chocolate cake and iced coffees, which we naturally had to stop in and sample. Unfortunately they do not all have websites to link to but we can assure you, it’s worth calling in for the coffee and cake.
The Orient Hotel, is a traditionally designed Persian house, with a large courtyard and rooftop restaurant, the Marco Polo, over looking the Ja meh Mosque. The Mosque is impressive during the day but at night when all lit up with purple, blue and green lights the mosaic tiling and gold topped domes are spectacular. Having learnt our lesson about not eating traditional food whilst staying in Isfahan we had a very traditional meal in Yazd, which included Camel stew. We both agreed we would eat camel again given the opportunity, if we had been told it was beef we would have believed it.
Our room at the Orient hotel was typical of the Yazd region with a domed roof, hole in the middle and camel hide stretched across the top. It was warm and comfortable, we would recommend staying although ensure that you clarify the price of the room as we had to have a reasonably forceful discussion with the gentleman at reception when we checked out.
Our second day in Yazd promised to be a challenge as we had to book out of the hotel by lunchtime and did not catch the train until nearly midnight. What do you do when there is no local pub to pop in and waste a bit of time?
The hotel agreed to keep our luggage, for a fee, and we set off to find the Zoroastrian fire temple and museum. Yazd has been a centre for the Zoroastrian religion over many centuries and following the Arabic invasion of Persia many of the faith migrated to the area, this has continued to be tolerated since the Islamic revolution in 1979. We were unable to visit though due to the temple and museum being closed on the day we were there.
A bit disappointed we set off to explore more of the city outside the old town walls. We visited the Yazd Water Museum which explained the Qanats and we had our photo taken with a couple who were amazed that Australians would visit their town and just had to have a photo to prove it!
We enjoyed the afternoon sun, people watching in the Amir Chakhmaq Complex and Square, where kids were playing soccer, mums and dads were strolling and we were eating Persian style saffron ice cream, you must try it.
As evening crept in so did the cold and we settled in at the Iranian Old Cafe, nearby the Ja meh Mosque for coffee and a meal. The Iranian Old Cafe offers free wifi, good food and great coffee, the perfect place to waste time while waiting for a train.
Finally it wast time to head off to the train station and catch the overnight train to Tehran. It was also the first time we felt that someone was trying to rip us off, up until this point we may have had a couple of misunderstandings about prices, which is totally reasonable considering the language barrier but this guy was pretty obvious.
We had pre paid for our train tickets and had a digital copy of the receipt and instructions to get a printed ticket at the ticket counter. When we presented the receipt the guy started saying “money, money, you must have money”.
It had been a long day and the poor guy probably thought that we would just give in and hand over the money, it didn’t take long for Cath to get her message across, she wasn’t paying and wanted a ticket, NOW! Obviously her tone of voice conveyed the message even if the words didn’t as we were given the tickets and headed off to the security check inside the station.
The railway station is quite modern with a coffee shop, book stalls and prayer rooms. We were surprised to find it quite busy at that time of night and were a bit concerned about finding the right train but the staff were very kind and clearly concerned that we had no idea what we were doing. They checked on us regularly to ensure we got on the right train.
The train was quite comfortable, we had booked a four berth carriage for two of us and it was a good decision as with our luggage we needed the extra space. Once on board we were given sheets, blankets and pillows, tea or coffee and a small snack box for the journey. The snack box was similar to the one on the buses which contained a fruit juice box, sweet biscuits and a cake. Before long we were snuggled up in our bunks, headed toward Tehran.
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